Photography tips for the Taj Mahal

The National Geographic was not kidding when it said that the Taj Mahal was “most famous for being famous”. Great fame brings with it great crowds. And millions of photos. This popularity ensures, that even without seeing the Taj Mahal in person, you have viewed it several times through its photos. It can feel like a daunting task; getting good Taj Mahal photos!

UNESCO world heritage site, this photo of Taj Mahal, Agra depicts symmetry with the golden light at sunrise over the central dome of the Taj Mahal and its full reflection in the water canals.

We want to share some photography tips through the ideas we explored while photographing this iconic monument in Agra. We hope these tips inspire you to achieve your unique “perfect Taj Mahal photos”.

(Note: All of these photos were taken in a few hours with a standard zoom lens, without a tripod.)

#Tip: Be at the Taj Mahal gates before sunrise

The Taj Mahal is a perfect case of the early bird catching the worm. Like most other heritage sites in India, gates of the Taj Mahal open at sunrise and close at sunset.

The golden light at sunrise creates magic on the white marble dome. You will have to wake up before dawn. But it will be worth it when you see the Taj Mahal bathed in a rosy glow.

#Tip: Be among the day’s first visitors of the Taj Mahal

With such a lot of hype and the crowds that gather since morning, it is not easy getting the space you need to compose your Taj Mahal photos. You have to make sure you are among the earliest visitors of the day.

The most famous icon of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

Try to visit the booking office, where the tickets are issued the previous day. Objects like pen or keys are prohibited inside the Taj Mahal complex. This list is put up in the booking office. It’s a good idea to find all the information beforehand so you pack accordingly.

The next morning, be at the office at least 30 minutes before opening time (sunrise). Deposit any stuff that you might have to at the luggage counter in the booking office. All of this takes time. It is then a 10-15 minute walk from the booking office to the Taj Mahal gate.

(Note: Of the 3 entry gates to the Taj Mahal, the East gate has the least crowds.)

Don’t waste the early morning minutes selecting your guide or collecting the audio guide. If you feel the need for a guide, you can hire them after you are done with your shots.

UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India photographed through the entrance.

Having achieved the goal of an early entry, get in through the regal doors. Let this first sight of the Taj Mahal dazzle you. Once the beauty sinks in, walk around.

#Tip: Try different perspectives for your Taj Mahal photos

Symmetry of structure is one aspect that makes the Taj Mahal architecturally brilliant. This symmetry is perfect for experimenting with different angles.

Taj Mahal shot in the beautiful early morning light under the blue skies from a different perspective

#Tip: Try black and white for some Taj Mahal photos

Shooting in monochrome enhances the appeal of stone structures and monuments. The Taj Mahal, with its white marble extravaganza is a fitting monument to try this out.

The most famous icon of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

#Tip: Experiment with reflections of the Taj Mahal

The architects and designers of the Taj Mahal didn’t limit the symmetry to the main monument. The landscaping of the gardens also follows this principle.

The water canals and gardens give a lot of interesting opportunities to play with reflections of the Taj Mahal. Observe the reflections cast in the water and see what appeals you the most.

The most famous icons of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

#Tip: Don’t be afraid to include people in your Taj Mahal photos

As the crowds keep thronging, it is impossible to avoid people completely in all your frames. But who said they always spoil your heritage photos? You can use people creatively. They lend a sense of scale to your frame.

Watch their movements patiently. You can then figure out a way to minimise their interference in the frame. For example, we waited for the woman in the photo to reach the centre to take this photo of the Taj Mahal.

#Tip: Don’t neglect the human element

With so many people around, there ought to be some action. When we visited the Taj Mahal, one of the side pillars was getting repaired. And we got to see this unusual sight.

People doing some repair work on the pillar of the famous UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

#Tip: Find inspiration in the tiniest details

Don’t rush to the main monument. It is of course the hero. But every element of a heritage structure has its own character.

You might just spot an interesting detail or a nuance of design in a tiny corner. Do not miss out on this attention to detail in your Taj Mahal photos.

The most famous icons of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

As you move closer, the delicacy and finesse of the carving start unraveling. The marble monument starts to resemble a fine gem studded lace.

The most famous icons of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage structure, it is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

These latticed patterns and intricate designs are bound to generate more creative ideas for your Taj Mahal photos.

Delicate floral carving in marble and studded with precious gems at the UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

About the light conditions inside the Taj Mahal complex

They say the Taj Mahal reflects the mood of the surroundings. Capturing the changing face of a celebrated monument with the changing light conditions is great fun.

The next image was taken at 07:37:16 in the morning. The one after at 07:37:34. Just 18 seconds and a world of difference! Each one with a charm of its own.

The white balance of the camera was on ‘Auto’ setting throughout our time inside the complex. The difference you see has come through only because of the natural light at the time.

The most famous icons of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

The most famous icons of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

(Note: You might have to make several trips to a particular spot just because the light keeps changing.)

The most famous icons of India, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel. Intricate carvings, studded with gems are exquisitely coupled with symmetry in design.

However, don’t be disheartened if clouds start to appear suddenly. Even without the golden light, the Taj Mahal still looks pristine. The extensive cloud cover during our visit helped in highlighting the “whiteness” in our Taj Mahal photos.

Selfie time?

Even if you want to buck the trend, don’t shy away from taking a selfie with the Taj Mahal! Some places deserve an exception. At the Taj Mahal, we couldn’t resist the temptation and clicked our debut selfie! It is a memory worth posing for.

Sandeepa and Chetan at Taj Mahal in Agra, India

You might overhear people wanting to take pictures at the “Lady Diana bench” (yes, that is what they like to call it!). Maybe you can try out the bench for yourself!

Get that image that you have always wanted

With landmarks the stature of the Taj Mahal, we already have their images imprinted in our minds. The first photo was this image for us – what we saw when we thought of the Taj Mahal. It was one of our first Taj Mahal photos.

Do you have any such iconic image set in you mind; something you always wanted to shoot for yourself? Getting this shot (even when many others are trying to do the same) will be highly satisfying.

Shoot like this is your only chance to see the Taj Mahal

Keep shooting, come rain or shine. You never know when and where a brilliant opportunity presents itself. We got our favourite photo of the Taj Mahal outside the monument complex.

Outside the East side gate, a few meters away is the Taj Mahal nature walk. It’s a beautiful place and different trails lead to the various vantage points.

At some points, the trail vanishes and you have to find your own way. Don’t stop. Keep exploring. Somewhere here you will find an empty gazebo. And here is where you accomplish the incredible feat of viewing the Taj Mahal without any people around.

It was the monsoon season when we visited. Suddenly, the light drizzle turned into a heavy lashing. The gazebo protected us and our camera. The sun was playing hide-and-seek with the clouds. We were waiting for that perfect time when the clouds would move and the sun would shine.

Through a thick forest cover, with the peacocks for company, in all its rain soaked glory we got our “perfect Taj Mahal photo”!

Taj Mahal seen in silhouette from a vantage point in the nature trail on the east side in the rains

It will be a lasting memory!

To summarise the photography tips for your Taj Mahal photos:

  • Be at the Taj Mahal gate before sunrise.
  • Make use of the golden hour.
  • Try different perspectives by exploring the symmetry of the Taj Mahal.
  • Make use of the water ponds and canals to play with reflections of the Taj Mahal.
  • Try some monochromes.
  • Look out in every corner for interesting elements and details.
  • Do not forget the human element at the Taj Mahal.
  • Use the people around to your advantage.
  • Have fun with the changing light conditions.
  • Explore the various vantage points outside the Taj Mahal complex.
  • Shoot like this is your only chance to see the Taj Mahal!

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

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39 thoughts on “Photography tips for the Taj Mahal

  1. Pingback: Top five Engineering Locations to See Before you decide to Die | Technology News and Engineering

  2. Richard Snell II

    wonderful (and useful) suggestions! and very relevant to all sorts of architecturall (and landscape) photography. Wait for the light!

  3. Neha Sharma

    I really appreciate beautiful infrastructure of Taj Mahal. It it a very pleasant feeling visiting this place.Nice photography tips.

  4. Khushi Jain

    I have been to Delhi, but never got a chance to visit Agra. Taj Mahal. I have seen Prince and princess of Dutch posing on Diana bench. Lovely place

  5. Subodh Gujarathi

    Hi Sandeepa Chetan,
    B/W Pic and symmetry of structure are great snaps. I just 15 day before visited to Taj Mahal. Amazing creation.
    I am from Nashik, read your first article in Maharashtra Times and it gives a new direction to my life. And now, I devoted my whole life for Tourism. This credit goes to you. I want to meet you. when and where it is possible?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Subodh, we feel truly honoured. So happy that our story inspired you to follow your heart. Wish you all the best in this new direction you have taken in your life. Taj Mahal – such a structure of beauty, right? We will definitely let you know when we come towards Nasik. It’s a lovely cities and we do have some plans in minds. Will keep you posted.

  6. jyoti

    Hi Sandeep,
    I love to travel and for your this experience thank you so much. It would be really great if you could add some points like where to stay like this is important for those who took long journey also what is best that you can not missed like must to do by your opinion.
    I hope soon hear back from you.
    Thankx once again.

  7. jaicenyabut

    Hi is it also a great time to take picture of the Taj Mahal at sunset? We will be there on saturday. Thanks for all the tips you posted.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      We have heard of travelers wanting to visit the Taj Mahal particularly at sunset, so it must be a great time for taking photos of Taj Mahal as well. We saw the sunset through the nature walk on the east side. It was an awesome view. Glad you found the photography tips useful. Enjoy your visit to the Taj Mahal.

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  9. Pramod Sant

    Hi Sandeepa and Chetan, Nice tips, enjoyed same I hope will be able to use same in next visit to Taj. Have seen many books on Taj but your many photos are exclusive.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thank you, Sir! We hope you will be able to put these photography tips while visiting no just the Taj but any other monuments. Do let us know if you have any photography questions. Happy travels and photography 🙂

  10. Jason Weddington

    Great tips! I especially like “Shoot like this is your only chance to see the Taj Mahal.” That’s the kind of passion that leads to great images.

  11. Tushar

    Fourth photo from top is Amazing. What a clarity. Thanks for sharing. I have also clicked few published on my blog. You may watch. Yours better.

  12. priys

    Hey Sandeepa.. Your travel blog just transports me to the place without me visiting it. You pictures and your writing just makes me revisit every picture. I am a travel photography enthusiat. Can you tell me the camera and lens that you use for your pics. Espicially the ones taken in kashmir.

  13. Ayushi Manroa

    Chetan,

    When I read this stuff in here, the way you have captured this Marble Beauty makes my heart skip a beat! The pics got better and better when I scroll down. The monochromatic idea seems to go well and the reflective aspect is very appealing. You have not failed to include the minute details and the convoluted figurines. I was spell bound by the last picture of this wonder standing majestically amidst the forest and peacocks, drenched in the rain.

  14. Shivraj

    amazing article sandeep and chetana! 🙂
    I was baffled by the same question. How to capture uniquely when the beauty is in wholeness (thus,a common shot).. Thanks!