India is a photographer’s delight. A kaleidoscope of sights, it is almost too rich for the senses, with a constant motion of masses surging here and there. Most travelers to India make the mistake of filling their days with visits to shrines, markets, temples, festivals, and historic sites. However, to truly experience the country, one must slow down; and on this trip limited to only eight photographers, we begin to understand India by focusing on the portrait-making process.
Our first stop is Varanasi, a city dating back to the 11th century B.C. and a present-day maze of winding streets with more than 2,000 temples. On the holy Ganges River, small wooden boats ply pilgrims to attend the nightly sunset Aarti ceremony. Pilgrims bathe, and the funeral pyres envelop the dead, whose ashes are spread in this sacred river.
After the hectic pace of Varanasi, we fly to Rajasthan and our home for the second half of the trip: quiet-by-comparison Jojawar and its surrounding hamlets. These are villages of farmers, goat herders, mustard-colored fields, and camels. We ride the rails in the Aravilli Hills on a local commuter train, seeing the countryside and seeking portrait subjects. The contrasts of Varanasi and Jojawar are sizable, yet taken together they provide an intimate view and revealing perspective on the people and culture of India as seen through a portrait photographer's lens.
This is a highly directed educational experience with daily lectures, assignments, and hands-on instruction. Abhi demonstrates techniques for working with available and artificial light, as well as a few improvised tools for photographing on location. Individual critiques, one-on-one mentor sessions, and two group image reviews provide a framework and inspiration for our daily portrait-making sessions. Profoto B1 battery-power lights, stands, softboxes, and umbrellas (plus technical support staff) are available throughout the workshop.
After ten unique days of enhancing your environmental portrait skills, you emerge creatively rebooted and refreshed. Join Abhi as he shares his country in a very different approach to discovering India.