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Why Train Stations Can Be Great for Capturing Everyday Life

By Ralph Velasco

Capturing Everyday Life is Essential for Successful Travel Photography.

Man with Green Water Bottle on Train at Delhi Train Station in India by Ralph Velasco

Old Delhi Railway Station

Delhi Junction, also know as Old Delhi Railway Station, is an ideal place to look for interesting images of people.

There are traveling families, couples, single people, even resident monkeys who live in the rafters and who knows where else.

The images in this blog post were captured on a single outing to the station while on my first scouting trip to India. I simply walked up and down the many platforms looking for interesting subjects to photograph and within the span of perhaps 30 minutes I made this series of men looking out the windows of their train cars waiting for their departure.

I captured many other images, as well, but those will just have to wait until a future post.

Two Men on Train at Delhi Train Station in India by Ralph Velasco

You Have to Be Bold

Although the last I heard it was no longer a possibility to enter the station without a paid ticket, which isn’t expensive at all should you decide to purchase one and not actually ride, the station at Delhi Junction is a treasure trove of photo opportunities, but you have to be bold.

By “be bold” I mean you can’t be shy when it comes to photographing your subjects.  This, of course, should be done with the utmost respect, but I’ve found the people in India to be incredibly open to being photographed and so some of my best images have been made there.

Man on Train with Food Tin at Delhi Train Station in India by Ralph Velasco

People Just Doing What They Do

When I talk about what I call the Everyday Life category of a shot list, I simply mean people doing what they do, whether it’s looking out windows, chatting on door stoops, or sitting in train windows awaiting departure (or any of a thousand other situations).

To me, these are some of the best and most interesting photo opportunities out there, and they can be a great way to show the viewers of your images what everyday life is like in the location you’re photographing.

Sure, the travel icons specific to a place are important, such as the Jama Masjid mosque, Red Fort, or any other number of “postcard” photo ops that abound in Delhi, but the local people simply doing what they do is what will set your photography apart.

Sad Looking Man on Train at Delhi Train Station in India by Ralph Velasco

Spend Some Time, But at the Right Time

Knowing where to be, and when, is crucial.

Having a sense of the place and when the “action” happens is so important.  No reason to be out there if there’s no action (or is there?).  

Of course, just because you’re out specifically to capture people involved in their everyday lives, this doesn’t mean if nothing’s happening at a particular time of day that there won’t be other chances for interesting photography, there almost always will be.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out looking for one type of subject only to be rewarded with a completely different type of opportunity, perhaps one that was even better than I’d set out for.

So I recommend you venture out with some expectations, but never be afraid to change it up if necessary.

How do you go about capturing everyday life when you’re traveling?

Are you making an effort to capture people just doing what they do when you’re traveling, or just photographing around your hometown?

Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

And while you’re at it, go ahead and share this post with others who might be interested, plus Subscribe to my new Continental DRIFTER YouTube channel.

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