Thinking Inside the Box: The Taj Mahal

Thinking Inside the Box is an occasional series in which I talk about the making of my images.

 

When you’re photographing what’s widely considered to be the world’s most beautiful structure, it’s not too difficult to make a nice image. Or even a very nice image. A wide angle lens, a spot in front of the reflecting pool, hopefully in the early morning before the crowds arrive, and you’ve got it. Or perhaps a view framed by a nearby archway, again hopefully before the crowds arrive, and voilà!

But how do you move past that cliché postcard view and tell a different story?

In all the pictures I’ve ever seen of the Taj, I never really knew what it looked like. The marble, the details, the beautiful inlays – I was quite surprised actually. That was the Taj I wanted to share. So I swapped the wide angle for a telephoto.

And then there were the long lines of crowds. Undeniably part of the experience of visiting the Taj Mahal. But instead of cursing the pesky tourists and patiently standing in one spot hoping they moved past my frame, or angling the camera upward as to easily avoid them, I chose to embrace them.

And how could I not! The single file of tourists, in their bright Indian dress, turned the crowd into a colorful architectural element.

The Indian people as part of the structure. In abstraction, melding into their proudest cultural icon.

An intimate, more telling view, I hope, of what is usually only admired from afar.

 

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