The Essence of India in Color - 2018
immersive photography adventure
“This is India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition...” - Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897
In many ways, not much has changed since Mark Twain's visit over a century ago. India is still a land of contrasts carved by deep rivers of spirituality and history. In other ways, change dominates every aspect of Indian society today. Fully exploring, much less understanding this vast nation in a single brief visit is a fool's errand, but we can attempt to catch authentic glimpses of the India of yesterday and today throughout our image making adventure. Our itinerary covers the best of the must see monuments including the incomparable Taj Mahal, but we veer off the beaten path early and often in search of more genuine visions of Indian life. From the chaotic crowds of new and old Delhi, to the joyful energy of color-filled Holi Festival celebrations, to an overnight camel safari among the sand dunes, to the heady atmosphere of India's spiritual capital, Varanasi, the opportunities to make memorable photographs on this journey are literally endless.
I will be with you each step of the way to help you make the most of these opportunities. We will work together in groups and one-to-one to help you better understand your equipment, master new techniques, and expand your creative vision. I especially enjoy teaching practical ways to develop your 'photographer's eye', but I'm happy to work with you on any aspect of the image making process. This year we are blessed to have outstanding local photographer, Harsh Agarwal, on board as assistant instructor and guide. His local knowledge and understanding of photographers' needs will be an invaluable asset.
Holi, India's Festival of Colors is a riotous celebration of the arrival of Spring. Enthusiastic revelers 'play Holi' with handfuls of colored powders that are thrown, rubbed, and smeared over everything and everyone. Holi is not a spectator sport, participation is mandatory. Rich, poor, tourist or local, no one is exempt. But it's all in the spirit of celebration and good fun. In fact, another name for Holi is the Festival of Sharing Love.
"Let the colors of Holi spread the message of peace and happiness." - Anonymous
No matter what you call it, it's an amazing spectacle to see and even more so to photograph. Precautions must be taken to protect cameras and lenses but Holi is an event no photographer should pass up. Our itinerary is crafted so that we experience Holi celebrations in several times and places including a very special version of the festivities known as Lathmar Holi, where the women of one village, armed with sticks, beat back the advances of the men from the neighboring village in a mock reenactment of an ancient legend.
The magnificent taj
"There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and love it, and those who have not seen the Taj Mahal..."
Some sights simply live up to the hype. No matter how mesmerizing the photographs you have seen, no matter how grandiose the descriptions you've read, your first glimpse of the magnificent Taj Mahal is inevitably a breathtaking experience. Known as the World's Greatest Monument to Love, the story behind the Taj is almost as inspiring as the marble masterpiece itself. This icon deserves the time to be carefully considered with our cameras and we will pay it proper homage with multiple opportunities to photograph the Taj Mahal from various vantage points and in different lighting conditions. You will have your opportunity to make the classic reflecting pool photo, but we will also look for more unique perspectives including some not usually available to tourists.
"Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together." - Mark Twain
On the banks of the Ganges River, the holy city of Varanasi is not only India's spiritual capital, but the world's oldest continuously inhabited city. It's also my favorite place to photograph in India. On this voyage, we arrive in Varanasi via overnight train. Early morning on the historic stone ghats (terraces) that line the river bank is a magical experience. Mist filtered sunrise light bathes young monks practicing yoga in warmth as the first pilgrims of the day arrive seeking blessings in the waters of Hinduism's holiest river. Actually, life on the ghats is supremely photogenic at any time and we will spend a good portion of our time there, but Varanasi has yet more to offer. Poignant scenes of everyday life await discovery in its winding streets and markets. This is also the center of India's silk weaving industry and much of the work is done in the surrounding villages by hand using traditional equipment and techniques. We will get a taste of rural life in India as we visit with and photograph these master artisans at work. Be prepared to be mobbed by curious children who may have never seen a foreigner.
Sprawling Delhi is India's capital and the beginning and end point of our journey. Nowhere is the clash of old and new more apparent with its 25 million inhabitants making their lives and living amidst luxury townhomes, the remnants of colonial rule, and ruins dating back millennia. Here we can find a bit of everything: serenity and self reflection watching locals practicing meditation and yoga at sunrise in the gardens of Humayun's Tomb; commerce and chaos in the maze of Old Delhi's crooked narrow lanes; compassion embodied in a Sikh temple that serves 10,000 free meals daily; tradition and craftsmanship in the Kumhar Gram, a potters colony reputed to be the world's largest but largely unknown even among locals.
Jodhpur, the blue city
Jodhpur exudes an incredibly relaxing vibe that makes you want to do nothing but park yourself on a rooftop terrace with a cool beverage and stare at massive Mehrangarh Fort dominating the skyline. The only problem is that there is so much to explore and photograph here, as well. The once ubiquitous blue facades of the old city are slowly disappearing but still make striking backdrops for scenes of everyday life. Early morning is a great time to visit Jaswant Thada, an ornate monument to a former Maharaja carved from white marble. Later, as the sun and temperatures climb, is an ideal time to explore the interior of hilltop Mehrangarh Fort from which fantastically wealthy rulers once surveyed their domain. Bustling Sadar market underneath the old city's historic clocktower is an experience to remember and photograph. With so much to see, maybe the relaxing will have to wait.