5 Tips on Photography in India

Photography in India….

Got a trip to India Planned?

Well here are 5 tips for photographing a most wonderful country for photography….

  1. Take as little kit as you can
  2. Its the “people” not the “places” which count
  3. Don’t bother taking a tripod
  4. Don’t go for the obvious shots
  5. Be prepared for MAYHEM!

Take as little kit as you can

India is very hot – especially in Mumbai or the south, you’re into the late 30’s or 40’s temperature wise and high humidity. If you take a large bag you will suffer. You sweat constantly as it is…

Also you may be in Tuck Tucks or tight places where big bags get in the way.

Also, bags are a target for pick pockets and petty theives, don’t give them the chance

Its the “people” not the “places” which count

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If you shoot in Europe you’ll be admiring the stunning architecture and landscapes, the Skyscrapers of the USA, but it’s the people in India which make the photos

it’s very different – they like being photographed, you can usually smile and wave anyone and they will happily be photographed. Even the poorest begger feels special for a few seconds when you take time to show then the photo… always do that. Show them and thank them.

If you are just there to shoot buildings, you’ll be disappointed as they are hugely spread out, take ages to get to and though they are lovely, are usually surrounded by rubbish and smog.

Go with a mind to shoot people and you’ll love it.

Don’t bother taking a tripod

I used mine once – I tried many times, but anywhere you’d want to use it doesn’t allow it! Taj Mahal has banned them, as has the Golden Temple too… Maybe if you’re a 10-stop filter person, it may be worth doing – but the days are so bright you never need one.

Don’t go for the obvious shots

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Generic building shots are just that – generic, and boring.

Better to try to capture people using the buildings, using the facilities. Maybe include the stray dogs in a scene. Use the huge piles of litter or jumbled balls of power cables as a feature to enhance your story telling.

That is what travel photography is about – putting the viewer of your photos in your shoes. Let them see what you see, guide them to the things which stood out for you. There are 100000’s of shots of the Taj Mahal on Google now – what are you going to do differently?

Be prepared for MAYHEM!

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I wasn’t.

Well I was, but it exceeded everything I’d heard about.

Firstly the smells… they have open sewers and people urinate everywhere, this takes a bit of getting used to anywhere – but in a hot place… wowo

Secondly the the traffic… I’ve seen many films of this, but till you are stood watching it, trying to cross a road, you’ll not believe it. It’s pure insanity of the highest order… every vehicle size and shape jamming into gaps they will never fit. It’s a wonderful thing really… oh, and the horns, they all “beep” constantly to tell you they are there… it’s not a “telling off” beep.

Thirdly the poverty…. I’m 6’2″ and white, I stand out from the crowd…. if you are in a slum you will be very quickly surrounded by little “urchins”. These are fantastic characters on the whole – huge smiles, jumping around and gesturing, but they are also very poor and probably have a slave driver collecting their begging money. I’ve had great fun with them – shooting and showing the photos – high fiving them and making them laugh. However, if you give one of them 10 rupees, 10 pence in england, you will be swarmed and they simply will not go. They are notorious pick pockets too, so do not give them any cash… maybe even use your long lens and keep well back from them so they can’t get near your pockets.

 

So there are a few thoughts to help you on what will be a trip of a lifetime if you do it. Remember it will be hot, humid, gritty, dirty, smelly in parts, and full of beggers – and go and revel in the photographic potential of it all!

 

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