Planning and Managing a Images Journey to India


I traveled to India for a month in January 2020 to increase my world The Folks street-studio collection to south Asia. India is among the nice, image-rich journey pictures locations, and it seems to be on many photographers’ journey pictures wishlist. So, I assumed I’d share how I deliberate and managed the journey.

The first purpose of my journey was to additional my goal of photographing folks towards a conveyable white background throughout all seven continents.

To be frank, there are lots of photographers which have completed related white-background work — from Richard Avedon’s in his In The American West to a multi-year collection on New Yorkers that has run in New York Journal. This type isolates folks. It strips out the data density of the atmosphere and focuses on the particular person, their gestures, and clothes. In my thoughts, as my collection extends throughout places, it begins to edge into visible anthropology or ethnographic pictures.

I’ve already shot in Shanghai, Mexico (the place I dwell), Selma, Alabama, and Venice Seaside in L.A. As you may think, my journey has been a bit shut down since COVID hit.

Photographing in India required fairly a little bit of planning. This was my system.

The place To?

I chosen my locations based mostly on India’s January climate. I flew out and in of New Delhi. I selected to {photograph} in Rajasthan’s lake metropolis Udaipur and the very busy Jaipur for his or her good-looking folks in addition to town of Varanasi for its richness of Hindu tradition.

Varanasi and its location on the Ganges, to place it mildly, is mind-blowing. I spent hours exploring the ghats – the steps main right down to the river. I have to admit that these places are customary and well-covered photographic locations. However, like Sinatra, I did it my means.

Earlier than you make your selections, discover your inspiration. I studied the work of Raghu Rai; the unbelievable dexterity of the multi-talented Dayanita Singh; and the USA’s Steve McCurry, and Mary Ellen Mark earlier than I hit the tarmac.

India is huge and sophisticated, and I believe that I should return throughout a distinct season sometime simply so as to add some texture to the places and other people. I’m pondering of heading to Dharamsala (the place the Dalai Lama lives) within the north or the japanese metropolis of Kolkata for its complicated society and historical past.

How To?

One of many first issues you will have to do is to get an Indian Visa. Plan forward. Here’s what The Authorities of India says:

All overseas nationals getting into India are required to own a sound worldwide journey doc within the type of a nationwide passport with a sound visa from an Indian Mission/Submit or eVisa from Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of House Affairs.

This was not a tough course of, however your passport will want not less than two clean pages and 6 months of validity. Give your self time and be aware how lengthy your kind of visa lasts. My visa was for thirty days. Clearly, we are going to all have to attend till India resumes journey into the nation.

One among my first journey planning selections was how one can discover fixers, guides, and assistants as my work required two assistants and Hindi translators. I discovered Rajasthan’s information service TGS Jaipur by way of constructive Journey Advisor critiques. These of us had been so skilled that I established a friendship with the proprietor Nikhil even earlier than the journey and wound up being invited by him to be a visitor at his good friend’s large Jaipur wedding ceremony and later within the journey for a few dinners out. I discovered two younger assistants in Varanasi through a web based search. They had been pictures college students, so our time collectively added to the expertise.

My pre-trip planning included producing 200 orange rubber wrist bands with my pictures web site URL in each English and Hind. I handed these out as warm-ups and as a gesture of friendship (children beloved them.) Plus, I introduced The Folks India challenge tee-shirts for my assistants as thanks presents. I additionally had copies of my Mexico and Selma picture newspaper zines to indicate topics that my collection may be very severe. I print these low-cost newspaper zines to provide again to the communities I shoot in — the zines talk my professionalism as I transfer ahead into new places.

Frankly, any photographer unfurling a big transportable white background on a metropolis or small-town avenue seems quite severe.

My Gear

I wish to shoot and journey mild and used a Tenba Shootout 16L DSLR backpack for all my digital camera tools. This bag included copies of all my journey paperwork and barely left my facet after I traveled (I stayed at nicer resorts so didn’t fear about leaving tools in my room).

I labored with two black Fujifilm XT-3 our bodies, one prime Fujinon 50mm f/2 lens, three Godox TT685 camera-mounted strobes and all of the batteries and chargers I’d want. I used to be in some off-the-beaten paths and knew that there was no means I’d be capable of substitute any tools throughout the journey. I additionally introduced the light-weight Fujifilm X100F as a walk-around digital camera. In case of a technical emergency, I packed a small flashlight and a Gerber Essential multi-tool. Okay, I additionally carried some additional TP for any ‘human’ emergencies.

When I’m out on the road, I’ve my assistants use two tall poles to stretch out a large seven-foot-tall white sheet. I used to be unsure how one can discover poles in India so introduced collapsible steel tent poles that slot in my suitcase. I carried two white sheets and duct tape with me to be sure that I might not spend treasured time looking down my backdrop system.

I exploit Adobe Lightroom for post-production to regulate distinction, colour, cropping, and to make the background pure white since I’m photographing in assorted lighting circumstances. Even a well-lit material background can present shadows and wrinkles.

Since my assistants are an integral component of the shoot, they had been well-versed in understanding my goals and helped me talk with the topics. All of us bought higher at this because the journey progressed.


I mixed automobile journey with the crew between Udaipur and Jaipur. And I flew brief cheap flights between Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai, and New Delhi. I flew to India in enterprise class on Air Canada. Low value? No. However, I’ve bought to inform ya that having a totally reclinable seat made the 27-hour journey from my house base in Mexico to India a bit extra snug (an understatement).

Making Associates

I discussed that I used to be invited to a marriage in Jaipur. Indian weddings are, to place it mildly, out of this world. The marriage appeared like over 500 folks and included elephants and drones. For those who can, attempt to expertise one. This wedding ceremony was so massive that my presence didn’t even make a dent. Apparently, there are tour corporations that may prepare so that you can attend an Indian wedding ceremony as a ‘visitor’.

Fortunately after thirty years in advertising, I’ve a big worldwide enterprise community on LinkedIn. I had dinner, drinks, and occasional plans with mates of mates in just about each metropolis. The truth is, I used to be invited to lecture on advertising in New Delhi and Mumbai universities just because I used to be that stranger in an odd land. I’m satisfied that each one of us can create new friendships throughout India with just a few good Google outreach. I’m positive that yow will discover Indian photographers that might love to indicate you their city or metropolis.

I additionally talked to everybody. Nicely, everybody who’d speak to me. One night I used to be in a bar in Mumbai’s Colaba neighborhood and the folks on the subsequent desk invited me to a style shoot the following day. That was a WOW.

What Would I Do In another way?

I discovered it tough to get ladies to comply with be photographed, particularly in smaller villages. I believe that this was a mix of cultural variations, shyness, and the query, “simply what is that this man as much as?” I spent just a few days in Mumbai on the finish of the journey and was satisfied that being in a big cosmopolitan metropolis would have helped me discover extra agreeable feminine topics.

Touring throughout India, even on comparatively brief flights, was exhausting. I believe that selecting 4 places to shoot in a single month was about one too many. The truth is, selecting only one location for a extra in-depth expertise would have been sufficient. I might see myself spending three weeks in Kolkata on my subsequent journey.

I introduced what regarded like a pharmacy with me in case I encountered any intestinal points. I ate throughout resort and avenue meals places (at all times on the busiest stands) and had no points. By no means bought sick as soon as. After all, I believe that I used to be fortunate and your mileage might differ. However, in hindsight, I used to be overprepared for the worst. There are drug shops in India and resorts know how one can handle traveler points.

What’s subsequent? I exploit my pictures as an awesome excuse to journey. I’m originally of this multi-year program and have to {photograph} in Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica to succeed in my seven-continent purpose. This can be a long-term challenge.

Proper now, I’m contemplating Sicily (nice folks and meals), Bolivia (it’s in regards to the bowler hats), English-speaking Ghana, a New Zealand Māori neighborhood, and, as a final cease, a frozen analysis station in Antarctica the place I won’t even must convey that white sheet.

In regards to the writer: Peter Levitan started life as knowledgeable photographer in San Francisco. He moved into a worldwide promoting and Web start-up profession. Peter pictures folks around the globe utilizing a conveyable studio. That is his excuse to journey and meet folks.


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