176 years after two Brits opened their Bourne & Shepherd photography studio in Kolkata (India), the icon has closed its doors. Regarded as the oldest running photo studio in the world, Bourne & Shepherd finally succumbed to the weight of digital photography.

Current owner Jayant Gandhi explained to The Hindu that “things are not the same anymore. Technology has changed and I have grown old.” Another employer, who worked at Bourne & Sheperd for three decades, said business was very poor and it financially tough to run it.

The four-storied Gothic building was struck by a devastating fire in February, 1991. The fire not only caused enormous financial damage, but also ruined a great part of the studio’s huge collection of rare negatives and photographs, such as the 1886 portrait of Hindu-leader Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.

The Cambridge University Library, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Geographic Society’s Image Collection and the Smithsonian Institution now house some of the studio’s earlier works. Only a handful of the studio’s oldest material is still left in the hands of the studio itself.

[via India Today, The Hindu & The Statesman]

[picture via Wikipedia, by courtesy of Gangulybiswarup]