Five Lessons from Photographing the Markets of Jaipur

Discover the magic of Jaipur's markets through photography and learn 5 expert tips for perfecting your technique through the help of an in-the-field experience.


In an earlier post, I dissected one photograph from a walk through a busy market in Jaipur, India. This week, I want to share a few more pictures from that same morning, how I captured them, and what I thought during the process.

Depending on the light, I'll look to get to the markets around 6 am or earlier. I want na give myself enough time to explore the space while people conduct business here.

If I spot a group enjoying tea, I break the ice by offering to take their portrait. I'll embrace being the odd one out and try to make some friends, immersing myself in their stories while sharing my work.

With my camera snug against the right side of my chest, equipped with a 28mm lens, my Leica sometimes feels more like a body camera. I set the aperture to F8.0 and roughly adjusted the focus range to be 0.8m to 1.5m. Now it's a dance, where I position the subject in a space around where my outstretched arm would be.

Picture this: camera pressed close, tilted inward a bit, ready to capture the scene as I look to imagine what the camera is 'seeing' from its perspective. I move through the market and pay attention to whatever catches my eye. When I see something interesting, I close the gap, snap the frame, and move on.

I'm not being picky or trigger-happy like a preteen who discovered his body. I want to focus more on where my eyes naturally go and position myself to take a shot. Like this well-dressed man reaching for matching flowers, moments of uncertainty will eventually unfold.

Knowing my camera's focus range and having it by my side allows me to drop down—as if I'm ducking a boxer's jab—and capture unique perspectives effortlessly. I'll look to vary the height, not just the distance.

Certain moments demand more focus, like this one. I stop, bring the camera to my eye, and compose the shot.

I need to print this one soon.

When I encounter someone intriguing, especially if their hands are in the frame, I capture the moment as quickly as possible. They may notice me, but I embrace it. Documenting the space and connecting with the community is part of my journey. A smile, a conversation—it's all fulfilling encounters.

But let's face it; there will be times like the one above when they brush me off like a worthless mosquito leaving happy hour.

People have made parts of the market a second home for many of their lives. So I'll look to position myself to capture a bit of that story in my images, like this example where I'll push our subject to the left of the frame and give room for his tomato stall in the foreground and background.

Let me wrap this with something Joel Meyerowitz would often share: say yes to the photograph.

Let your camera follow your eyes, capturing whatever catches your interest. Ignore the antsy, monkey part of your brain trying to talk you out of it. Just reassure that little ape and say yes to the photograph.

The Five Lessons

If I can summarize the five takeaways from this walk, it'd be this:

1. Get your ass up super early if you want to visit a market so you can have time and light on your side.

  1. Find a way to position your camera against you so it looks like it's resting, but you can capture it liberally to build positive momentum.
  2. Don't make it awkward. Speak with people who aren't too busy and want to learn about the community.
  3. Play with both distance and height to vary your images. It will be a long morning, so keep things fresh as you make your rounds.
  4. Slow down when you see those special moments, and make it an intentional experience. Land the composition exactly where you want it, and try to tell more of a story with your image.

That's a Wrap

That's enough for one week. I'd love to hear what you think of this post, so please drop your thoughts in the comments below.

See y'all in two weeks! GB

This article was originally shared on the Church & Street Foto Club, a bi-monthly publication around street photography, travel, self-discovery, and cameras. Visit and get a new story in your inbox every other week for free.

Read More: