Until fifteen years ago the Ru Kitch photographers were a familiar sight on the streets of Pakistan. For the odd penny they photographed passers-by, in black and white, with the results available immediately. The term Ru Kitch – literally ‘extracting the spirit’ – refers to the way in which the photographer stuck his hand into the camera in order to pull out the photograph. In fact the camera was a darkroom on a tripod, in which a photo could be developed in two minutes. The popularity of the color photo drove this century-old tradition from the street scene. The British photographer Malcolm Hutcheson prepared this survey of it.
RU KITCH, STREET PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE PUNJAB (1950-2000) was part of the 13th Noorderlicht International Photofestival (Sep-Oct 2006, The Netherlands), comprised of work by three Ru Kitch photographers, of whom only Mohammad Amin Naveed is still active. In the old days, passers-by, friends and families were eager to have him do a photograph of them as a souvenir of a day out. Now he makes his living by pasting portraits of his clients on pictures of famous names from the film industry. Naveed turned out to have in his possession a dusty box with work of his late uncle Gogi Pehlwan. He was active for forty years as a wrestler and Ru Kitch photographer. Hutcheson fills out his overview with the work of old Babba Bhutta, who was a Ru Kitch photographer for sixty years. He learned his trade from his father and has a collection of photos that perfectly reflects the peaceful life in a small Indian village.
Malcolm Hutcheson (Great Britain/Pakistan, b. 1966) is a photographer and teaches photography at the school for Visual Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. He devotes a huge amount of energy to setting up a photographic archive for the Pakistani province of Punjab.