Incredible India Photo Tour Workshop
Oh my feet haven’t really touched the ground since returning from India. It was such a fantastic trip and I am still on a high. I so appreciated having been on another Luminous Journeys trip where everything was well organised and all I needed to do was focus on photography." - Rosalyn Johnson, New Zealand
Taking an India photo tour 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 Incredible India + Ranthambore Tiger Reserve – An India photo tour workshop adventure designed and led by 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 one of its most colorful festivals of the year, we will be getting India at her very best.”
As always on India photo tour, 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. You’ll get the chance to photograph in places you’d never find on your own, and overall you’ll be the beneficiary of an extraordinary number of impact image making opportunities. In short – a world class photography tour experience.
Both David and his award winning teammate, Canon brand ambassador Swarup Chatterjee, are among those rare photo tour leaders who actually care that their guests become better photographers during the tour. They will do everything in their power to make it so. Swarup joins the tour with 8 participants or more.
So – are you ready to take your photography to new heights on this incredible India photo trip? To invest in your yourself as a “mad keen photographer”, as the great Sam Abell puts it?
Please Note: The Ranthambore National Park (Tiger Reserve) is the best in India and the world for photographing these magnificent beasts. Late February is an excellent time to visit, it's not unbearably hot and the chances of photographing them is quite high. They are not shy of the jeeps we will be in with our awesome guides, and sometimes get quite close. The reserve is also home to a wide array of other wildlife, including sloth bear, jackal, fox, mongoose, hyena, and many more. We will spend 3 nights here at the favored hotel of wildlife photographers.
Photo Tour Leaders
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.
Old Delhi & Chandi Chowk
The Magnificent Taj Mahal – Creative Angles
Legendary Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
Rajasthan Photo Safari
Jaisalmer Desert Festival
The Storied Blue City of Jodhpur
Colorful Ascetics, Sadhus & Babas
Ancient City of Varanasi on the Holy Ganges
The Wonderful People of India!
Incredible India Photo Tour Workshop
Day 1 – Old Delhi – Orientation Slideshow & First Shoot
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. At approximately 3:15 pm they will take you out for your first official India photo tour shoot on the mind blowing streets of the old city and Chandi Chowk market.
Day 2 – Delhi – Varanasi – Ancient City on the Holy Ganges
Morning flight to perhaps the most fascinating city on the planet. Built on the west bank of the Ganges River, Varanasi is widely considered the holiest city in India, dating back some 3,500 years. After checking into our 5-star hotel right on the river, we'll venture out to photograph the happenings along the various "ghats". We'll see all manner of colorful sadhus, or holy men, as well as snake charmers, chai wallahs, "untouchables" manning cremation ghats, etc.
Day 3 – Varanasi – Sunrise on the Ganges, Winding Alleys, Night Puja
We’ll be on the Mother Ganga (recently declared a living being by the government) in small boats before dawn. Photograph locals and pilgrims as they bathe and perform puja rituals illuminated by the first rays of sun breaking across the water. After breakfast there will be a free shoot in Varanasi’s fascinating alleys. An endless array of scenes arrange themselves in shaded frames quite naturally, as if waiting for a photographer! The highlight of the early evening blue hour will be the famous night puja ceremonies.
Day 4 – Varanasi – Sadhus, Bathers, Wrestlers and Burning Ghats
Beyond puja bathing on the river, morning and afternoon options include crossing the Ganges to visit Sadhu camps that are often present; free and arranged shoots with holy men and naga babas, sunken temple and boat-scapes, blue Krishna portrait session, and a rare opportunity to photograph at a warrior ascetic wrestling akhara. Later afternoon into the evening will find us on the river again, this time at the largest and most ancient cremation ghat of Manikarnika. It is said the fires here have been burning ceaslessly for millennia...
Day 5 – Varanasi - Agra - Ganges Morning and a Taj Mahal Afternoon
In Varanasi we have time for another early morning free shoot or guided free shoot, giving you the opportunity to test your street skills on now familiar ground. Early mornings along the Ganges are always fascinating. After breakfast we return to the airport. With a bit of bureaucratic luck the long promised direct flight to Agra will be scheduled this year. But if not we'll go via Delhi. Afternoon check in to our impressive Moghul style hotel before photographing the Taj Mahal from various angles across the Yamuna River.
Day 6 – Agra - Ranthambore – Sunrise Taj to a Legendary Tiger Reserve
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! Later we’ll drive into eastern Rajasthan and the legendary Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Here we will get an introduction to the two photo safari days to follow. Ranthambore is justifiably famous for both its number of tigers, and the tiger’s photo accessibility compared to other reserves.
Day 7 – Ranthambore National Park – On Tiger Safari
Once the hunting grounds of Jaipur Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park is perhaps the best place on the planet to photograph tigers in their natural habitat. The terrain is a wide area of jungle scrub set within the rocky ridges and lake dotted plateaus of the Vindhya and Aravalli hills. This habitat, as opposed to a dense one, allows for easier spotting and photographing of tigers and other species. We begin the safari before dawn, take a leisurely break midday with optional image review, and then head out again in the afternoon. Our expert guides are the best in the business at locating tigers, as well as educating us about them. As for long lenses, a 70 – 200 is an excellent choice. If you are so inclined, up to 400mm can also come in handy. David Lazar will be using his all-around 18 – 300.
Day 8 – Ranthambore National Park - On Tiger Safari, Day Two
Before dawn this morning we head to another area of the park to photograph our star quarry, the magnificent tigers of Ranthambore. But the reserve is much more than just tigers. It’s rich with a wide range of wildlife. They include leopard, sloth bear, sambar, chinkara gazelle, jackal, hyena, langur monkey, and wild boar. In addition, there are more than 300 species of birds and myriad other critters. We will all have outside seats in our private jeeps, with unobstructed views. We will also shoot on foot as suitable opportunities arise. One of the many great things about Ranthambore is that the tigers have grown accustomed to the benign human presence and are not shy of the jeeps. The tiger photos on this page were taken by Luminous Journeys guest photographer Katie Garrod and her sister Fenella. We thank them for the image use and for their insight into Ranthambore.
Day 9 – Ranthambore – Jodhpur – Road Trip to the Blue City
After the early morning thrills of the previous days, this morning provides a nice opportunity to sleep in a bit and enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast. Then we go road tripping through Rajasthan to the fabled Blue City of Jodhpur. The drive in our spacious and comfortable air conditioned vehicles will be broken up by lunch, as well as any interesting photo ops we see along the way. Arrive Jodhpur for an afternoon shoot before dinner with stunning view of the fort. Don't forget to bring your tripod!
Day 10 – Jodhpur – Blue Streets and a Bad Fort Looming
Mehrangarh Fort, called by Rudyard Kipling the “work of giants”, dominates the skyline. You might recognize the massive structure from which Christian Bale emerges in The Dark Knight Rises. Morning finds us shooting from a nearby nature reserve. Then we hit the narrow lanes below the fort, with its cool rich backgrounds and brilliant sari colors of of women effortlessly expressing their Rajasthani culture. Finally we find ourselves at the fort itself with its commanding views over the city.
Day 11 – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer - Morning Street Shoot to a Magical City
Morning street shoot in the blue alleys with great angles on Mehrangarh Fort. Later we’ll drive to magical Jaisalmer and the annual desert festival. The drive is about four hours with a stop for lunch along the way. Afternoon check-in at our fantastic haveli hotel in Jaisalmer, before checking out this fairytale city with our senses and through our lenses. This will include the fascinating Jaisalmer Fort from both outside and in. There are exquisitely stone carved haveli facades and balconies where David has arranged for some local models in colorful Rajasthani style saris to model, as if we are on a magazine shoot.
Day 12 – Jaisalmer – Festival of a Thousand Desert Colors
The Jaisalmer Desert Festival, which began in the 12th century, celebrates uniquely Rajasthani life going back over a thousand years. We’ll have the opportunity to experience and photograph such colorful happenings as camel races, amazing jugglers, spinning dancers and various tribal Peoples in traditional garb, puppet shows, martial arts, musicians, polo matches, and the world’s longest mustache competition! The festival will offer more great portrait opportunities than we can imagine, so this is truly a rare chance to learn from a master portraitist like David as he works this extraordinary scene with you.
Day 13 – Jaisalmer – Private Desert Camp - Festival Day 2 & Camel Safari
Day 2 of the festival focuses on the most photographable events of the morning. You are free shoot on your own, with David, or our guides if you have certain subjects in mind that are not on David’s short list. In the afternoon we head out on camel safari to a private and pristine desert location. Spend the afternoon/sunset photographing camels & camel drivers in the stunning Thar Desert dunes. 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.
Day 14 – Jaisalmer – Delhi - Free Expression & a Farewell Feast
Sunrise on the stark desert is often breathtakingly beautiful. Morning shoot with local women in traditional garb, plus our trusty camels. After a glorious Rajasthan breakfast on the dunes we return to Jaisalmer and the flight back to Delhi. After check-in you'll have free time to relax by the pool and decompress, or keep it rolling with an optional street shoot in the always fascinating streets of the capital. This evening we'll head over to our favorite neo-classic Delhi restaurant for a farewell dinner & drinks to be remembered!
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 India photo tour itinerary is subject to changes in the order of locations visited, but we always start and finish in Delhi. A fully detailed final schedule and 30-page information kit concerning traveling for photography in India will be sent to all registered participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date.
** Image review is available on an ongoing basis by request. For those interested, David will offer Photoshop/Lightroom instruction sessions as time allows.
“Luminous Journeys India was one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever done!! The trip was awesome and as always (this was my third Luminous Journeys photo tour) I had a lot of fun with David Lazar and the group.” — Paul D’, Switzerland
What’s Included in the Price of Your India Photo Tour?
Photographer fees and top English speaking guide
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 fees
End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leader
More Knowledge – Better Pictures
Sannyasi, Sadhus & Naga Babas
Sannyasi, in general terms, are advanced stage holy men who have been given a title such as Swami by a guru. A sadhu, Sanskrit for ‘holy man’, is a more broadly used term for those who practice the spiritual discipline of “sadhana”, and whose goal is to achieve liberation from samsara and the ties of karma and rebirth. It should be noted that phony sadhus are more common than true ones, but in a country as vast and poor as India, offers the fake fakir a decent way to make a living. Naked sadhus, (sky-clad), are known as Naga Babas. They descend from a class of warrior ascetics who served as security forces for the Moghuls of old. Many still carry battle axes, swords, spears or tridents today, along with a fierce attitude. Approach with caution.
Extreme practices called tapasya include standing/sleeping on one leg for years; holding one arm in the air continuously for years; meditating in extreme heat with cow dung burning on top of the head; sleeping on a bed of thorns; lifting heavy weights off the ground with the penis; pushing knives or other sharp objects througb various parts of the body; hermitism and etxremely long periods of meditation; and in the case of extreme Aghori sects, even the eating of human flesh! The best places to see and photograph various tapasya being performed are Varanasi and at various festivals.
The Eternal Fires of Moksha
Varanasi, or Kashi, is one of the oldest inhabited cities on earth, and the oldest and most sacred in India, dating back some 3,500 years. The inextinguishable cremation grounds of Manikarnika are also the oldest and most sacred on the subcontinent. Manikarnika is Hindi for “ear jewel”. Legend has it that the goddess Sati sacrificed herself for Lord Shiva here, with one of her earrings having fallen on the spot. Along with being situated on the banks of Mother Ganga (which has recently been legally declared a living being), explains its ‘most sacred’ status. Hindus believe that to be cremated here is to attain moksha, or liberation, from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
And so for any Hindu who can afford the wood of the funeral pyres, (the wood monopoly is controlled by a class of very wealthy “untouchables” known as Doms), Varanasi at Manikarnika is the best onward ticket available.
In terms of photography at the burning ghats, it is not allowed. So approach with caution when on your own, or prepared to be shouted at or even forced away. If with LJ, we have our inside contacts and you will have no worries!