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Taj Mahal Photography Tips & Travel Guide

Updated: 3rd March 2016

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So, you want to Photograph the Taj Mahal whilst touring the Golden Triangle of India?

Surprise: So does everyone else!

I’m gonna admit, I used to hate photographing world-famous landmarks for that very reason. They have been shot a million and one times before.

Photographing the Taj Mahal is no different but as years have gone by now I challenge myself to try to see these sights from a different angle and capture something unique while I am there (example: you will never find me holding up the leaning tower of Pisa…. anymore.)

So, when you head to India’s crown jewel, I hope these photography tips and travel info helps…. happy shooting!

14 Tips for photographing the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

BE UNIQUE

That winning reflection shot? Everyone has it (except me, annoyingly). So by all means, go ahead and get it. But when photographing the Taj Mahal or any famous landmark the key is to get unique. Look for different angles, get on the floor, get high or find something else to put in the frame to add a different context to it. The shot above of my furry friend in front of The Taj Mahal is one of my favourites, it links in the magnificent building to the reality of India that lies around it.

BEAT THE CROWDS

You know the drill. The Early bird catches the worm. I skipped this tip as the haze and weather were awful when I visited but by being first in line it’s gonna be much easier to capture this mega busy attraction bobbing head free.

Taj Mahal Photography Tips

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, EMBRACE THEM

I’m a firm believe a photo should tell some kind of story. The easiest way to do that? Get people in the action. Lucky for you, they are everywhere here. The beauty of India is the colourful contrasts at every corner. Frame your photo of the Taj Mahal with a beautiful sari, a group of Monks or anyone else who can add interest to the shot.

TGIF

Don’t panic! The Taj Mahal has not sold out to Thailand style full moon parties just yet, but Friday is a special day. The Taj Mahal complex is shut every Friday which means you can grab some great photos from behind, or the water, free of people.

Taj Mahal Boat Ride

GET ON A BOAT

Instead of walking straight to the main attraction, turn right and head to the river at the back of the Taj Mahal. If you are lucky, there will be one cool dude and his boat ready (at a price) to give you a stunning reflection photo without the selfie stick army invading it.

Taj Mahal Photography

DON’T PANIC IF YOU CAN’T GET ‘THAT SHOT’

So, imagine this. You’re on assignment, you get into the Taj Mahal and the fountains are off and no water is in sight. Shit right?! Ah well, those shots that nearly everyone captures have been done before, but I kinda love the photo of the workmen repainting and decorating, it adds something a little different. Point being: Try and photograph the Taj Mahal with an open mind, not based on the zillion Instagram shots you have seen.

FIND YOUR PUDDLE

That said, you can get some awesome reflection shots that are a little different. Look for a puddle caused by one of the water sprinklers or try to get an angle from one of the water gullies not directly facing the Taj Mahal – you’ll get your ‘puddle gram’ but with a twist.

Taj Mahal Close Up

CAPTURE THE DETAILS

Get up close and personal and keep your camera out. Photographing the Taj Mahal is not just about the awe-inspiring wide-angle shots, the detail on the marble is equally as stunning so be sure to capture the intricacies of the art. Depending on the time of day, the white of the marble may be slightly yellow – either over expose your camera or reduce the yellow in lightroom afterwards.

DON’T FORGET THE REST

The Taj Mahal complex has two beautiful buildings either side of it, whilst everyone else is getting snap happy on the main attraction head to get some much more peaceful shots of these other two architectural wonders.

Taj Mahal Photo Tips

BEAUTY IS BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE

Ok, inside the Taj Mahal itself I can liken it to Nazis running an airport. Whistles, pushing, screaming, shoving, no cameras (apparently: no noise according to the signs) and a lot of people looking mighty confused at what the hell they should be admiring.

But, inside the outer buildings, the details of the walls and ceilings is not too shabby. Seen as you have no tripod rest your camera against something to grab either a long exposure or an HDR shot (as above) to capture the detail well.

TAKE IT BLACK AND WHITE

Shout out to the awesome Jen (aka, The Social Girl Traveller) for remembering to pack her polaroid. I love getting photos that look a little old-fashioned, and by going black and white you can really achieve this. Try and capture the birds above the Taj Mahal to add interest to your photos.

Taj Mahal Black and White

FIND YOUR OWN ‘GIMMICKS’

You wanna pinch the top of the Taj Mahal, go for it. But then try to find your own gimmicks to get a different kind of photo. I managed to break a camera lens at the start of the trip, so started playing around with the macro glass to get a slightly different reflection of it.

VISIT THE MOONLIGHT GARDENS

Jump on a rickshaw and take the 20-30 minute ride over to the Moonlight Gardens at the back of the Taj Mahal. Annoyingly, no you can’t just sail over and the water itself is patrolled by armed police but the views from here are not too shabby at all. A popular spot to take in sunset or grab those people free views on a Friday.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT SUNRISE AND SUNSET

Who am I kidding? You need at least one sunrise or sunset shot. Again, my tip: head to the Moonlight Gardens and photograph the Taj Mahal from here to end the day.

Taj Mahal Sunset

The practical stuff

There are so many rules. The queues can be long, different for men and women and you will be searched and scanned on entry. Tripods are a no go, electric devices (say, speakers) are a no go, cigarettes are a no go, in fact – pretty much everything is a no go. So bring your camera and keep it light for an easy ride into this ultra high security facility.

It’s gonna cost you… 750RS to get in, unless you are 15 and under then it’s free. You need to buy your ticket from the office up the road before the main entrances, don’t even waste your time getting in the entrance queue until you have bagged your ticket.

How early do you wanna get up? The complex is open from ‘Sunrise to Sunset’ so check your timings when you arrive. The southern gate is only open 8am-5pm so be sure you are not waiting at the wrong entrance for it to open.

Do I need a guide? I had one for part of my visit courtesy of Hands on Journeys (when I wasn’t photographing) and found it really handy. The history of the building and local area is fascinating so learning about how the Taj Mahal came to be whilst exploring it is worth it IMO.

Cheapest way to get there Agra does have an airport, though it is pretty small and does not have the biggest selection of flights, check out Skyscanner to find the best value international or domestic routes.

28 replies
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  1. Subash Rajesh says:

    Hi Dan,
    Those are some amazing tips! Being an Indian, it’ll be my first trip to the Taj next week. Just to clarify, until what extent can i carry my tripod? I noticed the HDR shot which I’m interested to try myself. Kindly advise.

    Reply
  2. Peter Laaba says:

    Very good tips and your picture are an inspiration for me to be more creative next time. I like to travel around India and enjoy the most to wander around the small villages with my camera. Because all the life happens outside of the houses there are a lot of oportunities for nice pictures of the people. Since 5 years I discover India, in special Rajasthan, with my dear friend and driver Moin from rajasthanexpert.com. With a guide like him I feel very safe and comfortable.

    Reply
  3. Jayce Presley says:

    Very beautiful and Incredible Taj Mahal. World’s miracle one of them Taj Mahal is in India. You share the Taj mahal photography tips. I like this tips. Thanks for sharing the great information. Good Luck!

    Reply
  4. will Hart says:

    Good guide, love the dog photo!
    A stunning place and you did it justice.
    I visited a few years ago myself and did a blog of the various points to see the Taj.

    Reply
    • danflyingsolo says:

      Thank you so much. I love the shot of the lady carrying the bucket past the Taj – Must have been a really clear day, very foggy when I visited the gardens. Safe travels :)

      Reply
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