Ladakh – Land of Spirituality

Dates: 20th July – 9th August 2014*

* with an option to extend with a 10 day Markha Valley Trek until 18th Aug 2014

Small group size: max 12 participants

Photo-documentary workshop: Visual Storytelling

When you travel you embark on a new journey. The places you visit and the people you meet enrich your life in so many ways. One of the first things you want to do when you return home from an amazing holiday is to tell your family and friends about your adventure and share life-changing experiences through showing them beautiful images.

In conjunction with experienced documentary photographer, Martin Toft we have put together bespoke documentary-based workshops that will teach you how to make great photographs and how to tell your own story in pictures as well as providing you with a fun and personalised creative learning experience on a photographic adventure of a lifetime. As well as being a photographic tour-de-force exploring different camera techniques, visual styles and shooting approaches, this trip will also be a cultural experience of art, food and communities living in some of the most remote and amazing places on the planet – places with unique potential for visual storytelling through photography.

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Each photo-adventure is designed to provide maximum opportunity to explore a unique place – its people, its culture, its landscape – through a combination of workshops designed to develop your photographic skills and boost your confidence as a photographer with an emphasis on unlocking your potential as a visual storyteller through a variety of activities such as location shoots, photo-walks and individual assignments tailored to your own needs and skills-level.

Ladakh – Land of Spirituality

Ladakh is a region in India totally isolated from the modern world. It is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture and it spans the Great Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River Valley. The district is bordering Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the west and China in the north and Eastern part and Lahul Spiti of Himachal Pradesh in the South east.

Rich traditions of Mahayana Buddhism still flourish in the purest form in this region, which has often been referred to as Little Tibet. An authentic land, it is faithful to ancestral customs where life is characterized by intense spirituality. The majority of the population in the District of Leh are Buddhist and the most attractive features of the landscape are the Buddhists Gompas (Monastries). The Gompas are situated on the highest points of the mountain spurs or sprawl over cliffsides, located in vicinity of villages and provide focus for the faith of Buddhists.

A Picture-Story

A picture-story is often based around a theme and in these workshops we will help you develop a particular point of view or angle on a story in a supportive and creative environment. During the course of the workshops we will be exploring different approaches to storytelling within documentary photography; from learning about the construction of a traditional picture-story within the context of photojournalism to examining contemporary documentary practice within fine-art.

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The themes of this photo-adventure are Ladakhi culture and traditions, Buddhist customs and rituals and spiritual pilgrimage and heritage. On this trip you will travel through a lost kingdom at the roof of the world, crossing several mountain passes and photographing Buddhism and Ladakhi culture up close through visiting monasteries, witnessing rituals and ceremonies during monastic festivals. You will also experience every day life in a high altitude desert by travelling with nomads near Korzok, following herders in the great plains around Tsomoriri Lake and live among ordinary Ladakhi people in remote villages sharing their culture and traditions.

Beyond making beautiful images to take home, this photo-adventure is about learning how to be a visual journalist: exposing yourself to new cultures, overcoming language barriers, and gaining access into the lives of those you meet to create powerful storytelling images.

Who is it for?
Anyone from a keen photo-enthusiast to a semi-professional would learn a great deal from taking part in our adventure and photo-documentary workshop. The main focus in our workshop is to become more confident both as a photographer and a visual storyteller in photographing people and places. Expert advice will be given about how to improve your understanding of light and composition as well as practical hands-on guidance on technical matters and how to get the best out of your camera. However, the workshops are aimed at those travellers who have previous experience in taking pictures and some basic understanding of camera skills and how to operate a DSLR.

Photographers who wish to join us must have their own camera and lenses and we recommend that you bring a lightweight tripod, extra memory cards and a laptop for uploading, processing and editing pictures. A device, such as a pen-drive for file transfer would also be beneficial for sharing and presenting pictures in evening group reviews.

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Workshop Overview
I will be working alongside you to give practical advice and hands-on tips on how to better your photography skills as well as developing your confidence as a photographer to take on new photographic challenges. Working alongside me you will also observe and learn how a professional work in the field and how I approaches my subjects and confronts difficult subject-matter.

There will be ample opportunities to discuss ideas and techniques on a one-on-one basis as well as developing your own personal focus for your learning. Camera skills and technical advice will be taught throughout the workshops relevant to specific photo-shoots, assignments and techniques.

Our destination will be our classroom and in addition to teacher-led demonstrations and individual tutorials you can also expect to learn and improve your photography from informal group discussions and peer review over lunch and dinner as well as evening presentations looking at inspiration from both historical and contemporary practitioners.

In addition, we will also look at ways to process and edit pictures and how to manage workflow using Lightroom and/or Photoshop. There may also be an opportunity to look at different ways to present your pictures either as a layout in a magazine page spread, podcast or online photo-book

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What to Expect
The core-learning objective is developing a greater visual awareness of what makes a great documentary photograph. The emphasis is upon the art of seeing and training your eye to look for the perfect light, decide on what to include in your frame, capture a unique moment, a beautiful scene or an interesting face.

Participants will be set assignments specifically designed to teach different strategies and approaches to visual storytelling in documentary practice. I will convey in words and images his own unique way of working and encourage students to find their own visual vocabulary. You will explore photographic styles, techniques and approaches through portraiture (incl street photography), landscape and still-life.

Those who attend will be able to use the experience, confidence and skills gained to improve their photography in many ways. The goal of our workshop is to help each participant take the next step by bringing clarity to their own personal vision, finding a unique style, and understanding where they are now and where their work can take them. Some use this opportunity as a way to build their portfolio within travel, editorial and documentary photography. Others get a chance to work as a photojournalist on real assignments, photographing real people in their environments and investigating real social, political and economical issues through photography. Many simply sign up for our workshops to travel to a new destination, explore an interest in a different culture and feel a sense of achievement that they have come away with a set of photographs that they feel proud about.

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How do I sign up:
If you want to go beyond the tourist trail and photograph ordinary people and how they live in real environments then join us on our amazing educational photo-adventures of a life time where we will help you develop your own unique photographic style of telling a story in pictures.

For any further information about aspects of the photo-documentary workshop or any other learning opportunities and online mentoring programs please contact Martin at martin@martintoft.com

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Welcome Package:
A month before your trip you will receive our Welcome Package, which includes detailed information about your workshop program, daily itineraries, equipment checklists incl appropriate clothing and answers to most of your questions. Every workshop is different so we make sure that every detail is covered in advance.

Price for Photo Workshop 1: £ 2445 includes:

For program of 20 days/19 nights from 20th July to 07th August 2014

(Pick-up Delhi airport on 20th July to drop Leh airport on 08th August morning)

• All photo workshop/tutorials

• All accommodation in Double or Single rooms*

• All meals

• All transportation by 3 private cars (4 persons per car) from Airport Leh pick-up to drop

• Accommodation in Leh at hotel “Ratna Hotel Ladakh”

• Accommodation en route in Guesthouses or Homestays or Fix Camp

• All Monasteries/Festivals/Monuments/Sites Entrance fees in Ladakh

• Inner Line Permits

• Ladakh Tax

• English speaking cultural guide for 18 Days

• In Delhi on 20th July 2014: airport pick-up, transfer to Hotel Vaishree,

1night in Double/Single with breakfast, airport drop

*single room extra supplement

Price for Photo Workshop 2: £ 995 includes:

For program of 10 Nights from 8th August to 18th August 2014 for Markha Valley Trek (including drop at Leh airport on 18th August morning):

• Transfers to trekking starting point and back to Leh

• 9 Nights in Homestay with all meals

• Load ponies with pony guide

• English speaking trekking guide

• 1 Night in Leh at Ratna Hotel Ladakh after the trek (17th Aug 2014)

• Drop to Leh airport on 18th Aug 2014

Extra stay in Delhi(optional): £180 includes:

For Delhi Hotel 2 Days / 2 Nights Duration: 8th and 9th August (at the end of Photo workshop 1) OR 18th and 19th August (at the end of Photo workshop 2)

• Accommodation in Double or Single room for 2 nights with breakfast

• Airport transfers

• 2-Day City Tour in Mini Coach (seating up to 14 persons)

• 2 lunches

• English speaking cultural guide

The above cost does not includes the below:

• Any flight cost and airport taxes

• Any kind of insurances (Travel, Life, Accident)

• Visa fees

• Tips

• Any kind of personal expenses

Itinerary: Photo Workshop 1: 20 days/19 nights 20th July – 8th August

Day 1: Sun 20 July: Meet participants in New Delhi

Stay at Vaishree Boutique Hotels, New Delhi

Day 2: Fly from New Delhi to Leh.

Day 3-4 (21-23 July): Explore Leh town, Leh Palace and acclimatize.

Stay in Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 5-6 (24-25 July): Travel to Phyang (17km West of Leh) for Buddhist Festival: Phyang Tsesdup at The Phyang Monastery.

Stay in Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 7 (26 July): Visit Stok villages and the residence of the Royal family

Stay in Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 8 (27 July): Visit monasteries Shey and Thiksey, photoshoots

Stay in Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 9 (28 July): Visit monastery Alchi, photoshoots

Stay in Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 10 (29 July): Travel towards Korzok by road following the Indus River.

Stay in Nomadic Life Fix Camp, Korzok

Day 11-12 (30-31 July): Buddhist Festival: Korzok Gustor at Korzok Monestary. Photography workshops based on covering the event.

Stay in Nomadic Life Fix Camp, Korzok

Day 13-15 (1-3 Aug): Explore Korzok in Changthang, visit Tsomoriri Lake.

Stay in Nomadic Life Fix Camp

Day 16 (4 Aug): Visit Tsokar Lake. Stay in Tsokar Resort

Day 17 (5 Aug): Visit Tsokar. Stay in Chalak Homestay, Thak-Thok

Day 18-19 (6-7 Aug): Buddhist Festival: Dakthok Tse-Chu at The Thak-Thok Monastery. 6th Aug Stay in Chalak Homestay, Thak-Thok. 7th Aug Stay in Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 20 (8 Aug): At this stage participants can decide to finish the Photo Workshop 1 and travel back to Leh and fly back to Delhi or continue on to do Photo Workshop 2 and Markha Trek the

Itinerary: Photo workshop 2: 10 days/9 nights 8th – 18th August

Markha Valley Trek – 9 days

This trek has been, one of the most favorite trek among trekkers for a long time because of Beautiful Valley of Markha overshadowed by Kanyatse and other groups of Peaks. The numerous small villages, shepherds camps and passes are main feature of this trek. The trek begins from Stok village passing through Stok La and Gandala Pass, which takes you across Markha valley. At last it crosses Kongmaru Pass and finishes wonderful trek at the famous Hemis monastery.

Photoshoots along route focusing on Ladakhi people, local villages/ culture, Buddhist monasteries/worship, shepherds, mountain scenery etc.

Day 1 (8th Aug) Markha Trek (1/9): Spituk-Zing Chan (5 hours walk)

Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 2 (9th Aug) Markha Trek (2/9): Zing Chan-Yurutse-Gandala BC (5 hours walk.) Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 3 (10th Aug) Markha Trek (3/9): Gandala BC-Skyu (6 hours walk)

Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 4 (11th Aug) Markha Trek (4/9): Skyu-Markha (7 hours walk)

Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 5 (12th Aug) Markha Trek (5/9): Marka-Thuachungtse (5.5 hours) Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 6 (13th Aug) Markha Trek (6/9): Thuachungtse-Nyimaling (3.5 hours) Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 7 (14th Aug) Markha Trek (7/9): Nyimaling Rest.

Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 8 (15th Aug) Markha Trek (8/9): Nyimaling-Sumdo (7 hours).

Stay at Ladakhi Homestay

Day 9 (16th Aug) Markha Trek (9/9): Sumdo-Martselang-Hemis (2.5 hours.) Visit Hemis Monastery, then back to Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Day 10 (17th Aug) Travel back to Leh.

Stay at Ratna Hotel Ladakh, Chuchot

Extra stay in Delhi (optional): £180 includes:

For Delhi Hotel 2 Days / 2 Nights Duration: 8th and 9th August (at the end of Photo workshop 1) OR 18th and 19th August (at the end of Photo workshop 2)

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