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Varanasi Street Photography


It’s January 2019. This was the year I hit 50, albeit the very end of the year. Thoughtfully, I sat at my desk wondering what to do to mark the occasion. Several options crossed my mind, but one always eclipses the others. The niggling need for travel and adventure has rarely been far from my thoughts. Therefore, given the choice between that and pretty much anything else, the travel would always win. Hands down. Why did I choose Varanasi street photography? Read on…

Adventure in India

Many years ago I had a dream. Wanderlust and full of hope I travelled, visiting places far and wide. The thrill of being wild and free was exhilarating and a feeling I’ll never forget. Although I made it to many amazing places, I never made it to India. Something I regretted and wanted to fix. However, a few years passed and along came kids. Four of them to be precise, what was I thinking?!

Unsurprisingly, India stayed on the back burner.

In addition to the travel bug I’d also fancied exploring street photography. I wondered if I could combine the two. Subsequently, the Google scroll ensued and I’m asking myself if I should step out of my comfort zone completely.

You know how it is when you start that Goggle search? One thing leads to another…photography, photography course, street photography course, street photography courses off the beaten track. I was in, I was hooked, I was booking.

The Promise of Distant Land

And so it happened! Suddenly I stopped feeling 50 and instantly felt like a kid again. Excitedly booked to visit India for a Varanasi street photography course.

Just me.

Crucially, the first thing I’d done for just me, since having kids. (That’s 21 years by the way, just to put this into context ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Now, I’m definitely one for research. They say a little knowledge goes a long way and I have to agree. Consequently, I scoured the internet for blogs on Varanasi, hungry for information. Eager to make the most of my Varanasi street photography adventure. Interestingly, many warned that Varanasi shouldn’t be your first stop in India. I read cautionary tales that it would be much of a culture shock, too busy, too noisy, an assault to the senses!

If you want to see for yourself, I found this blog great for info and tips. As a female solo traveller I did feel the need to be prepared.

Varanasi Street Photography Courses

Finally, November comes around and I’m on my way to Varanasi to meet up with 6 other course mates and our course leader Mark Seymour. Thankfully, I get there in one piece and everyone seems great.

I’m happy to report that Varanasi didn’t disappoint. Yes, it was loud and crazy like you could never imagine. It’s super busy, dirty and smelly. But over and above that, it’s mesmerising. It’s totally magical with its own unique flow. The colours are vibrant, the early morning light enchanting and yes, the culture shock is beautifully full on. Varanasi is most certainly the perfect location for street photography.

The days that followed were spent wandering, exploring, photographing and learning. Totally in my element, I enjoyed every moment. Grateful that I chose to learn and explore this incredible city. Thankful too that I took the leap to leave all that was familiar. As a result I felt truly alive. Big cliche there I know, but true none the less.

A Street Photography Journey

So my conclusion here really is; take yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Try something new. It’s really good for the soul.

Grab with both hands, adventure and knowledge and new experiences. Needless to say I hope I’m always open to making new memories and taking a few risks.

I’m thankful I have memories of an enchanting city now so close to my heart. The place where I remembered that I wasn’t just “mum”. The place that I remembered that I AM ME and that is enough.

As an added bonus I realised I could take my new knowledge and apply it to my everyday. Being a Hertfordshire wedding photographer, I found many similarities between street photography and wedding photography. Focusing mainly on reportage wedding photography, I’ve learnt skills to take that to another level.

Here are a few favourite shots from my Varanasi street photography course, I hope you enjoy!

outdoors barbers in varanasi india
indian man checks his reflection by the ghats in varanasi india
mud wrestler warms up in varanasi india
indian kids play at the gym in varanasi india
mud wrestler meditates varanasi
Varanasi street market where seller sharpens his knives
varanasi street photography captures fish market exchange
brightly dressed holy man in varanasi street in india
spree shop front with chattering varanasi women sitting outside
street photographer and kids playing their recorders at ghats varanasi
holy man holds candle for varanasi street photography course members
children training to be monks in varanasi india
holy baba attracts flocks of birds early morning at the ghats of varanasi
colourful holy man sits for varanasi street photographers portrait session
goat market in varanasi
men stood waiting for a varanasi goat market sale
indian kid tries to hide from varanasi street photographers
varabasi street scene with traders and bikes
varanasi street filled with motorbikes and men
peaceful varabasi street with dogs
chicken about to be slaughtered in varanasi street
train station in varanasi india
passengers on varanasi train wait to depart
holy man poses in the morning mist for varanasi street photographer
varanasi street barbers shaving customers heads
small child cries whilst his head is shaved in varanasi street barbers
crying street kid is watched by peaceful holy man sitting in a varanasi street
varanasi street scene with food seller
men wash in the varanasi ghats early morning
back street in varanasi with royal enfield drivers passing by
cow misses being hit by a motorbike along the street in varanasi
varanasi mother and baby beg at the side of the street
holy man caught sleeping at the side of the street in varanasi india
burning ghats photographed from the river ganges, varanasi india
holy man peers out from his door in varanasi
man sleeps with filthy feet up along the street in varanasi india

Finally, if you’d like to see what else I’ve been shooting you can visit my blog here.

Most days I’m a Hertfordshire wedding photographer, you can see a little of that here.