Travel Photography | Nagaland, India

The Naga chili, the world's hottest chili, in Nagaland, India. The chili is also known as the bhut jolokia.

So first things first. I’ve changed up the blog a bit. Now we’ve got REALLY BIG PICTURES. Which, seeing as I’m a photographer and all, seems only appropriate. I love looking at large photographs. Hopefully you do too. If you don’t. Well. What the hell is wrong with you?

Anyway. The photos here are all from Nagaland, India. Outtakes from an assignment I shot there late last year. See my previous post for those tearsheets. Nagaland is absolutely stunning. But nothing like the India I know and love. It’s more like a mountainous region in Myanmar or Thailand. And in fact, Kohima, where I was based, is barely a stone’s throw from the Burmese border. So it makes sense I guess. The locals I met even referred to the rest of India as “The Mainland”.

The photos here are all from around the time of the Hornbill Festival, which is a kind of gathering of the tribes throughout the region, complete with games and handicrafts and a Naga King Chili Eating Contest. That’s the world’s hottest chili. And I’ll let you guess which photo below is of a man after eating a baker’s dozen of them.

A portrait of a grandmother and granddaughter in an Angami village in Nagaland, India.
A view over downtown Kohima in Nagaland, India.
A portrait of three women from the Chakhesang tribe in Nagaland, India.
A basket of naga chilis, or bhut jolokia, in Nagaland, India.
Backstage after the Naga Chili Eating Competition at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, India.
A man walks by signs calling for the independence of Nagaland in Kohima, the capital of Nagaland state in northeastern India.
Naga chilis, the world's hottest chili, for sale at the market in Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, India.
India Nagaland 1000-10
A tribesman at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, India, hangs suspended from a bamboo rope (blur).

78 thoughts on “Travel Photography | Nagaland, India”

  1. Really beautiful photographs! I love the second picture (chilli in hand). And large pictures are the best! 🙂

  2. Hi Aaron. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Great post, not just because I’m from Manipur, which borders Nagaland, but for the brilliant photographs. And am now presently living in Hanoi. Hopefully, maybe, I’ll bump into you one of these days. And we can exchange notes 😉

  3. Love the shots, love the blog theme – you are right about the bigger photos, I have changed my theme twice and now seeing yours I’m tempted to go bigger too! It really promotes more emotion connection with the shot. Congrats on getting freshly pressed! Well deserved. 🙂

  4. Hello Aaron,
    You are an amazing photographer, no doubt about it! I just wonder how you handle the poverty and starvation of your beautiful subjects. I see the little girl and that poor starving man and I automatically think “What if those were my boys?”
    Thank you for sharing your talent. I love how your photos have texture, it’s as though we can touch what you photograph.

  5. Heya! Congrats on getting featured. Amazing photography! And the ‘Chilly eating contest’ looks too spicy. So what happened of the man? Did he get enough lemonade? 😉

  6. Love all the pictures ! So lively and colorful they are ….. Specially the spices thing …Lovely ! I don’t understand the last picture though what is it about ?

  7. Wow, fantastic photographs and looks like you have been to some really interesting places. The shot with the ‘We Want Peace’ signs really tells a story and the colours in the chilli photos are so vibrant! I aspire to take photos like this, nice work 🙂

  8. The photos have absolutely beautiful colors that really bring the people and the culture to life. I especially love the chili in hand and the picture of the town. Such an interesting place to be, Nagaland. I was surprised by the people at first – it wasn’t what I had in mind when I thought of India and the Indian people. It looks as though this is as far east as you can get in India, and as you said, the people there refer to the rest of India as “The Mainland.” Interesting to know! Thank you!

  9. Amazing photographs… you captured the color and vibrancy of the place so well. The frames and angles are excellent!

  10. Wow beautiful pictures …..great job … I had gone to Nagaland with my friends ….beautiful place 🙂 I loved their masala chai 🙂

  11. Wow, you take incredible photos, my favorites are of the little girl with the old lady and the chilli’s. 🙂

  12. they all are amazing. btw, the pic of a skinny guy lying on the floor looks like he’s in pain. did his body respond to the chili?

  13. I prefer large photos too. Great improvement for the blog!
    Those beautiful shiny colours of India make you feel wishing to participate in the celebration.

  14. Excellent photography….i love the color there.. wrote a post on the hornbill fest some time back..

  15. Photography way ahead from being nice. Being traditional is never far away from the culture and tradition. Nice snaps..!!!!!!!!

  16. Your photos are stunning. AS an artist and lover of India, I recognize the challenges of capturing the heart and soul of a place so dynamic and diverse. Congratulations on your success. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Fantastic photos……I love being able to appreciate different people’s perceptions of a place and its people…… And I love big photos ….please can you tell me how you did this and also might you know how to get frames around them? Thanks for sharing : ))

  18. Even through I’m a professional graphic designer, much of my work can be found on my blog, I still have a deep respect for photographers. Your work in particular seems very impressive! Keep up the good work!

  19. Very nice photos! I’m staying in Jodhpur, India, for a few months and it’s interesting to see the contrasts between different parts of the country. Wish I could visit the east, but I don’t have time this trip. India is a beautiful place and you have done a good job capturing a part of it!

  20. It’s a beautiful place. People are good, times bad. They are stuck and fighting against one whole nation’s territorial interest. i wish things could be normal and more people could go there and see the beauty of the North East. Saw Dimapur?

  21. Wonderful photos, I love the colors! This makes me want to travel more, I’ll have to do the same & share out takes from assignments that I haven’t had the opportunity to share yet!

  22. Beautiful Photos! Bursting with color and life… I really like 7 (guy after eating chillies) and 8 (guy walking past a wall with “We Want Peace” Signs). They seem like the ones with a story behind them and that is really interesting to me. The second one actually made me google what is going on in Nagaland.

  23. I’m not exaggerating, but I’ve tears in my eyes! So beautiful! The photos tell a story..

  24. I have always loved the striking colors of the chiles, and your photography captures them wonderfully!! Sidenote: we have Naga BHut Jolokias planted in our garden… eek! I can’t handle serranos, but my husband hardly flinches at habaneros, so we will see what happens when he mixes these into his salsa :O

  25. Hi,
    Great photos. I read the smithsonian article on the naga chilli where I first saw that shot with the man writhing on the floor. I like the bees larvae picture (some green, most yellow), spotted the Tetseo Sisters (Naga folk singers), and that last photo is probably a game or contest of some sort. Nice informal photos, any plans to do a photo book on Nagaland?
    Best regards ~

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