Photography workshops in India

Photography workshops in India

Photography workshops in India

An Indian photographic adventure with photography workshops in India by Mark Seymour in association with Nikon UK.

It begins with a journey 31.10.16/01.11.16

 

As with all good adventures, this starts with a journey; 2 taxis, 2 flights, three airports and an exhausting 24 hours, London Heathrow to Jodhpur.

The journey to begin my photography workshops in India started with a long wait at Mumbai International, a beautiful airport with Indian treasures on display, clean, airy, and worth paying to stay in the travelers lounge to catch a nap on the comfy chairs!

Airport tiredness

Last year I flew into Delhi and wanted the full Indian experience so booked the train to Jodhpur, however this year I decided a flight was definitely a much better option. Jodhpur has a small airport, everything is still done by hand, but with only our flight landing it was actually quite a quick and simple process of picking up luggage and walking straight out the door into the Sun City, and that sudden smack of heat.

Our wonderful host and travel guide Vishal was waiting and it was so good to catch up with him on the journey back to the old city and his hotel the Kings Retreat, tucked away in the twisting alleyways that serve as roads from the Clock Tower up towards the Fort

 

Shopping trip in Jodhpur

 

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Re-hydrated with water and our first taste of sweet, milky Indian coffee we discussed the finer details of the course, and I have to tell you it’s going to be an amazing trip and course! Dropping our stuff in the room we head into town to pick up some essentials; mobile phone, memory card, and armed with my glasses prescription, I ordered three pairs of glasses and one pair of sunglasses to be made up, costing me less than one pair at home, bargain!

 

Walking along the main road you quickly get used to the sounds and frenetic nature of the traffic in India, people, cars, tuk tuks, motor bikes, bikes, and cows, competing for their space, creating their own unique music with their constant ‘I’m here’ with their horns.

Time for a cold beer, vegetable curry and tandoori paneer before crashing out!

 

So, let me introduce Jodhpur

Jodhpur is the second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan and at one time the princely state of the same name, the capital of the kingdom known as Marwar. Jodhpur is now popular with travelers and tourists seeking out an authentic Indian experience, with lots to see including the palaces, forts and temples, shopping in the market places and bazaars for spices,bangles, saris and cashmere pashminas, all set in the stark landscape of the Thar Desert.

 

The city is known as the Sun City for the gorgeous sun-filled days it enjoys all year round. The old city circles the Fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates. Jodhpur has also been made famous as the Blue City of Rajasthan (Jaipur being known as the Pink City) for the indigo paint on the houses in the old city area and has drawn to it many photographer including myself, and Steve McCurry.

 

As a course leader on several photography workshops in India I like to walk the area myself to get familiar with the routes and identify key features and opportunities so that I can provide those attending the course the best possible photographic experience. This is also the time I get to take photographs as once the course begins my focus is on facilitating everyone else in getting great shots and my photographing becomes secondary.

 

We walked with one of the guys from the hotel around the old city near the Fort, visiting a couple of the stepwells nearby, the craftsman and artisans near the Clock Tower and down into the market place.

Approaching people on the street

One of the main questions I get asked is how do you go about photographing people on the streets, what do you do if they don’t like it? I acknowledge people, by smiling and saying hello.  Most people are happy to be photographed but if they put their hand up or turn away I will say that’s ok and just move on. I actually do not want to engage with people whilst I am taking their photograph, I want it to be totally natural, a candid portrayal of that person going about their daily life, so after they have acknowledged me I stay for a while and they return to what they were doing and I am able to continue photographing them naturally as they forget I am there. If you start to talk to them, they look at you and stop what they had been doing that was interesting and it becomes a static staged pose. If you are photographing in India a lot of people will try and stop you and get you to take their photo, they have quickly learnt the stop pose and smile for a few rupees. Be warned, if they have inter-mated that they want money before you take the photo you are entering a contract so if you have no intention of paying, (we do not encourage payment), then move on.

Documentary street photography

Documentary street photography is about capturing a moment, an individual in a real life context. This does not mean that they are just random snaps. For me, I am constructing the image in front of my camera, looking for layers, interesting angles, using the environment to create frames, all to create a great storytelling image. Getting yourself into the right position is key and so is waiting. Sometimes you can find everything that will create a wonderful image but then you need to wait for the right combination of people to enter that space, and with the advantage of digital you can keep shooting, it costs nothing.

 

When I come back to the computer I edit hard, cull my images right down, you would be surprised at how many photographs you get left with – on average 1-3% of the images you have taken. I then begin the work flow process, to enhance the images NOT construct them out of the camera. So I will make a decision about whether the image should be in colour or black and white, then consider cropping, enhancing the colour and light balance to make the image the best possible version without changing the actual content or structure.

If you would like to find out more about my photography workshops in India, Vietnam and Myanmar please get in touch

I look forward to hearing from you

Mark

 

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Vietnam Street Photography - Mark Seymour

Good Morning Vietnam !

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

I deliver my own street photography courses around the world but ‘my camera and I’ had never ventured to Vietnam before. To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect. My knowledge of the country was limited to American movies, so I arrived ready to immerse myself in the arms of the city and be guided by Majeic.

Landing at Noi Bai International airport after a twelve hour flight (luckily films and a long sleep and time literally flew by!), the hotel had organised a taxi to take me the forty-five minute drive to the city. On arrival you need to exchange your money into the local currency, I changed £150 and instantly became a multi-millionaire, with 4.8 million Dong in my wallet!  Amazingly, at the end of the course, having eaten out, taken taxis, beers, etc on a daily basis, I had manage to spend only 2,273,400, a staggering £70.94!!!

Hanoi is located in the north on the right bank of the Red River. Located in the old quarter, the Tu Linh Legend Hotel, is a modern boutique style hotel, well furnished, comfortable and boasts a good level of service and room facilities. I recommend you request an upgrade to a room at the rear of the building, as Hanoi is a busy noisy city that does not sleep! (http://tulinhpalacehotels.com/tu-linh-legend-hotel)

Majeic is very familiar with the city and knows the streets and areas that will provide the most opportunities for documentary photography, and gave us the chance to explore the ‘real’ Hanoi, off of the tourist routes.

If you considering a photography trip to Hanoi I recommend you take your walking shoes, I walked 118 km during the course, averaging 16.85 km or over 10 miles a day!!!!!! The weather at this time of year was pretty warm and humid, but comfortable to walk around in as long as you remember to keep hydrated. However, when it rains, it RAINS! Seriously, it pours and pours, but always the photographer, it was a great source of images, so I continued photographing what was going on around me! On one occasion as I stood getting suitably drenched a local presented me with a traditional Non La, the conical hat made of palm leaf which is worn by everyone no matter what gender or age, your very own wearable umbrella.

There are many key locations to visit and photograph in and around Hanoi, including temples and museums, the Old Quarter, the many markets and the designer shops of the French Quarter.

Majeic set us off in pairs to explore a particular location each day and some evenings too, so we could get to record the many facets of the city and its people, as they worked, shopped, exercised and relaxed.

One of the oldest temples in the city is in the heart of the Old Quarter. Bach Ma Temple was originally built by Emperor Ly Thai To in the eleventh century to honour a white horse that guided him to the site. The current structure dates back to the eighteenth centre, and a shrine dedicated to Confucius was added in 1839. A highlight is the beautiful red-lacquered funeral palanquin.

The most visited temple in Hanoi is the Ngoc Son Temple, ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ which is on a small island at the northern end of the Hoan Kiem Lake and is connected by a red wooden bridge.  ‘The lake of the restored Sword’ refers to the story of how the Emperor’s heaven sent sword was returned to the divine by a giant golden turtle that took it down deep into the lake. Today the locals gather at 6am on the shores of the lake to do their daily exercise and tai chi.

Looking for the Unusual in the Usual

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Majeic got us to look for the ‘unusual in the usual’. Alongside locals and tourist taking ‘selfies’ by the lakeside, I captured a bride posing for her bridal portraits.

The market places are a focus for organised chaos in the city; narrow roads with stalls spilling out onto the streets, women carrying baskets of fruit, eggs and vegetables, look out for the miniature pineapples which are delicious, mopeds make their way through the crowds and stalls to deliver goods, they are a great place to photograph. Ngocho Kham Thien market includes clothing and textiles, fruit and vegetables, as well as live stock. Cho Dong Xuan is the largest market and is good for fabrics and souvenirs. There are flower markets where you’ll find an area for ‘green tree’ bonsais. There is also a small covered antique market with various bric a brac, collectibles and military goods. You’ll also find outdoor barbers given haircuts and wet shaves.

I took several photographs of people trying on designer glasses, the rows and rows of different glasses and reflections in the mirrors. The designer posters also provide interesting backdrops for the young Hanoians as they shop and chat with friends.

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex is an important place of pilgrimage for many Vietnamese. Consisting of a traffic-free area of botanical gardens, monuments, memorials and pagodas, it is crowded by groups of Vietnamese who come from far and wide to pay their respects to 'Uncle Ho'. The area is guarded by soldiers in white and green uniforms and you can visit the Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House and the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Museum and the One Pillar Pagoda.

Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature is dedicated to Confucius and honours Vietnam’s finest scholars and men of literary accomplishment. The formal tranquil garden with the 'Well of Heavenly Clarity' pond, a pagoda and statues of Confucius and his disciples. It is also the site of Vietnam’s first university, established in 1076, when entrance was only granted to those of noble birth.

We visited the local war museum which is easy to spot by the collection of international weaponry on display outside, which you can walk up and touch. Opposite in the park is an imposing statue of Lenin and adjacent to the museum is one of the famous landmarks of the city, the Hexagonal Flag Tower of Hanoi.

Whilst you’re visiting Hanoi make sure you visit the Trang Tien Ice Cream Shop first opened in 1958, when it sold a mere two types of ‘icecream on a stick’. Post war, and over fifty years later, they now sell icecream in cones, cups and popsicles, made from natural ingredients with flavours including familiar chocolate, and more local favourites of green bean and green rice. My personal recommendation praline and cream, although the green rice combined with coconut milk has a soft and chewy texture and is worth a try, because when in Vietnam... And a word of advice, make sure you are ready with your choice, the staff can get a little grumpy with the more indecisive customer!

Beer Street

Another must see and do is a visit to the appropriately named ‘Beer Street’ in the Old Quarter. Drinking beer has become embedded in the Vietnamese culture, and the country has one of the highest beer consumption rates in the world. Offered as the perfect answer to the hot humid climate, there are many popular local beers worth a try; Hanoi Beer, Saigon Beer, Huda Beer, Bai Hoi, and at around 6000 Dong or 15p a glass, well it would be rude to refuse.

Alongside a cool beer enjoy some local street food, go for a bowl of noodle soup, sticky rice and chicken,  but watch out for ‘dog’ on the menu, it wasn’t something I was willing to try. A walk along the 200 meter Ta Hien street, locally known as the ‘international crossroad’, is a hustling mass of street food stalls and draws both locals and visitors alike. In addition it’s a great place to sit and watch the world pass by and of course photograph it!

What out when you cross the road and don’t expect cars to stop for you even on zebra crossings, be brave, keep looking, but you just have to walk across but very slowly, with purpose,  and keep moving!

Looking through my portfolio of images some of my favourites are the series of portraits taken from a different perspective, taking a common feature, and using that as a focus for my portraits throughout the week. I managed to capture some amazing characters in these portraits.

Hanoi is a thriving city full of young family’s right through to its older generations with many stories to tell of Hanoi and Vietnam. I love the mix of the old and traditional, like the medicinal spice shops, through to designer brands, labelled jeans worn alongside a traditional Non La, mobile phones in selfie sticks and tai chi. In the park children hang on the climbing frames with their funky rucksacks on the way home from school, and men gather to play a traditional game of xiangqi.

As a source for documentary street photography the opportunities are overwhelming and one visit does not do it justice. It was a fascinating trip and I cannot wait to head back to this incredible city next year.

 

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

 

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street PhotographyVietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

Vietnam Street Photography

If you would like to find out more about my workshops in India, Vietnam and Myanmar please get in touch 

The best 50 things to do in Vietnam

I look forward to hearing from you

Mark


India 2015 - A Photographic Travelogue 1

India 2015 - A Photographic Travelogue

Indian photography workshop

Mark Seymour, Nikon UK wedding ambassador and trainer, has spent two weeks travelling India to develop his Indian photography workshop and documentary street photography training courses. The first week was spent in the romantic region of Rajasthan, visiting the Blue City of Jodhpur, before leading a week long workshop on the streets of Kolkata in association with Nikon UK Training School and The Hope Foundation who fund several projects in the area.

‘I had been inspired by other photographers’ images of Jodhpur and I was not disappointed by my own visit here. Although I often present my documentary street photography in black and white, there is so much vibrancy in the colours of India, the people, building, flowers, spices and material, that most of the images remain in colour. If you haven’t ever travelled to India it is hard to convey the overwhelming assault on your senses that will confront you; physically, visually and mentally, the heat, sounds, sights and smells, the number of vehicles and people all trying to access the same space, what appears to be random and chaotic actually has rules and order, everything hits you in intense waves.’

‘There are some incredible backdrops against which to capture portraits, including the indigo washed walls of the old city and the steps of the water. I spent some time recording two men in the city whose faces had real character and to me symbolised traditional Jodhpur. I also captured the traders on the street, where they live and work, creating the baskets and pottery that they sell, and making the various street food and chai tea.’

‘We were lucky enough to be taken by a guide out to the rural villages and farmland outside of Jodhpur where I photographed a couple of nomad families and the herdsmen, looking so impressive in their white robes and red turbans.’

Kolkata Photography Workshop

‘Moving on to Kolkata, a growing city, where construction cranes and the outline of tower blocks fill the horizon, was another shift in gear, even crazier and busier, the sound of horns seemed a continual backdrop as you made your way around the city. The number of street communities that have grown up along disused water ways and along train tracks is why Mother Teresa and now the Hope Foundation make Kolkata a centre of their charity work, rescuing children and vulnerable adults from the streets and providing them with education, health care and homes.’

‘We arrived as the city prepared for Diwali so the potters were busy making hundreds of statues of the Goddess Kali, and the city has many incredible locations that are perfect for documentary street photography, including the Flower Market and College Street. There are still the remnants of colonial India, in sharp contrast to those families making their homes on the streets below.’

‘We visited some of the Hope projects including the hospital and I was invited to meet with the Punjorbin Boys photography club, a great group of young men eager to turn their lives around and create new opportunities for themselves by becoming professional photographers.’

‘If you have ever wondered about visiting India I would encourage you to do so, it is everything and more than you imagine, and if you’d like to photograph these incredible places I would love you to join me on my workshops next year.’

If you would like to find out more about my workshops in India, Vietnam and Myanmar please get in touch 

I look forward to hearing from you

Mark