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
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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