A ‘Crowd-bombed’ Trip to Elephanta Caves

“Crowd-bombed”: When millions of unknown faceless nameless people make their way into your photos & memories.’’  ~ A self invented, face-palming realisation at many a travels.

One of the major irritants of travel photography is being ‘crowd-bombed’. You travel for the love of exploration but so do millions of other people. They find their way into your photos and your photo memories and eventually into your nerves. There are many Photoshop tutorials on how to remove unwanted crowds from travel pictures.  I haven’t tried any of those ever but always chose to live with this ‘crowd-bombing’. I don’t have picture perfect captures of the Pyramids or the Trevi Fountains or the Parthenon. I haven’t captured the beauty in a pristine form, the way they should be admired and captured, without any human element in any form or manner.

This time as well I was sorely irritated by the crowds that were milling past my camera at Elephanta caves. I waited patiently at many places for the crowds to clear to get that one elusive clean picture. Eventually a Mr. & Mrs. Mehta would pose for that aah so perfect selfie with the Natraj. Or a truckload of a Sharma family clan would congregate for a groupie for a family tree. There is nothing to look down upon about what they were doing. That is the idea of travel for many people. People like to get themselves clicked, they like to pose with their loved ones, that’s the way people capture their memories of travel. But clearly, I like my memories differently. My patience ran dry as I waited & waited & the crowds just wouldn’t clear! I couldn’t get this one clean picture of statue of Shiva despite waiting with my camera in click position for over 10 mins! I started clicking in gaps when one set of people moved out & the other moved in. I still got an arm here, a leg there, a bald pate on top, half of a potbelly from the side and what not!

Then a brainwave from years of boardroom drilling struck me – how could I convert a problem into an opportunity!!! I decided to use these very people in my compositions! I used them to add drama to the frame. I used them to capture the mood of the people & the place. I used them to tell a story.

So the clicking became more and more interesting as I upped my sense of observing. I looked around more closely, observed what people were doing. I waited for them, with the framing ready for people to walk right into it. I ran when I saw from a distance, a nice composition falling in place. I surreptitiously followed interesting subjects, waiting for them to do something interesting so that I could create a story with the framing. My senses were full charged. I was observing, running, shooting, waiting. I was overwhelmed with so much excitement with the whole idea. I almost did a little dance of joy in my head for thinking of such a bright, almost never thought of before idea!! So clever!

Jokes apart, I had so much fun. Here, take a look…

CowBoys: I was clicking the mouth of the Shiv Ling cave and these cowboys just appeared out of nowhere in front of my camera. I clicked away happily.




Devotion: For this one, I waited in the shadows of the dark corner of the hall, ready with my camera for a subject to appear and offer prayers.



Support: For this one,  I was ready with the framing from inside the hall against the light trickling in. I waited for somebody to exit  and this person holding his mother’s hand made for a perfect capture.



Pose: I saw this happening from a distance and ran to click this. I loved the way the couple were posing for pictures against the pillars.





How to get there:

Ex Mumbai – Take a ferry from Apollo Bunder.  Ferry counters are there in front of the Gateway of India , to the right of the New Taj Hotel . A return ‘luxury’ ferry ride costs about Rs. 160. First ferry leaves at 9 am and last ferry to Elephanta is at 2 pm.  The last ferry back to Mumbai is at 5pm.

Hot tip:

Some passengers feed the sea birds by throwing some snacks, peanuts chips etc. Watch the birds in awe as they catch the food mid-air.

Please Note: All Pictures copyrighted © Sunita G.R.
Prior written consent required from me to use the pictures in any manner.


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