This month I will be heading to Mumbai for a weekend of photography. Mumbai has been shot to death by photographers far greater than me, but I am hoping that I will be able to capture something new and unique. Here are some of the things I put on my check list when planning for Travel Photography.
The photos for this article are part of a book project I am working on, with the working title ‘The Bangalorean’. You can hunt for more photos taken while shooting for this exciting project on Instagram, #bangalorean and #bookaboutbangalore.
We all spend too much on photo gear, but let’s not spend too much on flights and hotels. Book early to get the best rates. When making a hotel reservation, check that you will be staying within walking distance of the main city features you are hoping to capture. Getting some quality rest during your stay is important, so don’t scrimp too much on your accommodation.
Pack light! If you can get away with only a cabin bag then do it. This saves time and lightens the flight load, helping to keep our planet clean and green. You are allowed one cabin bag, but can often get away with an additional shoulder bag and a bumbag (fanny pack in the US, which us Brits find quite funny.) I have a Lowepro shoulder bag that can hold two cameras and a couple of extra lenses, this bag tends to fly under the radar when checking in.
Remember to keep your camera batteries in your cabin bag. These should have the terminals taped over and be placed in a sealed plastic bag.
Take as few clothes as you can get away with. Dryfit shirts are lightweight, can be washed in a hotel sink and dry in a couple of hours. Two pairs of shorts should cover most eventualities. Bring sturdy shoes, you are going to need them. I like to include a pair of flip-flops to wear around the hotel, as in India my boots get covered in cow poo…
I travel with two camera bodies. Planes and hotels are not cheep, and if one camera gives up the ghost I do not want to spend time getting it fixed. Many Street Photographers only use a fixed prime lens. However, zooms are getting better and provide more flexibly. I will take both and use whichever one takes my fancy. Prime lenses are best for late evenings and night as they are faster that a zoom and are suited for low light. Take a tripod if you are going to use it.
One of the first sites I look at is Shooter Files, run by F.D Walker. It is a superb website and the guy who runs it appears to have been everywhere! Pinterest is another site that is slowly growing on me.
Wherever you go, someone has been there before. If you are seeking inspiration then look to the best examples of photography taken in the city your are visiting. India has been captured by many of the greats, including Steve McCurry, Bruno Barbey and Alex Webb. Of course, this can be a little daunting but it is good to set your goals high!
What next? This is the time to think about what your viewpoint on the location is going to be. Make sure you don’t just go where others have been, and think about how you are going to approach the city. Speak to non-photographers who have been to the city and will have viewed the locations though a different eye.
Make sure you take time to find out what else is happening. What are the local foods? Are there any festivals on? Lastly, whilst I enjoy my own company, it is always nice to meet up with fellow photographers. Make a point to let other people in your online community know where you will be, it is a small world and it is good see our online buddies in ‘real life’.
If you are in Mumbai at the end of the month, drop me a line and we can plan a shoot. Take care and keep clicking, Chris