Istanbul Mark Seymour 31 of 32 Istanbul Street Photography

Istanbul Street Photography

Istanbul Street Photography

About Istanbul

Istanbul formally known as Constantinople is one of the greatest cities in the world for Istanbul street photography where you can see both a modern western city combined with traditional eastern culture, It is the only place in the world that straddles the two continents of Europe and Asia. The Grand Bazaar is the largest covered bazaar in the world with over 3000 shops

We made our base just of Istiklal street ,and whilst not the quietest location for access to Taksim square its was unbeatable as we were in the action after just a couple of minutes walk.

Istanbul is one of my favourite street photography locations in the world due to its diverse life , colourful streets and extremely friendly people.

Taksim square and Istaklal street photography are great locations, extrremley busy pretty much 24/7, have said that its quite challenging to get good street photographs unless you select a few great backgrounds and then wait for people to enter that space giving you both a good composition and a great background. I find this to be one of the toughest lessons that its better to choose a great location and wait rather than sometimes keep chasing new locations.  Taksim Square,  is really popularlocation with lots of shops, bars and restaurants.  The main avenue running through it is a pedestrian only avenue called Istikla and it's a great location for Street Photography

Over The Galata bridge  and into Eminou are both great locations for the street photographer with fishermen lined up across the bridge with their rods waiting for bites whilst Eminou a busy place with boats coming and going all dcay and evening and people going about their daily tasks giving ample opportunity for the street photographer.

Moving on to the Spice bazzar and The old bazzar, whilst still great places to capture life they tend to be similar to the Blue mosque I that they are places virtually every tourist visits whilst in Istanbul. I prefer to spend time in Balat and Eyup as they are more of the beaten track and you will see far less tourists in these areas.

Eyup has one of the oldest mosques in Istanbul and here your find life a lot slower with many traditional folk. I can quite easily spend a day here as the movement of people as prayer time approaches swells . Don’t be afraid to venture inside the mosque where although it says no photography people don’t tend to mind as long as you are respectful.

Another favourite area is Balat, totally different from other locations its where traditional meets the young and trendy with countless coffee shops and bars all independently owned and each with their own unique character. Wander the streets going into old coffee shops , people watching and older establishments with local characters playing dominoes and cards.



Please get in touch if youd like to visit and photograph  Istanbul with us with a small number of other photographers

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Nagaland Mark Seymour 2011 Nagaland photography course

Nagaland photography course

About Nagaland

Nagaland is a state in the far north-eastern part of India. It borders Assam to the west and north with Myanmar to the east and It's home to diverse range of indigenous tribes, with many festivals and markets celebrating the different tribes traditions and cultures.Their individual rituals, festivals and beliefs of each  tribe differentiates it from other tribes.

Nagaland is inhabited by 16 major tribes - Ao, Angami, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Chakhesang, Khiamniungan, Kachari, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchungrü, Kuki, Zeliang and Pochury . WIth aach tribe is unique in character, dress and has its own unique distinct customs and dress although they have two main things in common which are language and religion - English is in predominant use and Nagaland is one of three states in India where the population is predominantly Methodist / Christian.

Hornbill Festival

Taking place at tyhe beginning of December each year it lasts for ten days and takes place in Kohima and takes place to protect, sustain, and promote the richness of the Naga heritage and their traditional traditions.

At the Hornbill festival, all the Naga tribes come together on various days to celebrate and display their traditions and culture and it’s a time where all the tribes gather up to show the world their age old traditions along with letting them bond and get closer to knowing each other.

The main events of the Hornbill Festival take place at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 kms from Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland. Traditional Naga huts and Morungs   The festival  is scenic and mystical, and simply awesome to be a witness to.

Visiting Nagaland

Nagaland and the Konyak tribes are both not that easy to get to or find even once you are in the vicinity. Its a several day car trip from Guwahati where we start our adventure from with mini adventures along the way makiing this a truly memorable Nagaland photography course.

This year we started the trip of in a little luxury with a short stay at The Guwhati Raddison Blue Hotel and take a trip to the beautiful Kamakhya Temple where Lord Shiva's wifes body parts were dropped and is now a famous pilgrimage site in Assam. Its a great place to photograph with streams of people from first light to dusk mostling taking a pilgrimage ti visit this holy temple. Id really reccommend getting here early as the light is beautiful. You can get great images both inside the main temple although not the inner temple and the surrounding areas.

From Guwhati we took a people carrier and a five hour drive to Kazingra National Park where we stayed at the Wild Grass Lodge for a relaxing evening before taking an early start the following morning into the park for an elephant and rhino safari before making our way on a four hour car journey to Sivasagar which is again a bustling great place for street photography.

Early the next morning we entered Nagaland through its old style border crossing and made our way to Mon stopping several time on the way as we passed throug remote rural villages photographing locals stayed at the only hotel. The Hotels are a lot more basic out here but still offer comfort and great local food.

Over the next couple of days we spend all our time with a couple of tribes taking pictures of both the tribesmen and weomen along with the people in the local villages. Ive now managed to build up a great trusting relationship with these people visiting thier homes that lets us get great access to them enabling you to capture truly unique pictures and experience their lives and homes up close.

Pictures and Videos from the trip

Testimonial.. David Huggett

I have been away with Mark 4 times since meeting him 2 years ago, visiting Varanasi twice, and have learned an incredible amount about photographic principles and street photography, and indeed the whole concept of what makes a good image. He doesn’t beat around the bush, if an image is poor he will tell you so, yet then take the time to explain how a better result could have been achieved. For me, this works. If an image is good he will constructively help you to maximise its potential in post.
I have seen both amateur and professional photographers struggle to interpret the environments he has taken them to (myself included), and the revelations when Mark helps you to see what is there.
It is my opinion that attending one of his workshops will absolutely raise your photography to a higher level, as well as being an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.

I can’t recommend him enough. He runs some of the best photography courses around so take a leap of faith and sign up! You won’t ever regret it.

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Guwhati Hotels

The Guwahati Raddison Blue Hotel

Shreemoyee Inn Hotel Guwahati

The Picolo Hotel Sivisgar

Wild Grass Lodge Hotel

Kazingra Park Elephant Safari


What people say


Varanasi Mark Seymour 0001 Varanasi Street Photography Workshop

Varanasi Street Photography Workshop

Varanasi Street Photography Workshop .... A place like no other 

About Varanasi . One of the seven holy cities in India

Mark Twain famously said “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”

Varanasi is truly unlike any other place in the world. One of the world’s oldest and holiest cities, you can really feel this in its atmosphere. The holy river, the ghats filled with life, the chaotic spirituality and more make this a city you can’t forget. From early morning to night, Varanasi is one magical place.

As Mark twain said everything here is full of character, feels like its been there forever andis a photographers dream as every corner you turn there are new and great photographic opportunities.

Id recommend staying at a hotel within walking distance of the main ghats so each the atmosphere in the morning can be savoured and at first light you can witness all the characters that are here on a daily basis such as seeing people bathe, street hairdressers, locals wahing laundry and clothes, kids playing with kites and cows walking around aimlessly.

Most people agree  that Varanasi is both magical and mysterious with rituals of life and death taking place in open view, whilst the sights, sounds and smells along the Ghats are something which you’ll never forget

Places we visit on a Varanasi Street Photography Workshop

The first rule of photographing Varanasi on a street photography workshop is get up early and be at your location  before first light . Its a purley magical time of day and even more so in this truly religious and cultural epicentre of India . It really is an exprience you want to live, and document as a street photographer.


Travel to the other side of the river Ganges. Take a boat across the other side, its almost like you are on another place and almost desert like in its apperance. Here you will find religious sadus and other nomads leading the most simple life. Its a must to get there before the sun rises.

Ganga Aarti Evening festival. This takes place every evening on the main Dashashwamedh ghat. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma created this ghat to welcome Lord Shiva.As a photographer id normally visit here two or three times to really document the festival well. You can both hire a boat and witness the ceremony from the river which gives you a great view and then the second evening do this from the banks capturing the key moments as you now have an idea of what is happening.

The Ghats alongside the mother Ganges river. There are over 88 seperate ghats that are mainly used for bathing. The main ceremonial ghat is the Dashashwamedh ghat The main group contains around 25 of them, and it extends from Assi Ghat north to Raj Ghat. The ghats date back to the 14th century but most were rebuilt, along with Varanasi, in the 18th century by Maratha rulers.

Its def worth taking a boat one eveing or a stroll in the day down to the burning Ghat also known as the Manikarnika Ghat where you will see piles of wood for the fires line the Ganges. The fires continuously burn with a constant stream of dead bodies wrapped in cloth and carried through the old market lanes on makeshift wooden stretchers

The Tulsi Ghat is worth a visit again one early morning to witness the Mud wrestlers. The day always starts with a short prayer session at the tiny alter inside the mud ring which are devoted to Lord Rama Many men train here under the tutelage of doyen Siyaramji. You will see them doing many exercises such as pull ups, squats whilst some will swing around a gadha expertly around their heads, lift weights before getting into the ring to wrestle.

The Old markets, that include a small intimate goat traders market in the old muslim dominated area and the vegtable and small chicken markets . This is a great walk for street phortographers starting out at The goat maket and wandering the old ancient streets and ending up at the vegtable market . After the Veg market Id normally take a Tuk Tuk to the main train station looking for the older style trains with the open bar windows with station food sellers offering their wares to passengers. The fish market is just a short walk from the main Dashashwamedh Ghat.

The Old Town Just a short walk from the main Ghats where you will find life around every corner you turn with lots of photographic opportunities from shpos, temples and local characters. Id recommend using a wider lens here as the lanes are so narrow and they are often quite crowded with no sense of order you'll see cows, rickshaws, dogs motorbikes and people all tyring to navigate the tiny streets.
The old Town is also home to several temples including the Kali temple and the Golden temple however both normally have long queue's. A couple of places worth visiting for a pit stop are the Blue lassi Shop and the Dossa Cafe right next to the Vishwanath Gali.

A great Time to Go !  Dev Deepawali

This festival is a major attraction, with the sight of millions of candle lamps lighting both the ghats and river Ganges its a breathtaking sight. Thousands of devotees from the holy city of Varanasi and surrounding villages, gather in the evening on the Dashashwamedh ghat to watch the Ganga Aarti.

The Dev Deepavali (“Festival of Lights of the Gods”) is where Kartik Poornima is celebrated in Varanasi. It always happens on the full moon of November / December fifteen days after Diwali. The steps of all the ghats on the riverfront of the Ganges River are lit with more than a million small earthen lamps and the gods are believed to descend to Earth to bathe in the Ganges on this day. .

During Dev Deepawali, houses are decorated with oil lamps and coloured designs on their front doors. Firecrackers are burnt at night, processions of decorated deities are taken out into the streets of Varanasi, and oil lamps are set afloat on the river.

The main rituals performed by devotees consist of taking a holy bath in the Ganges and offering the oil lighted lamps to mother Ganga in the evening. The Ganga aarti is also performed in the evening.

Over 100,000 pilgrims visit the riverfront to watch the river aglitter with lamps


Sarnarth is well worth a visit as its just 6 miles from Varanasi as It is one the four main holy sites of the Buddha. The other four being where Buddha was born (Lumbini), reached enlightenment (Bodhgaya), gave his first sermon (Sarnarth), and where he passed (Kushinagar). Its well worth 1/2 a day to go and experience and get some great people photographs.

You will see many Buddhists Monks from around the world practicing their various ceremonies on the lawns and around the main temple which is a giant domed shaped brick sculpture called a stupa apparently where Buddha gave his first talk.

Places Ive used

Hotel . The ganges Grand

we also ate here most evenings.. good value food



Holy Chopsticks

Great food but no Alcohol

Barbeque Nation 

Dolphin Restaurant .

Blue Lassi Shop

No website but easy to find in the old town.


Links . internal . / external

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MCCULLIN 0055 Don McCULLIN Exhibition Review

Don McCULLIN Exhibition Review

Don McCullin Exhibition at The Tate Modern, London


QUOTE from Don McCullin

"I started out in photography accidentally. A policeman came to a stop at the end of my street and a guy knifed him. Thats how I became a photographer. I photographed the gangs that I went to school with. I didnt choose photography, it seemed to choose me, but I've been loyal by risking my life for fifty years "

I'd been desperate to get to this exhibition to see McCullins great, iconic and gritty black & white images from his time as one of our best war, documentary and humanitarian photographers.

The exhibition exceeded all my expectations with 250 beautifully presented images in several halls, all printed by himself along with a short video presentation it covers his full career. I'd definitley recommend going.

Although I loved the whole exhibition I just wanted to talk about a handful of images that stand out for me personally and why they resonate with me and the style of photography that I so enjoy

Print 1 Vietnam

Without doubt one of my favourite images and I totally understand why this is the headline image for the exhibition.

It's a great storytelling documentary image, it may even be set up but who cares as it totally tells a story of a young soldier looking out of an apartment window perhaps thinking of his own family and homeland. What makes the picture great and takes it to the higest level is the vietnamese couple framed on the floor probably in their own appartment looking into the place they once hapilly lived.

I love the simplicity of the image, the powerful storytelling and the framing.

Print 2 The soldiers Foot

A great three layered photographers picture, probably taken on his rollicord camera due to the square crop. This type of camera has allowed the photograher to hold the camera low to get a great perspective with forground interest, a secondary layer of the soldier and the third layer showing daily life still going on.

Print 3 Northern Ireland

This is without doubt my favourite image and one that Id buy for myself. I love the composition and the fact that he's in close with the action. I love it because its storytlling, , all the spaces are filled and all the heads are in their own spaces . I think what elevates the picture is the young lad hanging and just about to jump filling the sapce between the two groups of three boys.

Images from around the exhibition

QUOTE from Don McCullin

"When I realised I had been given the go-ahead to photograph, I started composing my picturesin a very dignified way. It was the first time I had pictured somethingof this immense signigicance and I felt as if I had a canvas in front of me and I was, stroke by stroke, applying the compositionto a story that was telling itself. I was I realised later, trying to photograph in a way that Goya painted or did his war sketches".


QUOTE from Don McCullin

"I dont believe you can see whats beyond the edge unless you put your head over it; I've many times been right up to the precipice, not even a foot or an inch away. Thats the only place to be if your going to see and show what sufffering really means "


QUOTE from Don McCullin

 " The photograpic equipment I take on an assignmentis my head and my eyes and my heart. I could take the poorest equipment and I would still take the same photographs. They might not be as sharp, but they would certainly say the same thing "


To see or find out about the exhibition

Kolkata Travel Photography 97 Hope Foundation Photography Workshop

Hope Foundation Photography Workshop

Hope Foundation photography workshop

I am very proud of my work with Hope, and every year return to Kolkata to lead a Hope Foundation photography workshop. Included in the course fee is a donation to The Hope Foundation, and as part of the course we visit some of the inspirational work that Hope do as well as visiting some of the areas of deprivation in the city where Hope target their support; like the railway community.

We explore the city documenting life in Kolkata, and visit the Flower Market along the Hooghly River, the book markets of College Street and the bustling markets that are the life centre of one of India’s most populated cities.

Although the focus of the Hope Foundation photography workshop, is to develop your skills as a documentary street photographer, recognising the work that Hope do is an important element to the photographers that join me on this particular course. In the evening two photographers go out with the Hope team to take support and help out to those living on the streets. We visit the Hope hospital and meet some of the staff who work so hard there. As part of my yearly visit I photograph the children for their special Hope Christmas card and this means we have chance to visit the girls home and nursery school. We go to the Hope café for lunch which is always a feast, and visit the workshops upstairs where Hope provide vocational courses such as hair and beauty, IT and dress making.

November marks the anniversary of The Hope Foundation in Kolkata and we are lucky enough to be invited to the special fund raising event at the Tolly Golf Club. If we are really lucky our trip coincides with the wonderful Maureen Forrest, founder of Hope and we have chance to meet up with her too.

Hope welcome donations and encourage you to become a sponsor of one of their children if you are interested follow the link and help Hope changed another child’s life, thank you.

Read more about documentary street photography in Kolkata


Vietnam Travel Photography 21 Travel Photography Tips

Travel Photography Tips

Travel Photography Tips

These are all of the things that I do prior and once travelling, but Id say the most important is preparation before you go

1  Thorough preparation do your homework and lots of detailed research is the first step and vitally important to ensure you get the most from your planned trip

2  Speak to locals, it gets you in places you wouldn’t have dreamt of and opens up many doors

3  Travel light, all my images were taken on a single camera with just a 35mm lens. Probably the greatest lens for the street and with a prime you just get to know the lens and its capabilities inside out. The only other stuff I take out is a small bottle of water and a spare battery, load up the camera with 128g cards and you’ll be great for the day, oh and get yourself a comfy pair of shoes or sandals if your visiting lots of temples. My fav trainers are made by Merrill and probably the comfiest sandals are a pair of Birkenstock Arizona’s

4  Stay with the moment and shoot through capturing the reactions, not just the action. My biggest lesson came a few years ago when travelling with a guy that could barely walk. He stayed in one chosen location for several hours at a time but boy at the end of the day did he have some cracking images.

TOP Travel Photography tips

5 L earn to use Google maps and build up a history of where you’ve been, what look like great places when you're engaging with others and from your research

6  Learn a few basic words in the native language. A simple Hello or thank you with a smile both buys you many brownie points and opens up new doors with locals.

7  Shoot had and Edit hard and then just show your best

8  Vary your shots. Everything gets boring if all your images are taken from the same viewpoint, take your safety shot then ask yourself how I can take this better

9  Get up early, the light is beautiful, rest in the middle of the day if you need and then shoot thru sunset and the golden hour for the best pictures

10  Go with a group and critique each other’s work daily we all love a pat on the back and lots of likes but the best way to improve is constructive feedback amongst each other.


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Kolkata 2018 059 1 National Geographic Photographer

National Geographic Photographer

Special assignment by Mark Seymour on Kolkata

How the project came about

Becoming a Nikon Ambassador has certainly opened many amazing doors for me but non greater than being given an opportunity to have my work published as a National Geographic Photographer in this iconic magazine that we all see in many receptions around the world.

Three years ago Nikon approached me and asked as part of my street and travel photography courses could I do a presentation at the National Geographic Traveller show in London giving a talk on how to get into travel photography, how to prepare your trip and what to do once you are there along with talking about various techniques to make your images varied and more interesting.

Lady Luck

As they say luck always plays a huge part and today was one of those special days ! The co-ordinator from National Geographic that was going to be present during my talk turned out to be the key person within the organisation when I found out after asking 'So who is responsible for the allocation of photographic projects within the magazine'  .... to which I received the reply... 'Its me' I was kinda knocked of my feet and immediately knew that this was one of those opportunities that when presented you grasp with both hands!

The room was packed with over 150 paying photographers wanting to hear how I had managed to make this my career and to develop themselves into this genre of travel and documentary photography. The rest as they say is history with a meeting quickly set up at their London publication office to discuss shooting a furture project and for me to present my portfolio of street photography from around the world. My work was highly praised by the picture editor but with the caveat that although the imagery is more than good enough there is not enough detail and scene setting pictures to make a great magazine article.

We'll be in touch

Some fifteen months later and several meetings I finally received that call asking if I could shoot a seven page feature for April's issue on Kolkata, as a National Geographic Photographer, a place I knew extremley well.

The brief came through with a journalist assigned to me to word the article along with some must have shots , some ideas but overall to give me artistic licence to shoot my style of images.

The Shoot

November came and I was fortunate to tag the National Geographic shoot onto the end of one of the street and travel photography courses I was holding for Nikon Uk in Kolkata that I have now been holding for five years. Included in the final images given to the magazine to select from I included many of my favourite photographs of street scenes in Kolkata along with images specifically photographed for the commission of some of the iconic buildings and locations along with small details that people would encounter on their personal travels when the visit Kolkata.

The seven page featured in National Geographic Magazine


Would you like to travel with Mark Seymour to Kolkata.. check out his courses here


See more work in Kolkata here





India 01 An Indian Adventure

An Indian Adventure

Street and Travel photography from Nagaland, Varanasi and Kolkata

Top tips for street and travel photography

1 Thorough preparation do your homework and lots of detailed research is the first step and vitally important to ensure you get the most from your planned trip

2 Speak to locals, it gets you in places you wouldn’t have dreamt of and opens up many doors

3 Travel light, all my images were taken on a single camera with just a 35mm lens. Probably the greatest lens for the street and with a prime you just get to know the lens and its capabilities inside out. The only other stuff I take out is a small bottle of water and a spare battery, load up the camera with 128g cards and you’ll be great for the day, oh and get yourself a comfy pair of shoes or sandals if your visiting lots of temples. My fav trainers are made by Merrill and probably the comfiest sandals are a pair of Birkenstock Arizona’s

4 Stay with the moment and shoot through capturing the reactions, not just the action. My biggest lesson came a few years ago when travelling with a guy that could barely walk. He stayed in one chosen location for several hours at a time but boy at the end of the day did he have some cracking images.

5 Learn to use Google maps and build up a history of where you’ve been, what look like great places when you're engaging with others and from your research

6 Learn a few basic words in the native language. A simple Hello or thank you with a smile both buys you many brownie points and opens up new doors with locals.

7 Shoot har and Edit hard and then just show your best

8 Vary your shots. Everything gets boring if all your images are taken from the same viewpoint, take your safety shot then ask yourself how I can take this better

9 Get up early, the light is beautiful, rest in the middle of the day if you need and then shoot thru sunset and the golden hour for the best pictures

10 Go with a group and critique each other’s work daily we all love a pat on the back and lots of likes but the best way to improve is constructive feedback amongst each other.

An Indian Adventure

Started at the beginning of November flying into Guwahati airport we spent a couple of days at the world-renowned Kamakhya temple where thousands of people queued each day to pay their respects to the mother goddess Kamakhya.

Early afternoon we started the long drive towards Nagaland stopping off for a night in the Kaziranga national park for a mini safari on elephant back before going on to Sivisgar where we photographed the Mayamara people in their small remote village.

Next day we continued on our adventure to Nagaland, you definitely needed a fixer here as even getting across the border was problematic, but once thru we took the extremely bumpy roads towards Mon to visit the Konyak tribesmen. WOW . is all I can say, just to sit with these guys was incredible and then to spend most of the day in their remote village was a true experience.

The following day we travelled further up the mountain to Longhwra reaching a height of nearly 2000m above sea level this was truly remote. We were greeted by the locals and stayed over in the only guest house there. To call it a hotel would be pushing it with no heating and no running water and being so high the temperature was extremely cold. One of the few nights I struggled sleeping with two thick blankets and all my clothes on I still shivered thru the night.

The next morning as the sun rose we were taken to the Longwa tribe and the chief’s house. Well, I thought yesterday was amazing, but this was a new level …. Incredible! The Longwa tribe invited us into the chief’s house where we drank incredibly strong coffee and took photos whilst they smoked and chanted. The rest of the day was spent photographing them individually in their environment and the other local people.

We finally returned to the temple at Kamakhya before flying into a very different world of the religious, busy and extremely vibrant Varanasi spending much time down at the Ghats and walking the narrow lanes of the old town.

After a week in Varanasi I headed to Kolkata for two weeks , the first week being a training course where I was met by five fellow photographers all waiting to explore the city and photograph its people as they went about their daily life whilst the second week was devoted to my contract with National Geographic Traveller to produce a four-page spread about the city for publication later this year.


Why not join us later this year when we plan to visit Istanbul, Vietnam, Kolkata, Cuba and Nagaland, Sign up here to find out first or just give me a call on 07786 377197

Images were taken by attendees

A short slideshow of some of my favourite images from the trip

Please leave a a comment below.. Thankyou

An Indian Adventure 2018 from Mark Seymour on Vimeo.

Trapani 0020 Trapani street photography 2018

Trapani street photography 2018

Trapani Street Photography 2018

Every year we take a group of photographers to Sicily for Easter, for a documentary workshop; here is a slideshow of our Trapani Street Photography 2018.

Misteri Di Trapani

Misteri Di Trapani is one of the oldest Easter celebrations and is a procession of twenty ornately carved floats carried through the street over 24 hours from Good Friday into Saturday morning.

Documenting the procession

I edit the images in black and white using DXO B & W software to reflect the solemnity of the procession alongside the music played by each band that accompanies each float.

This is an incredible experience and we are able to be inside the church and get up close to the action to document with our photography press passes.

Read the blog from this year's workshop here 

Inspired to photograph Misteri Di Trapani in 2019? Get in touch if you would like to book on Street Photography Trapani 2019

All of the images were taken using the diminutive 35mm 2.8 Zeiss lens along with the 18 and 25mm Zeiss Batis lenses.

Trapani 0019 1 Easter photography workshop Trapani

Easter photography workshop Trapani

Easter photography workshop Trapani, 2018

There are many Easter celebrations that capture the imagination of photographers around the world, and none more so for me than the Misteri di Trapani which is where I take a group of photographers on my Easter photography workshop Trapani.

Trapani, Sicily:

Trapani is the capital of the Province of Trapani on the west coast of Sicily. Travel takes about twenty minutes from the local airport Trapani, reached via a short flight from Milan Linate, or about an hour drive from the Palermo airport which can be reached directly from most UK airports. With warm sunshine the pastel hues of the baroque buildings look beautiful and there are many interesting sights locally such as the famous Marsala region. Reaching out into the Mediterranean Sea, walk along the coastline and visit the busy port. Look out for the local coral jewellery and pottery shops and of course enjoy the amazing local wine and seafood in the many cafes and restaurants. It’s worth taking a cable car ride up Mount Erice on one day. The old train station, early morning fish market and the salt pans and windmills are also of interest to the travel photographer.


We stayed in the modern Hotel Vittoria, within a fifteen-minute walk of the old town and the heart of the procession. As a group I always ensure we have dinner one night at one of the most famous pizzeria restaurants in Sicily, Calvino, established in 1946, proper stone baked base, oozing with Gorgonzola and spicy salami perfect with an Italian beer.

Trapani Easter Festival:

The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani, dates back to the sixteenth century and is the culmination of Holy Week, retelling the passions and death of Christ. Twenty elaborately carved wooden floats are carried through the streets of Trapani before returning to the church the following morning. Each float is the responsibility of one of the Guilds of Trapani including; fishermen, bakers, carpenters, and pasta makers. Each float is incredibly heavy and takes twenty men to carry and is accompanied by a band. The effort of the procession is to reflect the suffering endured by Christ.



The procession lasts around twenty-four hours, and this photography workshop Trapani, is a full-on experience over three days, so bring your camera, walking boots, and stamina!

The photography workshop Trapani starts on Holy Thursday at the hotel and we talk about how best to document the procession to capture the story of the event. We photograph the Guild’s and their families as they prepare the floats in the church, Chiesa del Purgatorio, adorning the carved figures with candles, flowers and silver. In the church we met with photographer Ernesto Bazan with his workshop group. Thursday is also an opportunity to walk some of the streets so that everyone can familiarise themselves with the route.


The many churches in Trapani hold services that start with the traditional washing of the feet. It is worth visiting the Cattedrale San Lorenzo, with many historic paintings including its own Caravaggio on the wall.


Thanks to a local photographer and a friend in the Carabinieri, we are very honoured to have fotografo and stampa passes which allow us in the church on Good Friday and allow us to walk alongside the floats as the process through the streets. This means we can really get up close to the action for our photography workshop Trapani.

We return to the church at about 11 am on Good Friday and it is even busier with the floats receiving their final touches and those who would be carrying and escorting the floats in the church. The crowds take to line the streets and the doors to the church are closed during the last hour of preparations.


The procession begins at two o'clock outside with prayers before the church door is hit with the palm of the hand three times. Inside, two men are lifted up to unlock and open the door to cheers, and the loud clapping sound of the wooden clackers. As the doors open the first band is in position playing, the attendants walk out then the first float.


The bands play a solemn piece that creates a wall of sound in the narrow streets. The musicians and those walking ahead of each float repeat a rocking step which has a hypnotic rhythm and keeps the procession slowly walking through the streets as each band and float join in turn.


We remain within the church for the first few floats then make out way outside to photograph the floats as they make their way through the door and turn to take their place in the procession. We continue to photograph along the route before taking a well-earned break for dinner and rest.


The crowds are waiting for the float of the Madonna and by the time we re-join the procession, it is dark. The Madonna is positioned to look into either side of the street as they make their way slowly along the route, the priests praying and rose petals are cascaded from the balconies overhead.


In the narrow streets, the floats take on an atmospheric quality with the candle lights and shadows being cast upwards on the buildings.


The procession continues through the night, although the bands stop playing at midnight. We return to the hotel to sleep before going out early on Saturday morning to document the floats as they make their way back to the church.


The atmosphere is emotionally intense, there were smiles and hugs as people greet each other, but for many, the overwhelming responsibility of the procession brings moments of quiet reflection and tears. It is really important to steal your own emotions from the situation and record what you see, but it is not easy.


The photography workshop Trapani, is not just about being out on the streets photographing the procession, in the afternoon is spent editing our images; I took around 3000 over the three days; top tip 1 when you are going out to photograph an event like this you must take extra charged batteries and spare memory cards with you. The aim is to get 10-20 images that tell the story of Misteri di Trapani.


For me I edit my Trapani images in black and white as I feel is reflects the solemnity and emotions of the procession.  I recommend photo mechanic for quick importing and identifying your best photographs, and then photoshop and silver efex for processing your images into high contrasting black and white images. Ultimately the images can then be put into a slideshow presentation accompanied by some of the procession music; top tip 2 taking all your photographs landscape will create a more professional looking slideshow.


After dinner, we have an open critique of the photographer's work and complete this on the Sunday morning after breakfast. The critique is a very important part of the photography workshop Trapani, as everyone has the chance to share their images and learn from each other.


What do you need to get great documentary photography?

All the photographs I shot during the workshop were taken using the phenomenal Zeiss lenses 35mm F28, 18mm and 25mm Batis lens

For more information about the individual lenses visit the Zeiss website here


Workshops around the world;

Have you been inspired to join me on a photography workshop? We have many courses booking to develop your documentary photography through experiencing the real life of a county and it's people, and of course, you can book for Easter 2019.

Here's a taster of one of our  photography workshops  in Jodhpur, India.