Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are taking a Candid street portrait of an old woman in Mumbai, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Candid street photography in India is a type of photography that captures people's natural and authentic moments in public places without them realizing. This spontaneous photography sub-genre of street photography is challenging, as it requires the photographer to capture unique and authentic moments in time and can tell a valuable story about the people around us and how we connect with each other.
Candid street photography in India is a type of photography that captures people's natural and authentic moments in public places without them realizing. This spontaneous photography sub-genre of street photography is challenging, as it requires the photographer to capture unique and authentic moments in time and can tell a valuable story about the people around us and how we connect with each other.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 22, 2024

Candid street photography in India

Street photography has always been a popular genre among photographers, but candid street photography takes it to a whole new level. This style of photography captures the natural and unposed moments of people on the streets, giving a glimpse into their lives and experiences. And when it comes to candid street photography, India is a treasure trove for any photographer.

What makes candid street photography in India so special?

One of the most fascinating aspects of candid street photography in India is the ability to capture the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The streets are always buzzing with activity and a photographer can capture the mundane daily routines that are an integral part of life in India. The chaiwallahs selling their piping hot tea, the vegetable vendors haggling with customers, the rickshaw pullers waiting for their next ride – all of these moments make for beautiful and authentic photographs that tell a story..

Creating street portrait photos with patience
A good idea for candid street portraits is to photograph with minimal gear and keep your camera bag light for your candid street photoshoot. Stick to a couple of favorite lenses and leave your tripod at home. Restricting your gear means you have fewer decisions to make and you can move around easier and keep a low profile. Another thing can be to photograph at the ground level candid photos and the best thing about taking candid street photos at ground level is that you get to sit down on the job. Find a comfortable dry spot with three or four different viewpoints. This is a good way to be unobtrusive and capture interesting expressions. Blending in with your surroundings is essential and it is a good idea to wear plain clothing that reflects your environment to avoid attention and maintain anonymity.

"- The biggest lesson I've learned in candid street photography is the importance of patience. Take the time to practice your manual settings and observe the changing light", the Photographer says.

Aging in India
India is home to 100 million elderly people today and their numbers are likely to increase threefold in the next three decades. People are living much longer and couples raising fewer children, moreover 3/4 elders still report living with their children. Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings and is thus the end of the human life cycle. Mortality can be used to define biological aging, which refers to an organism's increased rate of death as it progresses throughout its lifecycle and increases its chronological age. Another possible way to define aging is through functional definitions, of which there are two main types. The first describes how varying types of deteriorative changes that accumulate in the life of a post-maturation organism can leave it vulnerable, leading to a decreased ability of the organism to survive.

"In humans, aging represents the accumulation of changes in a human being over time and can encompass physical, psychological and social changes. Reaction time, for instance, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand. Aging is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases"

How is disfigurement seen by society?
General societal attitudes towards disfigurement have varied greatly across cultures and over time, with cultures possessing strong social stigma against it often causing psychological distress to disfigured individuals. Social stigma is the disapproval of or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other members of a society. Social stigmas are commonly related to culture, gender, race, intelligence and health.

The second is a senescence-based definition and this describes age-related changes in an organism that increase its mortality rate over time by negatively affecting its vitality and functional performance. An important distinction to make is that biological aging is not the same thing as the accumulation of diseases related to old age, wheres disease is a blanket term used to describe a process within an organism that causes a decrease in its functional ability. Human beings and members of other species, especially animals, age and die.

Heart-wrenching pictures from India
"- The sight of a poor, homeless old woman on the street was heart-wrenching and I couldn't help but give her some of my money. When portraying people with my camere it is something that for me is causing or involving great sadness or distress heartbreaking and heart-wrenching because it is something that moves me on an emotional level. And for me as a photographer I like to touch someone's heart and for me that means to make them feel empathy or sympathy from my photographs", the Photographer says again.

Disfigurements seen in India
As a photographer it is hard not to ignore the people with disfigurements in India, where is the state of having one's appearance deeply and persistently harmed medically, such as from a disease, birth defect or wound. Alternatively, many societies have regarded some forms of disfigurement in a medical, scientific context where someone having ill will against the disfigured is viewed as anathema. In various religious and spiritual contexts, disfigurement has been variously described as being a punishment. Disfigurement, whether caused by a benign or malignant condition, often leads to severe psychosocial problems such as negative body image such as depression, difficulties in one's social, sexual and professional lives, prejudice and intolerance. This is partly due to how the individual copes with looking 'Visibly different', though the extent of the disfigurement rarely correlates with the degree of distress the sufferer feels.

An additional factor which affects sufferers of a disfigurement is the reaction they get from other people. The general population responds to people with a disfigurement with less trust and respect and often try to avoid making contact or having to look at the disfigurement. Disfigurements affecting visible areas, such as the face, arms and hands, are thought to present greater difficulty for sufferers to cope with than do other disfigurements. While poverty is real, begging is quite often carried out in organized gangs. For the privilege of begging in a certain territory, each beggar hands over their takings to the gang's ringleader, who keeps a significant share of it. Beggars have also been known to deliberately maim and disfigure themselves to get more money.

Mumbai's growth since 1940s
As the photographer learned the growth of Mumbai has been steady since the 1940s if not phenomenal and at the turn of the 20th century, where its population was some 850,000 people. By 1950 it had more than doubled and over the next 50 years it increased nearly ten-fold to exceed 16 million. Population growth continued into the 21st century and the city's birth rate is much lower than that of the country as a whole because of family-planning programs and the high overall growth rate is largely attributable to the influx of people in search of employment.

"Because of the limited physical expanse of the city, the growth in Mumbai's population has been accompanied by an astounding increase in population density and by the early 21st century the city had reached an average of some 29,500 persons per km²"

Wealthy areas less heavily populated
Settlement is especially dense in much of the city's older section and the wealthy areas near Back Bay are less heavily populated and the city is truly cosmopolitan in India and representatives of almost every religion and region of the world can be found there. Almost half the population is Hindu and significant religious minorities include Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and Jews and almost every Indian language and many foreign languages are spoken in Mumbai. Marathi, the state language, is the dominant Indian language, followed by Gujarati, Hindi and Bengali the so-called 'Bangla' and other languages include Pashto, Arabic, Chinese, English and Urdu.

Fort Area of Mumbai
The photograph for this archive story was taken in the Fort Area of Mumbai. Fort is a business district in Mumbai, India. The area gets its name from the defensive fort, Fort George, built by the 'British East India Company' around Bombay Castle and the area extends from the docks in the east, to Azad Maidan in the west, 'Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus' in the north to Kala Ghoda in the south. This area is the heart of the financial area of the city and many British era structures are located here. The Fort area is a one-stop to all things cultural, artistic, shopping and more. The Fort area sidewalk is a paradise for anyone who likes to explore and if you are looking for books, clothes, cameras, musical instruments and other such interesting things, then the sidewalk is where you are going to find them all.

Then there are numerous restaurants, theatres and other important business houses and not to forget the many opportunities for street shopping. One of the prominent markets here is the 'Crawford Market' and it is one of the most important destinations here, which actually dates back to the British era and the market is located inside a building that was completed in 1869. Here you will find everything from veggies, to cosmetics and even birds.

See this video about the elderly population in India made by The Hindu.

The art of candid portraits
Candid photographs reveal raw emotions and as a photographer you can choose to follow the rhythm of the streets in India. Capture the 'Chaiwala' pouring tea, the tailor stitching fabric, the child balancing a basket of recycled plastic. These unposed moments hold authenticity – their eyes, their hands, their expressions – frozen in time. Step back and widen your frame. Show context. A potter at his wheel, clay smeared on his hands. A woman selling spices, her colorful wares framing her weathered face. These environmental portraits tell not only individual stories but also the collective narrative of Mumbai and many other places in India.

"- As a travel photographer, I've had the opportunity to capture the vibrant and diverse culture of India through my lens. India is a country that offers a feast for the senses with its bustling cities, spectacular landscapes and rich heritage. The experiences I've had as a travel photographer in India have been nothing short of extraordinary. One of the first things I noticed upon arriving in India was the vibrant colors present in every aspect of daily life. From the colorful 'Sarees' and turbans worn by the locals to the intricate designs and colorful decorations adorning the buildings, streets and temples, it was a photographer's dream come true. Every corner I turned, I was met with a new burst of colors that I couldn't wait to capture", the Photographer says again.

The human canvas
"- But India is not just about the colors, it is also about the people. The warmth, hospitality and kindness of the Indians are truly heartwarming. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with a smile and an invitation to partake in their daily activities. From street food vendors to priests in temples, everyone was open and welcoming to me and my camera. It was a humbling experience to be welcomed into the homes and lives of the locals, allowing me to capture intimate and authentic moments. As a travel photographer, I've always been drawn to capturing the essence and soul of a place. And in India, that essence is embodied in its numerous festivals and celebrations. I had the privilege of witnessing some of the most vibrant and colorful festivals such as the 'Diwali festival'. This festival are a visual treat for any photographer, with its elaborate decorations, traditional attire and joyous celebration. It was a challenge to capture the energy and spirit of these festivals, but the end result was always worth it", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Juhu Chowpatty

Juhu Chowpatty

Read also:  Juhu Chowpatty

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a sweeping man in Jaipur. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.