10 Photographs Of Holi You’re Never Likely To See

You’re excused. For going “WTF?!?”. Which you probably will in a moment when you realize that not a single photograph of the ten displayed here are of the Holi Festival. But they are. It depends actually on just what you think photographs of Holi are about. So bear with me for a moment, will ya?

For starters, for the benefit of those not in the know, the festival of Holi is an ancient religious Hindu festival, celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox. An in-depth description of the festival can be found on the Wikipedia page on Holi. That’s that about the festival itself, but what’s that got to do with photography – and more important – photographs of Holi?

Start a conversation with most photographers about Holi, specifically why they’d like to photograph the festival, and the stock reply is that it’s a great opportunity to photograph colors, what with Holi being the festival of colors. That it certainly is – the festival of colors, as it’s been called. Heck, just google photographs of holi festival and you’ll see just what a kaleidoscope of colors the festival is. So yeah, no wonder it gets the creative juices of most photographers flowing.

Which brings me to the question I’m often asked by so many people: “Why don’t you have any photographs of the Holi Festival?”. To which my answer is that every day is Holi for me, if their definition of Holi is the festival of colors!

I mean really! Let’s get brutally honest here, shall we? Does it have to be so that you have to have colored powders flying all over the place for colors to grab your attention? Does it have to be that people’s faces need to be painted in hues of every color possible for you to notice color? Do you need to have colored water puddles, buckets full of colored water and water guns spraying out colored water to notice color? Is that what characterizes the festival of Holi? Do you need the festival of Holi to sit up and notice – and make photographs of – color?

I can understand it if one is capturing the enjoyment, the mirth, the festivities, the celebration, the crazy carnival that Holi is. In which case what one is doing is making photographs of a cultural event. And trust me, that has a whole new dimension to it, and is not restricted to colors alone. But if the raison d’être for photographing Holi is colors then umm… sorry, this may tick many a photographer off, but they seriously need to work on their vision.

As I said, every day is a festival of colors (if that is what you mean by Holi) for me. Every day is an opportunity to see and photograph the festival of colors that is life itself for me. As it should be for anyone. And since the proof of the pudding is in the eating, here they are: Ten Photographs of Holi you’re never likely to see!


photographs of holi festival

No, this wasn’t shot on Holi. It’s actually the feet of a pilgrim along the ghats at Varanasi. The yellow alpine glow on the stone steps is on account of the rays of the early morning sun being reflected off the wet stones. Shades of pink, red, yellow and blue… Holi colors enough for you?

If photographing holi is about photographing colors, this constitutes a photograph of holi, I'd think!

What you label as a woman, is just a shape of colors to me, as is everything else in the photograph. I just waited till I felt that area of color that is the woman was posited just right in the frame before tripping the shutter. Image made in Varanasi, and on a simple Panasonic Lumix to boot!

holi, the festival of colors, is literally an everyday affair if you'd just look for it!

Varanasi, again. Ok, the dude doesn’t have paint smeared all over his face, nor is his hair a shocking red, pink, blue or green as in all those colorful photographs of holi you tend to see. But color.. this photograph is colorful enough. Heck, it’s the color that made me raise camera to eye here in the first place! And I think the blue of that phone really contrasts well with the yellows and reds, don’t you think?

photographs of holi are imcomplete without colored water, aren't they?

Did I hear you go “Hey, Neville! You’re missing shots of colored water, it just ain’t Holi without that!”? Bzzzt, wrong answer! Thanks for playing! Made this one a few moments after the sun had set at the ghats in Varanasi. Water colored enough for you, as is the rest of the picture? And hey, those buffalo look like they’re having fun too!

Holi - I mean holy - cow. Look it's a photograph of colors at the holy city of Varanasi

Ok, so I hear you go “Hey, Neville! Enough of those non-holi photographs of Varanasi! Including the one pictured on the left. Varanasi is infinitely colorful. What about Mumbai?”

I hear ya. I hear ya…

The United Colors of... Holi?

I’ll say it once: If you don’t see color too well, maybe you’re color blind. If you’re not color blind, you need to attend my Art of Seeing Photography Workshop!

Does a photograph of holi have to show people getting drenched? Is it charactereized by the use of colors? If so, this is a photograph of holi!

More water. Tons of it actually! To say they’re drenched is an understatement. Oh and look at the colors! And boy are they enjoying themselves! This has to be a photograph of Holi. Or maybe it’s a photograph at the Chhat Festival in Mumbai?

Colors! Water! It MUST be Holi!

Everyday life. A road-side stall offers water to passer-byes at the Chhat Festival, Mumbai.

It's colors. It's water! It must be Holi!

No, it isn’t a bird, it isn’t a plane, it isn’t Superman, nor is it Holi. It’s just colors. Not just of the red dress of the ladies, but of the red paint on their feet. Made on a beach in Mumbai.

For there is color everywhere!

And lastly this. The tenth. Simple, beautiful. Colorful. That’s what life is. You don’t need Holi to see it!


Passionate to a fault – both about India & photography – Stops Of Light conducts the most unique, insightful and inspiring photography workshops in Mumbai, as well as photography tours, workshops & expeditions in India. Our India Photography Tours include small-group photography tours to Varanasi, Rajasthan, Agra, The Pushkar Camel Fair and Ladakh.



From snapshots to Great Shots – The Art of Seeing

A unique, one-of-a-kind weekend photography workshop in Mumbai – India, designed to teach and instill the ability to see visually and tell a story through pictures. Described by participants as “A Masterclass on Visual Design and Composition”, put simply this is the photography workshop that empowers you to go from taking snapshots to making Great Shots. Read more about the best photography workshop in Mumbai, if not the whole of India!



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Light Chaser, Light Warrior, Light Painter, Visual Storyteller… Neville Bulsara is a professional travel photographer based in Mumbai, India. While not shooting on assignment, Neville leads photography tours, workshops and expeditions to some of the most beautiful locations in India. Read more about us, our philosophy, and what drives us…

Passionate to a fault – both about India & photography – Stops Of Light conducts the most unique, insightful and inspiring photography workshops in Mumbai, as well as photography tours, workshops & expeditions in India. Our India Photography Tours include small-group photography tours to Varanasi, Rajasthan, Agra, The Pushkar Camel Fair and Ladakh.