Even though I’m not primarily a ‘travel’ photographer – I at least know that if you really want to get the shots that the tourists won’t get, you have to wake up before dawn and get out there before even some of the locals start their day.

That’s a little difficult here since it seems like the Buddhists are out and about walking around the stupa at 4am – well, they’re at least out before 5am because on the first morning I got to the stupa at 6am – just as the sun was rising, and then the next day I got there an hour earlier at 5am because I wanted a little more time before daylight hit – and it was packed.

Now these are the shots most people won’t get because hey – it’s about 35 degrees in the mornings right now, and it means you had to wake up at 4:30am. Of course, every morning when I walk downstairs the ‘guard’ scares the hell out of me since he’s usually lying down somewhere in the darkness and just wakes up all of a sudden. I play it cool – but um yeah, it’s a really weird way to start every day. And then I walk through the pitch black alleys, trying not to trip – and trying to not be freaked out by the deep, rumble of people in the darkness around me, also walking to the stupa and reciting their prayers… it’s honestly kind of like walking next to zombies in the darkness – so I walk fast.

The first day I just kind of checked things out – since I was a good bit trigger shy. But after my 5 hour hike around the outskirts I got over that – and the next morning I was all about getting my shots. Of course – I’m not dumb and I generally avoided the targets that were obviously going to chase me down and try to make me pay them if I took their photo. Communicating with your subjects is key – or you know – shooting and then quickly walking away.


On a different note – it’s funny how along with the usual ‘I want to get good shots because I’m a photographer’ – I also kind of feel obligated to just totally rock while I’m here – for the Interns. One of the things I’ve said before is that everything I shoot, I shoot for practice. Whether it’s weddings, or family portraits, or events – it’s all practice for some unknown opportunity. Because one of the things I worry about the most is simply wasting a photographic opportunity because I wasn’t ready – because my skills weren’t where they should have been.

I say this without boasting – but it takes some nerve and even skill to regularly get close to strangers, take their picture – and to walk away without getting yelled at – or to simply start a conversation that way. You’ll notice that my travel photography isn’t primarily lanscape photography – so all I have left are people. I know I’ve only been shooting for about a year and a half – but I’ve been practicing nearly every day since I picked up my dSLR back in August of 2009.

See you tomorrow.

Kathmandu. Nepal. Travel. Photos. Photography. Bodhnath. Stupa. LeahAndMark.com

5 Replies to “Before Dawn in Kathmandu

  1. All these posts are magnificent. And I too, love, love, love that birds picture! It’s AWESOME! 🙂

  2. Nice shots…getting right in with the people!
    Thanks for sharing your thought process as you explore this place and its people. I agree that it’s often good to just wander without a camera, and see what there is to see first. Get used to your surroundings and the people. And yes, 35 mm takes a bit more social courage than a telephoto lens, but it’s worth it! 🙂

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