Kolkata & Varanasi, India Lighting Master Class 2017

    Kolkata (Calcutta) and Varanasi have always been seen as a photographer’s paradise. But even the best locations and most interesting subjects are not enough to create amazing portraits. There are other factors that come into play and the biggest of them all is lighting.

    In this Location Portraiture and Lighting Masterclass, we will spend a large amount of time working with off camera light, available light and the combination of both. This workshop will help you overcome any fears over using artificial light you might have and will allow you to add it as one of your most important tools in your photographic toolbox.

    Other issues are how to compose a photo with a model? How do you pose the? How do you get a nonprofessional model to relax and give you a natural look?

    Matt & Piet will address all these topics and more during this 8 day workshop in Kolkata and Varanasi, India.

    Having explored and photographed the cities and streets of India for over 25 years, Matt can help you find photo opportunities like few other photographers can deliver. Piet is a highly published author of books on On and Off Camera lighting as well as books on travel photography and Lightroom processing. There are few others as qualified to lead this trip than Piet Van den Eynde and Matt Brandon.

    Arrival: Nov 25 Arrive Kolkata. You are requested to arrive a day before the workshop begins. Don't worry, we have your hotel covered! On arrival, you will be welcomed by our representative at the International Airport and transferred to your hotel in Kolkata. If you want to arrive earlier and explore Kolkata on your own, you are welcome. But please take note, we only cover airport transfers and hotel starting on this day.

    Day 1 - 2: Nov 26 - Nov 27 Kolkata

    Our first stop is Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). It is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Founded as an East India Company trading post, it was India's capital under the British Raj from 1773–1911. Today it is a city that time forgot. With its narrow streets of colonial architecture and Ambassador cabs fighting for every inch of the road against the ancient pull rickshaw, this city is not to be missed.

    We have almost three full days to explore and photograph this unique and wonderful old city. As most participants will have arrived late the previous day, we take an easy start with a nice breakfast at the hotel. Then it’s time to pick up the camera bags and explore city life in Kolkata's Rippon Street. This is as bustling as it gets! We will explore the back alleyways of this ancient part of the city. Rippon Street is the last place on earth where you can still find and photograph hand pulled rickshaws.

    We will also spend time at the Howrah bridge. The bridge connects Kolkata to India's largest railway station. This is a bridge that 80,000 vehicles and more than a million pedestrians cross every day! Only in Kolkata will you see a bridge awash with humanity like this. Below the bridge is a huge flower market and bathing ghats and even cage wrestling!

    Day 3: Nov 28 Final Day in Kolkata and Journey to Varanasi by overnight train.

    We will continue to visit pottery makers, idol makers and even an old warehouse that is the home to the discarded old city trams. All picturesque and waiting for us to photograph. Then late this evening we board our overnight train to Varanasi.

    Day 4-7: Nov 29 - Dec 2 Varanasi

    We arrive mid-morning into the magical and mythical city of Varanasi and will be met at the station by our staff then transfer by boat to the hotel (a beautiful and characterful haveli).  We won't waste any time getting out and exploring this amazing city.

    We now have the rest of our trip to photograph Varanasi and its people. We will photograph Varanasi in all possible ways, at all possible times and using all possible modes of transportation: on a couple of days, we will wake up early and experience the life of this ancient city by boat. The boat ride passes along some of the 100 ghats (bathing places), with numerous palaces built by Hindu kings. You’ll be able to experience first-hand the early morning rituals being performed by the Hindus. We will photograph sadhus (the wise old men that stroll along the Ganges) but we’ll also explore the back alleyways of Varanasi with its colorful markets. From the milk market to the flower market and the fish market to the chicken market.

    What makes this workshop unique, is that there will be a mixture of classical available light street photography with more formal portraits where we will use our flashes to defy the blazing Indian sun. We’ll practice shooting for storytelling, composition and how to use flash to balance the harsh Indian sunlight. One night, we will have an image critique. Another night, we will have a session on postproduction. These sessions are included in the price but if you prefer to just relax or go out and shoot some more, that's fine, too! After all, it's your workshop!

    Day 8: Dec 3 Departure

    On this the last day together, you will have the opportunity to make up any photos you just didn't seem to have time for. Or maybe you have some last minute shopping to get done. Whatever it is, this is your morning!

    The official workshop program ends in Varanasi at noon on December 3rd. You will be brought back to Varanasi Airport and then it’s back home with a suitcase full of memories and a camera bag full of memory cards!
    Enrollment is limited to 8 participants.

    Dates: Nov. 26rd - Dec 3rd, 2017

    Price: $4,250.00 double occupancy.
    Single supplement: $900 and is limited to availability.
    What’s included:
    1. Double room on sharing basis.
    2. Meals & water during the tour.
    3. Services of English speaking local guides for sightseeing as per the program.
    4. Train fare from Kolkata to Varanasi.
    5. Bicycle and Pull Rickshaw ride in Kolkata and Varanasi.
    6. Boat rides in Varanasi as per the program.
    7. Assistance at all the airport/hotels by our representatives.
    8. Tuition by Matt and Piet
    9. Use of lighting gear during the workshop: although you can bring your own lighting equipment, you're welcome to use ours.

    What’s NOT:
    1. Any expenses of personal nature like tips, laundry, all beverages, telephone calls etc.
    2. Any expenses caused by factors beyond our control like flight cancellation, road blocks, vehicle malfunction etc.
    3. Any medical or evacuation insuranceYour international flight to and from Delhi. We require you to have travel and cancellation insurance and provide proof of that before the start of the workshop.
    Matt Brandon is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer, who collaborates with NGOs to tell their stories and to train their field staff to do the same. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by clients such as Partner Aid International, NeighborWorks, the BBC, Honda Motor Corporation, and Bombadier Transport Corporation, Asian Geographic, KLM Airlines and others. His photographic pursuits have taken him to the countries of Egypt, Tibet, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Philippines, Malaysia to name a few. Matt also is known for teaching presenters how to present their message in the most effective and memorable way. This makes Matt a great teacher to any workshop or classroom. Matt is also a key member of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, he’s on the advisory board for Focus for Humanity and on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer.

    For more information on Matt, read his complete profile at PhotoShelter.

    Piet Van den Eynde (pronounced “Pete”) is a Belgian freelance photographer specializing in travel portraiture. He has written five Dutch books on Adobe Lightroom and currently has nine English ebooks for CraftandVision.com, such as ‘Making Light’ and ‘Making Light 2’ about off-camera flash. He also has a six hour ‘Photoshop for photographers’ video course and a couple of Lightroom books. Finally, he has created three sets of Lightroom preset packages, one Black & White, one for Color Grading and one mixed set. He contributes articles to photography magazines and gives trainings worldwide about digital photography, working with small flashes and post-processing. He’s an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Certified Expert. In 2009, Piet threw his camera, a flash and an umbrella in his bicycle panniers and cycled 5000 miles through Turkey, Iran, India and Indonesia for a photography project called Portraits Of Asia.

    Learn more about Piet on his blog MoreThanWords.be. Piet will be teaching off-camera lighting skills as well as some Lightroom post processing throughout the photo master class.
    "This is a workshop that will leave a lasting impression. Take the hectic street life and colorful people of Delhi, Varanasi and surroundings. Add Matt’s expertise to work with the local ‘talent’ and put the story into the picture. Spice up with Piet’s mastering of dramatic composition and off-camera lighting. Then top off with your own photographic ambition and inspiration. Whatever your visual and technical skill level may be, your imagery will never look the same again!" 
    -Rene Delbar Life-long photographer and gear freak
    "Having taken two workshops with these two wonderful educators and moved from a noob to shooting my first wedding this summer after only two years of shooting, I can attest to their skills in teaching photography. I can't recommend more highly this opportunity. If anyone wants to talk about my experience, feel free to pm me.I want to add that between my two trips with these two, our time in Varanasi was my favorite."
    -George Neill Application System Analyst

    "The workshop was a great experience, I gained a lot of confidence in shooting both street and location flash portrait photography, adding fantastic photos to my portfolio. The trainer to participant ratio is especially worth to be mentioned, this was a key enabling factor for the success of the workshop. Many, many thanks to Matt and Piet!"
    -Thomas Lippok Vice President Sales, EMEA at HBM

  • Here are a few sample images from past workshops of both the location and some behind the scenes.

    Kolkata or as you might know it better, Calcutta is a city of glaring contrasts, a curious blend of the old and the new, from the pull rickshaws still plying the tight streets to the high-rise towns of the business district. It represents a mix of East and West; a graft of a European city imposed on an Asian landscape that gives Kolkata its bewildering charm, confusion, and excitement. Founded 300 years ago by the East India Company, this was the British capital until 1911. Until today you can still find mile after mile of colonial building the only radiance between now and 1900 is the patina of age. But that very thing is what give it the charm and visual excitement for photographers.

    Join us as we stroll the street and alleyways of old Calcutta.

    • Flower Market, Varanasi

    Varanasi, the holiest Hindu city in the world. It is believed that Varanasi began in the 11th or 12th century BC, placing it among the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. Rich with culture and symbolism and as such one of the most visually exciting places to visit in India. We will walk the bathing ghats and photograph street life and bathing rituals, visit the flower and fish markets and even photograph coal trains. we have secured holy men called sadhus to work for us as models. These are the real deal and you will have an up-close and personal opportunity to photograph them with amazing light.

    • Piet is holding the small but powerful Cactus RF60 flash attached to the SMDV 70cm Speedbox. George is photographing with the Cactus V6 transmitter.

    Here are examples of what goes on behind the scene in this workshops. Here you get to see how we set up shot, work with models and even use a boat and seagulls as a props. Who knew?

  • ​Terms & Conditions

    Plenty! Most of the teaching will be done in the field or in the evening in an organic fashion. We just don't want to give you the impression we will have scheduled classroom work. Often there will be times of review and informal teaching in the evenings to cover events from the day and prepare for the next. If you desire a portfolio review, Matt or Piet will take the time to give you one as long as it’s scheduled early in the trip

    There will be time for everyone, those who want one-on-one time with either Matt or Piet will receive it. Those who want to simply shoot will get it. We’ve built the master class around flexibility, community, discussion, freedom and your ability to learn what you want from your instructors while also having the opportunity to shoot what you want, it is your trip! Just know that even though we may have a “fixer”, there will be no flag-toting tour guide for you to follow in these cities.
    We aim to provide a first-class service to all clients and we do our best to plan as much as we can in advance. However, the locations that we visit are often unpredictable in nature and we ask clients to understand that circumstances can change, transport and accommodation arrangements can vary from those advertised and we may need to adapt or amend the workshop itinerary at short notice in order to take prevailing conditions into account. You will need to provide the following:
    1. A completed registration form
    2. $1,000 Deposit payment when booking your place
    3. A copy of your passport, valid for 6 months beyond the workshop end date
    4. A copy of a valid visa before the class commences
    5. Details of your Emergency Contact
    6. Your balance payment, no later than 90 days before the workshop start date
    7. A signed copy of the Photo Workshop Liability Release
    8. Proof of travel insurance
    You warrant that the information provided by you at the time of registration and in subsequent correspondence is true, accurate, current and complete in all regards.
    Your place on this master class will be confirmed as soon as your deposit payment has been received and cleared. A deposit is considered to be $1,000 or more of the total advertised workshop cost. Your balance payment must be paid and cleared no later than 90 days before the advertised workshop start date. Payment may be paid via PayPal (an invoice will be provided) or into our US bank account (details provided upon request). Clients should ensure that any bank transfer fees are paid at source. We reserve the right to pass bank transfer charges back to the client, where applicable.

    The class cost includes all in-country transport as per the class itinerary, accommodation, meals (as published), tuition and advice from the workshop leaders. The class cost does not include your international airfare or return transport to the workshop start location. It does not include your personal and incidental expenses such as beverages, laundry, souvenirs, communication expenses, tips, extra-curricular entrance fees, and personal items.
    This trip is limited to 8 participants. However, as we don't want to force single supplements on participants who opted for a shared room, we reserve the right to add a maximum of two extra participants (one male and one female) in case we would be left with an odd man and/or odd woman out in the allocation of double rooms. If we are unable to find an extra participant, the odd man and/or odd woman out will be required to pay the supplement.
    Cancellation of your workshop reservation must be made in writing to Matt Brandon. On cancellations more than 120 days prior to departure, all monies are refunded less a $275 administrative fee.
    • Less than 120 but at least 90 days prior, total deposit amount ($1,000) is forfeited.
    • Less than 120 but at least 90 days prior, total deposit amount ($1,000) is forfeited.
    • Less than 75 days prior to departure, 100% is forfeited. 
    Additionally, we will pay no refunds if the client leaves the workshop once it has commenced. No refunds will be made for accommodation, transport or other services not utilized.

    We reserve the right to cancel all or a portion of the workshop on account of terrorism, natural disasters, political instability, or any other circumstances beyond our control. In the event of such a cancellation, full or partial refunds will be given at our sole discretion.

    Should the workshop be canceled for any reason, we are not responsible for your incidental expenses including vaccinations, non-refundable flight tickets or other transport, passport, visa applications, gear purchases, etc. This is what travel insurance is made for.
    Although we do our best to maintain the itinerary as published, it is often necessary to be flexible and to change the workshop itinerary, when circumstances are beyond our control. We will inform you with as much notice as possible and make our best endeavors to replace any canceled activity with a similar, substitute activity. The client acknowledges and accepts that changes to the published itinerary may be necessary and that no refunds will be made for any unused facilities or services resulting from changes made to the class itinerary.
    The client should ensure that they have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the published conclusion date of the photo workshop. You will be asked to provide a copy of your valid passport when making your deposit payment. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that they have a valid visa for the country or countries being visited. Please be aware that visas often commence from the date of issue, so plan accordingly. You will be asked to provide a copy of a valid visa or visas prior to the class start date unless you are obtaining a visa on arrival. Please check the visa conditions for the country/countries to be visited well in advance.
    On allowance for any unexpected contingencies, all participants are strongly urged to purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance.Travel insurance is highly encouraged for all participants. Your travel insurance should provide cancellation, curtailment, and loss of luggage and personal effects. We also recommend that it cover protection against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation, and personal liability.

    We recommend that you take out travel insurance soon after reserving your spot in the master class. Matt Brandon, Piet Van den Eynde or staff affiliated with this workshop will not be held responsible for losses you incur due to cancellation, loss of luggage, personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation, and personal liability. It is, for this reason, we strongly urge you to purchase travel insurance.
    Clients should be in good physical condition. The main physical activities of this class are walking city streets with a camera in warm/hot weather. Participants need to be fit and active. We recommend a trip to your local travel clinic or doctor to find out about any necessary vaccinations. Please contact us if you have any questions about the physical demands of the workshop or if you would like to discuss your particular health issues in detail. All conversations are held in the strictest confidence. If you have any allergies or health issues that the workshop leaders should be aware of, please make sure that you provide us with full details before the class start date.
    Due to the nature of the varied locations that we visit on photo workshops, it is not always possible for us to guarantee to meet each client’s specific dietary requirements. We will eat our meals in local food outlets and sample the local cuisine. Please bear this in mind when planning to attend the workshop.
    Photo workshops/master classes often take place in locations where it is important to be aware of the prevailing cultural conditions. It is a condition of your participation in the photo workshop that you accept the following policies, designed to ensure that all participants respect and appreciate the culture of the locations we visit.

    The laws of the country or countries we are visiting will be obeyed at all times. Recreational drug use and excessive alcohol consumption is prohibited. Appropriate clothing will be worn at all times. For example, we may be asked to remove shoes or cover our heads when visiting places of worship. No photographs will be taken at locations where it is expressly forbidden or when the workshop leaders expressly request that you do not photograph. The workshop leaders will determine how we approach the photographing of locations and of individuals at different locations. You agree to respect the prevailing cultural conditions and to abide by any decisions or requests made by the workshop leaders without question or hesitation.

    Our Cultural Policy is designed to ensure that the impact of our trip is kept to a minimum and that visitors who arrive after we have departed are welcomed and treated with the respect and hospitality that we would wish to enjoy. We expect all workshop participants to adhere to our general approach, which can be best summarized as “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs”. Acceptance Completion of an electronic registration form and/or payment of a deposit constitutes full acceptance of these terms and conditions

  • Registration Form

      Contact Details

    • Passport informaiton

    • We understand that you might not have access to your passport at this time. Please give us only what is require. You can send us your passport number and date of expiration at another time.
    • Allergies or Dietary Restrictions

    • Other Information

    • Liability Waiver & Terms and Conditions

    • Single Room Supplement

    • Please note: You may fill out this form and register, but your spot will not be guaranteed until we have received your payment of at least $1,000 deposit.