With its rich colours, friendly people, over-populated cities and stunning countryside, India is a photographer’s paradise, and nowhere more so than Rajasthan. As you wander through the state’s pastel-coloured cities and labyrinthine bazaars you’ll be presented with endless photo opportunities, whilst the wonderful rural villages provide an opportunity to meet the locals and experience a slice of authentic Indian life. Imagine Asia specialist and keen photographer Ric tells us why Rajasthan is one of his favourite places to take photos, and shares a few of his favourite snaps from his recent trip.
For me, photography has always been about exploration. I’m not sure whether I take the camera out with me to encourage me to explore, or whether I explore to make sure I find the perfect spot for a good photo – but either way my travels always seem so much more enriching when I have my camera in my hand. I’ve always felt at ease taking pictures in a city, a busy market or somewhere I can easily get lost and blend into the background, photographing people as they go about their daily lives. However when I first started to travel I became amazed by portrait photography, as well as stunning landscapes or urban scenery captured at just the right moment. How did people manage to be in the right place at the right time, or have the opportunity to meet someone face-to-face to take their photograph?
I quickly learned all of these answers when I visited Rajasthan. Far from being a tool to help me get lost into the background, in the sleepy villages of rural Rajasthan my camera does exactly the opposite, and helps break down the barriers to bring me closer to the community. In these colourful, quiet and completely tourist-free parts of India, a photo really can be a common language. When you walk through villages, farms and even around old castles and palaces, you cannot blend in, but nor do you need to. Old men in bright turbans, women in beautiful saris and seemingly every child you meet will want to pose, look directly into your lens, and then smile with delight as they see their image on the rear of your camera. These colours, romantic settings and endless sunsets all come together to make for one of the most magical locations to photograph, and knowing that this is all real, authentic India makes it all the more enchanting.
Another thing I have really learned since travelling with Imagine is the value of a truly great guide, which Rajasthan has in abundance. He or she will no doubt know half the town, introduce you to grandparents, uncles, brothers, aunties… all of whom will want to share a photo or two, making it easy to get that eye-to-eye contact that can be so hard to ask for yourself. What’s more, when the sun hits the right point in the sky, or the shepherds bring out their flocks, your guide will be one step ahead, and have you in the right place at the right time for sun-kissed landscapes, busy town meetings and all the other colourful festivities you would love to catch on camera. The intricate knowledge your guide has of the places he is showing you – even down to what time someone usually does their ironing in front of their house in Jodhpur‘s blue city – is what really helps you scratch beneath the surface of the destination, creating the special images that will forever remind you of a wonderful holiday in India.