||Nautch girls were photographed extensively in the late 19th and early
20th centuries. Three factors contributed to this trend. The first was
the ever-increasing popularity of the camera, which was introduced in
India around 1840. The second was the desire to record the vast
diversity of Indian people along with their clothing, vocations,
manners, crafts, customs, practices, and religions. Nautch girls were an
ideal subject for photographers wishing to document Indian culture.
They were beautiful, native, willing to be photographed and represented a
unique slice of the country’s culture. The third factor was a nautch
girl’s need to have good photographs that she could send to prospective
clients. The quality of the photograph was directly tied to the price a
nautch girl commanded. Great efforts were made to take flattering
photographs of nautch girls in studios.
(‘The Nautch’ by Ally Adnan, The Friday Times, Aug 1, 2014)