How to photograph markets

Whether you are visiting a vibrant European city or exploring an exotic Asian village, markets must be definitively on your travel bucket list. In the same place, you can find a wide variety of colorful goods, animated stallholders, interesting people and an exciting environment to discover with your camera.

Markets can be covered or outdoor. One problem might rise if you’re shooting images in an outdoor market. You have to face up with the great contrast existing between the parts of the scene lit directly by the sun and people or goods in the shadows. Use of flash can compensate both such a contrast and lightening shadows on people’s faces.  The result you get, by the way, is easily flat to tell the truth. The best option to photograph markets is to visit the outdoor market in early morning when sun light is still soft. Otherwise, wait for a cloudy day instead.

Covered markets can present some problems due to low light levels or artificial lighting.

In the first case, just raise the ISO on your camera. In the second case, select the auto white balance setting on your camera to remove casts from artificial lighting. Then, in post processing find the right tone. Remember to take your time when you photograph a market. There is plenty of new and exciting things to look at.

Photograph markets

By wandering around, you will find endless subjects to photograph. Local food delicacies, bizarre fruits or vegetables, colorful piles of spices. Remember always to shoot images that can fully capture the general environment of the market. Often exposed goods are presented beautifully for customers to come and buy.

Look for patterns to aid your composition. Complimentary colors, shades and tones and the variety of textures in the variety of laid out products.

Don’t shoot just the goods on sale. Think also of animated stallholders screaming in a bustling atmosphere. That’s another favorite subject when you photograph markets.

Though in touristy places they can be used to having their picture taken, remember always to ask them for permission and to be kind.

Try to talk with a stallholder. Just ask about goods he is selling in order to create a kind of rapport with the person you are going to photograph. Maybe he will ask for some money in change of taking a photo though you can precede him by choosing a small item you like in his stall, buy it and then ask the stallholder to take a picture!

Stefano Politi Markovina