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K. L. Syed (1880-1942)

Khanji Mian Lal Mian Syed (1880-1942), popularly known as K.L.Syed, was a famous photographer, whose pioneering efforts in the field spurred the development of two other world class photographers from the town. Born in Palanpur in 1880, Syed studied in Gujarati medium upto Std IV, and later pursued his first love, photography.


At a young age, he borrowed Rs.150 and left for Mumbai, where he lived with the Momin’s of North Gujarat, the community that drove the stately horse carriages known as Victoria’s. After learning the basics of photography, he moved to Vadodara where he earned enough money photographing friends and relatives to finally return to Palanpur.

His father being the hakim of the Royal family, Mr. Syed soon came in contact with the then Nawab Shri Taley Mohammed Khan, who was very impressed with the photographs Mr. Syed took of his family. Soon Mr. Syed began accompanying the Nawab on all his trips, and eventually as the official photographer of Palanpur State, he had the opportunity to photograph the royalty in princely states like Kashmir, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Durgapur and Bikaner.


Mr. K.L. Syed’s photographs of the kings, their families, their hunting games and various celebrations were highly appreciated, and he became famous for his day light shots and portrait photography.

Finally when Prince designate, Prince of Wales came to India, Mr. Syed was invited to Delhi, at the instance of Maharaja Shri Ganga Singhji, the King of Bikaner, where he was honoured as a photographer.


Mr. K.L. Syed passed away on November 4, 1942, but his legacy continued as his son Akhtarbhai K. Syed, too, won a number of photographic awards.

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