The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ 2017

Rajasthan, India, Oct. / Nov. 2017

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Tribal India: Tribal Rajasthan Photography Workshop. The pink light of dusk spreads over the sand dunes of the Great Indian Desert, where thousands of camels are gathered for the annual Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, Street Photography, & Environmental Portrait Photography Workshop in India. Portrait of girl wearing a lilac headscarf at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. ©Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel, Documentary, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Camels at sunset during the Pushkar Camel Fair; a man tries to subdue a young camel as evening descends on the sands of the Great Indian Desert, at the start of the Pushkar mela festival, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Tribal India: Tribal Rajasthan Photography Workshop.Two Rajasthani men wearing white turbans make their way through an encampment at the annual Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Three young Rajasthani women buy bangles from a street vendor during the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Mela & Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Hindu women light oil lamps around a sacred site in Pushkar, at night, during the annual Pushkar Mela festival, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Mela & Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Hindu pilgrims gather in a dharamshala during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A group of sadhus, Hindu ascetics, arrives in Pushkar during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Travel Photography Workshop Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Young camels arrive at the Pushkar Camel Fair, at the start of the Pushkar mela festival, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Tribal Rajasthan Photography Workshop. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. As an orange-tinted dusk spreads over the dunes of the Great Indian Desert, two women wearing colourful sarees walk amongst the camels at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, Street Photography, & Environmental Portrait Photography Workshop in India. Children drssed as Hindu gods ride a merry-go-round at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A Rajasthani woman makes her way through the crowded streets of Pushkar during the Pushkar Mela festival, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel, Documentary, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Hindu pilgrims make offerings on the shores of Pushkar Lake in the course of the religious ceremony of Maha Arti, on the eve of Kartik Poornima, during the Pushkar Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Tribal Rajasthan Photography Workshop. Camel herders arrive at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Tribal India Photography Workshop. A Marwari horse foal suckles from its mother at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Young camels decorated with bead collars and red nose pom-poms at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A man rides a Marwari horse at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A woman liberates a dove during the performance of a 'magic show' at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Rajasthani women wearing colourful sarees gather in a dharamshala during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. ©Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, Street Photography, & Environmental Portrait Photography Workshop in India. Portrait of two Rajasthani women on pilgrimage to Pushkar during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Hindu pilgrims wearing colourful sarees and turbans fill the ghats around Pushkar Lake to capacity on the day of Kartik Poornima, during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Rajasthan Photo Workshop with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documemtary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Tribal India Photography Workshop. Camels at dawn during the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair & Pushkar Mela Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A group of Rajasthani nomadic pasturalists tend to their flock of camels at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A woman rides a motorcycle inside 'The Well of Death' collecting money from the spectators at a performance of the Maut ka Kuan held at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Mela & Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A crowd of Hindu pilgrims surges through the streets of Pushkar on the night of Kartik Poornima, during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan to the Pushkar Camel Fair & the Pushkar Mela with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. A group of sadhus, Hindu ascetics, wearing intensely colourful turbans prepare food in an ashram during the Pushkar Mela, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Hindu pilgrims crowd the shores of Pushkar Lake on Kartik Poornima, at the end of the Pushkar Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, Street Photography, & Environmental Portrait Photography Workshop in India. Portrait of a camel trader wearing a white turban at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Top Rated Pushkar Mela & Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documentary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Hot air balloons fly above Pushkar Lake at dawn, during the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajsthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Rajasthan Photo Workshop with Dariusz Klemens. Travel Photography, Documemtary Photography, & Street Photography Workshop in India. Tribal India Photography Workshop. As three hot air balloons lift into the clear morning sky, a row of camels follows their keepers into the Great Indian Desert, during the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

A Unique Photographic Journey in Rajasthan

The epic-sized Pushkar Mela, a chaotic, captivating, and intensely colourful event of great religious and economic significance that takes place every autumn at the edge of the Great Indian Desert in the holy town of Pushkar, is the focus of our Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™.


A quintessentially Indian affair, the Pushkar Mela (‘festival’), as the event is known locally, attracts semi-nomadic camel drivers, breeders and traders, as well as pilgrims and visitors from all over India and beyond, swelling the population of this usually quiet pilgrimage town by more than 300,000, and giving rise to a unique spectacle that offers superb photographic opportunities.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan, India with Dariusz Klemens - A young girl bursts into laughter amidst a crowd of pilgrims making their way to Pushkar Lake on the night of Kartik Poornima, which closes the Pushkar Fair festival, in Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Consisting of the legendary Pushkar Camel Fair, and the celebrations for the holy festival of Kartik Poornima, one of the most important in the Hindu calendar, the Pushkar Mela is both a trade and a religious fair of epic proportions.

An extravaganza of races, competitions, markets, circuses, and all-night vigils spliced into an exhilarating continuum of innumerable secular and religious activities, the mela unfolds over the course of five days.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™- Specialist Rajasthan Photography Workshop with Dariusz Klemens. Camel racing at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

To explore in detail this multifaceted event and the incredible array of photographic opportunities that it generates, during the expedition, we remain in Pushkar for the entire duration of the mela – from the Camel Fair that inaugurates it, to Kartik Poornima, the festival’s most important day, which concludes it.

This allows us to immerse ourselves in the joyous atmosphere of this traditional Indian festival and follow its progress from the sandy encampments at the edge of town, where the Camel Fair takes place, to the sacred lake at the heart of town, where, under the full moon of Kartik Poornima, the mela culminates with a mass bathing of Hindu pilgrims.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Rajasthan Photography Workshop with Dariusz Klemens. Professional Photography Workshop India. Under the full moon of Kartik Poornima, Hindu pilgrims throng the ghats surrounding Puskar Lake on the last night of the annual Pushkar Mela festival , in the holy town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Rich in customs that echo the traditional way of life of this region of India – of which the Pushkar Mela is an outstanding illustration – Rajasthan is also home to some of the best-preserved examples of Indian architectural heritage, including spectacular palaces, grand desert forts, and intricately carved havelis (mansions).

Embracing some of Rajasthan’s most iconic sites, our photographic exploration of the Pushkar Mela is part of a journey that takes us across the Great Indian Desert, to Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, three of the state’s most colour-saturated, historical cities – each of which presents its own, distinctive photographic opportunities.

The Pushkar Mela

Professional Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Best Photo Workshops in India - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. A group of Rajasthani women wearing colourful saris make their way through the streets of Pushkar during the Pushkar Camel Fair, one of India's largest trade fairs, in Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

As well as drawing the largest gathering of cattle in the world, the Pushkar Mela is of considerable religious importance for Hindus, who believe that the lake at the heart of town was created when a lotus blossom fell from the hand of Lord Brahma, the God of creation, in whose honour the mela is held.

Accordingly, the mela is composed of two interconnected phases, the first secular and the second religious – it opens with the Camel Fair in which camels, horses, and cattle are traded on the desert dunes bordering the town, and culminates with the religious festivities of Kartik Poornima.

Deriving its name from that of the lunar month of ‘Kartik’ (October- November) in which it takes place, and the Hindu word ‘poornima’, meaning ‘full moon’, the holy festival of Kartik Poornima is celebrated by Hindu, Jain, and Sikh communities throughout India.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition ™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. On the day of Kartik Poornima, the Pushkar Mela reaches its zenith as scores of Hindu pilgrims descend to the waters of Pushkar Lake for a holy dip, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

However, it holds particular significance in Pushkar, where it is believed to mark the anniversary of the divine assembly called by Lord Brahma when he first created the lake, and where it forms the pinnacle of the Pushkar Mela, drawing scores of pilgrims and sadhus, (Hindu holy men) to the banks of the lake, whose sacred waters are considered to purify bathers of all sins.

A non-stop event comprising a multitude of constantly unfolding activities – from horse racing to night-long religious vigils – the mela intensifies as it builds to its finish, providing an inexhaustible array of opportunities that invite progressively longer shoots.

Spanning the town and its environs, the mela transforms Pushkar and the portion of desert that surrounds it into what seems like an enormous revolving stage, where the action carries on uninterrupted across intimate architectural settings and sweeping desert scenery.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Professional Travel Photography Workshops in India. Hindu pilgrims gather in front of an ashram during the Pushkar Fair festival, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

If the backdrop to both secular and religious aspects of the mela couldn’t be more striking, even more remarkable is the atmosphere that develops during the festival.

Attracting camel and horse traders, as well as villagers from all over Rajasthan, and pilgrims and sadhus from all over India, the mela brings together miscellaneous communities with diverse material and spiritual concerns.

This combination of earthly and other-worldly affairs creates a very particular atmosphere, with an infinite variety of moods, that makes the Pushkar Mela a joy to experience and photograph.

The Pushkar Camel Fair

Top-rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Expedition™- Specialist Photography Workshop Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Best Photography Workshops India. A herd of young camels at the Pushkar Camel Fair, the largest gathering of camels in Asia, at the start of the annual Pushkar Mela festival, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: ©Dariusz Klemens

Gathering with their animals in encampments that seem to stretch to infinity, during the Camel Fair, breeders and traders conduct their transactions in a vast, natural arena, where the north-eastern fringes of the Great Indian Desert meet the green spurs of the Aravalli Hills, one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges.

At the start of the mela, this span of low dunes petering out into the vastness of the Great Indian Desert, which the locals call ‘Mela Ground’, becomes the showground of a grand, age-old spectacle: myriads of camels and thousands of people tending to them – feeding, washing, brushing, clipping, and decorating the animals in preparation for sale.

Since this entails a great deal of work, most breeders come to the fair with their immediate family; whilst the make-up of the family units that tend the flocks at the mela varies according to tradition – (only in some nomadic communities do men customarily migrate with women) – it normally comprises of men, women, and children.

Professional Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Travel and Street Photography Workshop Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. As evening descends, a Rajasthani woman and her children gather around a camp fire during the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

This lends the Mela Ground a very hectic and yet somewhat archaic atmosphere, as if  the character of the location and activities converged so naturally as to suggest a sense of timelessness.

Though smaller in numbers than it was in its heyday, the Pushkar Camel Fair remains an event so vast and alive with customs, it continues amply to fill the observer with awe and surprise.

During the workshop, we return to the Mela Ground numerous times, to explore the changing moods that accompany its daily cycle of activities – from daybreak, when the animals and their keepers stir to life in the glow of campfires, through the grooming, parading and raucous bartering that follows, until dusk, when the sun drops behind the dunes and everyone clusters around the campfires once more.

Specialist Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Professional Travel and Street Photography Workshop India with Dariusz Klemens. Portrait of a Kalbeliya gypsy girl wearing lilac lipstick at the Pushkar Camel Fair, Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: ©Dariusz Klemens

This process produces a degree of familiarity with the environment that is of great benefit to picture-making. Soon, what first registered as a sea of animals and people, becomes a recognisable mosaic, whose potential can comfortably be explored.

If the Camel Fair presents many enticing aspects, much of its character is set by its awkwardly-shaped, disobliging stars: the camels. The official state animal of Rajasthan (home to nearly 70% of the camels in India), the hardy camel provides a range of vital resources and forms an integral part of Rajasthan’s life and lore.

Used as a source of milk, wool and leather, as well as for a wide variety of purposes, including riding, transport and ploughing, camels have been central to the survival of Rajasthan’s nomadic desert-dwellers.

Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Street Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Best Photography Workshop India. A camel is decorated in preparation for sale, at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Though traditionally bread by the Raika, an indigenous community of pastoral nomads who believe that the Hindu god Shiva created them to fulfill this purpose, in modern times, camels are bred and traded by a variety of castes within Rajasthan, each of which has its own distinct costume and ornaments.

Joining these diverse communities, the Roma people, or gypsies – a nomadic tribe who originated in Rajasthan – also come to the Pushkar Camel Fair in considerable numbers, setting up camp with their families and their dogs between the flocks of camels.

All this, renders the Mela Ground an incredibly rich hunting ground for images, one where a constant flow of activities and interactions – some pastoral, other commercial, some intense, others playful – unfurls in a magnificent setting, producing limitless opportunities for photographing people in their environment.

Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Travel & Street Photgraphy Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Best Photography Workshops India. Portrait of a young gypsy girl and her dog at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Accompanying the secular festivities of this first phase of the mela, which include the Pushkar Camel Race as well as horse races and livestock competitions, there are circuses and magic shows, alongside jugglers, acrobats, snake-charmers and folk dancers performing day and night.

During the workshop, we explore the opportunities presented by these events extensively. As the number of individual events grows and the pace of the festivities quickens, our shoots become increasingly longer, enabling us to witness the mela in its all its kaleidoscopic facets.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition ™ - Specialist Street Photgraphy Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Top rated Photography Workshops India. A circus performance at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: ©Dariusz Klemens

Whilst some of the entertainments, such as the livestock contests, are tied to the Camel Fair, others, which cater to the pilgrims coming to town for Kartik Poornima, expand as the religious festivities approach.

Amongst them, the circuses and the so-called ‘Well of Death’ draw the biggest crowds and provide excellent opportunities for people, performance, and action photography.

Kartik Poornima

Specialist Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Professional Street Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Top Rated Photo Workshops in India. Hindu pilgrims crowd the shores of Pushkar Lake on the night of Kartik Poornima, at the close of the Pushkar Mela, in the holy town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

As the moon waxes across the desert sky, and and the auspicious bathing time approaches, pilgrims congregate in ever larger numbers in Pushkar’s dharamshalas (rest houses) and the focal point of the festivities moves from the Mela Ground to the town.

Amongst the oldest continuously inhabited towns in India, Pushkar is one of the five sacred dhams, the holy sites that devout Hindus must visit at least once in their life, and is often called ‘Tirtha-Raj’- the ‘king of pilgrimage sites’.

According to Hindu tradition, bathing in Pushkar Lake on Kartik Poornima purifies all sins, including those of the husband of any Hindu woman who bathes here on this day.

Best Professional Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photgraphy Workshop Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Top Rated Street Photography Workshop India. Hindu pilgrims gather on the shores of Pushkar Lake for the evening prayer ceremony of 'Maha Arti' during the Pushkar Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

The striking architecture of the over 400 temples that ring Pushkar’s holy lake is the backdrop to the mela’s magnificent religious finale.

In the small hours of the fifth day, the Pushkar Mela celebrations reach their zenith during the full moon of Kartik Poornima, when crowds of pilgrims descend on the bathing ghats leading to the lake and enter its waters.

During this part of the workshop, in the build-up to the mass bathing of Kartik Poornima, we follow the pilgrims on their path, a religious circuit that encompasses the main lake and other holy sites in and around town, which the devout are expected to complete prior to the day of Kartik Poornima.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Expedition™- Specialist Street Photography Workshop Rajasthan, India, with Dariusz Klemens. Professional Photo Workshop India. A group of Rajasthani women and men on pilgrimage to Pushkar perform 'Parikrama' , a Hindu religious practice that involves walking clockwise around the town's three lakes, along a 16 km-long circuit, during the Pushkar Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

As the religious activities intensify, we photograph the vigils and prayer rituals that precede Kartik Poornima until the hours leading up to the moonrise on the mela’s last night, when the crowds of pilgrims trying to reach the ghats at the most propitious time for bathing fill the town’s streets to capacity.

After the initial rush, the devout continue to throng the ghats until the sun is high in the sky before starting their return journey home. Yet, as visitors depart, the town’s inhabitants – most of whom have been busy tending to business during the mela – come out with their families to celebrate the religious holiday and partake in the mela’s closing festivities.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Street Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Top Rated Photography Workshop India. Hindu pilgrims make religious offerings to a marble statue of Nandi, the bull who serves as the vehicle for the god Shiva, during the night of Kartik Poornima, which closes the festivities for the Pushkar Fair, in the pilgrimage town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

For us, therefore, the mela’s last night and day are a particularly intense time involving long, tiring but extremely rewarding shoots, which form a fitting conclusion to our photographic exploration of this remarkable event.

Whilst access and proximity to shooting locations are always central to our choice of accommodation, in Pushkar, during the mela, this principle becomes essential because of the need to navigate the crowds.

During our stay in Pushkar, therefore, our base in town is within walking distance of both the Mela Ground and the lake; this ensures that we have immediate, unrestricted access to all facets of the mela throughout its duration.

Fort Cities of Rajasthan

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Travel Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Top Rated Photo Workshops India. View of Jaisalmer at dusk. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Beyond Pushkar, our journey through the ‘Land of the Rajas’ takes us to Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Jaipur, to capture the life and architecture of these vibrant, historical towns, which testify to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in Rajasthan between the 8th and 18th centuries.

Known as the ‘Golden City’, the ‘Blue City’, and the ‘Pink City’, respectively, each of these ancient trade-centres enjoys its own, unique atmosphere and provides excellent photographic opportunities.

A World Heritage Site famous for its amber-coloured sandstone bastions and lavishly carved merchants havelis, the desert town of Jaisalmer, in the westernmost corner of Rajasthan, grew wealthy on the taxation of goods that once passed through here on camel back.

Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Travel Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Best Travel Photography Workshops India. A man prays to the rising sun, in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Its setting, high on a ridge rising out of the Great Indian Desert, and the medieval architecture of its walled citadel, lend the ‘Golden City’ a particular character that sets it apart from other cities in Rajasthan.

280 km to the south-east, near the geographic centre of the state, Jodhpur is a lively market town sprawling at the base of the imposing Meherangarh FortRajasthan’s finest and one of the largest buildings of its kind in India.

Described by Rudyard Kipling as “the work of angels, fairies, and giants, built by Titans and coloured by the morning sun”, the fort towers 120 metres above the former capital of the Kingdom of Marwar and houses some of the most beautiful historic buildings in the state.

Best Travel Photography Workshops India: The Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Expedition™- Specialist Street Photography Workshop Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Top Rated Rajasthan Photo Workshop. A view of the 'Blue City' of Jodhpur, in Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

During our time in Jodhpur, we explore both its magnificent fort and the bustle of the narrow lanes that run between the deep cobalt-blue houses that lend the ‘Blue City’ its title.

Strategically located between Delhi and Gujarat, in its origins, Jodhpur flourished from the passing trade in opium, copper, silk, coffee and sandal wood, amongst other valuable goods.

Today, its skilled artisans have made handicraft the city’s main industry, turning Jodhpur, in the process, into the second largest city in Rajasthan and one of the most dynamic and colour-saturated a photographer could wish to explore.

Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshops: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expeidtion™ - Specialist Street Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Porfessional Photo Workshop in India. Two Muslim women and a child observe Jai Mahal Lake Palace at dusk, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens

Our journey concludes in Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. The first planned city of its time in India, Jaipur is laid out in accordance with the principles of Hindu architectural manuals, which call for strict geometrical planning.

While in Jaipur, we photograph its red-tinted architecture and the flurry of activities characteristic of its busy streets, including the grids of its brilliant, arcaded bazaars and the yellow geometries of its famous astronomical observatory, Jantar Mantar, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The workshop’s final shoot, takes us to the summit of a ridge in the Aravalli Hills, for a superb view of the ‘Pink City’ at dusk, from the vantage point of one of its three royal forts.

Best-suited for

Although this Expedition is open to photographers of all levels, participants should note that it is an intense journey marked by extremes – from the animals and vast crowds of the Pushkar Mela, to the emptiness of the Thar Desert, and the chaotic atmosphere of its fort cities.

It is a journey that brings us face to face with one of the largest gatherings of people and animals in the world, and offers outstanding opportunities for photographing religious ritual and people in their environment in what is broadly considered the most colourful state in India.

As such, this Expedition is ideal for photographers who relish adventure and want to experience a typical, yet unique Indian festival in its many different facets. As is the case for all our workshops, the Expedition is designed to enable participants to develop a consistent visual narrative and assemble a complete photographic story.

Whilst the workshop includes numerous possibilities for both urban and natural landscape photography, it is particularly well-suited for photographers who are interested in street photography and people photography, with a particular emphasis on environmental portrait photography, opportunities for which, abound throughout the Expedition.


Practicalities

The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ 2017

Dates: From 29th October to 11st November 2017

Expedition Leader: Dariusz Klemens

Group Size: Limited to 6 participants – CURRENT AVAILABILITY: 3 PLACES

Fees: £5420 – Include: Photography tuition. 13 nights’ accommodation, with breakfast daily. 2 Lunches, and 2 suppers. All ground transportation by private, air-conditioned, deluxe vehicles, and bottled water during all transfers. All entrance fees, visits, and excursions. Translator and local guides.

Fees are per person, based on two people sharing twin-room accommodation. For single use of a double room, a single supplement of £1080 applies.

Fees in other currencies:

On double occupancy: USD 6,945 / EUR 6.473 / CAD 9,372

Single supplement: USD 1,384 / EUR 1.290 / CAD 1,868

(Fees in other currencies are based on current exchange rates and are approximate. Billing is in GBP)

The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ 2017

START & END POINT
To make the most of our time on the ground, this Expedition begins and ends in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Jaipur is well-connected by internal flights to Delhi (1 hour), Mumbai and most other main Indian cities. Jaipur is also easily accessible by rail, or road from within India. If you require assistance with making your travel arrangements to/from the start and end point of the Expedition, please let us know.

ACCOMODATION
As the purpose of our journey is to take pictures and immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of the places that we photograph, our choice of accommodation is based on ease of access to shooting locations, and ambiance. We make it a point of staying in places that reflect the historical character – and wherever possible, preserve the natural resources – of the areas in which they are located, and that permit participants independent access to places of interest (in their own time, if they wish to, outside of the scheduled shoots where we photograph as a group.) All the hotels in this itinerary offer traditional Rajasthani hospitality and are housed in original, historical buildings, with the ones in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer classed as ‘heritage hotels’. At every location, rooms are clean and comfortable, with en-suite facilities.

In Jodhpur, our hotel is housed in an elegant, 18th century haveli (mansion) in the heart of the ‘Blue City’ that was once the private residence of the aristocracy of the fiefdom of ‘Pal’, who still own the building, and inhabit one of its wings. The spacious rooms of this grand, traditional Rajput home look directly onto the fort and the city below, while the restaurant, located on the highest roof terrace in the Old Town, offers 360 degree views over the city’s main bazaar and two principal monuments: the imposing Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace.

Our hotel in Jaisalmer is also housed in a striking heritage building offering a unique vantage point over the town – an ornate, 18th century haveli at the foot of the fort that is still owned and inhabited by the fifth generation of members of Jaisalmer’s Royal Household, for whom it was originally built. The hotel’s roof-top restaurant is reputed to be the best in town and affords excellent views of the magnificent fort and the adjoining Royal Palace. Like all the properties we use during the Expedition, the hotel is ideally located in relation to shooting locations.

In Pushkar, we stay in a small hotel in town that used to be a traditional family home; built around a leafy courtyard with a small Hindu temple at its centre (where prayers are offered twice daily), with a rooftop terrace overlooking a maze of small lanes, the hotel is perfectly positioned to access the ‘Mela Ground’ (where the animals are kept during the Pushkar Camel Fair), as well as the Lake at the centre of town, where the religious festivities take place at the end of the Mela. The family who owns and runs the hotel has been looking after our groups in Pushkar for many years; their willingness and flexibility is invaluable to us in accommodating for the specific needs of photographers during the Mela, when the shooting plan is intense and takes us out at all times of day and night. Our stay here will also provide a unique glimpse into traditional Rajasthani customs, including the possibility to sample delicious home-cooked dishes made in accordance with Pushkar’s strictly vegetarian, culinary tradition.

In Jaipur, our hotel is a large, 19th century haveli fronted by a long portico and sprawling lawn, in the heart of the city. With its beautiful frescoes and columns, the large central hall that now functions as a reading room is a perfect example of the open and cool spaces characteristic of this traditional type of building. As is the case for all the properties that we use on this itinerary, the hotel has a very good restaurant and is perfectly positioned to reach shooting locations.

FOOD
Since one of the joys of travelling is discovering the local cuisine, we plan where to eat just as carefully as everything else. Even within Rajasthan, the cuisine is quite varied and each of the cities on our itinerary has its own specialities – during the Expedition, all the properties that we use have restaurants that serve top-quality, traditional Rajasthani food (as well as continental dishes) and, depending on where we are, we also eat at well-known local restaurants, all of which we have used for years. Indian sweets (‘Mithai’) are an integral part of Indian culture and cuisine – it is said that almost half of all Indian dishes are either sweets or desserts, and no wedding or celebration in India is considered complete without them. So, between shoots, we also, often find time to sample the specialities of some well-chosen patisseries.

TRANSPORTATION
During the Expedition, all transfers between cities are by private, air-conditioned, vehicles. Travelling in our own vehicles throughout the journey allows us to move in comfort, at our own pace, and gives us the flexibility needed to access shooting locations, including areas outside the reach of commercial tourist routes that offer the chance to capture images of a unique way of life.

Whilst in Pushkar there is no vehicular traffic, during our stay in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, for short rides between urban locations, we sometime also use rickshaws, as these can navigate the traffic much faster than cars.

The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ 2017

This Expedition is crafted to inspire you to expand your photographic skills and refine your understanding of photography whilst assembling a portfolio of expressive images illustrating your journey.

To accomplish this, the workshop balances intense shooting opportunities, with ‘pauses’ for editing and individual/collective review, and covers both technical and aesthetic aspects of photography through location shoots, individual assignments, one-to-one reviews, targeted feedback and group discussions.

As the goal of the Expedition is to produce a photographic story, emphasis is put on assembling strong coverage of one or more, particular subjects – the itinerary and all its components have been created, planned and timed to deliver this specific goal, enabling participants to produce a complete photographic essay/story documenting their own, unique journey, or particular aspects of it.

TAILORED TUITION
The workshop is structured to provide you with the most favourable conditions in which to experience first-hand, the decision-making processes that support the creation of meaningful images and underpin the development of photographic narrative, along with guidance that is tailored to your photography interests.

We like to focus on the individual needs of our participants well in advance of each workshop; so, by the time the Expedition begins, we have already given some careful thought to how best to help you achieve your photography objectives – whatever these may be.

During the workshop, enabling you to become immersed in your surroundings and anticipate the moment, whilst remaining in full command of the technical skills needed to capture it, is central to our endeavour. For this reason, every aspect of the journey is aimed at facilitating your interaction with your environment, and making you comfortable enough on the ground, to be able to bring all of your photographic skills to bear in rendering your subject.

The group is small enough to permit each participating photographer as much one-to-one tuition with Dariusz as they need to develop at their own pace, yet large enough to generate discussions and opportunities usefully to confront individual approaches.

FEEDBACK & SCHEDULE
Time to edit and review images is an essential feature our daily schedule and feedback session are timed to allow you to make the most of each shoot.

During the Expedition, our day normally begins with a dawn shoot. Depending on location and circumstances, this generally lasts until mid-morning, and is followed by an interval of what we like to call ‘RDR’ – time to rest, download and recharge. According to participants’ needs, later in the day, there is usually time for individual review and feedback sessions, before heading out for an afternoon and sunset shoot. Supper is often followed by group-wide feedback, image presentations and discussions, but during the Pushkar Mela, there are also a number of night shoots.

You can therefore expect to be shooting, editing, receiving feedback on your images and have the opportunity to implement the insights that you have gained, on a daily basis, even on the days involving long-distance travel.

This alternation of extensive shoots and targeted feedback is an extremely effective way of understanding the practice and principles that govern the making of distinctive images, and of gathering a body of photographs that is coherent in style and content. As such, it is particularly useful for photographers who are interested in expanding both their technical and interpretative skills and developing a portfolio of images showcasing their work.

Besides generating ideas and inspiration, the feedback sessions (particularly the group discussions) provide the opportunity to move beyond the specifics of particular images, to consider the techniques that can reliably be employed to produce strong images, construct stylistically consistent narratives, and make the best of any photographic opportunity/situation.

As the journey progresses, and participants develop their individual projects and ideas, the scope of the feedback and group discussions widens, generating debate on extremely diverse aspects of photography and producing an intensely creative environment in which to advance your photographic goals.

ACCESS & OPPORTUNITIES
The workshop is built to provide you with unrestricted access to the innumerable photographic opportunities that the journey presents. Accordingly, the itinerary is structured to allow you the possibility of exploring them outside of the planned location shoots, where we photograph as a group.

We believe that the more opportunities you have to become familiar with your environment, the greater the fluidity with which you will be able to photograph it, and we see no need to restrict your experience of the places to which we travel, to the locations that we photograph as a group.

Further, we think that travelling within a group should not mean having to be constantly ‘tied’ to the group, and that between the times in which they enjoy the company of others, participants should have the opportunity to rest, explore, or just soak in their surroundings independently, in their own time, if they so wish.

Our policy of using strategically-placed accommodation supports this approach by ensuring that, even when you are not with the group, you have easy, independent access to shooting locations – The RDR portion of the day is, in fact, often used by participants to explore particular subjects, or locations, individually or with other participating photographers.

The journey provides access to a wide variety of subjects, ranging from landscape to environmental portraiture, and includes specialised tuition on how to photograph people in a variety of situations. Since, as is the case for all our photographic journeys, this Expedition is based entirely on real-life situations, interaction techniques are a fundamental aspect of this workshop.

Dariusz has photographed the Pushkar Mela as well as every location on this itinerary numerous times. He’s therefore familiar not just with the many ‘nooks and crannies’ of the places that we photograph and the different opportunities that they each offer at different times, but also with local customs and rituals. This experience enables him to provide guidance on approaching and rendering specific subjects that we encounter during the journey.

Throughout the workshop, Dariusz’s objective is to share his knowledge and expertise in the most effective way possible to help you define and accomplish your individual, photographic goals.

The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ 2017

Type of camera
We recommend that you bring a single-lens reflex (SLR) type of camera; this can be for film or digital, in 35mm or medium format. The camera can be of any make, but it must have a manual option for aperture and shutter-speed adjustment. Compact’ and instant cameras, or any other camera without adjustable f-stops, focus and shutter speed is not appropriate for the type of photography that we practice on our Photography Expeditions. Whatever camera(s) you choose to bring, we strongly recommend that you bring a back-up body, as fixing any problems during the journey would be impossible.

Lenses
Whilst a choice of different focal length lenses will allow you greater flexibility, you do not need more than one lens to take full advantage of the workshop. If you bring only one lens, it would be preferable for it to be a zoom lens with a range of 28-210mm. The optimum selection for this workshop is 2 or more zoom lenses covering the 20 to 200mm range, plus a fast prime lens – e.g. 50mm f1.8 or 35mm f1.4, preferably both.

Digital SLRs
To ensure that you have sufficient memory to shoot high-resolution images throughout each day on the Expedition, you should bring a minimum of two 32GB memory cards per camera. Additionally, you will need a 500GB, and up to 1TB of external storage to store your images.(Cloud storage is not a realistic option during the workshop).To edit and process your images for review, your laptop needs to be reasonably fast; we recommend at least 500GB of free hard-drive space. Please ensure that you bring all the necessary ancillary equipment including connecting cables, memory card reader and software back-up disks.

Film
If you shoot film please note that professional transparency film is not widely available in India, so you must bring a sufficient number of rolls with you when you join the Expedition.

Flash
If your equipment includes a flash unit, you may find it useful to bring it. A flash unit is not an essential piece of equipment, but can certainly prove useful in some circumstances.

Filters
The only filter we recommend that you bring is a standard UV Filter. A Sky 1A or Sky 1B is also a useful alternative. Although the workshop covers the use (and misuse) of filters, these are not essential.

Tripod
Although a tripod can be useful for photographing landscapes and working in low light conditions, this is by no means an essential piece of equipment for 35mm camera users on this workshop. However, a tripod is a must if you are planning to bring a medium format camera. Bear in mind that a monopod can be a useful, more portable alternative to a tripod for both 35mm and medium format.

Cleaning Equipment
During the Expeditions, we put our camera equipment through its paces; a good camera and lens-cleaning kit is essential for daily maintenance.

If you have any questions, please contact us

The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ 2017 - Booking Form Request

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step " (Laozi)

If you would like to join this Expedition, please fill in the Booking Form Request, below. (The booking form includes our Terms & Conditions). We do not share your information with anyone else.

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Postcards from The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™

Top Rated Pushkar Camel Fair photography workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop India with Dariusz Klemens. Best Rajasthan Photo Workshop. Camels drink from a water trough at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Camel Etiquette
Best Pushkar Camel Fair Photography Workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Travel and Documentary Photography Workshop in Rajasthan with Dariusz Klemens. Photography Workshop Tribal India. Tribal Rajasthan Photo Workshop. Rajasthani Gypsy women at the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Gypsy Cameo
Pushkar Camel Fair photography workshop: The Pushkar Fair Photography Expedition™ - Specialist Photography Workshop India, Rajasthan, with Dariusz Klemens. A red sunset spreads over the Pushkar Camel Fair, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Photo: © Dariusz Klemens
Sunset at the Pushkar Camel Fair
Photography Workshops