Close your eyes.
No seriously, close your eyes right now (unless you’re driving but then you shouldn’t be reading this anyway).
Imagine that shot. The most perfect, epic, stunning shot you’ve been dreaming of since you booked your tickets a year ago and planned your visit to the Taj Mahal. Today my friends, I’m sharing my tips on how you can capture the best photo at the Taj Mahal.
I will preface this by saying I in no way consider myself a professional photographer (YET). I do however have a great eye for photos (my mom tells me that all the time so it has to be true, right?) & tenacity to not give up on a photo unless there’s absolutely no possible way to make it happen.
So, no matter what your skill level, there are some simple tips that will help you capture that epic shot you’ve been dreaming of.
Tip #1: Shoot Up
My biggest piece of advice, if you don’t want to capture all the homies in your shots, is to shoot up. It is inevitable, no matter what time you go, the Taj will be packed. There’s no way around it so you need to just accept that fact + keep it moving, k? Once you’re over that, figure out how to work with what you’ve got.
That’s how I got this photo. All you need to do is tilt the camera up until you don’t see all the people in the shot! SIMPLEEEEE!
Tip #2: To the right to the right!
Okay, see the photo above? That photo was taken within the guesthouse that’s located to the right of the Taj Mahal.
Here’s an important distinction PLUS a history lesson. Every part of the Taj is built symmetrically. So when it the Taj’s mosque was built on the left-hand side there needed to be something built exactly the same on the right-hand side to balance it out. The mosque on the left is a fully functioning mosque and the building that I’m talking about, well it’s just for show. But I gotta say it’s one of the best places to take photos.
Now I’m going to be 1,000 percent honest with you. This is not, in my opinion, the best photo I could have taken. It would have been 10x better if I stood in the sun and wasn’t in the shaded part inside the guest house. But I wanted the Taj framed in the doorway and didn’t think I could step out. Hey, you live and learn, right?
The great thing about shooting over here is that far fewer people know to come to the side. Everyone is sooo focused on getting that one shot that they forget to try out a different angle.
Tip #3: Okay so speaking of that one shot...Prepare for it to be crowded.
Here’s the thing, when you walk through the gates and enter the grounds of the Taj Mahal, it’s game on. You’re now on a mission, along with the thousands of other people, to get the great shot. So what most people do, and I fell victim to this too, was stop immediately after you enter and try and fight the crowds to get this photo below.
Now if you’ve got a photographer who can tell other people to move, great! But if you don’t, well you kinda gotta be pushy and patient. It’s honestly a pain in the butt and the photo isn’t really the best you can get.
My advice: skip this spot and focus on shots further along the path.
Tip #4: Arrive early or late
It’s no surprise that in this case, the early bird gets the worm. Many people start lining up SUPERRRR early to be the first ones through the gates (think old school black Friday shopping). But we decided to go later in the afternoon before closing hours. No matter what, it’s gonna be busy. But I like to go in the afternoon because when people start to leave you can walk against the grain and get shots with fewer people in them.
OOO and remember, the Taj is closed EVERY FRIDAY!
Tip #5: BE DIFFERENT
Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen a million shots of the Taj Mahal. And while each is beautiful, because it’s hard to take a bad photo of this stunning structure, we remember the photos that look different. Take this one for example.
Our guide (who happened to be Obama’s guide when he visited) took us off to the side, close to the main entrance, to snap this shot. It’s a unique perspective I’ve not seen before and it’s one of my favorite photos I was able to capture. OOO and we happened to bump into a cute kitty as we were snapping photos so I think that’s a double win.
Tip #6 Go wide & then go tight
That sounds like a football play or something lol. Anyways, I think a lot of people get hung up on needing to have the entire building in every shot. But variety is the spice of life right? So my advice is to snap some wide angle shots right as you walk in and walk towards the building. Then once you’ve gotten closer, take time to capture the details and intricacies of the masterpiece. I mean it did take them 20 years to build. The least you could do is capture the work.
Far be it for me to advise you on what gear to use, but I used a combo of my iPhone and my Sony RX10 Mark 3 to take photos while inside. If you are a pro and want different lenses a wide & a zoom would be great. But work with what you're comfortable with. And if that’s an iPhone, well then you can capture shots like the one below. Pretty good right?
Okay, let’s quickly run over a few rules before I let you go.
Security is TIGHT my friends and a lot of things aren’t allowed (tripods, electric devices, food, portable chargers) starting to see a pattern here? Bring only the essentials.
The Taj is open from sunrise to sunset and it’s closed on Fridays
You need to purchase your ticket prior to getting in line.
If you’re visiting on your own buy your ticket near the east gate or the west gate. Or if you’re with a group or a guided tour most likely the tickets have already been purchased for you.
Let’s talk about guides.
You don’t need one, but it’s so much more meaningful to learn about the Taj from experienced guides whose job it is to tell the story of this epic monument. I booked this trip through Scorby Travel and Cruise and they prearranged a local guide & tickets through Sacred Dot Tours so the whole process was extremely streamlined. But if you’re doing things on your own, or prefer to enjoy the Taj at your own pace, I recommend this audio guide.
Hire a photographer (if you’re not one)
This was a nice addition and certainly something to consider if you’d like some nice photos and not stress about taking them yourself. Again, we arranged for a photographer ahead of time through Scorby Travel & Sacred Dot. If you aren’t working with a travel advisor, my best advice would be to ask the hotel you’re staying at in advance to see what they can arrange for you.
And while there’s probably an infinite number of tips I could give you, I’ll leave you with this.
The most important thing you can do at the Taj Mahal is admiring its beauty. I honestly, don’t know that I spent enough time doing this. I know that someday I will return and hopefully spend a full day just wandering around and snapping photos until my heart is content. Take the time to sit in wonder and marvel at the incredible craftsmanship. We often get wrapped up in getting that one Instagram shot that we forget to just sit a look for just a second.
I really truly hope everyone gets a chance in their life to see this incredible place. There is absolutely nothing like it.
My time in India was in partnership with Sacred Dot Tours. A company that provides curated itineraries in India, UAE, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Click here to visit their website.