Invented in the 1950s, the Vageeswari Camera is an Indian-made large format field camera designed by K Karunakaran, a technician from Alleppey (now Alappuzha), Kerala. He went on to design eight variants of this camera, including a small format variant that could be used to create passport-size images.
The idea for the camera came about in 1942, when a local photo studio owner approached Karunakaran’s father, a musician and instrument repair person, to fix the bellows of his foreign-made camera. Impressed by his skills, the studio owner suggested that he attempt building a camera himself, a proposition that Karunakaran took up instead. The device he built was entirely handcrafted — from its teak frame to the brass clips — except for the lens which was imported from Germany. The camera soon became popular among Indian and foreign practitioners, with demand for the camera reportedly increasing to over 100 cameras per month.
Following the success of the cameras, Karunakaran set up a store in Mullakal, Alappuzha from where he produced and sold them.
Karunakaran passed away in Alappuzha in 2016.
Anooj, MA. “The unsung hero who invented Vageeswari camera.” Onmanorama, April 20, 2016.
Camera-wiki. “Vageeswari.” Accessed May 27, 2021. http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Vageeswari
Photomuse. “Vageeswari Field Camera, c.1950, PhotoMuse Collection, 2015, Gift of Mr. Joshy C. Sunny.” Accessed May 27, 2021.
Vageeswari Field Camera, c.1950, PhotoMuse Collection, 2015, Gift of Mr. Joshy C. Sunny.