Get this straight…life is short. One fine day you’ll see this eye blinding white light. You stare up from your supine position to a buffalo riding, dark hulk carrying a mace on his shoulder. He smiles & offers you a lift. You hear your fellow Doctor putting an arm around your relatives & muttering: “I am sorry!” A few relatives groan: “Why did he have to go on a festival?” You got the gist, right? Before your body cools down to the ambient, you got to see & photograph this beautiful world….even if it means that your relatives get a smaller stainless steel utensil!

Ok, no more morbid selling. You are ready to travel & photograph! After languishing in your bucket list all your life, you are finally going to your dream destination during the Diwali break. Besides you have a secret fantasy of getting your travel photographs published in National Geographic. So how do you take photographs worthy of your social media wall, if not your living room wall? Here are some pointers for your next expedition to Jhumri Talaiyaa or Timbuctoo.

First things first, follow these five steps to convert your plain jane vanilla snap to a awe inspiring, award winner image:

Learn your camera- Today your smart phone, Point & Shoot or DSLR are technological marvels that the history’s best photographers never had. They are extremely capable of capturing fabulous images. Caveat: You got to thoroughly read the camera manual, which is since long thrown in the attic & gathering cob webs.

Find an interesting subject - Do not photograph a yawn inducer. Shoot thoughtfully as if it was your erstwhile 36 shots film camera. Go slow. Think a shot’s worthiness. Work the scene from different angles.

The photograph should tell a story of the place, which can immediately connect with the viewer.

Learn the rules of composition of a photograph. Yes, there are rules here too! These rules emanated from the painting masters on to photography for a good reason. Due to the constant assault of images in various modes everywhere, we have sub consciously embraced them & hence know what looks good & what doesn’t. We will talk about the rules of photography composition in the next episode.

Shoot more when the light is at its best. Get up early. Real early. Shoot before an hour before & after dawn & repeat it before & after dusk. This is when the sky & the surroundings are glowing with magical softness & hues, especially if there are clouds. The light gets too harsh during the mid-day. It also means you beat the maddening crowds & click iconic locations & monuments without a soul in sight.

Ok. This is a Bonus 6th Tip. Today the world is digital. Dabble a bit in post processing of your photographs to give them a dazzle either in smart phone apps like Snapseed or Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop.

Gather information- Scour the web. Lonely Planet, Nat Geo, photo sharing sites like & are the best starting points. Ask your friends who have been there.

Highlights of the place - Make a list of major monuments, natural wonders, cultural nuances & festivals that might interest you. Allot days for a destination accordingly.

Check the Weather & Itinerary – Allot a significant time for checking out the weather before chalking out a travel plan. This will guide you to select your clothing & accessories. Check out the Google Maps for distances between two destinations. Draft your itinerary accordingly.

Camera Kit – Many people ask us: “Which is the best camera?” The answer is: “The one you got.” These are some essential add on accessories that we suggest, that you either buy, borrow or steal:

  1. Tripod: What is a Tripod? In simple layman’s parlance – “Camera Stand! A must have if you want to photograph beautiful landscapes. A Tripod which is good enough for Point & Shoot cameras & entry level DSLRs can be bought for around Rs.2000. A high end light Carbon fiber Tripod costs more than 8K & upwards, buy a good one, if you are serious about your fantasy about being a Nat Geo contributor.
  2. Circular Polarisers (CPL) & Neutral Density (ND) Filters – Invest into a Circular Polariser for your lens, if you wish to have deep blue skies & lush green trees. If you want to capture those milky smooth long exposures for waterfalls & rivers buy a ND8 Filter. Price Rs. 2000/-
  3. Memory Cards, Camera Batteries, Chargers – Buy a few 16/ 32 GB Memory cards, 2 extra batteries, Charger & a suitable power adapter if you are travelling abroad. Keep a notebook computer & backup copies of the images on extra hard drives. Keep them in separate bags. Accidents & pilfering happens. Be safe.
  4. Lens & Camera Cleaning Kit – Buy a Camera & Lens Cleaning kit. Ok use it too!
  5. Waterproof Camera Bag – OK this is the last expenditure suggested on this page. A must have to keep your equipment & more importantly memories safe.

Make a detailed Location Shooting List – Only for the hard core photography enthusiasts. Pen down some of the must have shots of each location that you might be visiting.

Travel light, but not super light – Ya, cut down on those designer clothes & “Theplas & Khaakhraas,” that you might never wear or eat, but not on your camera gear. Going to your dream destination, with your best lenses & cameras idling at home, is like shooting your own foot, literally. Don’t be lazy. Carry that heavy load. Think your paunch shrink by two inches & those glorious wall photographs, swell your chest by the same.

Hire a good Fixer/ Guide – especially for obscure remote places. He knows what Google doesn’t.

Connect with the Locals – Break the ice with people around. This gives you an insight to the culture, traditions & issues of the people of the land. It also opens up an easy access to photograph them & their homes.

Be a Foodie- Sample the local cuisine, ok ok, skip the exotic dishes but at least photograph it in a most mouth-watering way.

Take a Backup daily - Keep a notebook computer & backup copies of the images on extra hard drives. Keep them in separate bags. Accidents & pilfering happens. Be safe. We should know, we have lost 2 camera bags & 3 notebook computers!  Travel photography is double the fun, if done right. Get your family involved in it & the pleasure is multifold. We look forward to seeing your images in this magazine soon.

Deadvlei, Namibia

Houses of Parliament & the Big Ben, London, UK

The Brooklyn Bridge, New York, USA

The Chadar Trek, Ladakh, India

The Delicate Arch, Utah, USA

The Dune 42, Sesriem, Namibia

The Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Park, Wy, USA