Silhouettes in Kerala, India (Photo Essay for Dezine Magazine)

I have recently finished a six month voyage through India. It is a great country for photography offering a variety of landscapes, amazing architecture and a variety of interesting cultures to capture. Wherever you go in India there is always something to document photographically. Whilst I was in the South of India in the state of Kerala I spent a few days in Fort Kochi. This small coastal city is a great place for both street and architectural photography with a huge mix of different influences from throughout the ages. The area is famous for it's Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, as well as the elaborate Chinese fishing nets which were introduced by Chinese explorers in the 14th century.

I'm sure that in the right conditions the Chinese fishing nets can be photographed beautifully, but during my time there the sky was dull and the vibrant sunsets lacking! Instead I decided to experiment with some silhouette style images along the coastline. I enjoy taking silhouette photographs, I feel that their simplicity adds to their overall beauty and the addition of people can add a lot of emotion.

When taking silhouetted images, as with much of photography, the most important element is light. The subject that you want to be silhouetted should be directly in front of the light source. In addition, the background needs to be lighter than the foreground to create the silhouette. In these images the late afternoon sun was directly behind the people making it perfect for the high contrast silhouetted results. Choose subjects that are easily recognisable as your silhouettes and keep it simple. Try to avoid distracting elements within the frame and make use of the surrounding negative space. The subjects I took here were on a coastal walkway and I was slightly lower down on the beach shooting up. This angled technique ensured I had no distracting noise in the background of the frame. These images were taken using a Canon 5D4 and a Sigma 135mm 1.8 art lens. The extra range on the lens allowed me to stand a little further back and photograph away comfortably. However, any type of lens can be used successfully for silhouettes, practice until you create the perfect shot and have fun doing so.

I have written several previous travel photo essays for Dezine which can be found on their website. More of my travel photography can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook and my Flickr account. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or collaborating in any way please email: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Photography in and around Fort Kochi

Last year I set off on a six month journey around India. I didn't really have a plan aside exploring and taking lots of photos on my travels. After a couple of weeks settling into the Indian way of life in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru) I decided to fly to Kochi. Kochi (also known as Cochin) is a coastal city in India’s southwest state of Kerala. I always prefer being near the coast and the area had been recommended to me by both tourists and Indians alike. As a bonus, India’s largest arts event was being held in the city whilst I would be there, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018.

I spent a few days on the mainland of Kochi in the Ernakulam area before moving to the coastal area of Fort Kochi. Whilst in Ernakulam I experienced one of the elephant festivals which are popular throughout the state of Kerala. The festivals contain a large number of decorated elephants, elephant handlers, music and dance. Scroll through the slideshow below to view photos from the Elephant Festival:

Fort Kochi is a fascinating area by the sea, rich in history and well known for its Portuguese, British and Dutch architecture. Another attraction of Fort Kochi are the large Chinese fishing nets positioned along the beach. The Nets look picture perfect on the right day but I didn’t see a good sunset in the four days that I was staying there. I did however manage to capture some minimalist style silhouette photos above Kochi beach one evening.

As part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale being held during my stay, there was an excellent photography workshop that I attended in the Jew Town area of Fort Kochi. The full day event was presented by Nick Ut And Mark Harris. This pair of world renowned photographers told us their incredible life stories and guided us with concepts, ideas and techniques to help guide our photographic goals. Both of the presenters were extremely helpful and motivational in their delivery. At the end of the event, inspired by the masters, I joined another photographer on the course to explore the area and take some photos. Sri Harsha Pamu (Instagram: shellzero) from Hyderabad but now living and working in California is a big fan of street photography and made the visit to Kochi purely for the workshop.

Fort Kochi is an excellent place for photography. It is a small area which can easily be explored on foot. We wandered around for a few hours following the coastline and explored the many streets and alleyways within the town. Due to the Biennale there was a lot of art work around which when combined with people can make for some interesting street photography. The area has some beautiful old buildings as well as an interesting mix of Churches, Temples, Mosques and a Synagogue. The small town is still a place of work for the people who live there so there is plenty of authentic photographic opportunities to capture. The people are also very friendly and open to having their picture taken. Click through the slideshow below to view some of my street photography and street portraits taken in Fort Kochi:

I enjoyed my time in Fort Kochi but it was time to move on so I took a taxi a couple of hours south to my next destination, Alappuzha (also known as Alleppey) in the south of Kerala. Alappuzha (or Alleppey) is a coastal city who’s area is best known for it’s rustic backwaters, a network of tranquil and picturesque lagoons and canals. More of my travel photography from India can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook and my Flickr account. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or collaborating in any way please email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Sunset Silhouettes in Kochi, India

Last year I began my six month travel around India. I started my trip in Bangalore (also called Bengaluru) which is the capital of the southern Karnataka state. Bangalore is well known as being the centre of India’s high tech industry. I enjoyed my time in the city and managed to get some great street style photography especially around the busy markets. After a couple of weeks in Bangalore I flew to Kochi, in the state of Kerala.

Kochi (also known as Cochin) is an interesting coastal city in the south west of the Kerala state. It has been a port town since 1341 and has been the centre of India spice trade for many centuries. Whilst in the area I stayed in both the Ernakulam and Fort Kochi areas. Ernakulam refers to the mainland portion of the city of Kochi and is where the majority of trade and business in the city occurs. Fort Kochi is a charming seaside area which is becoming more popular for tourists. Although Fort Kochi has no beach as such it is famous for it’s British, Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture, it’s Chinese fishing nets and the Biennial art festival.

The festival known as the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is the largest art exhibition in India and the biggest contemporary art festival in Asia. Whilst I was visiting in 2018 the Water Town Fest was being held alongside the Kochi Biennale in the Jew Town area of Fort Kochi. It was here that I attended a fascinating full day photography workshop run by world renowned photographers Nick Ut And Mark Edward Harris. During the workshop Nick Ut talked about his fascinating life and his award winning photo ‘Napalm Girl’ the powerful photograph that many say went on to help end the Vietnam war. Mark Edward Harris, an award winning photographer gave a hand on approach to travel and documentary photography. He explained several key shots and concepts to master when producing photo essays. Both speakers were incredibly friendly and down to earth while they offered us their combined wealth of photographic knowledge.

The days following the workshop I remained in Fort Kochi taking photos and enjoying the atmosphere. The area is great for street photography and also has some great architecture in the old town. Many photographers go to Fort Kochi for the Chinese fishing nets but in five days I didn't see any impressive sunsets to capture these. I did have some fun down on the beach however catching some silhouette images at the end of the day with the Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art Lens. Click through the slideshow to view these sunset silhouette images taken in Fort Kochi:

I took the silhouetted images on the beach close to the fishing nets. A walkway follows the coast around with a pathway leading to the water. With the telezoom range on the lens I was able to stand a little further back and snap away comfortably. The sun was directly behind the people making it ideal for high contrast silhouette style photos. I especially like the minimalism of these silhouette images with little clutter in the frame and a large amount of pleasing negative space. Here is an earlier blog I wrote with some tips on taking silhouette photography. After spending an enjoyable few days in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam I continued my journey around India by heading south to Alleppey.

More of my travel photography from my India travels can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook and my Flickr account. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or collaborating in any way please email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Marina Beach and Birds at Sunrise in Chennai

Chennai, on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. Marina beach is a huge natural beach in Chennai, at around six kilometres in length it is the longest natural beach in India. It is also one of the most crowded beaches in the country with up to 20,000 visitors daily during the summer months. It is not only people who flock to the beach each day, every morning at sunrise thousands of birds can be also been seen at Marina Beach. Click through the slideshow below to view the birds at Marina beach, the volunteers who feed them and the people who visit early enough to see this fascinating sight:

I stayed in Chennai for a few days on my travels around India this year. I liked the city and found it a great place for photography especially the beach area which is always full of life. I discovered the feeding of the birds one morning whilst I was at the beach ready to take some photos of the sunrise. There are volunteers daily at the beach as part of the Marina Beach Pigeon Feeding Centre. They have a designated area and feed the birds daily on a designated section of the beach. The volunteers control the area and make sure nobody gets to close to disturb the feeding birds. Along with pigeons there are also a large number of crows.

If you want to view this spectacle it is best to arrive at the beach early in the morning before sunrise. The beach is already starting to get busy at this time of day with a yoga class taken place by the Ghandi statue and several people running or walking along the promenade. Further along the beach during the summer months is a small funfair which is a great place to take documentary and street photography.

I spent six months traveling around India from South to North via Bangladesh before a brief visit to Nepal and finally Sri Lanka. I have literally thousands of photos from the trip which now need editing and I plan to write some more blog posts in the coming weeks. More of my travel photography from my India travels can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook and my Flickr account. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or collaborating in any way please email: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Travels Around Morocco (Photo Essay for Dezine Magazine)

Morocco is one of my favourite places to visit and is excellent for photography.  It has a variety of landscapes from the rocky coastline, empty deserts, snow capped mountains, and bustling towns & cities.  The people are friendly, the food delicious and the travel is cheap.  For people in the UK I always think of Morocco as being the closest place that you can fly to that has the biggest cultural differences to home. This blog was published as a photojournal for the online magazine Dezine.  Click through the slideshow below to view my travel photographs taken around Morocco:

The first time arriving in Morroco can be a bit of a culture shock!  Marrakech for example is an ambush on the senses: street performers approach you with snakes and monkeys, dark twisting alleyways entice you until you get lost and a constant buzz seems to radiate throughout the city.  However, it is good fun, safe and always makes for interesting experiences.  A few years ago I returned to Morocco for a couple of weeks with a friend.  Starting in Marrakech we moved on to the Atlas Mountains for some solitude before heading to the coastline and visiting the cities of Casablanca, Rabat, Kenitra and Meknes. Below is a description of the photos in the slideshow above in the order they are seen with links to the individual images on my Flickr account:

1.  Golden hour at Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter.

2.  Berbers, are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa.  Three locals enjoying the view from their backyard in the Atlas Mountains.

3.  Locals play on the beach at Casablanca while the sun sets.

4.  The Hassan II Mosque or Grande Mosquée Hassan II is on the coastline of Casablanca and is the largest mosque in Morocco.  

5.  A man enjoys nature and solitude in front of the Atlantic Ocean on the coastline close to the city of Rabat.

6.  A bodyboarder heads to the beach for a surf in Kenitra in the North of Morocco.

7.  A local enjoys the view of the coastline from the colourful cliffs of Rabat.

I have written several previous travel photo essays for Dezine which can be found on their website. More of my travel photography can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook and my Flickr account. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or collaborating in any way please email: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com

Winner of 'Wanderlust, the Original Travel Magazine' Photo of the Year 2018

Whilst I was recently travelling through India and Bangladesh I received the fantastic news that I was one of the winners of Wanderlust's 2018 Photo of the Year competition.

Winner of 'Wanderlust, the Original Travel Magazine' Photo of the Year 2018

One of my favourite images taken on a previous trip to Cuba was the winner of the 'Travel Icons' category. My photo taken of a brightly coloured pink classic car in front of a white Orthodox Church taken on the seafront of Havana took the prize!

Here’s what one of the judges had to say about my image:

“A classic car with an extra splash of photographic flair. We loved the originality of this: the low viewpoint, the water splashed up by the wheels. Crucially for the composition, there’s space for the car to drive into (giving it a sense of motion) and no other colour to compete with that pink.”

For the prize I will be flying to Hong Kong and Macao for a photo commission supported by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Macao Government Tourism Office. I am extremely excited about this as I have never been to those destinations and always enjoy traveling to new places. So… more pictures to follow later on this year! My winning photo has also been used as the header banner on the Wanderlust results page which can only be good for further publicity.

I rarely enter competitions because you often have to pay, and I rarely win! However, it just goes to show that the extra effort involved can often be worth it in the end! I thought that the entries to the Wanderlust photo of the year competition were amazing, you can view the beautiful winning entries here for some inspiration.

My winning Cuban image was previously selected for a travel exhibition at the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont, the photo also gathered a lot of praise on social media so I had a feeling it was a well liked photograph. A trip to Cuba can produce a treasure chest of travel images, I wrote a couple of previous photography blogs about my time in Havana including ‘Cuba and Cigars’ and one on the many colourful characters to be found there.

More of my travel photography from Cuba can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  Several of my Cuban travel images are available as prints. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Giving Back via Photography - Pondicherry in India

A couple of months ago I spent a week in and around Pondicherry taking photos and relaxing. Pondicherry or Puducherry as it is officially known was an ex French colony until fairly recently. It is a nice place to visit especially if you are on a round trip of India as it is a small quiet town that caters for tourists well. You can feel spoilt eating European breakfasts daily and enjoying Pizzas, chips and European beers in the evening!

As with most places in India it is also a great place for photography. Like the majority of tourist places you do not have to venture far out of the bubble and as a westerner you become a rarity! This was true on the outskirts of Pondicherry where I walked to one day and discovered a quaint fishing village where the locals were as interested in me as I was with them! I returned to the area a couple of times that week with fellow photographer and couchsurfing friend Soufaine Ghzal who I had met in Varkala on a previous adventure. After sending some of the parents the images we took of some of the families we decided that it would be nice to print some of the better images and return to the village to give to those involved.

After getting around sixty different photos printed up we ventured back to the village to distribute them. It was a little difficult locating all of the children in the images but we had a lot of fun trying! The parents were genuinely appreciative of the gesture and the children seemed incredibly excited to see themselves in print for perhaps the first time. A lot of people in India will ask you to take their photo and many ask for a print or copy so it was nice this time to be able to return with what they had asked for. Click through the slideshow below to view some of shots we took of the local people living on the outskirts of Pondicherry:

After handing out the images and interacting with the locals we both agreed that returning with gifts of photography was much more beneficial and thoughtful than simply handing out money to strangers. It also enabled us to get some nice portraits and street style photography in this part of India.

More of my travel photography from Pondicherry can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like any more information about any of my images please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Street Portraits of India

I am currently travelling around India taking photos and experiencing this amazing country. One of the aspects of photography that I am focussing on whilst here is portraiture. I am trying to improve my portrait photography by asking strangers if I can take their photo whilst I travel around India. Half of the battle for me is approaching people in the first place. Fortunately the majority of Indian people seem to be very friendly and don’t mind having their photo taken. In fact you often have to turn people away as a lot of people start asking for a photo… In addition to ‘environmental portraits’, which are often taken candidly without the subject knowing I have also been taking more ‘head shot’ style portraits, in which I normally ask for their permission first. Click through the slideshow below to view some of the street portraits I have taken so far on my trip through India:


All of the portraits were taken using a Canon 5D (Mark 4) with a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. All of the images were taken using natural light and without the use of a flash.  The images were often taken with a shallow depth of field to create a pleasing background and draw attention to the persons face.  I use a single point to focus whilst doing these close up head shot portraits and focus on the closer eye if the head is at an angle. Images of people from around the world fascinate me, I think that they are especially important to build up a picture of a place in travel photography. My travels in India started in Bangalore in the state of Karnataka before flying to Kochi for the Kochi Art Biennale 2018. I then made my way South down the beautiful Kerala coast through the backwaters of Alleppy and Munroe Island in Kollam. Next I stopped for a relaxing week in Varkala before taking the train to the very southern tip of mainland India, Kanyakumari. After witnessing the sunrise at the bottom of the World I travelled to Madurai, the City of Temples. Next up was Chennai before flying to Calcutta where I currently am. It has been a fantastic trip so far, the people are extremely friendly and the country is fantastic for photography with something going on all the time to capture.

More of my travel photography from India can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like any more information about any of my images please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

On the Streets of Varanasi

Along the banks of the historical Ganges River lies Varanasi, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It is located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and is considered to be one of the holiest centres for Hinduism. 

Image source: Wiki Media

Image source: Wiki Media

This unique city is made up of stark contrasts — from death and birth, to indulgence and spirituality. Its vigorous spirit has been the source of inspiration for many people who have set foot in the city, not just travellers, but also artists who were influenced by Varanasi.

Bollywood fans might recognise Varanasi’s many stairs and alleys from various films, such as Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan. The movie traces the lives and eccentricities of its characters that thrive within the ancient city, which is still just as complex and ever changing. Varanasi’s many dualities haven’t just inspired famous movies, as Indian-inspired games also crop up on celebrated gaming communities with European digital portal Slingo being a great example, hosting titles such as Nirvana and Bollywood Story. These games capture starkly different, yet equally captivating facets of life in the city. But no matter how pop culture tries to do it justice, it pales in comparison to the arresting, chaotic beauty of Varanasi in the flesh. That alone makes it worth the visit, but for photographers, this provides a wealth of opportunities to capture the rich local culture. The entire region is full of colour and eccentricity, so you won’t run out of sights to point your lens at.

Image source: Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Go down the ghats during sunrise

On your way down to the holy river, you’ll find a series of stairs called ghats. In Varanasi, there are roughly 100 of them around, with each having its own name, history, and purpose. If you head towards the ghats about an hour before sunrise, you’ll be treated to a surreal view of the sun peaking from the waters and slowly bathing the landscape in light. It also happens to be the quietest time in the city, with fewer crowds. But of course, witnessing rituals of life and death are a different experience to be had altogether, so watch out for them but make sure to document them respectfully should you choose to take photos. 

Image source: Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Explore the Gali

Another unique attraction in Varanasi is their Gali, an extremely narrow alley usually lined with vendors and people passing by. Though you might have to elbow your way through during busy hours, you’ll enjoy the play of light beams and shadows on your walk.

Image source: Wiki Media

Image source: Wiki Media

Make the most of the background noise

Some photographers prefer clean and clutter-free backdrops for their photos, but that’s a bit of a rarity in the constantly bustling metropolis that is Varanasi. Don’t worry though because whatever goes on in the background can only add more colour and life to your shots. Traveling Family Blog notes that Varanasi is not for the faint-hearted. It can get chaotic, but it’s all part of the city's signature vibrancy. When capturing the dynamic Varanasi environment, fix your aperture settings so everything is kept in focus, despite all the movement. Everywhere, you’ll find street cows, street vendors, children, and so much more that will fill up your frames.

Image source: Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay

Visit during festival season

For an even more rewarding trip, you can visit Varanasi during a festival such as Dev Deepawali, also known as the Festival of Lights. It happens every year during the month of November, with thousands of devotees coming together to immerse themselves in the holy Ganges. Most surreal is when they offer lit-up lamps to the Ganga — an act they call Deepdaan. Every single step of the ghats lights up as the sun goes down, which makes for a truly majestic sight.

Image source: Wiki Feed

Image source: Wiki Feed

This was a guest blog written by Gabriella Esposito, a freelance writer. If you are interested in writing a guest blog or other forms of collaboration please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com. More of my travel photography can be found on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook Page and my Flickr account.

Travel in Peru: Andahuaylas

Around four years ago I was employed as a photographer by MINCETUR, the tourist department of the Peruvian government. My role was to take tourist-friendly travel photos in various places around Peru. In addition to visiting the usual tourist destinations such as Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu I also spent a week taking images in and around Andahuaylas. Click through the slideshow below for some of the travel images I took whilst in Andahuaylas:

Andahuaylas (Quechua Antawayllaanta copper, waylla meadow, "copper meadow") is a Peruvian city. It is the capital of the Andahuaylas Province in the Apurímac Region. It is known as the pradera de los celajes (Spanish for "prairie of colored clouds").

I spent a week in Andhuayalas exploring the various nearby villages and spending a lot of time in the small city itself. I didn’t see any other tourists during my entire stay in Andahuaylas. The culture was fascinating allowing for some interesting street photography such as this lady leading her pig to the market on a Sunday. I also managed to get some cinematic style street photos whilst practising with an anamorphic lens. The nearby Lake Pachuca and the archaeological site of Sóndor are also definitely worth a visit.

A blog about my week in Machu Picchu from the same trip can be found here as well as a blog about anamorphic photography. More of my photographs from Peru can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook page and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.