Originally commissioned for Bandra Info.
When is the best time to visit Bandra Fort for photography? The following are some insights and my thoughts on photographing one of the most popular destinations in Mumbai.
The most popular site for photography – Bandra Fort? It’s not a tall claim when you consider that it’s not necessarily the fort that people are photographing, but rather the scenery.
Pop quiz – what’s the first thing you see when you enter Bandra Fort grounds? If the header image doesn’t give it away, I’ll quote a passage from a non-existent zombie novel in order to provide insight:
“The Zombie Horde, after consuming the guests at the nearby Taj Land’s End, move restlessly onward to their next destination, naturally gravitating towards the rising sun like a mobile and macabre field of supernatural flower petals, radiating terror. They march through the main gate, an awkward and narrow entrance which slows the Zombie Horde down for a few minutes until they figure out how to queue properly. Then they see it, an impressive, gold-glowing super-structure in the distance, kissing the sky like a fallen angel. It’s the majestic Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The Zombie Horde collectively moan. Their hands go to their pockets. Out come their smartphones, a grand irony because these aren’t the smart kind of zombies. Slowly, steadily, phones rise to face level as they begin to march forward, towards Bandra Fort and Sea Link, clicking selfies in various half-broken poses that only zombies can muster.”
Bandra-Worli Sea Link
Zombies and selfies aside (is there a correlation between the two?), the bridge is the star of the show. If it weren't for the Sea Link, there's no doubt in my mind that Bandra Fort wouldn't be as popular as it is among tourists and locals alike. It's a fantastic backdrop for photography enthusiasts.
To take advantage of this beautiful bridge, there is one more thing to consider apart from the location and multiple perspectives available at Bandra Fort.
There is but one major consideration that covers most outdoor photography, and that is the light. The best light, as it so happens, is all about timing. The two things are grounded in physics and cannot be ignored if we want our images to avail of the best possible light.
Golden Hour is a photography term for the span of time after sunrise and before sunset. During this time, the light is more “golden” and soft versus say mid-day, when the sun is high and harsh. It’s no wonder then that natural light photographers prefer Golden Hour for their photography.
So while you can get some great light at sunset, the sunrises at Bandra Fort are usually more spectacular because it’s one of the few relatively pleasant and open spaces in Mumbai to witness the sun rising above the city’s skyline with spectacular views of the bay, the bridge, and the fort grounds and the distant shoreline casting a rocky border around the Arabian Sea.
Another reason that it’s best to visit Bandra Fort at sunrise for photography (versus sunset) is because of the crowds, and a sunset crowd which is snapping selfies furiously like snapping turtles being teased with a bit of KFC chicken.
There’s nothing more annoying than having to find a small gap to squeeze into, elbow-to-elbow, to take a shot. Avoid the snapping turtles by arriving early morning. You’ll get better shots if you have more time to literally focus on what you’re doing.
I recently discovered time-lapse photography and put it to the test at Bandra Fort. Basically, timelapse involves a tripod and a camera, like a sports cam ala GoPro, or a DSLR or mirrorless model. You set the interval from anywhere from one or two seconds up to five or more. For best results, you’ll want to shoot for up to 45 minutes or more, depending on the desired effect.
What I did in the following example is set the interval at one second and shot for just under an hour, resulting in just over 3,450 individual frames.
If you like street photography, Bandra Fort is the perfect place. In particular, candid photography – taking pictures of your subject without their knowledge – when done in good taste, can result in some beautiful and natural imagery.
I typically try to avoid taking pictures of people posing; I’ve done enough of it and still do enough of it in the form of street portraiture, to last a lifetime. Candid photography, for me, is the holy grail of street photography. It’s also the most difficult genre to master.
Model shoots and formal portraiture
If you’ve ever visited Bandra Fort in the morning hours, you’ll no doubt have seen a few wedding photographers shooting pictures for their clients’ pre-wedding album. It’s not uncommon to encounter couples photographing one another and professional photographers shooting models for magazines and online publications.
Bandra Fort is an overall great location for these genres of photography because you have the fortress walls, bridge and sea for background options.
Photography beyond selfies
While it's easy to pick on selfie-takers for not being serious, I'd like to remind you that artists having been making self-portraits for centuries. That's not to say that the billions and billions of selfies out there infesting the Internet were made by artists! But we all possess the ability, if not the technology, to strive to produce photography that resembles art.
Bandra Fort is one of the few locales in Mumbai where a community of diverse photographers already congregate to take pictures. I've met many photographers there over the years, professional and hobbyists. Take advantage of this! Bandra Fort is practically a photographer's workshop at sunrise on any given day.