India photography holidays

“What makes India special for the photographer are the simple things,” muses Geraldine Westrupp, who with her partner Martin founded our India photography specialists, Wild Photography Holidays. “It’s the colours, the vibrancy, the differences in culture. But also the everyday working lives that we capture. The inside knowledge we have takes you to places that almost no one else ever goes, very welcoming and completely non-touristy places where people are happy to work with us.”

India is an incredibly fertile destination for photographers, with states from Kerala to Ladakh, Assam, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu offering a tapestry of landscapes, experiences, architecture, cultures and wildlife that provides endless inspiration. Our guide to India photography holidays outlines what this kind of trip involves. It also explains how travelling responsibly gives you some truly exciting photographic opportunities well away from touristy areas, while benefitting places that are suffering impacts of the climate crisis.

What do India photography holidays involve?

For us photographers there’s always somewhere to go. India’s vast.

When to go

Photography tours in India can be anything up to 17 days long, ensuring that you can experience several locations and return with a voluminous body of work. The immensity of India means that in the same month the south of the country can have entirely different weather to the north or the centre, so departure dates are chosen carefully to hopefully catch the perfect conditions. You might visit Rajasthan in October for instance, when it will be warm but pleasant, and a long way from the sweltering summer months.

Itineraries are designed based on years of experience combined with the knowledge of local teams. But they are deliberately kept flexible so that in the event of poor weather conditions alternative locations are available.

Group sizes

Group sizes vary from four to twelve people, though tailor made specialist photography tours can be designed for just one or two people. On location groups will often split into clusters of two or three, which is less intrusive for small communities and can lead to better photography – after all, three photographers and their kit might comfortably fit into a blacksmith’s hut, but twice that number could be a squeeze.


From five-star spa hotels in the Cardamon Hills of Kerala to en suite tents by a lake in Ladakh, and ‘haveli’ hotels that were family mansions in a previous life, photography tours make good use of the fantastic variety of accommodation options in India.

Properties are chosen not only for their quality and welcome, but also for their location and atmosphere. Because internal flights are avoided wherever possible in favour of the more environmentally friendly train, there can be some long journeys involved on an India photography trp. And, in some places the sensory experiences can be a little exhausting, so it makes sense to follow a few days amid the hubbub of a city with a spell in the middle of nowhere to relax and recharge.

Tour leaders & guides

Your tour leader will be a skilled tutor and an expert photographer. They offer a friendly source of advice throughout the trip, and in the evenings (or the daytime if poor weather necessitates some time indoors) they will arrange practical workshops where you can learn new skills, and share and discuss your work in a constructive environment. These sessions often prove a highlight of the trip, and mean you’ll return home not only having enjoyed a great holiday and made a bunch of new friends, but also having genuinely developed your abilities.

Your group will frequently be assisted by local guides as well. Our partners have very longstanding relationships with the communities they visit, and their teams on the ground. You will not only enjoy exceptional access to locations and occasions where very few other tourists tread, but also that there is a great deal of flexibility in the itinerary. This allows you to take advantage of weather conditions, or perhaps local events going on that might be of interest to photographers.

Where do India photography holidays go?


A revered destination for the adventurous photographer, Ladakh is a remote and serenely beautiful mountain kingdom on the Tibetan Plateau, north of the Himalayas. Its geographic isolation has allowed a unique Buddhist culture to thrive. “The original kind of Buddhism, untouched and very traditional,” says Geraldine. “The high-altitude photography in this vast, desert-like state is phenomenal. I’ve been going since 1991 – in an earlier life I guided trekking holidays there.”
We’ve worked with our location experts here for many years, and as such we can access places few other travellers see.
Photography tours in Ladakh typically depart in June, just ahead of the crowds that swamp the region in summer, and entirely avoiding the winter snows that leave it cut-off from the world between November and February. Though Geraldine is developing a winter snow leopard photography tour that will also take in some of Ladakh’s Buddhist festivals, when many villagers congregate at monasteries to perform rituals that cast out evil spirits.

Since 1974, when the region first opened to visitors, tourism in Ladakh has grown exponentially, putting pressure on limited resources. “Meltwater from glaciers is vital to communities here; the villages are totally reliant on it for irrigation,” says Geraldine. “And as the climate warms, the glaciers will shrink, and the water is going to get less and less – it’s very hard to see how things can continue as they are. In thirty years, I’ve seen it change from mountains with snow in the foothills to only snow at the very top. Clearly, they’re eventually going to run out of water. The trouble is that tourism and its infrastructure consume so much water, but people are dependent on tourism now.”

Our photography holidays in this region tend to eschew the more well-known areas, concentrating instead on less-visited locations in Ladakh and thereby helping to spread the economic benefits of tourism to remote communities. You’ll stay largely in family-run hotels, eating local produce, and so your trip will contribute considerably to the places you visit. In addition, your local guides will encourage the sparing use of precious water.

“We’ve worked with our location experts here for many years,” Geraldine adds, “and as such we can access places few other travellers see. We’re often treated to insights of cultural tradition and ways of life that would have passed us by without these connections.” You’ll encounter people from all walks of life here, from nomads to monks, farmers to artists, perhaps spending time with them in their homes or as they go about their work, or watching their religious celebrations.


Rajasthan in northern India is a truly magical photography destination. Any of the well-known locations here: the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, the ‘Blue City’ of Jodhpur, Udaipur – ‘India’s Venice’, and the legendary Pushkar Camel Fair, could keep you snapping away happily for weeks at a time. And on just one trip you can experience them all.

This is one of the most-visited Indian states, but photography tours here also slip away from the more touristy areas into places such as Ranakpur. This village surrounded by lush greenery and traditional pottery works is a veritable oasis after the bustle of the camel fair, or the thronged city streets of Jodhpur. Breaking the itinerary up in this way is deliberate, points out Geraldine: “When we’re planning our trips we understand that you’re frequently exposed to these jangling sensory experiences in India which are amazing, but travellers also want lovely, quiet places where they can relax.”

Photographing the Pushkar Camel Fair is bound to be a highlight of a Rajasthan expedition. Camel breeders will often trek for hundreds of kilometres to trade their animals. Many of them are nomads from remote desert communities, and the profits they make at this annual event in the Thar dunes can help sustain them for the rest of the year. There will be a myriad of subjects to focus on, from intense trading to religious rituals, folk music and dancing. These are all better alternatives to photographing the camel processions and elephant rides, both of which are ethically dubious and ought to be avoided.

Southern India

Photographers don’t struggle for inspiration in southern India. Head out early to catch sunrise on a deserted fishing beach; pull over by the roadside to capture a holy mountain as it soars above the plains; watch as women in brightly coloured saris plant rice or delicately pluck tea leaves, or immerse yourself in the vivacity of a bustling street market. Other subjects can include fishermen hauling in their nets; craftspeople such as brickmakers at labour in their workshops, or monks at prayer.

Tours here focus on Kerala, and the neighbouring state of Tami Nadu which is significantly less visited. Kerala, bordered by tropical rainforest to its east and the Arabian Sea to the west, is famed for its peaceful backwaters, and the Cardamom Hills, a mountain range draped with spice, coffee and tea plantations. You may also visit the old seaside city of Cochin, where you can train your camera on rickshaws negotiating winding streets; ancient forts and palaces, and Chinese fishing nets spread across bamboo frames.

Photography around Tamil Nadu will often focus on the languid coast of the Bay of Bengal, and hillside farming communities inland, where life goes on much at it has done for centuries. You might follow fishermen through your viewfinder as they cast their nets from catamarans; wander rice fields, coconut groves and plantations of tobacco, mango, and cotton, or move inside on hot days, to watch weavers at their loom, and people making bronze statues for temples.

“It’s useful to have internal locations in south India where we do have to contend with the heat. And of course climate change is bringing more water, which means tidal issues,” says Geraldine. “The coasts are just disasters waiting to happen. Undoubtedly, they’ll be submerged eventually, the Kerala backwaters are already disappearing. For us photographers there’s always somewhere to go, India’s vast. But it’s definitely an issue.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Photography or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Wildlife photography in India

Responsible holidays use local naturalist guides who are not only expert in seeking tigers out, but also ensure your presence doesn’t disturb the animals.
If you’re looking to photograph wildlife then it’s likely that much of your time will be spent in national parks such as Pench and Kanha, and the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, all of them found in central India. Bengal tigers are the star attractions here of course, and responsible holidays use local naturalist guides who are not only expert in seeking them out, but also ensure your presence doesn’t disturb the animals. Tiger-spotting in India is a very popular activity but unfortunately some tourists (and drivers) are more concerned with getting the perfect photo than the tigers’ wellbeing.

Specialist photography tours can involve multiple jeep safaris into the parks, with guides familiar with individual tigers, their territories, and behaviours, which can allow for superb opportunities.

But tigers are far from the only wildlife you can photograph in India. Bandhavgarh is home to more than 250 species of bird from crested serpent eagles to white-breasted kingfishers, and red-wattled lapwings. There are chital (spotted deer) here, sloth bears, palm squirrels and jungle cats. Pench has Indian bison, leopards, barking deer and even wolves. In Kanha you might encounter everything from wild boar to jackals, wild dogs, honey buzzards and black-winged kites. And in the forests of Nagahole National Park, in the Western Ghats, skilled guides can help the intrepid photographer track down Bagheera, the black panther.

Before any photography holiday, your tour operator will provide a comprehensive list of things to pack. Without wanting to jump ahead, we’d suggest making sure you bring at least one spare, fully charged battery. India is a destination where you’ll want to have your camera ready at all times.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Varshesh Joshi] [Intro: Monthaye] [When to go: Aditya Siva] [Ladakh: Vikas Anand Dev] [Rajasthan: Nina Luong] [Wildlife photography: Lakshmi Narasimha]