Hyderabad: For six decades now, Jyoti Art Studio has been a household name for all things related to photography. What started as a small photo studio, Jyoti has branched out into selling photo and video cameras, lenses, batteries, accessories, props and others used in the trade.
The business is now run by the third generation – Anil Vishwanth, Vikesh Vishwanath and Nilesh Vishwanth, who took over the reins from their father V Nagesh. Nagesh and his two brothers- V Satyanaryana and V Suresh- inherited the same from their father Late V Krishna, who first started Jyoti Art near Old Jail at Secunderabad in July 1957. Their landmark store which is at General Bazar came up in 1961.
Jyoti was known for its black and white photos. As one enters the store, there is a collage of vintage photos on the left side. One of the advertisements of those times screams- ‘4 different poses for Rs 1/50 n.p.only’, stuck on the back of an auto.
“We were the first to get the fully automated colour printing machine from Greytag of Italy to Hyderabad in 1986,” says Anil Vishwanath, the elder of the three brothers, about the revolution that reduced the delivery schedules to one day from the earlier one week. The conversation is interrupted – he calls his father to get the facts right.
Gradually, it started dealing in black and white photography chemicals and printing paper, and became the dealer for Agfa Gevaert, which supplied printing paper and chemicals.
In its peak, it developed more than 600 colour films a day and made about 25,000 prints with an average of 7,000 prints every day. Though film started losing out to digital, Jyoti still processes film for photo buffs.
“There were times when I made 13,000 prints non-stop by coming in at 6 am and going late,” says Chiranjeevi, who joined Jyoti as a printer in 1972. For him, the modern times with computer assistance is best for photography as the manual toil is removed.
Jyoti took the opportunities that came its way. There were point-and-shoot cameras from Konica. Then came Hotshot from Photophone India , which increased the camera sale volumes. Kodak joined the fray later. “We sold analog cameras and films till 2000. We were the distributors for Konica film. Digital cameras started coming in from 2000 and we turned as a distributor for Kodak digital camera,” recalls Anil, glancing at the senior staff to cross-check.
Grey market was prevalent as cameras were seemingly expensive. The cheapest were the Cosinas, costing about Rs 7,000. “The advent of Nikon FM10 swept the market and the average ticket size rose to Rs 17,000 including Rs 9,000 for the camera. Nikon FM2 was a prized possession,” says Anil.
Jyoti had customers from as far as Latur, Bidar, Humnabad and Raichur.
In 2001, it brought in the large format printing to print up 20X30, again a first in the city, he claims. Later, it added a digital printer from Noritsu, widely popular as laser print. In 2008, Jyoti became the authorised dealer for Canon DSLR. It also had a tryst with Kodak Distribution.
“Now, the printing segment is almost out. Except on some occasions, not many seem to be inclined at getting the prints done,” he tells about the impact of cheaper digital storage solutions.
The IT revolution resulted in camera sales going up. The compact cameras are dead as they are replaced by mobile phones. Many are going for high-end cameras and other gear for wedding and wildlife photography, says Anil, who is now a dealer for Sony series mirror-less cameras. It recently opened a Nikon Experience Zone.
Jyoti now wants to venture into professional video systems. It is selling Black Magic cameras, mostly used for corporate and small films. The cost starts at Rs 3 lakh and increases with accessories up to Rs 8 lakh. It has already ventured into the public address system at its Nampally branch. The family has set up two theatres- Jyoti at Sadasivpet and Vishwanath at Kukatpally.