(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 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
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.
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”!
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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