Shoot Smart

Award winning photographer Abhishek Hajela is known for his experiential and immersive photography tours for outbound tourists into India. He has a few tips for those who seek to capture a perfect frame.

His photos are moving tributes to landscapes, colour, people, festivals and real visual treat. Abhishek Hajela’s every image has a story to tell. He has several awards to his credit and his captures get regularly featured in various international and national magazines.

He is known for his exclusive photo trips with Olympus, Manfrotto and GO PRO; for both amateur and pro photographers. He specialises in leading groups through Indian festivals be it Holi, Hornbill Festival, Puri Rath Yatra or Kumbh.


All Photographs: Abhishek Hajela

His project on Spiritual India (The Naga Sadhus – Naked Saints) was nominated by the National Geographic ‘All Roads Photography Program’ and a number of his images have been selected and used by the Indian Ministry of Tourism for the Incredible India!

A protégé of John Isaac, one of the most respected and prominent photojournalist of this century, he offers some tips for travelers who have a passion for photography.

Plan your act:

  • When you see a situation you want to shoot, wait and see how it develops. Ask yourself: Do you need to approach it from another angle or vantage point? Be creative with your angle, you may get a better photo from this new angle!
  • It can be hard to shoot people, you have to be patient and allow yourself to be in their space. You can’t suddenly walk into a house and start taking images. Talk to them, tell them what are you doing and show them the images. A smile is the best way to start!
  • Patience always pays. Don’t be in a hurry to get that shot and walk away. The best comes out when you give it time.
  • When shooting festivals; try and scope out a terrace spot to get a bird’s eye view. Doing so would get you fabulous photographs and a sense of scale. Also when covering a festival like Holi, cover yourself properly and wear clothes you don’t mind discarding at the end of the day. Cover your camera with a plastic cover to prevent any splashes of water and colour, which will invariably come your way.
  • Always have a local guide or a person to take you around during the photo tour. This will make your life easy in terms of finding the hidden spot, where all you can access and so on.

In the words of Abhishek – 

“Photography comes with human connections. I don’t just take a photo and walk away – one must take the time to talk, wait and connect. Make time to observe this great game of life. “

streets of varanasi

Kit up

  • For most situations, I use a lens such as the 24-70 mm, which is a versatile lens for most travel photography. However, I always shoot with two cameras and two lenses — the 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm.
  • Always carry extra batteries and an extra camera body for that uncalled situations.
  • Make it a habit to download images to your laptop and backing up the images you have shot onto a hard drive at the end of each day.
  • I use Adobe Lightroom to organise my images and for initial post-production. Lightroom is an easier tool to understand, unlike Photoshop.

Abhishek says –

“Whenever you shoot in a group, don’t copy anyone as you don’t know the other person’s point of viewpoint. You can take inspiration from others but always use your own creativity, otherwise you will never be a successful photographer.”

Basic Starter Kit for a Beginner Photographer:

  • Keeping in mind today’s changing technology, I would recommend a Mirrorless Camera from Olympus or Fuji as it is lighter, cheaper and it has a features which are pretty updated for future.
  • However, you can also start with a basic DSLR Camera with a kit lens from Nikon or Canon.

Straight from the heart

Having expensive camera equipment doesn’t always mean that you’ll take good photos. The best way to hone your skills is to practice. Shoot as much as you can, and it doesn’t really matter what. Keep you lines clean and approach simple. Don’t try to pack too many elements into your image; it will just end up looking messy