Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, Leh, Ladakh
Piet Van den Eynde, Alou and I just concluded what might have been the hardest workshop I have ever ran. Not because we didn’t have fantastic participants. On the contrary, we had great participants, many of whom were repeat clients. Not because they were not all really talented photographers – they all were – even though that is not a requirement to participate in one of our trips. It was because so many things just happened. Like God looked down and said, “I think I’ll give you a little run for your money, Matt. You need some new stories to tell!”
It started when one participant emailed us the night we arrived to India and explained that her aircraft she was flying had one of their engines go bad and they had to make an emergency landing in Toronto. She explained she might be late. Talk about scary! But she made it and joined us a day late. Then within hours of that email I get another from another participant that said he had visa issues and maybe be several days late! When it rains… He made it two days later.
While all this was unfolding, we received news that there was major flooding in the Kashmir Valley where we had planned to run a four day add-on to the Ladakh trip. The flooding was so severe that we decided to cancel the Kashmir add-on both for our sake and in respect of the people experiencing the flooding. Frankly, it would be dangerous as well as tacky to visit as a tourist while people where struggling for their very lives.
If that was not enough, while camping at 15,000 ft one of the participants had issues with altitude and was evacuated to lower altitudes. But wait… there’s more. As a result of the flooding in neighboring Kashmir all communications with the outside world was relegated to visits to a local phone booth. Yes, they still have phone booths, but only one or two were operational for the whole city of Leh in Ladakh. Can you say, “lines of people”?
But we managed. We carried on and had fun, made friends and took some amazing photos. We replaced the Kashmir add-on with a trip to the Nubra Valley and I thinks folks were happy with the choice. I am pretty sure participants walked away with stunning, unique images to add to their portfolio. That’s one of the good things about leading workshops in India – photo opportunities are low hanging fruit. It doesn’t mean anyone can take a good photo, but it does mean everyone has the chance to.
If this has got you thinking of joining a workshop (or in fact, if this is scaring you from joining one), know that we also have a more luxurious workshop in Rajasthan in February 2015, for which there are still a couple of places available.
Camping for several night was both exciting at 15,000 ft and cold! (click for a larger view)
Participants stop on a drive-around Tsorak Lake, Ladakh to photograph the mountain light.
Tsokar Lake is a salt lake with many huge salt flats. The local nomads take advantage of this to harvest salt for their livestock.
Alou stand on what looks like a mirror, Tsorkar Lake.
In Lamayuru, Piet gave participants lessons in off-camera flash.
What trip with Piet Van den Eynde would be complete without Fujifilm Instax prints being passed to new friends?
Mike Alexander shooting in a dark monastery in the Nubra Valley.
France Leclerc prepares to photograph Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass).