In this ninety-seventh archive story by Kristian Bertel, we learn about being a photographer and the skills of taking travel photographs in India. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
With travel photography you want to convey not only the scenes you have seen but also the feelings and emotions associated with the locations. The unexpected is always around the corner when you travel and with some careful preparation and a keen photographic eye you can produce some memorable results. In this photograph an Indian woman is wearing traditional Nath or nose-ring in a village in Rajasthan.
With travel photography you want to convey not only the scenes you have seen but also the feelings and emotions associated with the locations. The unexpected is always around the corner when you travel and with some careful preparation and a keen photographic eye you can produce some memorable results. In this photograph an Indian woman is wearing traditional Nath or nose-ring in a village in Rajasthan.

Travel photography in India

Travel photography is a genre of photography that may involve the documentation of an area's landscape, people, cultures, customs and history. The definition of a travel photo is a photograph that expresses the feeling of a time and place, portrays a land, its people or a culture in its natural state and has no geographical limitations.

Photographing the spiritual India
India's rich and multi-layered cultures are dominated by religious and spiritual themes. While it is a mistake to assume that there is a single unified Indian culture, there certainly are unifying themes that link the various cultures. One thing that foreign travelers need to know is that India is, in many ways, heterogeneous and if they experience one set of behaviours from the locals in one part of the country, it does not mean that the same behaviour is common in another area. 'Naths' or nose-rings from Rajasthan are made of gold and are famous for their artisitic value and thery are considered utmost auspicious Naths are must to be worn on any family function, marriage, pooja and other important social functions. The weight and number of pearls inserted in a Nath are indicative of status of family of a lady. Now its shape have modernised but traditional Naths have beautiful look. A nose-jewel is a piece of jewelry that is worn on the nose. Most commonly associated since ancient times with women from the Indian subcontinent, these ornaments, are attached through a piercing on the side of the nostril. Double nose gems are common amongst South Indian, Pasthun, Punjabi, Rajastani and Nepali ethnic groups. These are called 'Nathori'. In Maharashtra women wear one large nathori covering the side of the face and Bengali women prefer the septum piercing showing a sign of marriage.

"Whether you look at them as the most expensive photographs you have ever taken or the least expensive souvenirs you have ever purchased and whether you take snapshots or create images and travel photography is one of the most popular activities for those who travel"

Cameras and photography etiquette
The single most important choice to make is what kind of camera to purchase and or bring along. There is no single best camera – or even kind of camera – for travel photography. The kind of pictures you want to take, how much flexibility or ease-of-use you want, your budget, and even how much you want to carry all factor into it. SLR cameras which provide the best manipulative ability and features, at the expense of the cost and other factors such as the size, the need for lens cleaning, the lack of automatic settings and they are for the serious travel photographer, but there can be problems when you just want to photograph something from inside a bus window. Last years compact and SLR tend to merge in both prices and capabilities. Unless you need to photograph in extreme conditions like in ultra low light, then the compact is probably the best. One of the most practical things to remember with a camera is that you are capturing light in India. If you are photographing outside, make sure the sun is to your back. If you are photographing into the sun it will throw off the automatic settings on your camera and you will have a very dark image and the same applies to shadows and placing someone in shadows and standing in the light to photograph them will likely be disappointing and the same applies to inside photography. Taking a photo with an outside window in the frame will throw off the automatic settings and result in a dark image of what is in front of the window. Be aware that people in other cultures may view being photographed differently from you. In some countries, it is illegal to take pictures of individuals without their consent. Some indigenous groups, for instance, believe their souls are captured when they are photographed. Members of some religious people consider having their picture taken an act of impious vanity and although they may permit it they do not welcome it and cameras may also not be welcome during some religious rituals, in certain religious buildings or at certain cultural events. Such particular views on photography should always be taken into account when deciding whom, what and when to photograph. When in doubt, it is always better to ask before taking a photo.

There are various situations in which flash photography may be inappropriate. Sometimes it will not be permitted, either to preserve a solemn atmosphere, or to protect antiquities from the damaging effects of bright light. Keep in mind that flash usually will not illuminate things more than a few meters away, so taking flash photos of the roof of a cathedral would be both distracting and ineffective. Flash also tends to spoil the natural appearance of the things you are trying to photograph and if the object is behind protective glass, then your camera may end up blinding itself with the reflection of its own flash. So if you can disable your camera's flash and shoot by natural light and holding the camera very steady to compensate for slow shutter speeds, it may very well be worth the effort.

Tips for travel photography
• Research
• Take portraits
• Always carry a camera with you
• Set yourself an assignment
• Equipment

Purchase the best travel guide you can afford and find out everything about the locations you will be visiting and find out about the natural beauty, tourist sites and the culture and look at the images in the guides and see what the important areas are and what you need to record. You should also learn about local transportation and distances as well as timing to reach the areas you want to visit and learn about the culture and find out what you can photograph and what is forbidden, what the dress codes are and any local laws or rules and moreover you can also read these Tips for photographing in India on National Geographic.

Respect cultures when photographing
By respecting the local culture and as the photographer mentioned before by learning some of the most important phrases most locals will allow you to shoot their portraits. When photographing them close-ups are great and reveal character and the beauty of people you are not familiar with. But, this is the time to photograph portraits of people within their environments so shoot fewer head and shoulders and more with some of the background. Use wide angle lenses more often for great photographs. Better yet, carry the equipment you will need for each particular situation that you might encounter while you are out exploring and deciding on achievable, photographic goals before going out on a photo walk is important. Even a very basic theme like circles or blue can provide focus and pave the way for growth, productivity and creativity, eliminating those thousand ill-contrived snapshots. By photographing a series of photographs at a location you will be able to tell a story of the life of the local people. How they dress, work, have fun and where they live and relax and select a theme or shoot at a market and try to think about the end result and how you will tell friends and family about your trip in just pictures and maybe photograph a day in the life of a local you have befriended from morning till bedtime.

Lenses for travel photography
For professional and prosumer cameras with interchangeable lenses, the choice of lenses to bring along becomes crucial. Many come with a standard kit lens that covers the range from wide-angle to short-telephoto and for a high-end digital SLR this might be in the range of 18-70mm and for a 35mm SLR 28-100mm would be equivalent. Many photographers carry along a tripod and even a little pen-sized model can come in handy if you want to set up timed shots of yourself and yours and if weight is an issue for instance when hiking, consider a monopod instead. Sometimes using the tripod will put you in the professional category and you suddenly need copyright permissions for what the owners of the place now consider commercial photography.

Read also:  Holy cows 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 a sadhu in Pushkar. 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.