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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Ahmad Ali Khan

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Commercial, India
Darogah of Husainabad, also called Chota Meer. Daguerreotypist and photographer produced an important series of portraits of European residents of Lucknow.
See references in Henry S. Polehampton, A Memoir, Letters and Diary of Rev. Henry S. Polehampton (London, 1858):
‘This morning [6 October 1856] I thought I would have one more try for your daguerreotypes; so at a quarter-past five, I started in the buggy for the Imaum Barrah, taking with me the baboo, as interpreter. The Darogha was not up, and kept me waiting so long, that it would have been derogatory to my dignity (a matter to which one has to attend carefully in India) to stay any longer. So I came away unsuccessful once more. The Darogha is getting bumptious through having so much notice taken of him. He is the only man in the station who does daguerreotypes, and everybody wants them; so he is becoming an important person, and it does not take an Oriental long to find that out. He is a gentleman, and does not take pay; so one has no hold on him. But today, a half-caste man, who knows him, came here to ask me to get him a situation, which I promised to try to do; and charged him, at the same time with a letter to the Darogha, which I hope will prove successful before the mails go out.’
‘This morning [April 17 1857], at six o’clock, I drove Emmie into Lucknow to be daguerreotyped. I sent my mother a daguerreotype of the Imaum Barrah, where they are done. The Imaum Barrah is a building in which are the tombs of one or two Kings of Oudh. The man who takes the likenesses is steward of the place, which is richly endowed. He is a very gentlemanly man, a Mahommedan, and most liberal. He won’t take anything for his likenesses. He gives you freely as many as you want, and takes no end of trouble. I have no doubt his chemicals, etc., must cost him more than £100 per annum, at the least. This morning I was done with our dog, Chloe, at Emmie’s special desire. The likeness of me is a profile, the best tempered looking one I ever saw of myself, and the dog came out very fairly. I will send you a paper impression next mail. I was also done with Emmie. She’s the worst sitter in the world, but the Darogha succeeded pretty well. I send you a paper likeness of us, done by him one day last week. They’re bad; but perhaps you’d like to see how your brother and sister were looking lately. We look like ‘Niggers’, don’t we? That book my hand is on in the picture is full of portraits of every one in the station…’[1]
He is also referred to in a letter to the Photographic Society of Bengal from Lieutenant E.P. Lewin, ‘mentioning that there was a native in the city of Lucknow who took excellent photographic likenesses on glass, which were not however quite clear when transferred to paper. He is named Ahmud Ali Khan, and it was stated that he might supply the Society with good pictures. He had found English collodion useless at Lucknow, and was obliged to doctor it after some plan of his own, to render it serviceable. The President intimated, that the Society would receive, with great pleasure, any contributions from native gentlemen whose practical success in Photography was a matter of much interest.’
See also Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 58, no. 235, Autumn 1980.
Joined Bengal Photographic Society July 1862.[2] 

  1. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, vol. 1, no. 2, 1857, p. 27. 
  2. Λ Journal of the Bengal Photographic Society, vol. 1, no. 2, 1 Sep 1862. 

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