Embark on a visual adventure that will light-up your spirit and your lens with the stunning scenery and sacred culture of Northern India. From palaces to local villages, through ancient cities to natural preserves, we move slowly and allow time for our ideas, experiences and perfect light to align. We get to the heart of each of our destinations by meeting local people, enjoying a cup of chai, and wandering instead of rushing. We put aside notions of traditional travel photography and open ourselves to creating more mindful imagery as we immerse into sacred India.
New Delhi welcomes us for our first evening together as we gather to share dinner and photographic ideas for the journey. The next morning begins with a behind-the-scenes look at India’s largest Sikh temple with time to photograph the massive communal kitchen where volunteers prepare meals. Later, we delve into the pulsing and chaotic Chandi Chowk market to watch merchants haggle over old world goods and spices.
We leave New Delhi on a short flight to picturesque Udaipur. Known as the “Lake City,” it is considered the most romantic city in India. For the next three mornings, we enjoy our breakfast overlooking the shimmering Lake Pichola and get lost within the fantastical City Palace built along its shores. Udaipur’s old city is a charming maze of timeless and winding narrow streets perfect for visual exploration. While in Udaipur, we take a special guided visit through the famous City Palace, one of the best preserved in the entire country. We then switch our focus and meet up with an important member of the royal family of Udaipur. Through him, we learn about the current situation of Rajasthan, the indigenous groups that live in nearby villages, and the efforts aimed at increasing the quality of life for those in need. We then have a chance to put our photographic skills to work at one of the royal family’s humanitarian projects. By partnering on this project, we play an integral role in the progress that is needed to help as many people as possible. More details about this project will be provided as the trip comes closer.
The next morning, we have a chance for street photography as the preparations for the incredible Diwali festival begin to transform the neighborhoods. Late afternoon into evening we head into the streets again to witness this massive Festival of Lights that is beyond ideal for photography, The entire city lights up with in-home celebrations, in temples, and on the streets as well. It is certainly an evening to remember!
The following morning a half-day’s drive from Udaipur brings us to the laidback town of Bundi, where we find respite from India’s typical intensity. The population in Bundi is an interesting mix of Hindus, Muslims, and Jains all living peacefully together within a town of traditional pastel blue buildings. Few travelers have heard of Bundi, but it’s absolutely worth a visit. Here we enjoy the slower pace of a smaller town and have to time edit and share images as well.
After three nights in Bundi, we take a short 2.5-hour drive to the remote village of Ranthambore. Upon arrival, we check in to our hotel nestled in the serene countryside near Ranthambore National Park. We then visit an impressive local collective and interact with the talented men and women who create impeccable textiles. Making the most of this unique opportunity, we have the entire afternoon to spend at Dastkar observing their craftsmanship, sharing ideas, and making photographs that they can also use to promote their crafts to a wider audience.
The next morning, we visit Ranthambore National Park for a 2-hour tiger safari led by a professional guide and naturalist. Considered one of the best locations in India for tiger spotting, we are also on the lookout for endless varieties of colorful birds and other wildlife. After lunch, we visit one of the villages that has been positively affected by the local Collective, allowing us to learn even more about their culture and talents. Working together with the founder of the Collective, we continue photographing the craftswomen that will play an important role in helping their Collective grow. Our main goal is to create a group of photographs that can be turned into promotional materials for them.
On the last full day, we drive to Agra, stopping along the way to make images. We arrive in Agra by early evening and enjoy a final home-cooked meal at the home of local friends.
On Sunday, November 19, we visit the Taj Mahal in the morning before driving to Delhi to make flights home. Note: Travelers will need to schedule flights from Delhi after 4 pm on Sunday or plan on staying at an airport hotel and flying out on Monday, November 20. Our tour operator can assist with booking a hotel in Delhi for the extra night if needed.
By journey’s end we have much to celebrate — a broader understanding of this fascinating country, a deeper consciousness in our imagery, and knowing that our photographs helped create meaningful impact with two local organizations. Join us and redirect your approach to seeing in fascinating and sacred India.
COVID-19 Update: For all in-person workshops and trips in 2023, Santa Fe Workshops highly recommends that all participants, staff, and instructors attending be up to date with Covid vaccinations (per definition of the CDC). For international trips, local laws will apply, so it is important that you confirm you will be fully vaccinated according to the countries on your trip.
This program is open to photographers at all levels who are passionate about travel and improving their image making.
Participants should be in very good health with good stamina and mobility. While the tour itself is not very strenuous, please note that it can involve the following: somewhat long days, a good amount of walking, being in the sun in potentially hot temperatures, long journeys, steep stairs, uneven terrain, and early morning wake-ups. There may be times when walking uphill for short distances will be required as well and places such as the City Palace in Udaipur and Bundi Palace in Bundi do involve walking up and down at least 150 steps in total.
Participants should be technically self-sufficient, as this is not a program to learn how to use your gear or editing software. This a photographic tour, not a photography workshop and there isn’t structured classroom time. There will be an image review session in the middle of the trip and time for help with ideas and techniques on-location.
$7,895 includes double accommodations for 11 nights (ideal for couples and friends traveling together; single supplement available for an additional $795); full breakfast daily, four lunches, and ten group dinners; activities and entrance fees for everything on the itinerary; airport transfers; in-country guide; in-country transportation and flight from Delhi to Udaipur. Airfare to/fromNew Delhi, as well as required trip insurance and Indian visa are not included.
Jennifer Spelman is a documentary photographer and member of the Jibaro Photos Collective. She is co-publisher of CubaSeen, a quarterly magazine showcasing photography and writing about Cuba.
Jennifer received her photographic training as an assistant with Santa Fe Workshops, working with some of today’s most preeminent photographers: Jay Maisel, Norman Mauskopf, and Joe McNally.
A sensitive photographer of people, Jennifer strives to create portraits with energy and insight. She is most at home on the streets of Havana and has worked with Santa Fe Workshops across Cuba since 2011. Jennifer is a patient educator who has co- instructed with National Geographic Expeditions and taught workshops in Romania, India, Mexico, Japan, in addition to Cuba.
A popular workshop instructor, Jennifer is also part of our Mentorship Program »
Michael Amici is an internationally award-winning photojournalist with an eye for capturing unique and inspiring moments. As a distinctive voice in the world of documentary and event photography, his desire to distill the best from the most ordinary circumstances defines him as not just a photographer, but an artist with a belief in limitless possibilities. Here he finds darkness in light and brilliance in a world often shaded by intolerance and measures the distance we keep from ourselves and allows us entrance into what it takes to persevere.
From Smithsonian Magazine to Facebook, to the wedding planning website The Knot, his clients are as diverse and inspiring as his photos.
Michael is based in San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico; he travels around the globe for photo assignments.