"I cannot recommend Gecko Workshops highly enough. My husband and I consider ourselves well travelled and have very high expectations of any trip we take and especially ones that are offering workshops coupled with guiding in exotic locations. We can whole-hardheartedly say that Dariusz and Antonella's Gecko Workshops surpassed our expectations in every category.
The trip organisation (both beforehand and during) was faultless - thorough and professional and at the same time friendly and personal. The accommodation and daily itineraries were diverse, full of opportunities and engaging to all interest levels. Being bored was never an option.
Before our first trip I was quite intimidated by Dariusz's expertise as photography expert and Antonella's as an art historian (as I am a beginner photographer accompanying my husband) but I was so impressed by how much I learned, their approachability and how much time they took to ensure that that everyone in the group received individual attention at a level appropriate to their skill and interest level.
They work hard to create an environment where you are enthused to learn more and enjoy every experience. And of course have lots of laughs along the way.
As a couple we have a holiday philosophy of "never going back" until Gecko Workshops - we are on our third trip with Gecko (Rajasthan, Italian pre-Alps and Kerala), which hopefully tells you everything!
"I just returned from my second Gecko Workshop Expeditions earlier this year. My first expedition was five years ago on the Pushkar Fair expedition. It was my first time in India and Dariusz and Antonella prepared me well with what to expect.
The trip itself was well planned and organized, it had the right amount of shooting, feedback and free time. I'm very much an amateur photographer and was first nervous about attending the workshop, but Dariusz made me feel very comfortable with my skill level. Dariusz has a unique way of providing feedback and coaching. The feedback sessions were critical for me. I could quickly see where I could improve my shots and try them out the next day. It’s always gratifying when you see improvements so quickly.
It was on that Pushkar Fair expedition, Dariusz and Antonella talked about the Theyyam expedition. For years I've wanted to revisit India and I knew that I wanted to see the Theyyams. I had the absolute joy of going on that expedition in April 2015. The trip was incredible. To witness the Theyyam rituals was truly magical. Because the majority of the shooting was at night it added a different level of photographic complexity. Dariusz worked hard to make sure we were comfortable in our surroundings and with our cameras.
Dariusz and Antonella are just delightful people and I'm sure our friendship will expand beyond the lens. I'm looking forward to going on another Gecko Workshop in the near future.
"I've travelled with Gecko Workshops on four expeditions and each trip was a real learning experience in photographic terms, and a great deal of fun.
Dariusz's approach to leading the workshops is very fluid, which I really like. It's fascinating to watch the way he works as a photographer and how he interacts with people as he shoots.
Dariusz and Antonella are extremely knowledgeable about India and are experienced travellers, so the Expeditions are very well organised, yet retain a sense of flexibility and spontaneity too.
Feedback sessions on my work from both Dariusz and Antonella (who is an art historian) are always thought-provoking and helpful.
I'd recommend Gecko Workshops to anyone who's serious about developing their photographic skills and who loves to travel and get under the skin of a place and its people.
See Sarah's pictures here: http://sarahhickson.tumblr.com/tagged/theyyam/
"Thank you for all of your efforts to make the Rajasthan trip a great one for all involved. I know it was very hard work, and it all worked out for the best!
The most important measurement to me is the quality of pictures that I took, and I was very happy with what I came back with on this trip.
Antonella, thanks for your hard work in planning this great trip! Dariusz, you have been very influential to my photographic style, and I appreciate your willingness to teach. Thank you!
See Rick's pictures at: http://rcweb.us/
"I just wanted to thank you again for providing such a thrilling experience. I left our journey in Rajasthan so absolutely inspired and enlivened about my craft, and have spent the last year putting into practice the very tips and tricks you had taught me during our short time together. I can say without question you made me a better photographer.
See Scott's pictures here: http://goramasala.com/
"I initially chose Gecko Workshops because I was impressed by their photography philosophy and their obvious passion for India and its people.
Dariusz and Antonella enabled me to have an amazing photography focused trip of Rajasthan. The result of their meticulous planning and organising was me developing a new photography style and a new approach of how to create the photograph that you see with your eyes and make it a reality.
One thing I liked was how Dariusz ‘lived’ for his craft and how everything he taught was about capturing that moment. He made it look effortless and spontaneous but freely shared his expertise and knowledge to guide you into capturing that moment yourself.
When asked, Dariusz would explain the scene and the composition and what he saw, demonstrate the shot as he saw it and what did and didn’t work and why, all done without making you feel stupid.
His guidance has helped me understand and improve my photography far more than hours of reading books or unguided shoots, I can hear his voice every time I pick up my camera.
I found the whole experience engaging, fascinating and most of all fun. I would recommend GeckoWorkshops to people who need to really ‘see’ India and its people.
"Thank you for all you've done for me to put this trip together. The experience was beyond incredible and one I will remember warmly the rest of my life.
Dariusz is also a wonderful teacher and an attentive guide. He watched me work and gave me tips while I was shooting. Back at the hotel he reviewed my photos daily and gave me helpful suggestions on how to improve. His experience in India is so deep and his attention to my needs so thorough I felt completely safe in every situation.
Dariusz is the hardest working, most indefatigable and passionate photographer I've ever been around. He is the ultimate street photographer. His antenna are always up, constantly looking for the next shot and able to frame good photographs around, what I found to be, awkward subjects. Watching him work provides a great opportunity to study his technique and “shooter’s” attitude approaching his subject. He is an instinctual street shooter but also will spend time getting to know a subject while making portraits of them.
Then there's the other half of the Gecko Workshops team, Antonella Bestaggini. Antonella is an Art Historian with extensive knowledge of photographic history as well as a wonderfully compassionate human being. When I was preparing for my trip to India and had questions she always gave me complete answers with great information including the list of essentials I needed to bring regarding clothing, equipment, power strips for charging multiple batteries and computers and little things you might not think of. When asked about Indian literature, to deepen my knowledge of India’s history and culture, Antonella provided me with a great list of novels. She is a very good writer and a lot of fun to correspond with.
Over the years Antonella and Dariusz have developed personal relationships with tourism professionals across India and those contacts pay off by enriching the experience of their clients. In Pushkar we stayed in a small family owned hotel where I was able to get to know, enjoy and photograph the matriarch owner, her three sons and their wives and children. I photographed them going about their daily chores including their daily worship at sunrise and sunset. The unfettered access gave me an amazing experience and insight I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
In short, I had such a great time and achieved such wonderful photographic results I'm going back for a second trip with Gecko Workshops.
See Andy's pictures here: http://www.changeyourlifetravels.com/blog/andy-houses-india/
"Dariusz Klemens is an experienced, professional photographer who actually has the patience, and the passion, to teach. What a find!
My experience with GeckoWorkshops could not have been more satisfying. I was very impressed by the awareness and focus on the needs of each individual participant. Dariusz moved fluidly from teaching functional aspects (equipment, settings) to aesthetics (use of light, composition) to strategy (when to be where, which locations to avoid).
And at the end of the day, the constructive critical review was relevant and encouraging.
The combination of applied skill and strategy that I learned through GeckoWorkshops unquestionably raised the bar on my photos, I learned a much smarter and efficient way to shoot, which greatly increased my percentage of "keepers."
The schedule was always well organized and clear, historical information/cultural significance was always available.
Add humor and fun, an awareness of our travel footprint and - most importantly - respect for cultural sensitivities, and the experience with Gecko Workshops was as complete and well-rounded as one could hope for.
"I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for what was an incredibly inspiring two weeks on the Keralan workshop. It was a brilliant opportunity and my only regret is that it was over too soon! Dariusz, thank you for taking such good care of us and for all your valuable advice. I really feel I have learnt something and look forward to putting my new found skills into practise!
See Georgia's pictures here: http://www.georgiadarlow.com/
"Well, I've finally settled on the top 50 from the Rajasthan trip (or at least today's thinking re the top 50). Thankfully I had a lot of darn good ones to choose from!!! Still can't quite get over the fact that I was in India a month ago! It was a fantastic experience - thanks to all of you!!!!
See Chucks's pictures at: http://chuckkirchner.zenfolio.com/
"I just wanted to write to thank you both for the wonderful trip you made possible with your warmth, the amazing places you took us to and your willingness to make the trip a pleasure.
I have started editing some of my pictures and every time I see one I am amazed by the landscape and I can't stop feeling very fortunate for the trip and the places I visited.
I still have many pictures to work on but I am having a lot of fun in doing so. I am looking forward to move my photography a step forward by using all the tips you gave me and of course practicing, practicing and practicing.
"Dear Antonella and Dariusz, Thanks for organizing such a great trip to Ladakh, everything was fantastic and your organization exceed our expectations; the staff was very efficient and extremely friendly, the itinerary was adequate to our desire, accommodations were perfect for the circumstances and even the 'Ritz at Lamayuru' was fun.
You two are great persons and outstanding hosts. You made our holidays an unforgettable time. I learned important issues on how to take good photos. I have not been able to review all my photos but I think I have some that are good.
All the best for you and I hope to travel again with Gecko.
"Many thanks for a super tour of Rajasthan. I found it very enjoyable and also informative re photo technique and attitude to taking pictures. It was well organised and everything seemed to go smoothly. The feedback was the essential difference between this and other photo workshops I have been on. This was perhaps the most helpful part of the tour. So, all in all, full marks from a very satisfied client."
See David's pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/david_penfold_from_shatton/sets/72157625967908236/
"Dear Dariusz and Antonella, I want to formally thank both of you for making this trip an exciting one and very friendly and family like.
Additionally I think I learned a lot, although coming from a very low base I enjoyed and never felt handicapped. All the best for both of you."
"I am writing to thank you both for a wonderfully rewarding tour of Ladakh. I can only imagine how much hard work must have gone in to the planning stage but I saw at first hand the various difficulties that had to be overcome as we moved around! I return with many rewarding memories of both people and landscape and hope that at least some of my images will do them justice.