The Workshop: Thaipusam

The Workshop: Thaipusam

The Carriage


This is a catch up post for me. I have been so busy with this workshop I have had so little time to even sleep, let a lone post here. I am loving the excitement and the creativity our workshop participants are bringing to this workshop. Gavin and I went all out to find local and some not so local families for our participants to interact with. This is unique by all accounts. Very few, if any photo workshops have this kind of opportunity for photographers to inter into the lives of locals like this.

Even though we introduced our participants to their local subjects, each photographer is working on their own story. From the school teacher that is participating in his 26th Thaipusam – to the family that traveled 10 hours by bus from Singapore to participate in Penang’s Thaipusam because it has less restrictions than in Singapore.

Gavin and I were talking today how the real story is how in a few hours a mild-mannered insurance salesman or a big time banker can finds himself with an 8 ft carriage on their shoulders with 4 ft spears sticking in their sides or dancing in a trance with needles in their cheeks and tongues.

I can’t wait to show you our student’s the visual stories that come from this week.

By the way, Gavin and I have decided, we would like to offer this workshop next year. You might want to reserve your place soon!

A friend attaches the “vale” or small spears to a devotee’s torso.


The vales piece the skin.


Vales are put through the cheeks.


Sometimes the pales or kavadis are attached to the devotees bodies rather than carried.


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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. Anonymous

    The one of the guy attaching the spears is fantastic – well done.

    • Jerod Foster

      Completely agree w/ Brian. The backlit form of everything in the shot is very drawing to the eye and reading of the shot.

      • Matt Brandon

        Thanks guys. Appreciate the comments.

  2. CathyTopping

    I’ve been reading here and over at Gavin’s blog..dying inside a little of jealousy. 🙂
     It looks and sounds like a truly unique workshop experience.


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