Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are portraying an Indian man at the Durga Mandir Rd in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
The photographer is a believer in that virtually any lens can take a good portrait shot if you work to its strengths. Having said that, some lenses do tend to lend themselves to great portraits. He finds that a focal length between 50mm and 135mm is a good range to work with. Going for wide angle lenses can also produce interesting shots but you will often find that they do distort your subject's face a little, sometimes this is very effective.
The photographer is a believer in that virtually any lens can take a good portrait shot if you work to its strengths. Having said that, some lenses do tend to lend themselves to great portraits. He finds that a focal length between 50mm and 135mm is a good range to work with. Going for wide angle lenses can also produce interesting shots but you will often find that they do distort your subject's face a little, sometimes this is very effective.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 22, 2024

Durga Mandir Rd portraiture

Photographing people in India a good way is to think about what is in the background behind the people you are photographing. Ideally you want something that is not too distracting but that adds to the context of the place you are shooting in. Another technique for photographing portraits of people that ignores the 'Contextual' rule is to find a brightly lit position with a dark background. This can really help the face you are shooting to pop out and capture the viewer's attention. In the photo above the photographer pictured an Indian man.

What is a Mandir?

A Mandir or Hindu temple is a symbolic house, seat and body of divinity for Hindus. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism. The symbolism and structure of a Hindu temple are rooted in Vedic traditions, deploying circles and squares.

Portrait taken near the Durga
Durga Mandir also known as Durga Kund Mandir, Durga Temple and also monkey temple, is one of the most famous temples in the holy city of Varanasi. This temple has great religious importance in Hinduism and is dedicated to the Maa Durga. Durga Mandir was constructed in the eighteenth century by Bengali Maharani, which means 'Bengali Queen'. Durga Mandir was constructed in eighteenth century by Bengali Maharani. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Durga. Next to the temple, is a 'Kund', which means pond which was earlier connected to the river Ganges.

It is believed that the existing icon of the goddess was not made by a man but appeared on its own in the temple. In 'Adhyaya' of the 'Devi-Bhagavata Purana', this temple's origin is explained. As per the text, Kashi Naresh, king of Varanasi called for a 'Swayamvar' for his daughter Sashikala's marriage.

The King later learned that the princess was in love with vanvasi prince Sudarshan. So Kashi Naresh got his daughter secretly married to the prince. When the other Kings who were invited for 'Swayamvar' got to know about the marriage, they got angry and went on war with Kashi Naresh. Sudarshan then offered prayers to Durga, who came on a lion and fought the war for Kashi Naresh and Sudarshan. After the war, Kashi Naresh pleaded to Durga to protect Varanasi and with that belief, this temple was constructed. The temple was built in North Indian Nagara style of architecture.

"The temple is painted red with ochre to match the colors of the central icon of Durga, the goddess of strength and power"

Carved and engraved stones
Inside the temple, lots of elaborately carved and engraved stones can be found. The temple is made up of many small sikharas conjoined together. Quite often it is the photographs of people dressed in national costume that tend to attract photographers when traveling. While these photographs can be very effective the photographer is wondering if they are always really representative of a culture and these people have dressed up especially for a show or tourist attraction and the majority of people in that country look quite different. Mix up the types, gender and ages of people that you take photos of and you can end up with a very effective collage of faces of a country.

In the colorful tapestry of India, every street corner, every bustling market, and every serene village holds stories waiting to be told. As a traveler exploring this vibrant land, one of the most rewarding experiences is capturing the essence of its people through portraits.

As a photographer you will find a treasure trove of faces, each with its own unique charm and character. From the weathered lines etched on the faces of elderly chai wallahs to the bright eyes of children playing in the dusty alleys, India is a photographer's paradise, offering endless opportunities for capturing moments frozen in time.But taking portraits in India goes beyond just clicking a camera shutter. It is about connecting with people, understanding their stories and immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of Indian culture. It is about building trust, breaking barriers and capturing the soul behind the lens.

Candid photography in India
As a photographer and traveler in India it is an obvious reason to photograph candid and get candid. For instance to choose a longer focal length can be useful for putting your subjects a little more at ease. Some of the most authentic portraits come from capturing candid moments. Whether it is a spontaneous laugh, a contemplative gaze or a fleeting expression, be ready to click the camera shutter when the moment presents itself. Candid portraits often reveal the true essence of a person's personality and emotions. India's vibrant street scenes offer a plethora of lighting conditions to experiment with. From harsh sunlight casting dramatic shadows to soft golden hour hues, use natural light to your advantage. Play with shadows, backlighting and reflections to add depth and dimension to your portraits.

Beyond capturing a mere likeness, strive to tell a story through your portraits. Pay attention to the details – the wrinkles, the scars, the laughter lines – each one narrates a chapter of a person's life. Look for interesting backgrounds, props, or elements that complement the narrative and add context to your photographs. India is a land of diverse customs and traditions. Be mindful of cultural sensitivities, especially when photographing religious or sacred spaces. Seek permission before photographing in temples, mosques or other places of worship and always respect local customs and traditions.

Finally, do not forget to share the joy of photography with your subjects. Show them their portraits, engage in conversation and spread smiles. Photography is a universal language that transcends barriers and brings people together.In the tapestry of India's kaleidoscopic landscape, taking portraits is not just about capturing faces – it is about capturing the spirit of a nation – its resilience, its diversity and its unwavering spirit. So grab your camera, immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of India and let the stories unfold through your lens.

See this video about Durga Puja made by Incredible India.

"- Keep your camera to the eye for taking those spontaneous photographs between the more posed ones. It is amazing what images that you can find when the person is not "ready" for you to photograph or just after you have taken a photograph. These photographs often include people interacting with others or expressing true emotion. I find setting my camera to continuous photographing mode where it will photograph burts of frames quickly often leads to some wonderful candid photographs", the Photographer says.

"- Language barriers were also a frequent hurdle during my travels. While many people in India do speak English, there were times when I had to rely on my camera and non-verbal communication to connect with my subjects. It was during these moments that I realized the true power of photography in bringing people together. But above all, what makes India such a special place for a travel photographer is its people. Despite the challenges and differences, the people I met across the country were always welcoming and hospitable. Whether it was a curious child in a village or a group of elderly women in a temple, everyone was eager to share their stories and be a part of my photographs", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Hindu temples of India

Hindu temples of India

Read also:  Hindu temples of India

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 an Indian man in Varanasi. 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.