Myanmar Photography Workshop 2018

Myanmar Photography Workshop 2018

Myanmar Photography Workshop 

This February I took a group of photographers on a Myanmar photography workshop, with Nikon School UK. The group included professional working photographers and keen amateurs, but everyone had a passion for photography and was ready for an adventure.

We all flew into Yangon (Rangoon), with an opportunity to photograph the street life of the capital city, before taking an internal flight on an old prop-plane down to Myeik in southern Myanmar and spending the next 14 days working our way back photographing the villages and local life of Dawei, Ye and Mawlamyine, before returning to Yangon and then home.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has only become open to Western tourists in the last few years, so it is still pretty unexplored and a great source for observational documentary street and travel photography.

My workshops are a total immersion experience, we stay, travel and eat alongside the locals, and spend every day exploring the streets, markets and temples, photographing, with the evenings reviewing and editing our images and talking all things photography.

Highlights of Myanmar

Some of the highlights of Myanmar photography workshop,  include the fishing harbours, where you will photograph the workers shifting huge blocks of ice to be chipped for storing the fish as it’s transported around Myanmar, and the abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat being sold in the marketplaces. Myanmar has been in the news recently regarding the religious conflicts, the country remains predominantly Buddhist, and there are many monasteries and temples to visit.

In Yangon, we took a water taxi across the river to photograph at sunset, and spent a night in 19th Street in China Town. In Myeik we took a boat across to the island to photograph the famous reclining Buddha and local monastery. Travelling by minibus to Dawei we photographed basic roads being constructed by human labour, a hot and arduous occupation by both women and men. We also go to take a little time out to enjoy some time at the unspoiled beach of Dawei.  We took traditional boats along the River Ye to a rural village, and we even waded out into the water to photograph the local fishermen up close. In Mawlamyine, we took some interesting photographs of the traditional pancake/wraps being made on a blazing hot plate by hand.

The people are incredibly welcoming and you will find yourself being invited into temples, shops, and homes to photograph everyday life. One thing you will notice is the makeup/sunscreen that the women and children apply to their faces in broad stripes, thanakha, made from ground bark and water.

Documentary photography in Myanmar

Myanmar photography workshop enables me to develop some of the key documentary techniques with the photographers on the course; environmental portraiture, making the most of natural light to add dimension and texture, as well as lighting the focal point/subject, composition including photographing landscape and using thirds, separation and heads in spaces, layering, consistency, and the most important skill for getting great documentary photography on the streets, staying with the moment. By the end of the workshop, everyone was able to reflect on their individual experience of Myanmar through their images, making connections with the people and daily lives in contrast to their own.

Want to join us?

If you are interested in joining me on a photographic workshop adventure there are lots of courses available to book on the Nikon School UK website and contact me directly for more information. In 2018 we are travelling to Sicily, India: Pushkar, Varanasi, Mumbai, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Sonepur, and Vietnam's capital Hanoi.

Read about Jodhpur photography workshop 2017 https://www.shootthestreet.co.uk/documentary-photography/photography-workshop-training-jodhpur/

find out and book on a street photography course with Nikon School UK https://nikonschool.co.uk/courses/street-photography

Myanmar photography workshop

 

TESTIMONIALS from the Trip

Mark Ashworth

I had an amazing experience in Myanmar 2018 with Mark Seymour on the street photography workshop.  I have been a professional photographer for over 20 years mainly in social photography which a bias towards studio work.  I wanted to challenge myself and take images for personal development.  Mark’s enthusiasm, energy and attitude helped me to understand that the barriers photographers have which this genre are often only in themselves.  If you approach things with the right mindset and put your fears to one side, you can and do achieve amazing results.  Its fairly easy knowing how to take great images, but if you put yourself where others wouldn’t your images will be even better.  I have learnt so much from this course, and much of it being about taking a new approach, having the right attitude and staying with scenes long enough to develop into stunning street images.

David Huggett

I first saw this course advertised online and was really tempted to sign up.  However, I do have a few reasonably significant disabilities which restrict my levels of physical activity and the last thing I wanted to be was in the way or a burden on the group.  To this end, I rang Mark and discussed things with him.  He put all my fears to rest, discussing the itinerary, its flexibility and what was required from participants.  After putting the phone down I booked my place.
On arriving in Myanmar I found myself in a group of amazing people, whose ability covered a whole spectrum of photographic levels.  The atmosphere was excellent and I did not hear one negative word the entire trip.  We kept alternating the smaller groups we worked in, and everyone was happy working with and helping everyone else.
The list of what I learned is long.  Very long.  It encompasses the technical use of camera systems, photographic composition, interacting with and directing subjects, finding the moment and seeing the light. I also learned significantly more about myself and my enjoyment of different types of photography.
It was a privilege to attend Mark’s course and to meet the other people on it, the group of us now being good friends with a collective experience that will stay with us for life.
I fully intend do attend more of Mark’s courses.  I highly recommend them and look forward to meeting new friends there in the future.
Keith Owen
Fantastic!
What a fantastic opportunity to visit a fascinating country, and learn from street photographer Mark Seymour, one of the best in the business! Mark had scouted many locations beforehand, so we were able to get a flying start, immersed in the rich and vibrant sights of Myanmar from dawn until dusk. With a small group of just 7 (including Mark), the workshop provided excellent group and 1-on-1 tuition time, as well as enjoyable discussions and reviews over dinner in the evenings. Thoroughly recommended if you want to improve your street photography skills!
Andy Mac

"Having been on a number of Mark Seymour's photography workshops abroad I am always so brilliantly surprised by how much more there is to learn, how much more fun we seem to have on each adventure and how much better my photography becomes as well as the level of confidence in photographic travel that I seem to build.

The photography course in Myanmar was an adventure through a country where quite often, I felt like the first Western-looking person that many locals may have seen with their own eyes.  The hustle and bustle of the markets, the smiles and kindness of local people, a truly different way of life that is rarely documented in the West, really makes for a life-long memory with an abundance of great pictures to hang on my wall.

More than this, however, is the great company that Mark provides - the course is made special by his personality, his humour, his down-to-earth approach, his friendly humility and the teachings of all things photography when out shooting in the day as well as back in the hotel in the evening - going through images and critiquing how we could each improve the next day.

Highly highly recommended"

 

Want to find out about more of my courses.... just fill in the contact form and you'll be amongst the first to know https://www.shootthestreet.co.uk/contact or visit https://www.shootthestreet.co.uk/street-photography/street-photography-in-myanmar/ 

 


Jodhpur Day 4 001 Photography Workshop Training Jodhpur

Photography Workshop Training Jodhpur

Photography Workshop Training Jodhpur, India - The Blue City of India's Rajasthan

Jodhpur, the famous blue walled city of Rajhastan, captures the romantic traditional vision of India with its intense colour and scents and is an incredible source for dramatic and dynamic photography for my Indian photography workshop.

Based at The Kings Retreat, at the base of the Mehrangarh Fort, we explore the old city and the wider villages of the Thar Desert and Rajhasthan, with a mixture of documentary street photography and travel photography.

The Clock Tower, Ghanta Ghar, is the central point for our street photography of the Sardar market and bustling narrow lanes of the surrounding bizarre. Also home to the famous Shahi Samosa and the Makhaniya lassi, favourites for our lunch whilst photographing! The busy markets are a great source of inspiration for storytelling images; it’s really important to look for heads in spaces to compose the best image possible. Developing your photographer’s eye is key here, and look for the unusual in the usual.

The Blue City was made famous by Steve McCurry, and we spend time capturing environmental portraits of the Babas with the background of the narrow blue streets, stepwells and temples of Mandore Gardens. Working with the Baba’s we focus on developing posing in portraiture skills and the importance of communication with your subject.

We spend a day visiting the Bishnoi tribes in their homes and get to take part with a Ramu holding a traditional Kal ceremony. We visit the famous clay potters who still use a stone wheel and make the spherical water pots which naturally filter the water and keep it cool, and a weavers homestay, that continues the tradition on making hand-woven durry carpets. A local family make us a traditional Rajasthani lunch based on millet. This trip is about experiencing India as well as providing a range of different photographic opportunities.

We take a drive out for an overnight stay at The Country Retreat Farmstay, which feels likes a tranquil oasis of rural India compared to the busy tuk tuk filled roads left behind in Jodhpur, with an incredible meal prepared on the rooftop and a night sleeping under the stars.

This is where we explore some travel photography, capturing the dramatic red of the Reika tribemans’ turbans against the dusk sky. We visit the Reika tribes in their homes the next day and a settled Yogi, nomadic gypsy, village for real-life portraiture. The focus of these portraits is to capture the story of these individuals, their life, what is important to them, where they live and work.

Next year we are planning to extend our stay at the farm so that we can spend time walking with the Reika herdsmen and following their daily lives in their homes.

We visit a Government village school who I have developed a relationship with to support with equipment and resources – the wonderful thing is they know that I visit every year and the teachers report much higher attendance as a result.

You might be aware that the Hindu faith has 33 million Gods, but you may be surprised to know that one of the more recent deities, is the Motorbike God Om Banna, based on the story of a young man that had an accident in his Royal Enfield motorcycle. He site has grown over the last few years of visiting, and now there is a shrine around the bike which visitors come to daily to show their respect, even pouring over bottles of whiskey, stalls and a hotel. It makes the perfect half way stop on our journey.

This year I was in Jodhpur early enough to spend Diwali with our wonderful host and owner of the Kings Retreat, Vishal Bali and his family. He also invited us to a traditional wedding celebration.

As I am always looking for ways to develop my workshops I hired a driver for a couple of days and explored the famous Pushkar, which was every bit the experience I had imagined it would be, so much so that next year’s Jodhpur photography workshop will include an overnight stay in Vishal’s traditional farm and an opportunity to photograph the camel fair.

 

More Info on Nikon Documentary & Street Photography Workshops

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Kolk Day 9 019 1 Photography Training Workshop Kolkata India

Photography Training Workshop Kolkata India

Photography Training Workshop in Kolkata, India

 

Every year I visit India to lead a series of photography training workshops, read this and join me next year!

Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, is the third most populated city in India, with an urban population 14.3 million, and believe me, you absolutely feel it! A city of diverse lifestyles, being the principal commercial city with modern tower-blocks, hotels and businesses, alongside some of the oldest and most extensive areas of homelessness and communities that have built their homes in temporary shacks alongside the city’s canals and railway lines.

Kolkata takes documentary street photography to another level; as a photographer, you can become overwhelmed by the intensity of the daily life that you see as you walk around, so during my photography training workshop I focus on key aspects and choose locations to develop these skills with my photographers.

Markets are the life-centres of Kolkata and we take early morning visits to two of the largest and busiest fish and vegetable markets near the Sealdah Station area of the city. We also visit the local market within walking distance of the hotel at different times of the day, which gives us opportunities to revisit and consider what we are going to focus on photographing. Getting your exposure right is key and using back button focus means you can concentrate on getting great shots of the action, and work the scene moving slightly to micro-compose what you see in the camera frame.

The Malki Ghat, flower market, that runs along the Hooghly River and ends beneath the Howrah Bridge, is the home to some of my favourite Indian portfolio. Not only are there many stalls selling flowers, petal, garlands and arrangements for the hotels, businesses and temples, but you will see the daily life of the locals washing their clothes and cooking implements, bathing and washing their teeth in the river, alongside rituals and ceremonies in the water that is considered holy as the river forms a distributary of The Ganges. There is also a temple with a collection of shrines, and large cauldrons on open fires preparing simple vegetarian food for those who need it. So many people all immersed in their daily lives, you can capture really candid shots un-noticed – just remember to get up close, look for noses and random dogs!

College Street is lined with tiny stalls all specialising in different educational books, from accountancy to chemistry and beyond. With a busy road of tuk tuks, students rushing to lessons, hand-pulled rickshaws and over-laden carts. We go upstairs to the Indian Coffee House, not a high-street brand name, but a traditional place to meet, eat and drink chai, dating back to the eighteen hundreds. I love this location for capturing layered shots, get yourself into the right position and then wait and keep shooting so you don’t miss out on the ‘wow’ moment by checking the back of your camera or walking away.

We spend a day in the pottery quarter, Kumortuli, where the incredible sculptures of straw and clay are created for the various festivals. The craftsmanship is fascinating and great for some close-up images of hands. You will also the last of the traditional chai cups being made, as most of India now use branded paper cups to sell this aromatic sweet tea, and cotton mills with vast spindles of yarn being spun. Walking into the quarter amongst the locals you can capture everyday life, women hanging out their saris to dry, children playing, washing along the river, and squeezed between the homes small stall holders and businesses; paper-makers, laundry, and a dentist that is not exactly your NHS clinic.

With the Hope Foundation, we visit the railway community, daily life literary alongside the tracks with trains passing children playing, women cooking and washing laid out across the tracks held in place with stones. Using a slow shutter speed enables you to capture the action frozen still in the foreground central to the image, whilst showing the blurred trains behind shows the movement in comparison

 

If you would like to find out more about Mark Seymours Workshops please sign up to my mail list here https://www.shootthestreet.co.uk/contact/

https://nikonschool.co.uk/courses/street-photography Nikon street photography training workshops

https://www.thehopefoundation.org.uk/ Find out more and support the work of The Hope Foundation


Chai Tea in Jodhpur

Travel Photography Course India

Travel Photography Course India

With the Travel Photography course India coming to a close it was final chance for an early morning photo walk around the Clock Tower in Jodhpur and the market before breakfast and a morning of editing and discussing portfolios and what makes an award winning competition image.

 

Chai Tea in Jodhpur

It is really helpful when everyone shares their top images and this enables me to provide a critique and feedback to identify strength in images and how to take them to the next level. Seeing other people’s work inspires you as a photographer and gives you another way of looking how you have captured a character, event or situation.

 

During this time we work as a group but it also gives me time to work on an individual basis with the photographers.

 

On the details of the course I ask photographers to bring their camera they are used to working with, lenses, batteries, memory card/s of course, plus their laptop loaded with their preferred photo editing programme. I use Photo Mechanic and Light Room for my editing and work flow.

 

As with all Nikon courses and my travel photography course India there is an opportunity for the photographers to evaluate and review their experience and alongside that I like to establish a more personal review, so that I can share this directly with you, so if you have been following this blog and thinking that you would like to join me next year in India or on one of my other courses, you can get a real sense of what it is like to have attended the course.

 

It is at this point that I must that Vishal at the Kings Retreat for being a wonderful host and guide for myself and the photographers on this course. He and his team work really hard to ensure everyone has a memorable time.

 

If you are travelling to Jodhpur I highly recommend a stay at this traditional Indian hotel in the Old City, and the food in the restaurant on the roof top is delicious! Check out the tandoori paneer and dahl makhani for perfect real Indian cuisine, but also try an ‘Indian pizza’ straight from the wood burning oven, they are completely unique and incredibly good; our favourites were the spicy paneer and garden pizzas! You can also book bicycle tours of the city and Vishal and his team will try their best to ensure you get to experience all the hidden gems of Jodhpur.

 

Travel Photography Course India

Jodphur child

Johpur town square

Jodhpur Street scene

Early morning friends in Jodhpur

We leave knowing that we will be back to see our friends at the Kings Retreat next year, with a new set of photographers, ready for another wonderful Jodhpur adventure.

http://kingsretreatjodhpur.com/

 

Thank you to Vishal and his team at the Kings Retreat, The Farm House Retreat and the many wonderful locals we met and photographed during our stay this year. Namaste!

 

 

Nikon UK/Europe  https://www.europe-nikon.com/en_GB/

Manfrotto https://www.manfrotto.co.uk/

Photo mechanic http://www.camerabits.com/

Light room http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom.html

Kings Retreat http://kingsretreatjodhpur.com/

The Country Retreat http://www.thecountryretreat.in/home.aspx

Air India http://www.airindia.com/

 

 

Post script – post course

 

India has its own way of doing things and this trip we had the added bonus on all large currency being taken out of circulation at midnight! Just like that, no warning – this city is now chaos as everyone tries to exchange their money into smaller denominations at the banks and all ATMs are empty, with no shops or services wanting to take 500 and 1000 rupee notes. A little complication, a whole lot of inconvenience, but hey its India, chai, chillum chapatti as the locals say, no point stressing!

 

A day post course just to relax in the Sun City with a chilled beer before packing and the two flights to Kolkata via Delhi, before picking up course two in Kolkata next week with the Hope Foundation.


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

 

jodhpur_0015

 

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 01 India 2015 - A Photographic Travelogue

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

 


Jimmy Choo - Mark Seymour Photography

Jimmy Choo – The Man And His Shoes

Jimmy Choo - Mark Seymour Photography

I was lucky enough to photograph Jimmy Choo’s portrait following a wedding, and now I am very honoured to have this photograph in the National Portrait’s Archive in London.

 

Jimmy Choo was born in Malaysia into a family of shoe makers and graduated from college in Hackney London. Jimmy is known for his celebrity clients and designer shoes. However Jimmy Choo shoes, bags and perfume that are now on the high street and in the big West End stores are from the company that Jimmy Choo sold his 50% stake in, in 2001 for £10 million! Jimmy now concentrates on a very personal business where he designs directly for clients in high end couture. Jimmy Choo was awarded an OBE in 2002, and girls and women around the world continue to covet owning a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes!

As a documentary wedding photographer I am recommended by many of the most prestigious venues in London and the UK. One such venue is the stunning Danesfield House set in beautiful grounds in Marlow-on-Thames, Buckinghamshire. This is one of my favourite wedding venues and most recently hosted the celebrity wedding of American actor George Clooney.

On the day of the wedding I arrived to photograph the bride getting ready. Her stunning designer dress was hanging up and she looked beautiful as her hair and make-up were perfectly styled. As the bride got ready she was very eager to share her most precious wedding gift and bridal outfit accessory, a pair of bespoke handmade shoes designed by Jimmy Choo – truly a thing of beauty, and I’m a man!

The couple had a wonderful day with their families and guests and I captured the events naturally so that they had an album of beautiful story telling images that they could treasure for a lifetime, remember those precious moments and relive the emotions of the day. The couple posed for some bridal portraits and her dress and shoes were captured in all their glory!

After the wedding and the couple had received their album the bride got back in touch, could I possibly meet with her and Jimmy Choo at his studio in London and photograph them together with her shoes. Well, as you can imagine, I did not need to think twice, of course I would, what an opportunity.

On the day I met the bride at Jimmy Choo’s exclusive London couture shop hidden away in central London. I can tell you that he was totally charming and so unassuming. He greeted us so warmly and was happy to pose for the photographs, including some portrait shots. Jimmy took up position in front of my camera with of course a pair of shoes and an enigmatic smile – perfect! He then poured us a glass of champagne before taking us out for lunch, such a generous and warm gentleman, it truly was a pleasure to meet him. During the meal a young lady spotted him and asked if she could have his autograph, he took a napkin drew her a pair of shoes and signed his name, she was overwhelmed.

Although my work is predominantly weddings I still enjoy portraiture especially when I can photograph the person in their natural environment where they are relaxed and their true character can be captured candidly. As with a lot of my work, I love the way Jimmy Choo’s image looks in black and white, his eyes pull you in and you can’t help smiling back at him.

If you are interested in wedding photography or portraiture please contact me directly.


Speakers Corner Photos 01 Speaker’s Corner, London

Speaker’s Corner, London

I had the pleasure of training seven keen photographers in the art of documentary street photography in one of my go-to inspirational locations to shoot yesterday, Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park, London.

Speaker’s Corner has an extensive history for politics and the right to speak in public. Today, tourists and local Londoners alike, enjoy the regular passionate speakers who venture every Sunday to share their views with those who will listen and often those who want to join the debate with their own viewpoints.

I have to applaud the commitment and enthusiasm of my fellow photographers regardless of the torrents of rain that decided to fall upon us for most of the morning session.  One of the joys of street photography in the UK is the weather but it actually worked for us as it created an intense vibe with the crowds and speakers huddling in to keep dry whilst continue to debate and argues their point, and made sure we all had to get up close to the action to get the shots.

I was really impressed how they all responded to the challenge and with a little encouragement and prompting they stepped out of your comfort zone, trying the different lenses and getting into position, and pushing themselves to get those unique storytelling moments and record the characters, within a very close proximity.

I provided them with my preferred street photography lenses; wide angle prime lenses 24mm 35mm, and working alongside them got them to step into the action and position themselves up close and low down to find interesting angles that enabled them to capture great story telling images.

As ever, at Speaker’s Corner, there are some enigmatic and world-worn characters that are perfect for interesting portrait shots. The various texts and religious materials create interest in detail shots, and the crowds and the interaction between them and the speakers sets the scene.

I always shoot my street photography without flash, using natural light, because of the weather there was some amazing lighting contrasts and shadows, which could be further enhanced in editing. Also the water on the ground created some stunning reflections that added a further layer to the images we could capture.

I photographed alongside and worked with the individual photographers as they took their images over two sessions with a break for review and critique. This break was very welcome as the rain was trying to wash us away around lunchtime so we relocated to a local pub to share our images. They had taken on average 200-300 images each, not bad for a couple of hours! Sharing your images unedited can be quite scary, I know, I have been on courses too, but it is so helpful to be able to talk and compare with real images to highlight the key elements of good documentary photography.

The day had an added twist in that The Photographer Academy who I have worked with before on webinars, sent their videographer Jay along to film the training session to make a short film on the key tips for shooting documentary street photography. I have to admit walking and talking into camera is not something I am used to but Jay was a star and made it very easy and allowed me to focus on delivering the training and interacting with the seven photographers. If you are interested sign up for the newsletter to keep posted about my training film and for other brilliant webinars and photography films; www.thephotographeracademy.com

The workshop aims to provide the photographers with practical tips for improving their documentary photography as well as inspiring them to go and out commit to more of their own projects.  Please check out my website under training as well as the Nikon UK website for more information on my training courses and bespoke mentoring and coaching.

From the groups first set of images I have selected and edited my favourite shots to record the workshop, alongside one of my own images that I have taken as part of my personal project at Speaker’s Corner.


Edinburgh Fringe 0007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe - Documentary Photography

Edinburgh Festival Fringe - Documentary Photography

There’s an affinity between the storytelling style of documentary photography and the founding principle at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; which is to be an open-access arts event that accommodates anyone with a story to tell. The freedom with which I shoot my street photography reflects the freedom the EFFS allows the performers to shape the program through their own creative visions of performance. The Edinburgh festival is the largest arts festival in the world, held annually for three weeks in the Scottish capital bringing global performers and visitors together for an experience you need to try at least once in your lifetime!

I was honoured to be invited by Calum Thomson, director of Loxley to take a glimpse of the festival and record it through my street photography. After an early start, flying from Heathrow by Virgin Airlines, I dropped my stuff at the Jury’s Inn located just off the famous Royal Mile in the Old Town, and began my Fringe Experience.

I shot all my images using S RAW on the Nikon D810, then converted them using Alien Skin Software. For me street photography has to be black and white and focuses on the how people are engaging with different situations and experiences, and living their lives. So although there were an abundance of weird and wonderful performers to photograph, what really captured my attention was the interaction between the performers and their audiences. The historic buildings of Edinburgh provide a wonderful backdrop to the myriad of cultures and bizarre that make up the artistic interpretations you find yourself confronted by.