Sonepur Mela - Out of this World

Sonpur is situated at the convergence of the River Ganges and River Gandak. Held on Kartik Poornia (The Full Moon Day) from November – December, the Sonpur Cattle Fair is the biggest in Asia and lasts over 15 days. One of the purposes of the people visiting the fair, is to take a Holy dip at the meeting of the two rivers and pay respects at the Hariharnath Temple.

As a small group we will take our time end enjoy photographing this famous and exciting fair, which is held annually 30km from Patna. The traditional celebration combines spirituality, sexuality and animal trading. Religious gurus, pilgrims, snack stalls, dancing girls, circus performers and martial artists create brilliant opportunities for street photography.

Together we will approach and photograph the ghost slayers and tantriks (performers of black magic) whilst they carry out captivating rituals to the rhythmic beat of drums, with their eyes rolled back, to ward off evil spirits.

Prepare to capture devotees as they bathe in the river near the Hariharnath temple to purify themselves and wash away any negativity. Watch and wait for the perfect moment as locals ride horses, trade cattle and birds, and parade extravagantly decorated elephants. This is an out of this world experience!

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Itinerary

Each day we will decide what parts of the festival we would like to focus on.

I am a National Geographic photographer and Nikon Ambassador and have been running professional Street Photography Workshops for 10 years.

My Travel Workshops are small, with a maximum of 7 people. Every day we split into groups of two and meet up regularly, I will spend time with you individually and mix up the groups regularly, so everyone gets a fair share of my time.

I’ll be with the group every step of the way, from when we meet in the morning, through to critique and dinner in the evening.

We will explore techniques including layering, good use of the environment around you, along with introducing compositional elements that will add depth and detail to your photography.

I’ll support you to get close to the action, helping you to overcome fears about approaching strangers.

Together we will develop your skills in photography, processing and editing, helping you to improve all aspects enabling you to create strong and compelling images.

I offer you candid and constructive feedback on a regular basis during the workshop, challenging and stretching you to become a better photographer.

My workshops are immersive, we visit incredible locations, off the beaten track, getting close to people and places, letting you take shoot photographs you have dreamt of.

You’ll come away with a great understanding of street photography and the elements that make up a great street photograph.

You will finish the course with a strong set of images and a small portfolio that captures the place you have visited.

I stay in touch with most course participants and encourage you to take up personal documentary and street projects that are close to you. I also run a public Facebook group called ‘Shoot The Street’, where you are free to upload both your course images and others you may have taken.

We generally start early morning and stay out as long as participants would like and then review our images each evening in a group session. On the first morning of the course we all meet, and I talk through the week ahead, highlighting both what we will be looking for and where we will be going each day. I also provide a small presentation on street photography and techniques we can use to give ourselves an interesting portfolio. I talk about moments, layering, light and working a situation as well as background selection.

Most of my courses are street and travel photography based, with an encouragement to shoot un-posed images containing people with context that shows the viewer an image to tell a story. I encourage the use of prime lenses and shooting light, although if you feel more comfortable with a zoom that’s cool.  Whilst I do take street portraits, this is not the focus of the workshop, but its fine if kept in context. I personally shoot light with just a single body and a 35mm lens which account for over 90% of my photographs.

Prior to the workshop I create a private Facebook group where you will be able to meet and chat to the other participants. I use and recommend hotels that are near to the main locations to be photographed. Quite often these are more budget hotels that locals use, giving a more immersive experience. You can of course make your own accommodation arrangements, but they should be within a short distance.

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