Luminous India Photo Tour
Luminous India & the Festival of Colors
Rajasthan, Varanasi, & the Taj Mahal
February 12 – 26, 2018 (Sold Out – Waitlist Only)
Designed & Led by Nat Geo Contributor & Multi-Major Award Winner
w/ Award Winning Special Guest Photographer
Price: $7250 (Outstanding Value for Money @ only $483 per day)
Hotels: 4 & 5 Star
Highlights : Exotic Old Delhi – Colorful Holy Men of Varanasi – The Taj Mahal – Holi Festival of Colors – Rajasthan Camel Photo Safari – Blue City of Jodhpur – Legendary Jaisalmer – The Desert Tribes & Wonderful People of India!
India for the uninitiated is an unimaginable, almost kaleidoscopic feast for the senses. Even if you’ve been before and can imagine it, it’s still an almost kaleidoscopic feast for the senses! From a photographer’s perspective, most especially those interested in people and culture in exotic settings, there is nowhere else in the known galaxy that offers such an incredible diversity of photographic possibilities.
Enter Luminous India! – A photo tour workshop adventure designed and led by world renowned travel photographer David Lazar:“India offers amazing and unique photo opportunities with its rich culture and history, and some of the most friendly and outgoing people in the world. It’s a country that has drawn me back multiple times since my first visit in 2004. This itinerary has been carefully planned and researched on the ground, and is focused on capturing the essence of the culture through striking image making. There will be a plentiful mix of free and arranged photo shoots to help ensure that we accomplish our aim. By experiencing the subcontinent both through the lens and through the exuberance of its people at the time of Holi, we will be getting India at her very best.” – David Lazar
David has designed the itinerary almost as if he were writing one of his musical scores for film. An introductory theme to set the tone in Old Delhi, an exotic thematic development to underscore the Rajasthani pace of life, building to a dramatic turning point in Varanasi, followed by a slower, more majestic motif in Agra, rising higher and higher to a Holi Festival crescendo, then easing into a resolution and coda back in Old Delhi…
As always, David will be offering his expertise in the field on an ongoing basis, as well as image review and Photoshop/Lightroom instruction to those interested. Individual help is also available by request, as time allows in the schedule. David is one of those rare photo tour leaders who actually cares that his guests become better photographers during their time with him, and will do everything in his power to make it so.
You may have noticed above that we have a special guest on board for our Holi India kick off tour, and are very pleased to welcome to the Luminous Journeys team of stellar travel shooters, Mr. Swarup Chatterjee. Swarup is not only a rising star photographer in his homeland, but a passionate & personable instructor and photo tour leader as well.
So – if you are a photography enthusiast of any skill level with an interest in incredible India, this is without a doubt a great opportunity to invest in yourself as a keen photographer, and have the photographic time of your life in the process! Please know that it’s experience in the field that gets you to the next level, and not expensive equipment. LJ is well known for its unmatched access and awesome volume of impact image making opportunities in each if the countries in which we work, and India will certainly be no exception.
For a look at the itinerary, just hit the Itinerary tab above. For pricing & details, see Pricing & Details. You are bound to have questions, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. We promise a prompt and cheerful response!
Itinerary* – Luminous India!
Feb 12 – 26, 2018
12 Feb Day 1 – Delhi Arrival – Orientation – Afternoon Street & Market Shoot – Overnight Delhi
Whenever you arrive, a Luminous Journeys’ representative will greet you at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to get you situated and delivered safely to the hotel. The program begins at 2:30 pm with orientation by David and our superb Indian guide, Vikas Kumar. Be sure to bring your gear, as at approximately 3:15 pm you’ll be taken out for your first official tour shoot on the mind blowing streets of the old city market area of Chandi Chowk. This is truly a street shooters “paradise” once you learn how to approach it. This is largely a free shoot situation, with David offering insight on identifying subjects, backgrounds and light to help improve your environmental portrait making.
13 Feb Day 02 – Delhi – The “Blue City” of Jodhpur – Stepwell & Clock Tower Market
Free time and a leisurely breakfast this morning, as we’ll leave for the airport and the short flight to Jodhpur at about 9:30 am. Check into your Indian Heritage haveli in the heart of Jodhpur’s old city. Soak in the ambiance of this striking setting over lunch before your Stepwell shoot with local ladies in bright colored saris. Afterwards, photograph the colorful happenings at the ancient bazar near of the old British clock-tower. Dinner at Indique, atop Pal Haveli with its unbeatable views of the illuminated city, wraps the day.
14 Feb Day 03 – Jodhpur – Mehrangarh Fort – Blue City Street Scenes & Portraits
Mehrangarh Fort, called by Rudyard Kipling the “work of giants”, dominates the Jodhpur skyline. You might recognize it as the massive structure from which Christian Bale emerges in The Dark Knight Rises. Rise early and take a short trek into a small nature preserve to position for sunrise city-scape and fort shots with white temple foreground. Return for breakfast.
After lunch and a respite, the afternoon will find us shooting in the narrow lanes below the fort, with its cool rich backgrounds and brilliantly color clad people effortlessly expressing their Rajasthani culture. Where blue as photographer camouflage! Steve McCurry, more than any other photographer, has served to make the labyrinthine blue alleys of the Blue City famous with several iconic shots.
We have a very interesting surprise in store for you this afternoon, in addition to plenty of photo opportunities with friendly locals. You will see how David works as he arranges some environmental portrait opportunities, and get ideas for your free shoot in this area tomorrow morning. Much of travel photography is about finding a great potential shot and returning to it time and again under different light, or the right light, ready to capture a spontaneous action within that perfect frame. There is not a lot of time in a two week traveling photo tour for this, but this will give you a good feel for it.
Late afternoon visit a ‘secret’ famous music video location, and continue onto a premier fort sunset position with Blue City foreground, where we will be able to wind down with an adult beverage and enjoy dinner with a view.
15 Feb Day 04 – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer
Early morning free shoot in the Blue City alleys, followed by breakfast, a short rest and drive to legendary Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert. The hotel is another beautiful and spacious haveli, which is an oasis unto itself. This afternoon venture out to visit a small schoolhouse full of delightful young ethnic ladies for some culture, fun and portrait making. We will have gifts for you to give out as well. Nearby is the very best unencumbered position to photograph the fairy tale Jaisalmer Fort as the sun sinks into the desert sands…
16 Feb Day 05 – Jaisalmer – Thar Desert Photo Safari, Private Dunes
Photograph Jaisalmer Fort from the inside. The fort is a lot more than ancient fortifications, it’s a fully functioning “settlement” with a variety of people, shops, cottage industries, a fascinating art gallery, and exquisitely stone carved haveli facades and balconies.
David has arranged for some local models in colorful Rajasthani style saris and veils to take photographic advantage some of those carved haveli balconies and interiors. The fort is also a fantastic place to roam free with your cameras and engage your ever refining decisive moment senses. You may also choose to go with David who will be looking for certain light, scene compositions and environmental portraiture ops.
Following lunch it will be time to head out into the Thar Desert, not to some tourist camp with hundreds of tents, but to private land with very few, and none where we will be camping. Nothing but virgin sand dunes and a completely private encampment. Access to the dunes is both by Jeep and camel. We won’t torture you with long hours on camel back, but just an hour to give you a taste of what it’s like. (To anyone camel averse, no worries, we can take you in by Jeep). Prior to boarding your camel, we’ll stop in a small Rajput village to photograph local people living much as they have done for centuries, many living in mud and thatch roof dwellings.
Make camp in the late afternoon at a select location in virgin sands, perfect for shooting the fiery dunes themselves, as well as our camels and camel drivers. They will be wearing traditional clothing, and not Fly Emirates T-shirts! As darkness settles in and the stars rise, dinner will be cooked over a crackling fire while men in white wearing bright turbans play ancient Rajasthani ragas.
17 Feb Day 06 – Thar Desert Photo Safari
Sunrise on the desert is breathtakingly beautiful. Rise early feeling fresh and invigorated by the cool desert dawn, enjoy a cup of coffee or chai, then prepare to photograph dawn on the dunes. First with classic silhouettes, then with layered scenes of men and camels interacting, and ladies in tribal saris walking the dunes with pots balanced atop their heads.
After the shoot it’s time for a well-earned breakfast at the campfire before returning to Jaisalmer and your now familiar haveli. Free time to do as you please. David will be available for image review and/or Photoshop/Lightroom instruction before the afternoon free shoot at the exotic street market. Dinner with the best view in the city, and great food to boot!
18 Feb Day 07 – Varanasi – Blue Hour @ Manikarnika Burning Ghat
Varanasi, built on the west bank of the Ganges River, is widely considered the holiest city in this most holy of countries, dating back some 3,500 years. Lord Shiva himself is said to have dwelled here during his time on earth.
For photographers, it’s also a godsend! A challenge, but a godsend nonetheless. From thousands of Hindus bathing and performing puja in the golden light of dawn, to the remarkable cremation ghats where the souls of the deceased are released to moksha and their bodies to the Ganges; to the hundreds of colorful Sadhus (wandering ascetics) who make pilgrimage, Varanasi is a place of endless fascination and image making opportunity.
19 Feb Day 08 – Varanasi – Sadhus Being Sadhus
We’ll exit our unbeatable Ganges view hotel and be on the holiest of all rivers (recently declared a living being by the government) in rowboats before dawn, ready to photograph locals and pilgrims at as they bathe and perform puja rituals illuminated by the first rays of sun breaking across the water. We’ll get in close, but have a longer lens handy. In addition, David has arranged for a Sadhu or two to perform their natural puja for us, to make certain everybody has an excellent shot at the perfect shot! Continue north by boat away from the crowds of Dashashwamedh Ghat, where lone bathers in colorful saris against soaring backgrounds can make for compelling images.
After breakfast there will be a free shoot in Varanasi’s fascinating alleys and endless array of scenes arranging themselves in shaded frames quite naturally, as if waiting for a photographer! Very few people object to being photographed here, so if you see a great scene don’t be afraid to settle in and wait for your decisive moment, or as we like to say, your luminous instant. And smile! The Indian people are very welcoming, but sometimes it’s we as photographers who need to break the ice.
Lunch and free time before David takes you back to the alleys in more controlled situations, utilizing some sadhus in certain locations for some interesting portraiture, as well as locals in a favorite “set” or two. In between there is always impromptu opportunities, and one could spend weeks if not months photographing here! Swarup will seek private access to an akahara where warrior ascetics engage in ancient Indian modes of self defense, covered in holi ash and dirt!
There is a night puja ceremony at the main ghat this evening, which is quite a spectacle. Away from the spectacle we will arrange our own puja with locals, including twilight/blue hour with children with candlelit flower baskets and floating paper lanterns.
20 Feb Day 09 – Varanasi – Sunrise Puja 2 – Photographer’s Choice
Beyond ritual bathing on the river, morning and afternoon options include crossing the Ganges to visit Sadhu camps that are often present; free and arranged shoots with holy men and naga babas, sunken temple and boat-scapes, a rare opportunity to shoot at a warrior ascetic wrestling akhara; and much more. A person could spend months shooting here!
21 Feb Day 10 – Varanasi – Blue Morning or Free Shoot – Agra – Taj Mahal Afternoon
Early morning arranged shoot with children made up in Krishna blue, followed by breakfast. Depart about 9:30 am for the airport and short flight to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Check into our impressive Moghul style hotel and relax a little before this afternoon’s shoot of the Taj. We’ll be using this magnificent architectural icon as both subject and backdrop from outside the Taj grounds across the Yamuna River.
22 Feb Day 11 – Agra – Taj Mahal Dawn – Vrindavan
Rise before dawn this morning (not again!) to enter the grounds of the Taj Mahal itself, with the help of local photographer Harsh Agarwal. The moment you walk through the entry archway where Taj seems to fill up the sky is one you will never forget. This is a prime example of where even the greatest photographs cannot do a subject this beautiful justice.
But we can try! After breakfast and a chance to freshen up we’ll make the 70 mile drive to Mathura where Krishna was born, and Vrindavan where he spent his childhood.
The Holi celebrations here in the Braj area happen the week before the rest of the country, and are the most colorful of this most colorful spring festival on the planet. In fact, Holi is often referred to as the Festival of Colors, as well as the Festival of Love. This afternoon we’ll photograph some of the preparations for the festivities tomorrow, with a sunset temple shoot in Vrindavan.
23 Feb Day 12 – Vrindavan – Holi Celebrations – Nandgaon & Brasana*
Begin the day in Nandgaon street shooting, then drive to Barsana for Lattmar and Laddoo Holi, which begins the real fun of this joyous holiday period. This is where the women of the nearby villages of Barsana and Nandgaon put on a great show of venting a year’s worth of frustration by whacking the men with big sticks and tossing around sweets called laddoo. The men have shields to take the most direct blows from the sticks, but are not always 100% successful! We have secured a private house right in the heart of the processions, with the best available vantage vantage points.
24 Feb Day 13 – Vrindavan – Barsana Holi Celebrations*
Holi in the nearby village of Barsana might be called the holiest Holi of all, where the joyful mayhem reaches its most colorful peak during Samaj. Bright powdery colors are tossed by priests from positions above the crowd, then rubbed and otherwise joyously partaken of below. Swarup is a wily veteran of these events, and will assist in camera protection preparations. We will have relatively un-powdered high vantage points wherever possible, but beyond that we suggest you get into the spirit and cut loose!
Prep Note: Complete Holi kits will be made available to protect your gear and persons, as well as hands on instruction and tactical briefing. More detailed information will be in your extensive Trip Notes issued 100 days prior to tour start date.
25 Feb Day 14 – Vrindavan – Delhi
At the time of writing, this morning is planned for well earned free time, and a chance to sleep in if you like! If other early compelling photo options emerge, you will be informed and can choose to join or not. Mid-morning we’ll hit the road to Delhi, which is about a 3-hour drive. Lunch in Delhi with afternoon photo options including the great Jama Masjid Mosque at sunset. Consider this afternoon’s shooting as optional, and you may also enjoy free time to go shopping or otherwise do as you please. This evening will be your very special Farewell Dinner at one of Delhi’s fantastic heritage restaurants.
26 Feb Day 15 – Delhi – Departure
There is no scheduled photography for today, as people will have differently scheduled departure flights. If you have a later flight out consider it free time, and if you need any assistance we will be there for you.
You’ll be driven to the airport according to your departure time and given a fond farewell… Off to relative peace and tranquility you go, but you will miss this place!
*The Holi celebrations at Barsana and Nandgaon are fluid affairs. The exact schedule of events is always subject to change. It should also be noted that photographers from all over the world will be gathered here, along with the raucous crowds. There will be lots of street as well as event shooting in a whirl of colors. It will be challenging! We have hired an extra 3 very local guides to assist us. On the main day we have secured a house just for LJ guests. It has a large balcony right above the heart of the Lattmar Holi action. In addition to the photo positions afforded, our guests are welcome to use the house for respite at any time during the big day at Barsana. We will have more details in your Trip Notes Kits sent out 100 days prior to tour start date.
**Image review and/or Lightroom tutorials are available on an ongoing basis by request.
***Free time is essentially anytime you choose, as long as you don’t miss any travel day transport!
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Praise for David Lazar Photo Tours & Swarup Chatterjee
“What a great trip we had! … I cannot praise David highly enough… My photography improved by leaps… His lightroom and photoshop tutorials were exceptional… It was a fabulous tour with real pros that actually care that you become a better photographer. What more can one ask for?” — Patricia Pomerleau, USA
“My Luminous Vietnam Journey was far and away the best photo tour I have been on. It was more than a photo tour, it was an investment in myself as a keen photographer, it gave me the opportunity to engage with ordinary Vietnamese people and some extraordinary professional photographers in David and Phuoc – I have visited 42 countries and been on enumerable holidays and tours – this one really was the trip of a lifetime” – Lindsay Earle, Zimbabwe
” Swarup [Chatterjee] was fantastic! My husband and I discussed after the workshop that having him as our photography trainer was one of our best decisions! Swarup is not one of those prototype trainers. He touches your heart!” – Kaushiki Sen, India
“I was in Mumbai and had attended Swarup’s Basic Photo Workshop. Good that I did! The two day workshop with Swarup was very informative, practical & enjoyable. Swarup really knows his stuff & will share all his knowledge with enthusiasm! I can’t recommend this workshop enough. The first day was full of information and the second day that followed was action packed full of different locations to target specific techniques & settings. I only wish I did this sooner! Thank you India!” – Ted Moore, USA
“The Myanmar photo tour was wonderful…the group was so funny; we had a great time together. Everything ran flawlessly. We were treated like VIPs and of course the shooting was amazing! I can see you [Luminous Journeys] continuing to organize these for a very long time. You are the best at inspiring people to attend your photo tours, and living up to your promises. I just read the itinerary for India and I am very interested. I would love to join David [Lazar] on this tour!” —Paul D’, Switzerland
“I have to commend Luminous Journeys and David Lazar for putting together what I consider to have been the best photo tour we’ve been on…and we’ve been on quite a few around the world. From start to finish, Luminous Bali was impeccably researched, planned and executed with a rich, full and unique itinerary that left no photographic stone unturned.
David was a joy to travel with; often cracking us up along the way and, a fantastic mentor from whom I feel I learned a great deal. I really appreciated how genuine and generous he was sharing his knowledge and creative talent. I think my mom has unofficially adopted him! I should also mention just how much we adore Pande. What a gem. For future trips, the first place I’ll check for photo tours will be Luminous! Looking forward now to Vietnam in June with David.” – Lee Ann Birkenstock, USA
“Travelling with Swarup Chatterjee is always so much fun. Not only he carries an incredible amount of knowledge about India, he exactly knows where to shoot and when to shoot.” – Tushar Pandit, India
“My photo tour with Luminous Journeys and David Lazar was an amazing experience. Everything was organized perfectly so we could concentrate on photography. Besides being a great photographer David is also a really nice person and always willing to help. It’s really inspiring to see him work. I came back with the best photos I’ve ever taken” – Jani Uljas, Finland
“David Lazar is a wonderful, charming and eloquent travel companion. With his fine humor and graciousness he offers all participants breathing room for personal development. He does this in such a way that the group dynamic develops spontaneously and helps create new friendships in an atmosphere of mutual inspiration and support.
It was always fascinating to watch how David interacted with the local people from a photography standpoint. He was very natural and relaxed in his approach, even gentle, and would smile and use a few words in their native language. You could see them relax and very quickly develop a sense of trust with him. This paid off time and time again throughout the tour, both during focused photo sessions and free shoot situations. David loves to teach and pass on his knowledge and experience to participants. He taught me a lot about how to approach a shoot. Like how to see light with more discernment, and then find the best possible compositions to take advantage of that light. This was followed up on later with image review and editing, which he was always more than happy to do.
In short, David is a first rate photographer with an ideal personality for travel work and leading photo tour workshops. This along with the perfect organization from Luminous Journeys made for a truly unforgettable and rewarding experience.” – Renate Szinyei – Switzerland
“Swarup Chatterjee is a thorough professional. He exactly knows the art of conducting photo travel. He is also a go getter. An amazing personality to deal with.” – Washim Khan, India
“Spending a day with Swarup on his Basic Photography Course was an absolute revelation! His easy but technically informative style of teaching gave me the knowledge I needed to finally get off the ‘auto’ setting and actually use the camera for what it is designed to do. It also made us look at beauty as a concept in a completely different and innovative manner. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a keen amateur, I could not recommend this course more highly! – A.M. Sachdeva, India
“Having been on several organized trips to Asian destinations over the past few years I have found Luminous Journeys trip to Vietnam June 2016, to have been the best value for money organized tour that I have been on. The opportunities to take unique photos of people and landscapes could not have occurred without the professional organisation of the tour leaders. Their expert photographic guidance meant that all members of the tour were able to capture shots that were technically accurate and artistically composed. We were guided to areas and local villages that are not accessible to the ordinary traveller. I was happy to go on this photo tour and will be more than happy to do Luminous Journeys photo tours in the future.” – Robbie L, Australia
“Luminous Bali was a most interesting, well run and rewarding trip. The research that had gone into it and the attention to detail was impressive. I liked the fast pace and full days. We were left in no doubt that this was a photography trip and had a fabulous line up of opportunities to take good shots…no lessening of the photographic feast! As the primary leader, David was well organised and thoughtful and kept the entire trip ticking over perfectly. He was an absolute pleasure to travel with and I am most interested in travelling with him and your company in the future.” – Beth James, Australia
“I remember when I signed up for my first photo tour with Luminous Journeys in Myanmar. Benn [LJ’s photo tour director, Benn Stevens] told me that this trip will take my portfolio to the next level. Not only was he right about that; but images from that trip have also won me several awards in the last two years.
The photo tour in Bali was Utopia – the place, the people, the team and arrangements. The Luminous Journeys team did an excellent job with tour design and logistics… David Lazar & local Balinese guide, Pande Sura, were extraordinary. I have already signed up on my next trip with LJ and David in Vietnam.” – Sesh Seraday, USA
“I had never been on a photo tour and was very reluctant to come along, believe it or not! I can tell you I was very pleasantly surprised. It was a great experience with David Lazar and the team. We went to some amazing places thanks to LJ’s great planning. Excellent opportunities to photograph and awesome locations, with effective leadership made this trip a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t do it any other way…” – Swamy Kumar, India