Photo Circle

A Short History of the Nepal Picture Library

Photo Circle

A Short History of the Nepal Picture Library

Exhibition Facing the Camera: A History of Nepali Studio Photography, Patan museum, Patan, 2015.

This is a short history of the Nepal Picture Library (NPL), Nepal’s first large-scale digital photo archive encompassing over 50,000 photographs collected in less than a decade. It is a rare institution; a catalogued visual resource open to the public with scores of intimate family collections, the historic and the mundane captured over decades by photojournalists, and portraits made in photo studios across the country. The essay provides insight into the strength, scope and potential of this community-created archive. Founded and managed by Photo Circle, a platform for photography in Kathmandu, NPL has published books, done several exhibitions in museums and public spaces across Nepal, and exhibited their collections internationally. Tracing the origins and the impact of NPL through a series of interviews, the essays reveals not only the transformative power of their methods of public engagement but also the deep concern for visual culture fostered in their volunteers particularly among photographers serving as amateur archivists.

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The pedagogical practices that can be undertaken through photographs can only be imagined on a mass scale when access to images to images is made easy, and when publishers and editors begin to give them weight. This is where the open archive, the bottom up archive, the archive for all becomes a beginning.
Reading time: 33 min.

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