Informed by over two decades’ professional experience in photographing India and its people, our Photography Expeditions in India are true photographic adventures – immersive journeys of discovery created for photographers who want to get ‘under the skin’ of this incredibly diverse land.
Timed to coincide with significant cultural or natural events that lend themselves to complex photographic exploration, GeckoWorkshops Photography Expeditions in India are immersive photography workshops travelling to distinct areas of the Indian subcontinent – from the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh, to the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula in Tamil Nadu, and from the great city of Varanasi in the east, to the desert town of Jaisalmer, in the west.
Each expedition is unique and presents its own, spectacular photographic opportunities. All are meticulously planned and carefully paced around a particular subject, and aim to foster an understanding of this vast, complex and immensely photogenic country.
A kaleidoscope of races, creeds and cultures, India offers unparalleled photographic opportunities; the world’s largest democracy is also home to some of the most stunning locations and captivating events in the world, and all our expeditions offer access to a wealth of opportunities across diverse subjects including people, landscape, and architecture photography.
Inspired by assignments, years on the road, and a genuine desire to share the wonders and challenges of picture making, all our workshops are created to enable participants to discover new places with new eyes whilst assembling a body of images documenting their own, unique journey.
Our familiarity with India’s customs and regionally diverse rhythms enables us to create engaging, focused, well-paced itineraries, and offer specialised guidance in photographing religious ritual and people in their environment – interaction techniques are an integral part of all our workshops in India.
While covering a choice of subjects, each expedition focuses on a particular subject; this gives direction to the journey and the photographic opportunities it offers, creating a framework within which participating photographers can comfortably explore and construct individual narratives.
As the goal of each expedition is to produce a photographic story, emphasis is put on assembling strong coverage of a particular subject. Each expedition is created, planned and timed to deliver this specific goal, enabling participants to return from each journey with a complete photographic essay/story documenting their journey.
In our experience, this focused approach facilitates learning, supports the development of cohesive visual narrative, and greatly increases the sense of accomplishment that participants derive from our expeditions.
All our workshops encompass both technical and aesthetic aspects of photography and are built entirely around real-life events and photographic opportunities – they do not contain shoots of any staged subject. Learning takes place through location shoots, targeted feedback, individual assignments, and group discussions.
GecoWorkshops Photography Expeditions in India are designed, planned and led by photographer Dariusz Klemens
Whilst most of our Photography Expeditions in India are suitable and open to photographers of all levels, our Advanced Photography Expeditions are specifically designed for photographers with good technical competence and travel experience.
These workshops centre on in-depth exploration of a specific subject and present greater technical and environmental challenges than our regular expeditions. To maximise shooting time and feedback opportunities, Advanced Expeditions’ itineraries generally involve less travelling but longer, more intense shooting sessions than those of our regular expeditions.
As such, our Advanced Photography Expeditions in India are best enjoyed by photographers who are already very comfortable with their equipment, technically and physically capable of handling complex situations and sustaining intense shooting schedules, and who are experienced travellers, able to adapt to circumstances as required.
These workshops are therefore ideal for photographers who are looking to refine their technical and interpretative skills, and expand their experience of working on technically demanding subjects, in challenging conditions.
Participation in our Advanced Photography Expeditions is subject to a portfolio review and Skype interview.
As all our Photography Expeditions in India are shaped by the hunt for images, on both our regular and advanced workshops, we spend as much time as possible in the field, making pictures. Expeditions’ itineraries are carefully planned to take full advantage of photographic opportunities at each and every location, so shooting days are long and rewarding.
To ensure that each member of each expedition receives the support and personal attention that they require to work at their own pace, the number of participants is limited to six on our regular expeditions, and four to five on our advanced expeditions.
This reduces our impact on the environments that we photograph and maximises our photographic opportunities by enabling each group to travel unobtrusively, enjoying genuine contact with the places and communities we photograph. It also allows us to accommodate for varying levels of experience within each group.
In keeping with the focus and immersive nature of our photography workshops, our choice of where we stay is determined firstly, by access and proximity to shooting locations and secondly, by a conscious preference for staying in small, distinctive properties that reflect the historical character – and, wherever possible, preserves the natural resources – of the areas where we photograph (instead of large, chain-brands hotels, which tend to be anonymous, and generally unsuited to the purpose of our photographic journeys).
Depending on subject and location, these criteria determine a wide range of options – from private castles to private tents, sometime both, within the same expedition.
In Rajasthan, for instance, almost all of the properties that we use are housed in former Maharajas palaces and forts, or merchants’ havelis (mansions). In Kerala, we photograph the Backwaters aboard the magnificent kettuvalams houseboats that were once used to transport rice, whilst in Ladakh, to photograph its high-altitude lakes, we set up camp alongside the Chang-pa nomads, who have roamed the Tibetan plateaux for centuries.
The constant between these places is that each has been carefully chosen by us on the basis of long-standing experience as best-suited to support the particular itinerary in which they are included. This means that, besides being clean, comfortable and atmospheric, all of the properties that we use are ideally situated in relation to both scheduled and unscheduled shooting locations and opportunities.
The latter is particularly important to us, not just because it cuts travel time to/from specific locations where we shoot as a group, but also because we consider it essential for workshops’ participants to have easy and continuous access to places of interest, which they may want to explore and photograph independently in their own time.
Most of our expeditions last around 12 days, but longer, custom-made journeys are also possible; some of our Photography Expeditions in India are also available as privately-commissioned workshops for individuals or small groups. If you are interested in this option, please contact us.
We also periodically run Photography Expeditions in India and in Europe that are open exclusively to photographers who have already travelled with us; these expeditions are generally initiated by members of our participants’ community, who are curious to explore particular routes or subjects, and ask us to form a custom-made group from our pool of workshops’ participants.
As they encompass an array of cultures, customs and environments within India, our photography expeditions form an excellent introduction to photographing on the subcontinent but are equally suitable for photographers who want to return to India further to explore particular aspects of this multifaceted land.
The intensive nature of our workshops makes them ideal for photographers who wish to acquire or expand their first-hand knowledge of candid travel photography and assemble a personal visual narrative from their journey.
As outlined above, whilst our regular expeditions are suitable for photographers of all levels, advanced expeditions require a reasonable level of technical competence and travel experience.
Although the routes and intensity of the workshops vary, each expedition presents its own challenges and requires a good level of stamina and fitness.
During the last decade, over 60% of the photographers who returned on our expeditions, did so more than once. We consider this a testimony to the photographic dimension of our journeys as well as a measure of their inspirational quality as uniquely creative environments in which to experience the world and create images.
So, if you want to be inspired to expand your understanding of photography through an incredible journey, take a look at our upcoming Photography Expeditions in India 2017