The faces of Mysore India by Neil Gandhi


The faces of Mysore India

by Neil Gandhi

Hey Steve,

Often times, images do not do justice to true experiences.

With photography, one must diligently spend time and live within the realm of their subject to establish the reason that makes them “click”. In that recognition, one discovers a sense of realization that is sometimes larger than life itself. Walking around a bustling Devaraja Market filled with beings just like me, I realized how different I was from them. Most of them had never left the city of Mysore in South India. Most of them probably never will. Initially, I felt a sense of sadness. Then I asked myself “Why would they?”. There is so much beauty that encapsulates them.

These images were captured during my trip in December 2013, where I visited one of my favorite photographers named Christine Hewitt to immerse myself in photography and learn from her experience. Mysore, birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga, draws yogis from all over the world who come to this city to grow their practice. It is a city of royal heritage, with an existing royal family and king, and features a beautiful palace, art galleries and some truly exquisite temples surrounding the city. Most importantly, it is the people who define this city and bring it to life. The joy and love in their faces, especially the children is heart-warming to experience. Street photography comes to life here, as you witness some interesting and extremely willing subjects. They live life with a quiet sense of confidence and content. They breathe because they choose to. These are their stories.

Gear: All images taken with a 5D MIII and a 50mm f1.4 or a 24-70 f4.0L. Post-processing in Lightroom 5.

About me: I am Neil Gandhi, an amateur photographer who pays for his camera gear and travel with a job in software marketing. Based out of Austin, TX. Connect with me on Instagram at:





















  1. Neil
    You hav some great shots here. I particularly like the one with the two schoolgirls. We went to the Mysore festival last year whilst there on holiday and it was one heck of a big event, so many people!
    The V2 is clearly up to the job for this type of photography, my wife uses a V1 and is very pleased with it.

    • Thanks Ian. Mysore is indeed a fascinating little town. The festivals there are indeed jarring to the senses and can be challenging to photograph. These photos do not even begin to do justice at the beauty that is Mysore. I cannot wait to go back again.

  2. Nice serie Neil, thanks for sharing ! Favourite ones are the main picture and the Black and white one ( #4) of the man on the market. Remark regarding portraits, taken wide open … shallow dof, I love it. But when the focus is off ( due to front-focus, whatever reason … ), as with #11 ( nose is sharp, not the eyes), it doesn’t work any longer ( for me). Regarding the contrast ( B&W), personally I’d post-process them with deep blacks and whites but I surely can appreciate the “film-look” that you have chosen ! Thx

    • Thanks for the feedback on the B&W Velu, I will try that next time around. I wanted to go with a more natural and journalistic look with these photos. The focus is off wide open is because of the Canon 50mm f1.4. Its def. very soft towards the edges and very difficult to get tack sharp images. I am thinking of getting rid of it and replacing it with the 50mm f1.2, heard its much sharper.

      • Neil, let me “warn” you, the 50 1.2 is a very “special” lens. Often focus can be off, but since you have a 5DIII I’d advice to select single focus point. That way, no surrounding areas might influence your focus.

  3. Neil, you have done a great job.U have captured right emotions . I very much liked the boy with missing teeth & natural smile.Keep it up.

  4. Great stuff Neil.

    Did you know that prince Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar of Mysore passed away Dec. 10th? Right around the time you visited, in other words. The pilgrimage to honor him was a photo opportunity unlike most. People all dressed up, and the place was packed.

    Anyway… really like the look your 50mm lens gives. Pretty special in my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Jan. Yes, he passed away a day before I got there. The entire city was in turmoil. I was unable to go that day for some reason but they had a huge fair going on that day where I did get some good shots.

  5. Nice photos! The little girl with the unbelievably big eyes is my favorite. It seems like Indians dont mind posing for pictures.

    • They don’t, they love having their photos taken. The little girl with the big eyes was an angel. She was out in her front yard with a small broom sweeping the floor and I probably got around 60 shots of her and could dedicate an entire gallery on her. So photogenic.

  6. Those are some nice shots and colour tones, especielly nr. 3 has kind of a film look to it. But to add some critique: Nr. 8 looks a little flat, and I wonder how the complete series would look, if colours were more consistent, meaning perhaps not going b/w, although i quite like some of them. But most importantly I love that you explicitly made eye contact – one just sees how much intensity a picture gains by going for that and not just waiting for people passing by or capturing off-guard.

    • Thank you very much for the feedback. I am still learning to master B&W conversion, which is why this feedback has been very valuable from the community. With most street photography in India, you can not only gain immediate eye contact but also position your subjects on where you find light to be optimal. They willingly oblige.

    • Would like to know what you mean by colors being weird. I tried to retain as much of the clarity in the colors as I could with minimal editing in lightroom.

  7. So many lovely people shots. And – may we know? – does “willing subjects” mean you asked?

    • John, In india, you do not need to ask subjects if you want to take their photos. The moment they see a camera, they will run to you to take their shots and will pose for you. Especially the kids. Makes street photography a lot less intimidating for a beginner 🙂

  8. I like them, particularly the two girls. That image has such a lovely old school quality about it.

    On a slightly more critical note, at some point I wished you’d centred all your subjects, staring at the camera, instead of the majority. Then it would have evolved into a conscious style, now it grates a little here and there.

    Thanks for sharing Neil!

    • Good to know. I think I understand what you are saying about a “conscious style”. Will keep that in mind the next time around 🙂

      • Nahh… don’t! Stick to what you feel is best for you. Particularly the pp which I found both lovely and fitting. Enjoy your shooting!

  9. Hey Neil! Nice to see another ATX photographer posting here.

    Great photos. Really love #4. The central, layered composition and sense of motion totally work.

    One critique would be that a couple exposures look a little hot in the highlights. If that was not your intention, you may want to pull them back a bit.

    The whole set makes me want to get on a plane for India. Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks Chad for the feedback, I hear ya on the highlights. You should totally head to India, its totally worth it to go take shots, so much to photograph.

  10. Superb set of images. Great compositions, colour and lighting.
    But as per the above comment… I prefer the colour to the B&W… some of them are just a little flat. But that’s maybe just my preference.

    • Agreed, I could have applied some more robust B&W filters in Lightroom. I just worry sometimes that they will become super contrasty and look fake in the process. Need to work on understanding B&W better 🙂

  11. nice record of your travel and I like the photo’s a lot, must’ve been a great trip! Thanks!
    On a slightly critical note (please don’t take offence) I find the BW to be a bit flat and ‘grey’, and the shallow depth of the colour ones isn’t pleasing with the exposure/colour combo which is also strange.

  12. There are some really nice shots here. My favourites are the two girls by the motorbike, and the last one of the man frying food.

    Best regards

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