Who is Behind the Camera? (2005)

This was the first of a series of exhibitions produced by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and realised by the Visual Sikkim project. Spanning nearly one century of Sikkimese history, the exhibition presents work by the following photographers:

L.A Waddell (1890s).
Waddell was probably the first tibetologist to carry out research in the region of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim. He took his own glass plate photographs but also employed the services of Raj photographers Johnson and Hoffman of Calcutta to take studio portraits of subjects he had selected.
Sir Charles Bell and Rabden Lepcha (1910s-20s).
Sir Charles Bell was appointed Political Officer Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet a number of times and employed Rabden Lepcha as an orderly for eighteen. In the course of his work, Rabden became interested in photography and took a number of photographs that are now attributed to Bell. Rabden Lepcha was most likely the first ever Sikkimese photographer.
Frederick and Margaret Williamson (early 1930s).
Frederick Williamson was Political Officer Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet in the early 1930s and resided at the Residency in Gangtok with his wife. Margaret (Peggy) was an accomplished photographer and is responsible for most of their Himalayan and Tibetan collection.
Richard Nicholson (1936).
Photographs from the mountaineering expedition to Mount Simvo of 1936. Expedition members were Marco Pallis, Richard Nicholson, Frederick Spencer-Chapman, J.K. Cooke and Dr R. Roef.
Dr Bruno Beger (1938).
Photographs taken by the anthropologist Dr Bruno Beger during the German-Tibet Expedition of Ernst Schaefer 1938-1939. Although headed for Tibet where they spent only two months, it is generally not known that the expedition stayed six months in Sikkim. Dr Beger took a large number of portraits of Sikkimese villagers in the northern regions of Singhik, Lachen and Lachung.
Yap Tse Ten Tashi (1940s-50s).
Rhenock Yap Tse Ten Tashi had been Private Secretary to two Sikkimese kings and in this capacity, was able to capture many events and thus record history. He was also an orchidologist, amateur botanist, photographer, and businessman with a photographic studio on Gangtokā€™s MG Marg.
Paljor Dorji Tashi – Yap Penjorla (1960s-70s).
As the eldest son of Yap Tse Ten Tashi, Yap Penjorla was introduced to photography at an early age. He soon developed a passion for the medium and established his own style. Through his lens, he captured the extraordinary beauty of seemingly ordinary events and the subtle nuances of relationships.