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State elephants at a Durbar, India, c 1908.


State elephants at a Durbar, India, c 1908.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm


A snapshot photograph of four state elephants at a Durbar in India, taken by an unknown photographer in about 1908. These elephants, with their highly-decorated trappings, carried Indian governors or princes. The mahoot or driver sits at the head of the elephant. The prince would sit behind in the canopied seat or howdah on the elephant's back. Durbars were ceremonial gatherings of local Indian rulers, called to celebrate the coronation of a ruler. In this period there were two Durbars, in 1903 and 1911. Originally a shooting term, the word 'snapshot' was first linked with photography in the late 1850s, when it was used to describe a photograph taken with a brief exposure. Over time, snapshot came to mean any amateur photograph taken with a simple camera. The origins of popular photography can be traced back to George Eastman's [1854-1932] introduction of the first Kodak camera in 1888. Snapshots are informal, personal records of everyday life and experiences.

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© Kodak Collection / National Science & Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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