Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning about taking India street photography in Mumbai.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
In this India street photograph, we see Indian men patiently waiting at a bustling bus junction. As a photographer, he finds India's remarkable diversity of people to be its defining feature. The vast array of physical appearances, religious beliefs and racial backgrounds mirrors the country's rich linguistic tapestry. Beneath this diversity, there lies a profound continuity of Indian civilization and social structure, stretching back from ancient times to the present day.
In this India street photograph, we see Indian men patiently waiting at a bustling bus junction. As a photographer, he finds India's remarkable diversity of people to be its defining feature. The vast array of physical appearances, religious beliefs and racial backgrounds mirrors the country's rich linguistic tapestry. Beneath this diversity, there lies a profound continuity of Indian civilization and social structure, stretching back from ancient times to the present day.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on May 6, 2024

India street photography

Capturing the essence of India through photography is a joy for any traveler wanting to share the country's wonders with those back home. From vibrant festivals to lively street markets, every day offers new opportunities to wield the camera. What is more, the Indian populace's unique comfort in front of the lens ensures no shortage of captivating subjects. To enhance your street photography in this dynamic setting, consider the following insights shared by the photographer.





What is street photography

Street photography is an art form that documents everyday life in public spaces. The openness of these settings allows photographers to capture candid moments of strangers, often without their awareness.


Techniques for India street photography
India's kaleidoscope of colors, cultures and contrasts provides a wealth of opportunities for photographers, especially those drawn to the streets. To authentically portray daily life in India's bustling thoroughfares, a keen eye and mastery of specific techniques are essential. One key aspect of successful street photography in India is blending in with the surroundings. Whether amidst the hustle of a Mumbai bus junction or the serenity of a local market, photographers must immerse themselves in the scene to capture genuine, unguarded moments.

Another vital technique is harnessing natural light. India's sunlight, whether casting a soft dawn glow or bathing scenes in golden hues at sunset, can elevate ordinary scenes to extraordinary photographs. Photographers often seek out intriguing plays of light and shadow, using them to infuse depth and drama into their compositions.

The importance of composition
In the midst of India's vibrant chaos, photographers must train their eyes to find order amid apparent disorder. Concepts such as leading lines, juxtapositions and framing techniques come into play, allowing for visually compelling stories within a single frame. Whether it is a solitary figure against a backdrop of colorful 'Saris' or children playing cricket amidst Mumbai's chaos, mastering composition transforms a mere snapshot into a captivating narrative and the photographer has some key tips for India street photography.

Patience is key in India
This is perhaps the most crucial advice the photographer can offer. No one enjoys being immediately photographed, which can create an uneasy feeling even among photo enthusiasts in India. So, be prepared for these situations. Take a moment to sit and observe, lower your camera initially and blend into the scene. You would be surprised how many people you can observe without drawing attention. Whether in a bustling market, a serene park with landmarks or any other location, take your time to blend in. The photographer has often experienced locals approaching after some time, asking to have their picture taken. They noticed the photographer had been there for a while, capturing moments. Typically, people lose initial interest in foreigners over time.

Each moment holds a potential story
The allure of the country's streets lies in their unpredictability, where each moment holds a potential story waiting to be told. Photographers frequently invest hours in one spot, anticipating the ideal fusion of elements. Whether it is the vibrant spectacle of a festival procession or the spontaneous joy of children playing in a narrow alleyway, patience often yields a photograph that resonates deeply.

Engage in communication during street photography
Before pressing the camera shutter, a courteous gesture and asking permission are the bare minimums. Showing genuine interest in your subject is far more effective. Start by lowering your camera, strike up a conversation, inquire about the happenings or items for sale around. Share a bit about yourself. Demonstrating a sincere curiosity often leads to natural invitations for photographs. Whether it is engaging with a 'Sadhu' audience, being welcomed to a wedding or capturing the essence of street life, it is not just the camera but intentional interest that opens doors.

Once you have snapped a few initial shots, show them on your camera screen. If there is something amusing, it can break the ice beautifully. When traveling to India, the primary aim is often photography. With an abundance of subjects and opportunities unique to the country, there is an unmatched freshness and diversity. However, note that certain areas are off-limits, such as military facilities, airports, railway stations and specific regions of tribal territories. Be mindful of your surroundings, as reactions can vary widely and are not always positive.

Know the culture
Some areas, such as military facilities or certain tribal territories, are off-limits for photography. Respect local customs and be aware of potential reactions from those around you.

Master your equipment
Whether using a wide-angled lens to capture sweeping scenes or a telephoto zoom lens to isolate details, understand your gear. Preparing your camera settings in advance ensures you are ready to capture the fleeting moments that make Indian street life so vibrant.

Much of what is regarded, stylistically and subjectively, as definitive Street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th century through to the late 1970s, which was a photographic period which saw the emergence of portable cameras that enabled Candid photography in public places and many years later the photographer of this website explains:




"In the realm of street photography, India offers a boundless canvas of human stories and vibrant moments. It's not just about capturing images – it's about preserving slices of life, weaving together tales of the everyday magic found in India's streets. So, grab your camera, immerse yourself"




Street photography, for the Photographer, revolves around capturing the human experience within public spaces, such as this neighborhood in Mumbai. As a traveler with a camera, they discover that street photography isn't limited to literal streets or urban settings. The subject of street photography can sometimes lack human presence, like the boy depicted in this archived story or it can encompass objects or environments that exude a distinct human essence or aesthetic. The artistry often lies in framing and timing, with the intent of capturing moments of significance or poignancy in Mumbai or any other part of India.

Tips for street photography:
• Preparation
• Focusing
• Subjects
• Mono or color
• Equipment

For a street photographer, readiness is key while navigating the bustling streets. This not only enhances the quality of your photographs but also makes the experience more enjoyable when you have found the perfect spot. Expect the unexpected when capturing moments in these lively streets, where something different, new or intriguing awaits almost daily. In India, mastering this genre requires anticipating the actions of people, resulting in compelling photographs. Additionally, remember that in street photography, focus is not just about sharpness but also about the depth of field.

Find a photographic story or project
In street photography, achieving a broad depth of field is often crucial, unlike in other genres. The photographer suggests setting your aperture to 'F/11' or smaller, particularly for capturing street scenes rather than individual objects. Manual focusing may also be necessary to ensure clarity. When embarking on a photo walk through the vibrant streets of India, selecting a subject or subjects requires thoughtful consideration beforehand. A helpful approach is to establish a theme or set a personal project to guide your photographic journey.

Monochrome images from masters
Street photography in India has been celebrated through captivating monochrome images by renowned masters like Raghu Rai. The diverse array of subjects, the play of contrasting lighting, textures and patterns all contribute to the creation of striking black and white photographs. While many esteemed photographers predominantly work in black and white, it is worth noting that color can also yield impressive results. One valuable tip for digital photographers exploring black and white is that converting color images to monochrome using software after the shot often produces superior results.

Know your camera equipment in India
Before embarking on a photography journey to India, the photographer ensures fully charged batteries and ample memory cards are on hand. Additionally, they pre-set aperture, exposure and 'ISO' for anticipated scenarios, considering what and where they might be photographing along with the expected lighting conditions. The camera is worn on the hip via a discreet strap, offering the advantage of quick access without immediately drawing attention. In bustling cities like Mumbai and indeed throughout India, captivating subjects can emerge swiftly in street photography. By having the camera prepared and the flexibility to adjust settings on the fly, the potential for exceptional captures is greatly enhanced.




"Mastering street photography techniques in India is a journey of discovery and immersion into the heart of the country. It is about more than just capturing images it is about telling stories, preserving moments and celebrating the vibrant tapestry of life found in India's streets. So, grab your camera, venture out into the chaos and let the magic of India's streets unfold before your lens"





See this video about India street photography made by Anubhav Roy.




Choosing the right camera
"- Many talented photographers have found their niche in Indian street photography, each offering a unique perspective on the country's daily life. Exploring Mumbai's bustling streets, in particular, presents a vivid canvas for enthusiasts, capturing the city's rich culture with every click of the shutter. Indian street photography thrives on discovering beauty in the ordinary, transforming mundane scenes into captivating visual stories", the Photographer says.

"- As a devoted Nikon photographer, there's an unmatched thrill in navigating India's vibrant streets with my trusty camera in hand. From the lively markets to the serene temples, every corner of this diverse nation presents a photographic gem. While nearly any camera can be used for street photography, the quality often matches the capabilities of the equipment. Personally, I opt for Nikon cameras and prefer a fairly wide-angled lens to capture expansive street scenes", the Photographer says again.

"- Telephoto zoom lenses also prove invaluable, allowing for scene isolation, detailed close-ups and precise framing. A wide aperture proves beneficial for shooting in shaded or dimly lit environments. Remember, street photography is not just about honing your skills – it's about experiencing a different view of life, one filled with the endless characters and stories that India's streets offer"
, the Photographer says again.

"- As a Nikon enthusiast with an unyielding wanderlust, India's vibrant chaos, rich history and vivid colors have always beckoned. Finally venturing into its bustling streets, camera in hand, I found myself capturing every emotion, hue and moment before me. As my Indian journey draws to a close, I reflect on the myriad scenes I've frozen in time with my Nikon. From the vibrant chaos of a Mumbai bus junction to the intimate portraits of India, each photograph narrates a story of this dack my camera and prepare to depart, these memories, immortalized in pixels and color, will forever resonate within me," the Photographer concludes, reminiscing on my remarkable journey through India's vibrant streets", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  An Indian portrait



An Indian portrait


Read also:  An Indian portrait

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 people at a bus junction in Mumbai. 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.

Back