India Is The Ultimate Travel Photography Destination - Here’s Why
India is the second-most populous country in the world and the largest democracy. The Indian Ocean touches it in the south, the Arabian Sea in the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal in the southeast. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. A vast country indeed and for me, India is the ultimate travel photography destination.
People call it the subcontinent and it's one of the most interesting countries in the world. If you like culture and history, there's no better choice to make than to travel to India right now. Add to that a mix of religions, mysticism and beautiful landscapes and you've got yourself a great photography destination. Here’s why:
People, people and more people
Incredible scenery and landscapes
Epic architecture: forts, castles and living temples
Adventurous train rides
More about that later... first a little bit of information about our itinerary.
Travel photography in India: A grand tour
My first time of traveling in India for two months was amazing. It boosted my love for travel photography to the next level and it's still one of my favorite photography destinations in the world because it has everything.
India is a vast country, though. Even two months was way to short to see it all, let alone photograph it all. The plan, when arriving in Mumbai, was to pick our next destination based on what we could find on the internet or information from other travelers and photographers. In the end we managed to do a grand tour of India and saw a little bit of everything.
We set off in Mumbai and went south to Kochi. Then, up again from Madurai to Chennai. After that, it was time to see the 'real' India: A tour of Rajasthan took us another three or four weeks and we ended our trip in India with an amazing photography highlight: The Ghats of Varanasi. If you like travel photography, you'll probably like every single place in India. There's always something interesting to see and take photos from.
Why India is the best photography destination
Travel photography is difficult to define. It's a mix of different styles. A good professional travel photographer should be able to handle portrait, landscape and street photography. India is the perfect destination for all those styles of photography.
People, people and more people.
Well, a billion people. I don't have to explain to you how great of a place India is for street photography, right? It's so crowded in some places that you don't know where to look first. When I'm traveling, the streets are my favorite place to take photos because that's where life is happening and where to people are. The most interesting and best travel photography should capture the essence and soul of country and the streets and cities is where it's happening.
Looking for great faces for travel portraits? You'll be in heaven and the great thing is that most of the people love to be photographed. Exploring the streets is one of my favorite things to do when traveling in India.
Also, don't worry about safety because I never felt unsafe anywhere, even when carrying my big medium format camera. Just use your common sense at night and in big and crowded cities.
Incredible scenery and landscapes
From dusty deserts to lush mountain slopes and jungles. Make sure to protect your camera against the elements because whatever kind of landscapes and sceneries you like, you'll find it in India. I always love dusty and endless deserts so you'll see a lot of those in my travel photography. Rajasthan is probably the best place to start if you like to take photos of deserts and dry landscapes.
If you want it green, then travel south or north east to the border with Bangladesh. My next trip to India will definitely include a few weeks in the north east because a lot of travelers and photographers recommend the place.
Epic architecture in India: forts, castles and living temples
It must have been quite a sight back in the days when all those forts and castles were still in use. Today, you can walk around in most of them and try to imagine what it would've been like. Taking photos of buildings and architecture is one of my least favorite aspects of travel photography but I never got bored walking around in forts as big as a city or ancient temples that are still being used today.
Those temples are a great place to photograph people and rituals by the way. Just make sure you know what you're allowed to take photos of. Some temples don't even allow cameras. Also, always be mindful and respectful, especially near shrines and praying people. My favorite temple was the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Tiruchirapalli. A living temple surrounded by a town and by far one of the highlights of travel photography in India.
Oh right, India is famous for its 'camera fees' at tourist attractions. The thing is, as a tourist you already have to pay sometimes ten times more than a local but on top of that they still add an extra camera fee. I don't mind paying a bit more but in India it's ridiculous.
Adventurous train rides
This is a personal favorite of mine when it comes to travel photography. I just love train rides in foreign countries because they make you really feel like you're exploring the country while mingling with the locals. Remember what I said about the soul and essence of a country?
In India you can find it by taking photos on trains and in train stations. People will love to tell you their stories and it's the perfect opportunity to take some nice travel portraits. And most train rides take at least four or five hours so you'll spend a lot of time on a train when you're traveling in India. Maybe think about making a photo series just about trains in India.
Planning your next photography trip to India
Thinking of going to India for your next photography trip? Don't hesitate and just do it, you won't be disappointed. India is a great country for traveling and even better for travel photography, no matter what style you have. The most important advice I can give you is to plan your trip well. India is a very big country. They don't call it the subcontinent for nothing.
Traveling from place to place takes a long time unless you can afford to fly all the time. Something I wouldn’t recommend anyway because trains in India makes traveling there so unforgettable. Anyway, pick an area depending on how long you’ll stay. If it's less than a month and your first time, don't hesitate to go to Rajasthan. You'll get a taste of the real India and you'll be inspired to shoot a lot of travel photography.
Want to know more details or what camera and lenses I used most of the time in India? Just let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail. More than happy to tell you everything I know...
Did you like India? Or planning to go. Let me know in the comments!