The Cult of Durga Photo Expedition-Workshop

$2900 (on twin-share) COST DETAILS:$2900 (twin share based on 6 participants) $800 (Single Supplement)

The Cult of Durga Photo Expedition-Workshop will be held in Kolkata on September 29-October 13, 2011.  The cultural capital of India and its metropolitan area has a population of more than 15 million, making it the third most populated metropolitan areas in India after Mumbai and Delhi. Three quarters of Calcuttans are Hindu, while the rest are Muslims, and other minority religions.

Kolkata’s Durga Puja is the most important religious festival of West Bengal, and it celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. Due to its importance, it’s the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society of the year. Durga Puja also includes the worship of Shiva, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Saraswati and Kartikeya deities. Representations of these deities (known as murtis) are created from special clay, and the entire process from the collection of the clay to the ornamentation is a holy process, supervised by rites and other rituals.

MULTI-PRONGED: As befits the context of this photo expedition/multimedia workshop, our objectives will be multi-pronged; the primary aim will be to photograph the innumerable rites associated with the Durga festivities, documenting some of the ornate pandals (platforms on which the deities are displayed), and ultimately their immersion in the city’s Hooghly river which we shall photograph from the ghats and from rowboats.

As Kolkata offers a diverse, gritty, and a visually compelling environment to delight photographers, this is also a “street-photography-heavy” workshop, during which we shall seek to document the lives of rickshaw pullers (remember City of God), the activity in Sonagachi (the red-light district) subject to safety considerations and acquiring permission to do so, the massive flower market, the temple to Kali at Kalighat, and photograph the various ethnic enclaves of Kolkata such as Chinatown, and the Jewish synagogues. It will entail photographing during the day and at night.

OBJECTIVES: Emulating real-life photo assignments, the aim of the workshop is to assist its participants produce 2-3 multimedia bodies of work ready for publishing. Participants will merge their still photography and audio to create compelling narratives. While black & white photography may lend itself better in the context of this particular workshop, it is left to each participant to decide on whether to produce narratives in color or monochrome. Participating photographers will have to own/use portable audio recorders, and specialized audio-slideshow software.

WHO FOR: The Kolkata’s Cult of Durga Photo~Expedition™ is structured for photographers interested in documentary photography, ethno-photography and multimedia, and for those ready to create visual projects from their inventory of photographs, and learn how to control story length, intent, pace, use of music and ambient sound, narration, field recordings and interviews.

RESULT: The Cult of Durga Multimedia Audio Slideshow.

The Travel Photographer’s Photo~Expeditions™ are best described as a mixture ofdocumentary photojournalism, ethno-photography and travel photography”adventures. As with other previous expeditions, the Kolkata’s Cult of Durga will include both documentary-style (candid and on-the-run) photography, as well as posed photo sessions with selected people we may encounter (the rickshawwallahs as an example).

Tewfic El-Sawy is The Travel Photographer, a freelance photographer who specializes in documenting endangered cultures and traditional life ways of Asia, Latin America and Africa, has been organizing and leading photo expeditions since 2000. He’s enthusiastic about documentary-travel photography and produces multimedia stories, merging still photography and ambient sound.

His favorite destination is India, which he visited no less than 18 times. He recently published DARSHAN, a book of his photographs of India. He’s also a faculty member of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, tutoring the essentials of multimedia to emerging photojournalists.

Important Notice: The Kolkata’s Cult of Durga Photo Expedition™ is limited to 6 participating photographers only. It is not for first timers to India, nor for starting photographers. Participation is subject to a portfolio review.