Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning 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 a traditional 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 a traditional nose-ring in a village in Rajasthan.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on June 18, 2024

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.

What is the definition of travel photography?

Travel photography definition is all about bringing the world to people and exposing to them what else is out there. It is about educating people about the customs of other cultures, showing them how they differ from their own. The world is made better by travel photography.

A journey through the lens
India, a land of kaleidoscopic diversity, beckons travel photographers with its myriad hues, textures and stories. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sun-kissed beaches of Goa, every frame reveals a tapestry of culture, spirituality and life. Imagine wandering through bustling bazaars, where 'Saris' blaze like rainbows and 'Chai wallahs' serve steaming cups of history.

Picture ancient temples, their intricate carvings bathed in golden light and the vibrant chaos of street markets. Wildlife enthusiasts find solace in tiger-striped jungles and elephant-dotted grasslands. Faces etched with wrinkles and laughter tell tales of resilience and joy and as the Sun sets over the Ganges, casting a warm glow on pilgrims and rituals, the camera clicks, freezing moments that echo through time.

With travel photography in India – a canvas where colors collide, traditions dance and life unfolds. Each Photographer brings their unique perspective, so explore these themes and find your own creative narrative:

Why is India good for travel photography?

Cultural diversity
India is a melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, traditions and festival. Photographers often focus on capturing the rich tapestry of Indian life, from colorful festivals to everyday moments.

India boasts a wide range of landscapes, including the majestic Himalayas, serene backwaters of Kerala, golden deserts of Rajasthan and lush green tea plantations in the Nilgiris. Landscape photographers find ample inspiration here.

Street photography
The bustling streets of Indian cities provide a treasure trove of candid moments. Street photographers capture the chaos, colors and human interactions that define urban life.

Temples and architecture
India is home to magnificent temples, forts, palaces and historical monuments. Photographers often focus on intricate details, symmetry and the play of light and shadow in these structures.

Wildlife photography
India's national parks and wildlife sanctuaries offer incredible opportunities for wildlife photography. From tigers in Bandhavgarh to elephants in Kaziranga, the country's biodiversity is awe-inspiring.

Indian faces tell stories. Portrait photographers seek to capture the expressions, wrinkles and character of people from different regions and walks of life.

Colors and textures
Vibrant 'Saris', bustling markets and intricate textiles provide a feast for the eyes. Photographers emphasize the vivid colors and textures that define India.

Spirituality and rituals
India's spiritual practices, rituals and ceremonies are visually captivating. Photographers document everything from pilgrimages to sacred rituals along the Ganges.

Photographing in India as a travel photographer
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.

India's diversity is evident in its myriad languages, cuisines, festivals and artistic expressions. Each region of the country has its own distinct identity, shaped by historical influences and geographical factors. For instance, the vibrant and colorful festivals of Rajasthan contrast sharply with the serene and minimalist traditions of Kerala. The bustling streets of Mumbai, characterized by their fast pace and cosmopolitan nature, present a stark difference to the tranquil, traditional life found in the villages of Tamil Nadu.

Religious diversity is another cornerstone of Indian culture. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and numerous other faiths coexist, often influencing one another in profound ways. This coexistence is visible in the shared festivals and the syncretic traditions that mark the Indian social landscape. For instance, the festival of 'Diwali', while primarily a Hindu celebration, is embraced by people of various faiths across the country. Moreover, India's cultural heritage is enriched by its Historical monuments, classical music, dance forms and literature. From the ancient epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana to the intricate classical dances of Bharatanatyam and Kathak, each art form tells a story of the region's past, its values and its worldviews.

The country's regional cuisines also reflect this diversity. The spicy curries of the north, the coconut-infused dishes of the south, the seafood delicacies of the coastal areas and the vegetarian 'Thalis' of Gujarat showcase the variety and richness of Indian gastronomy. Each dish is a testament to the local ingredients, climate and cultural preferences. However, despite this immense diversity, there are common threads that weave the Indian subcontinent into a cohesive whole. Respect for family, reverence for elders, a deep sense of community and the importance of hospitality are values shared across the nation. These values manifest in everyday interactions, whether in urban centers or rural villages.

Travelers to India will find that adaptability and an open mind are crucial for truly appreciating the country's cultural mosaic. Engaging with local customs, participating in festivals, trying regional foods, and learning a few phrases in the local languages can enhance their experience and understanding of India's unique cultural landscape. So, while India is a tapestry of diverse cultures, languages and traditions, the unifying themes of respect, community and spirituality bind its people together. Appreciating this diversity, while acknowledging the common values, allows for a deeper, more meaningful exploration of the country.

"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"

Flash photography may be inappropriate
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 photograph 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 photograph 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 photograph 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 photograph 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' a 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.

"It is always good to be prepared for any situation when you are on the road with your photography equipment. Although not equipment in the traditional sense, having access to information about photo locations, cultural events or historical sites can be a drawback"

Adventure through India
India, the land of vibrant colors, ancient traditions and breathtaking landscapes has always captured the photographer's imagination. As an avid traveler and photographer, he embarked on a journey to this kaleidoscopic country, armed with his camera and a heart full of curiosity. Little did he know that his adventure through some of the provinces in India would prove to be a photographer's paradise, where every frame tells a compelling story with India travel photography and travel photography India.

The best places for travel photography in India
India, with its vibrant culture and diverse landscapes, offers myriad opportunities for travel photography and India pictures and beautiful pictures of India. Here are some of the best places to capture stunning images and each of these. Each of these destinations in India offers a unique blend of history, culture and natural beauty, providing endless opportunities for photographers to capture the essence of this diverse and vibrant country and hopefully be able to get the best travel photography in India:

Rajasthan, the land of kings, is a photographer's dream with its majestic forts, ornate palaces and vast desert landscapes. In Jaipur, the Hawa Mahal with its intricate latticework and the imposing Amber Fort with its intricate architecture offer stunning visuals. The blue hues of Jodhpur's old city contrast against the desert backdrop, creating an unforgettable sight. Udaipur, known as the 'City of Lakes', provides picturesque scenes with its tranquil lakes and the majestic City Palace reflecting in the water. Each corner of Rajasthan tells a story of royal grandeur and architectural splendor, making it a haven for photographers.

Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, is a photographer's paradise with its ancient 'Ghats' along the sacred Ganges River. The early morning rituals, including the mesmerizing 'Ganga Aarti', where lamps are floated down the river amidst chanting priests and devotees, provide evocative scenes of spirituality and devotion. The narrow alleys of Varanasi's old city buzz with life, offering candid photographs of locals going about their daily rituals and the vibrant colors of 'Sarees' and flower garlands. The aged temples and bustling markets add layers of cultural richness to every frame captured here.

Kerala, aptly known as 'God's Own Country', is blessed with diverse landscapes that make it a photographer's delight. The backwaters of Alleppey, with their serene network of canals and traditional houseboats gliding on the water, offer tranquil and reflective photography opportunities. Munnar's rolling hills carpeted with tea plantations create a mesmerizing green canvas punctuated by misty mornings and golden sunsets. Along the coast, Kovalam's beaches present scenes of fishermen at work and vibrant sunsets over the Arabian Sea. Cultural photography thrives in Kerala's temples, where elaborate rituals and festivals unfold against a backdrop of ancient architecture and lush greenery.

Ladakh, nestled in the high Himalayas, is a landscape photographer's playground with its rugged terrain, high-altitude lakes and ancient monasteries perched dramatically on cliffs. Pangong Lake, with its ever-changing shades of blue reflecting the surrounding mountains, is a surreal sight that must be captured during sunrise or sunset. The Nubra Valley's stark beauty and the double-humped Bactrian camels against the backdrop of sand dunes create a mystical ambiance. The monasteries of Hemis, Thiksey and Diskit not only offer architectural marvels but also cultural insights into Tibetan Buddhism. Ladakh's sparse population and untouched landscapes make it a haven for those seeking raw natural beauty and spiritual tranquility.

Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a photographer's paradise with its evocative ruins, ancient temples and surreal boulder-strewn landscapes. The Virupaksha Temple complex, with its intricate carvings and towering gopuram, offers endless architectural details to capture. The iconic stone chariot at the Vittala Temple and the Vitthala Temple complex, with its musical pillars and carved pillars, are testament to the grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire and the surrounding landscapes dotted with massive boulders and lush banana plantations create a dramatic backdrop for any photograph. Hampi's mystical atmosphere and historical significance make it a favourite among history buffs and photographers alike.

Goa, famous for its golden beaches and Portuguese heritage, offers a rich tapestry of subjects for photographers. Beyond the sun, sand and sea, Goa's Colonial architecture in Panaji and Old Goa, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus with its baroque architecture and ancient relics, provides a glimpse into its storied past. The vibrant markets, such as the Mapusa Market and the Anjuna Flea Market, burst with colors and local flavors, perfect for street photography. Goa's festivals, especially 'Carnival' and 'Christmas', bring out the lively spirit of its people, adding cultural depth to any photograph. Goa's laid-back vibe and fusion of Indian and Portuguese cultures make it a captivating destination for photography enthusiasts.

Rishikesh and Haridwar
Rishikesh and Haridwar, nestled along the banks of the Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayas, offer serene landscapes and rich spiritual experiences for photographers. Haridwar's Har Ki Pauri Ghat especially during the 'Ganga Aarti ceremony' at sunset, where priests perform rituals with fire and 'Chants', creates a mesmerizing spectacle against the backdrop of the flowing river. Rishikesh's ashrams and yoga centers, set amidst lush greenery and overlooking the Ganges, provide tranquil settings for capturing moments of meditation and spiritual contemplation. The Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula suspension bridges span the river, offering panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the bustling life on the riverbanks. Rishikesh and Haridwar's blend of spirituality, natural beauty and cultural richness make them compelling destinations for photographers seeking moments of peace and reflection.

Meghalaya, known as the 'Abode of Clouds', is a hidden gem in northeastern India, offering unique landscapes and cultural experiences for photographers. The living root bridges near Cherrapunji, formed by training tree roots over decades, are architectural marvels nestled in dense rainforests, providing a surreal and eco-friendly subject. The cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong, with its picturesque bamboo houses and manicured gardens, offers a glimpse into traditional Khasi life amidst stunning natural beauty. Meghalaya's numerous waterfalls, including Nohkalikai Falls plunging dramatically into verdant valleys, provide awe-inspiring scenes for nature photographers. The state's rich tribal culture and warm hospitality add depth to the photographic narrative, making Meghalaya a captivating destination off the beaten path.

"India is a visual feast for photographers because every corner is a potential masterpiece waiting to be captured. From the ornate architecture of the Taj Mahal to the bustling streets of Mumbai, it seemed as if every step the photographer took presented him with a new and captivating subject. The diverse cultural tapestry of this vast subcontinent gave birth to a multitude of colorful festivals, traditional ceremonies and everyday scenes that left him spellbound"

See this video about travel photography in India made by Solo Photographer.

The photographer's own experience with travel photography in India
"- What struck me most about photographing in India was its people. The locals, with their warm smiles and open hearts, were always willing to invite me into their lives. Whether it was a group of children playing cricket in a dusty village or an elderly craftsman passionately engrossed in his trade, every encounter painted a thousand emotions onto my lens. I found myself not just capturing moments but forming connections with my subjects, as they unabashedly revealed their stories to me", the Photographer says.

"- Photographing in India is a test of one's ability to embrace chaos. The bustling markets, overcrowded trains and honking traffic might intimidate some, but for a photographer, these seemingly chaotic scenes provide endless opportunities for creativity. The clamor of life in India, eccentrically juxtaposed with moments of tranquility, enabled me to capture the raw, unfiltered emotions and the pulse of this incredible nation. However, photographing in India was not without its challenges. The sheer size and diversity of the country meant that there was always something new to learn and adapt to. The scorching heat, language barriers and cultural sensitivities sometimes tested my patience. But, ultimately, it was these very challenges that pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow as a photographer", the Photographer says again.

"- So photographing in India was an invigorating and transformative experience. It taught me to view the world through different views, as I have described on Travel and Tourism Directory – to appreciate the beauty in chaos, find harmony in contrasts and embrace the vibrant stories that each photo has to offer. India's timeless charm, its people and its rich cultural heritage captured not only through my lenses but also in the depths of my soul as described on Photography Directory Project. My journey through this enchanting country left an indelible imprint upon my photography and, above all, filled my heart with a lifelong love for the art of storytelling through imagery", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Holy cows of India

Holy cows of India

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 an Indian woman in Rajasthan. 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.