Here's a glimpse into some of the most popular and colorful Indian festivals that every photographer must experience.

Festive celebrations make the best subjects of photography, as they are motley of genres and challenging situations. Colours, large gatherings, lights, decorations, a variety of foods and people’s animated moods are the perfect elements needed to create a photograph that truly represents a festival. Here are some of the most important Indian festivals that a photographer should not miss out on.

This is the most glamorous and the most awaited festival by people of every religion. Literally meaning ‘the festival of lights’, it celebrates the victory of good over evil. Preparations begin days before, and people clean and decorate their homes, buy new clothes and jewellery, prepare delicious sweets and light diyas and firecrackers.
When it is celebrated: October or November

The Best Places to Visit
• Delhi: for its festive spirit and look
• Jaipur: for its traditions and enthusiasm
• Amritsar: for its out-of-this-world celebrations

What You Must Shoot
Homes decorated with torans (intricate door hangings); diyas and rangolis; huge family get-togethers; amazing firework displays

Festive Shooting Tip
• While shooting fireworks, use the Bulb or Night mode to achieve the correct exposure. Both modes offer slightly longer exposures that are ideal for shooting in low-light conditions.

Ramzan: If you are photographing large gatherings of people offering prayers in a mosque, include the mosque in your shots to give a sense of place.
Exposure: Details not available

Ramzan Id
Ramzan is celebrated in the Islamic month of Ramadan. It was during this month that the Quran (holy book of Islam) was revealed, and it provided people with guidance and teachings. Fasting, spiritual reflection and charity are the most important aspects of this festival.
When it is Celebrated: The month varies every year

The Best Places to Visit
• Hyderabad: one of the most important cultural centres for Muslims
• Jammu and Kashmir; where the festival is celebrated in full pomp and flair

What You Must Shoot
Large numbers of people praying together; family get-togethers; elaborate feasts

Festive Shooting Tip
• To shoot large gatherings in mosques, reach the spot on time. Find a good vantage point from where the view is clear and there are no distracting elements.

Christmas is celebrated on the birthday of Jesus Christ. People sing carols, give each other gifts and prepare many sumptuous dishes. Nativity plays are staged in many schools and churches. An entertaining Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) distributing candies and gifts to kids is a common sight. When it is celebrated: 25 December

The Best Places to Visit
• Goa; for its never-ending parties and dances
• Kerala; to witness the religious fervour and faith besides the celebrations
• Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru; streets and shops are completely decked up with lights and colourful decorations

What You Must Shoot
Homes adorned with star-shaped paper lanterns, clay lamps and the decorated Christmas tree; the Christmas crib; Santa Claus distributing candies and gifts to kids outside local shops and malls

Festive Shooting Tips
• Candlelight can be a great source of light for shooting still subjects and portraits. Some compact cameras have the Candlelight mode, which adjusts the settings accordingly for low-light conditions.
• Make sure you have permission before you shoot inside a church.

Stand Ahead Of the Crowed
Parades and processions can be quite challenging to photograph because of the crowds, busy backgrounds and limited access. Instead of being stuck in the middle of the crowd or standing in the sidelines, position yourself at the starting point. This will make it easier for you to shoot and also allow you to take close-up portraits of individuals and groups.

Pongal is a popular harvest festival that is celebrated mainly in South India. It is all about giving thanks to nature and hoping that it brings good luck and fortune to the fields. The festival holds great significance for the farming community, as it marks the end of the harvesting season.
When it is celebrated
: mid-January

The Best Places to Visit
• Tamil Nadu; for its unique celebrations that are typical of the state
• Andhra Pradesh; the most celebrated festival in the state

What You Must Shoot
Cattle races and bull-fights; beautiful rangolis at the entrance of every home; the cattle adorned with colourful beads, bells and paint

Festive Shooting Tip
• Use your camera’s manual focus to pre-focus a fast-moving cart in a cattle race and
then freeze it. Alternatively, you can use the Single Area Continuous Autofocus mode for equally effective results.

Uttarayan: Do not miss out on capturing the spectacular sight of the skies filled with colourful kites on the day of Uttarayan.
Exposure: 1/200sec at f/2.8 (ISO 400)

Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti
This kite-flying festival is an occasion of thanksgiving and marks the end of winter. Delicious traditional Gujarati dishes, crowded rooftops and kite-flying contests are the highlights of this festival.
When it is celebrated: Mid-January

The Best Places to Visit
• Ahmedabad in Gujarat; known for its kite-flying contests on rooftops! What You Must Shoot The many expressions on the faces of the people flying kites; the sky filled with kites; crowded rooftops; Patang Bazaar (kite market) in Ahmedabad

Festive Shooting Tips
• Use your camera’s Spot metering mode to focus more on the kites than the sky.
• A wide-angle lens will help you capture broader shots that include the people on rooftops as well as the sky.

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