My Luminous Journey [with David Lazar] was far and away the best photo tour I have been on. It was more than a photo tour; it was an investment in myself as a keen photographer…
— Lindsay Earle, Zimbabwe
India for the uninitiated is an unimaginable, almost kaleidoscopic feast for the senses. Even if you’ve been before and can imagine it, it’s still an almost kaleidoscopic feast for the senses! From a photographer’s perspective, most especially those interested in people and culture in exotic settings, there is nowhere else in the known galaxy that offers such an incredible diversity of photographic possibilities.
Enter Luminous India & The Kumbh Mela! – A photo tour workshop adventure designed and led by world renowned travel photographer David Lazar:
“India offers amazing and unique photo opportunities with its rich culture and history, and some of the most friendly and outgoing people in the world. The itinerary has been carefully planned and researched on the ground, and is focused on capturing the essence of the culture through striking image making. There will be a plentiful mix of free and arranged photo shoots to help ensure that we accomplish our aim. By experiencing the subcontinent both through the lens and through the exuberance of its people during the greatest religious spectacle on earth – the Kumbh Mela – we will be getting India in her most remarkable state of expression and devotion.” – David Lazar
As always, David will be offering his expertise in the field on an ongoing basis, as well as image review and Photoshop/Lightroom instruction to those interested. Both David and his award winning teammate Swarup Chatterjee, are among those rare photo tour leaders who actually care that their guests become better photographers during the tour, and will do everything in their power to make it so. Swarup is not just a rising star photographer in his homeland – he’s a passionate & personable instructor who is always working the local scene in his inimitable way to get that next unexpected photo op.
So – are you ready to take your photography to the next level in incredible India? To invest in your yourself as a “mad keen photographer”, as Sam Abell puts it, through a grand, exotic and challenging photographic experience?
By sheer magnitude, the Hindu Kumbh Mela at Allahabad makes the Muslim Haj at Mecca look like a Christian clambake in Carlsbad! From it’s humble beginnings in 3464 B.C., it’s had a few more years to grow. The dates were then set by a proto-astronomer looking for the proper star alignments to determine the most holy and auspicious bathing dates at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. That proto-astronomer was a Naga Baba, a forebear of the Juna Akhara, which to this day remains the fiercest and most austere of the warrior ascetic clans. We will have inside access to the Juna akhara as well as various other sects. Around the grounds there are quite a number of mind blowing austerities being performed, along with other demonstrations and assorted happenings you will see no where else on the planet.
On the major bathing day we will likely have access to march inside the grand procession itself, with freedom to photograph while millions watch along the route. Alternatively, we will pre-position at the main sangam (bathing area) in order to shoot Naga Babas whirling swords and trushuls as they charge and splash into the waters of enlightenment. Either way we’ll be in the heart of the action on this most joyous day for sadhus, pilgrims and photographers alike!
Dates – Feb 11 – 25, 2019
Photographers – David Lazar & Swarup Chatterjee
Tour Price – $7495 USD
Single Supplement – $1445
Minimum Deposit – $1500
Locations – Old Delhi, Varanasi, Agra/Taj Mahal, Allahabad/Kumbh Mela, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer
Hotels – 4/5 star, (Lux Tents @ Kumbh Mela)
Tour Type – All inclusive* photo tour workshop, 10 participant maximum. In the unlikely event of only 4 or 5 participants, a $485 supplement will apply.
Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Physical Difficulty – Moderate – Be in good walking shape for the Kumbh Mela
Transportation – 3 internal flights, (Delhi to Jaisalmer, Jodhpur to Varanasi, Varanasi to Agra). Vehicles are late model, air conditioned SUV’s or mini-buses w/ plenty of space & bottled water
David Lazar is a renowned photographer & contributor to myriad publications, including National Geographic. Practical Photography has called David “…one of the world’s foremost travel photographers”. David’s Gallery.
Swarup Chatterjee is an award winning Indian photographer & painter. It’s this blending of two visions that allows him to see differently, and it shows in his distinct, evocative images. His warm & gregarious nature make him an ideal photo tour leader. Swarup’s Gallery.
The Magnificent Taj Mahal – Creative Angles
The Incredible Kumbh Mela!
The Blue City of Jodhpur
Ancient Holy City of Varanasi on the Ganges
The Wonderful People of India!
Incredible India Photo Tour Workshop
A Luminous Journeys representative will greet you at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to get you situated and delivered safely to the hotel. The program begins at 2:30 pm with an orientation and slideshow presentation by David Lazar and Swarup Chatterjee. Bring your gear, as at approximately 3:15 pm they will take you out for your first official tour shoot on the mind blowing streets of the old city and Chandi Chowk market.
Early flight to legendary Jaisalmer, the oasis city on the great Thar Desert. Afternoon shoot is planned for a small schoolhouse full of delightful young ethnic ladies for culture, fun and portrait making. We will have gifts for you to give out to the girls as well. Then to the very best unencumbered position to photograph the fairy tale Jaisalmer Fort as the sun sinks into the desert sands…
Day 3 – Jaisalmer – Thar Desert – Tribal Beauties & a Camel Safari
Photograph the fascinating Jaisalmer Fort from the inside this morning. There are exquisitely stone carved haveli facades and balconies where David has arranged for some local models in colorful Rajasthani style saris to model. After lunch it‘s time to head out into the Thar Desert to photograph camels and camel drivers. As darkness settles in and the stars rise, dinner will be cooked over a crackling fire while men in white wearing bright turbans play ancient Rajasthani ragas. Overnight private desert camp.
Day 4 – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur Desert Dawn to the Blue City
Sunrise on the desert is often breathtakingly beautiful. Morning shoot with local women in tradional garb, plus our trusty camels. After a delicious desert breakfast return to Jaislamer before heading north for the magnifienct blue city of Jodhpur. Arrive in time for an afternoon street shoot in the old city. Dinner is at our favorite rooftop restaurant with fantastic night views of the fort. Bring your tripod!
Day 5 – Jodhpur – Blue Streets and a Bad Fort Looming
Mehrangarh Fort, called by Rudyard Kipling the “work of giants”, dominates the skyline. You might recognize it as the massive structure from which Christian Bale emerges in The Dark Knight Rises. Early morning will find us shooting in the narrow lanes below the fort, with its cool rich backgrounds and brilliantly color clad people effortlessly expressing their Rajasthani culture. Other options include Jaswant Thara cenotaphs and Mandore Gardens.
Day 6 – Jodhpur – Varanasi – Journey to the Holy City
Morning shoot in the blue alleys with great angles on Mehrangarh Fort, breakfast and flight to Varanasi via Delhi. Varanasi, built on the west bank of the Ganges River, is widely considered the holiest city in this most holy of countries, and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. With the Kumbh Mela happening in nearby Allahabad, Varanasi will be teeming with assorted Sadhus and wandering ascetics, making for some incredibly rare image making opportunities!
Day 7 – Varanasi – Ancient City by the River Goddess
Varanasi is considered the holiest city in India, dating back some 3,500 years. Lord Shiva himself is said to have dwelled here during his earthly sojorne. For photographers, it’s also a godsend! From thousands of Hindus ritual bathing in the golden light of dawn, to the surreal cremation ghats where the souls of the deceased are released to the heavens; to the hundreds of colorful wandering ascetics who make pilgrimage, Varanasi is a place of endless fascination and impact image making opportunity.
Day 8 – Varanasi – Of Sadhus and Wrestlers
It’s Photographers Choice today! Either go off on your own or w/ David or Swarup, whose styles & methods are quite different. You can even switch after lunch. Options include another chance at that perfect bathing ghat capture; free and arranged shoots with holy men/women; sunken temple and boat-scapes. Afternoon options include crossing the Ganges to visit Sadhu camps that are often present; a rare opportunity to shoot at a warrior ascetic wrestling akhara; and more.
Day 9 – Varanasi – Allahabad – Ardh Kumbh Mela – Holy Mela Ho!
Morning drive to Allahabad, home of the Ardh Kumbh Mela that takes place on the banks of the Yamuna and Ganges rivers. We have the advantage of staying in the best camp at the Mela, in Lux tents with en “suite” bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, comfortable cots/blankets, electrical outlets & bottled water. After checking in we’ll have lunch, receive Mela orientation, and then set out for our first afternoon shoot, likely in & around the most famous group of naga babas assembled at the Juna Akhara.
Day 10 – Kumbh Mela! – Of Gurus, Pilgrims & Warrior Ascetics
The info & access and we will have provided by our expert Mela insider, will lead us to be in the best possible locations at the best times. There are quite a number of mind blowing religious austerities being performed around the grounds, as well as gatherings and events. These will determine our schedule, and no doubt much of it will be done on the fly, as this is a very fluid and massive event. It will be your choice if and when you join the leaders or decide to go off on your own.
Day 11 – Kumbh Mela!- Grand Royal Bathing Day, Mauni Amavasya
On the major bathing day we will likely have access to be inside the grand procession itself, with freedom to photograph. Alternatively, we will pre-position at the main sangam (bathing area) to shoot the hundreds of ash covered Naga Babas whirling swords and trishuls as they charge into the water in an inimitable splash about from a thousand years ago! Then photograph through the shallow waters and the throngs of joyous pilgrims on the most auspicious day of their lives.
Day 12 – Kumbh Mela! – Last Chance for a Pulitzer!
With the climactic events of yesterday still resonating, and today being our last full day at this incredible gathering — it’s a good chance to either venture out on your own or to return with David or Swarup to capture scenes or persons that may have been missed. Or perhaps we have a bead on this guru or that who is performing something extraordinary, and we set out to find him. At the Kumbh Mela, there is never a shortage of fascinating photo opportunities.
Day 13 – Allahabad – Agra – Ascendance to Resplendance
Check-in to our fantastic Mughal style hotel and take a break before today’s photography starts in the afternoon from across the Yamuna River behind the magnificent Taj Mahal. There are a few different angles to explore and even a place to cross the river on small rowboats. We’ll use the Taj as both subject and background. as both subject and background from outside the Taj grounds, across the Yamuna River, along the river, and even on the river!
Day 14 – Agra – Delhi – Taj Mahal Sunrise & a Farewell Feast
The moment you walk through the entry archway where Taj seems to fill up the sky is one you will never forget. This is a prime example of where even the greatest photographs cannot do a subject this beautiful justice. But we’ll give it our best shot! After breakfast return to Delhi for free time or an optional shoot at the great Jama Masjid Mosque. Tonight is your well-deserved grand Farewell Dinner feast!
Day 15 – Delhi – Home – Safe Journey & a Fond Farewell!
There is no scheduled photography for today, as people will have differently scheduled departure flights. If you have a later flight out consider it free time, and if you need any assistance we will be there for you. You’ll be driven to the airport according to your departure time and given a fond farewell… Off to relative peace and tranquility you go, but you will miss this incredible, incredible country!
* Please note the above itinerary is a close sample only and is subject to change. A fully detailed itinerary and 40-page information kit concerning traveling for photography in India and the Kumbh Mela will be sent to all registered participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date. In the meantime we are more than happy to answer your questions.
** Image review is available on an ongoing basis by request. Schedule permitting and for those interested, David likes to conduct at least one comprehensive Photoshop/Lightroom instruction session during the tour.
Photographer & top English speaking guide fees
In-country flights, airport & ground transport
All meals from Day 1 dinner through Day 15 breakfast
Ample bottle water and refresh towels throughout
All entrance, zone and camera fees
Local model donations
Drinks @ lunches & dinners
Trip cancellation or medical insurance
Gratuities for hotel porters, local guides & drivers
India visa fee
End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leaders
More Knowledge – Better Pictures