Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
For any traveller or tourist travelling to Varanasi the attraction towards the Varanasi ghat is immense and very rarely someone returns from the Ghat without taking a morning boat ride to devour the sunrise .
Although I went on a boat ride and got some good clicks on the ride but while going for the ride and while coming back I realised that there is too much happening on the ghats which cannot be captured through the long shots which are more of landscape shots but the array of activity definitely needed more close attention and a different lens for sure.
Read – Experiencing the ghats through the boat ride in the early morning
In the mean time, we had completed the official tour and came back to Varanasi once again and had to extend our stay and as I was carrying my camera, hence could not let this chance go off. New Memory cards were bought and we are all set.
This time the plan was little different. I reached the ghats almost at the same time but alone. Didnt just want to use my camera randomly but wanted to absorb in all the activities that was happening around, experience the ghats on my own, will only speak with strangers and click pictures which I want to carry back with me as memories and which will be stories in themselves.
Now looking back, I can safely say that those 3 hours as a photographer, I learnt a lot. I am a lazy scared street photographer and I have a mind block in street photography or taking pictures of random people. I know that it depends on the personality and some of the amazing street photographers that I have come across work purely on instinct. Initially when I started and was not that conversant with the digital camera, most of the times I used to miss out on a frame as I had to set the camera and adjust the settings. Over time, practice and in depth understanding helped me to over come that aspect but in street photography in my opinion, the composition especially plays an important role along with the settings.
Here are few tips if you are planning to shoot people in Varanasi ghats in morning –
- For any street or candid photography you need to have your eyes open and keep a watch on what is happening around. When it comes to Varanasi Ghats that is more so as there are so many activities which simultaneously take place and almost all are worth capturing. Observation is the key here.
- The vastness of this place will take some time to sink in. So ideally it should be a two day affair for shoot where the back up day will have the chance of offering some more shots. On the first day, it is better to move around for the first half an hour and absorb the buzz of the place, have an understanding of how things are moving and finally have a clear picture in your head about the kind of photography you want to do. Then start clicking. It is always better to start early so that when the light is soothing and optimum you are all ready with your camera.
- If possible, it is always advantageous to strike up a conversation with your subject either before or after the photography. I had a cup of tea from the tea seller on both occasions and in turn have captured some good images too. I have also seen wonderful results when I have shown the images to the subjects after the photograph has been clicked.
- Other than the constant challenge of finding the best frames, the walk is for a long stretch and demands physical tenacity also. So be prepared for a round of good physical exercise.
- There are certain rituals which are close to people’s hearts and they may not prefer to be interfered with. As a photographer present on the site, you are the best judge of such situations and no matter how tempting it may be, it is better to let go off those shots.
- Few small things about camera and settings – as you are clicking the picture in the daylight, so light should not be an issue . No harm in taking a few test shots and getting the basic settings as per your visualisation, then as you move about, on a case to case basis you can alter the settings.
The Varanasi ghats are street photographers paradise and normally people over there are now accustomed and habituated with photographers around the ghat. One of the best aspect of these ghats are that the myriad of activities are different during the day and night and that makes it further interesting. These pictures are on my first attempt in my first visit and although I was ecstatic at that point of time, now when I look back, I feel I could have done better.
What is your opinion? In case you like the pictures then please drop in a line at the comments section.