Holi is the colorful spring Hindu festival which is a photographers dream and nightmare at the same time. Colored powder and water are thrown and painted on people which is beautiful to photograph, but also concerning from a gear standpoint.
You can read about my complete experience on how to participate Holi in Jaipur, however as much fun as it is to participate, I was there to take pictures too. Here are a few tips if you are attending Holi to take pictures with a DSLR.
I used this LensCoat Raincoat to protect my Canon 60D. I secured it with duct tape so that I could zoom in and out easily. The only issue is that it’s not see-through material – so I had to shoot blindly for part of the time. You can also use a clear plastic bag and wraps which solves the issue of being able to see, however it is a less easy to zoom depending on the size of your lens and potentially not as durable as the Raincoat. Some didn’t use anything and just planned on doing a thorough cleaning afterwards such as an air gun/compressor. This strategy can work as long as you can avoid the colored water.
Pick one lens and don’t change it out. Same goes for batteries and SD card. Do not open that camera body at all! Some photographers solved the lens problem by simply bringing two cameras. Something I don’t have the luxury of doing. I shot with my 17 to 55mm in a RAW format and knew that I would just plan on cropping in on the shots in order to get closer, zoomed in images.
Don’t plan on fiddling around with manual settings unless you are a pro at it. Do test shots first and ensure you have your ISO, aperture, metering, focal point set as much as you can for each Holi situation you walk into before you walk into it. Then just keep those settings and fire rapidly. I set mine on Aperture Priority and shot away not worrying about the shutter speed since I was mainly shooting in outdoor lighting conditions that weren’t changing.
Images showing the powder and playing from above are always great. I saw many people standing on chairs and shooting from balconies whenever possible.
Get some detailed shots too of the makings of Holi, not just the people but the materials.
This is not a holiday to be shy. It’s so easy to ask people to take their Holi photo – they love showing off their colors! Ensure you get those great close up portraits. And return the favor and agree to be in other people’s photographs!
Hire a rickshaw or car to drive you around – it’s a great way to see capture all of the action on the streets. You can cover a lot more ground than walking and keep valuables protected if you want to walk around an area for a bit.
Are you a photographer who has been to Holi? Do you have any tips to add?
Here were some of my results from Holi 2014 Jaipur
Other great resources for Holi photography tips that I utilized: