By Stacey Schultz, Marketing Director and Travel Enthusiast with Asia Transpacific Journeys
Aside from the obvious (i.e. your camera) here is my list of the top 5 invaluable extras you may not have thought to bring with you while traveling in India. I hope they help you capture great images, but most importantly, I hope they help you make more meaningful connections with the people you meet.
#5 Speak the Language. Most recently one of our clients used the Lonely Planet Mobile Phrasebook app for their iPhone on a trip to Japan, using it to have the phone ask questions to locals. Not only was everyone mesmerized by this talking gadget, it also allowed people he met along the way to type in their questions in Japanese and have it translated in English. You can be sure this will be on my list for my next trip to India, once they come out with the app in Hindi! Short of this, learning a few phrases such as “Hello” and “Thank you” in the local language goes a long way in making a connection.
#4 Get in Front of the Camera. I’ve always found that when I give something first, I get a lot in return. On my last trip to India, I gave several trustworthy looking children my camera, securing it safely around their neck with the strap. Of course, do this with caution, as they could run off with your camera. However, I’m a trusting individual and found they had so much fun photographing me smiling and being funny, that when I got my camera back they were more than willing to be models for me. Who knows, I may also be inspiring future photographers!
#3 Share Faces from Your Travels. On a recent trip to India I made a photo book from my other travels. This featured my favorite faces from travels as far flung as Laos and Vanuatu. The reason I chose faces is that I feel everyone relates to a smile or a kind expression. You can have very professional looking books made using iPhoto or many other online services such as kodakgallery.com. As I met locals I wanted to photograph, I first shared this book with them, then asked if I could take a photo of them to include in my next book. My experience was that they were very flattered to be part of my personal project.
#2 Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture. This is a bit time consuming when you are on the go, but bringing a portable printer is the 21st century version of the Polaroid photo, minus the shaking. You can now get very small, battery-operated printers that plug into the USB port of your camera. Printing a photo you just took pays big dividends when you are able to give the memento to your new friend. It’s so hard when traveling in India to make promises to send photos you take back to a local, even given the best of intentions. Now you can share your photos on the go.
#1 An Extraverted Travel Companion. While traveling in India with a friend, she naturally engaged with everyone we met. In one instance we came upon a woman bringing well water back to her village in a pot carried on top of her head. My friend, gesturing her intent, asked if she could help carry the water for this woman. Soon a crowd had gathered, she entertained, and I took photos. I usually start shooting everyone, including my friend, to capture the scene and get everyone used to the presence of the camera. Then I’ll start zooming in on the subject I’m most interested in, for instance, the colorful woman in her sari or the young child in a fit of giggles. The result is I’ve captured a candid moment and a great memory of my trip to India. I once traveled with a professional magician, true story, and he was priceless. As he did magic tricks, I took photos, and they remain some of my favorites in my personal collection!
The most important thing, however, is to walk away from your trip to India with wonderful memories of your time there, whether recorded on your camera or simply in your memories. I know photography helps many travelers (like myself) form a deeper connection with the people they meet, and we see this daily through the many photos our clients share with us upon returning from their trips to India. If you’d like to share your own photos of travel in India, we’d love to see them! http://www.asiatranspacific.com/atj/india.photos.aspx