The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and indeed photographed buildings or monuments in all of India if not the world. It is a truly inspiring structure not just in its attention to detail and shear scale but also in the story behind its construction.
For those unaware the Taj Mahal was built between 1632-48 by Mugal emperor Shah Jahan as an offering to his his third wife Mumtaz Mahal who died during child birth.
So what do you expect when you visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The first thing to realise is that it’s one of the most visited monuments in the world with over 2.5 million visitors each year. So it’s a given that you’ll need to prepare for crowds.
The best time to visit is at sunrise where crowds are lower (but still in abundance) and the light is softer. An amazing feature about the Taj Mahal is it’s ability to change colour depending on the light. As marble has both some translucent and reflective properties its colour is dependent on the colour temperature of the light bouncing off it.
It changes from a cool grey at first light into a warm yellow as the sun rises. This offers a range of opportunities to take photos from the same view point at different times through the day with remarkable differences.
The key position “The Postcard Shot” as i like to refer to it as is dead centre looking down the water channel with the line of fountains lining up directly with the centre tear drop roof of the Taj Mahal. This vantage point is very congested especially just through the main gate as every tourist is huddled around the centre waiting for their photo to be taken. My suggestion is to bypass the first series of fountains and move closer until your just past the half way point of the gardens. As the distance is considerable from the first view point through the gate and the Taj itself looks very small in relation to the foreground in between.
Instead take some time to look for alternative view points to photograph from. Searching for view points or different perspectives on famous landmarks one of the great challenges and enjoying parts of photography.
If you get the chance there are some great photographs to be taken from the reverse side of the Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna River. It runs dry during the tourist (cool) season but there are still good photographic opportunities.
Chris Bishop professional commercial, landscape & travel photographer based in Perth, Western Australia.