I just got back from teaching my first travel photography workshop in India! Heather from Atmalogy Cafe organized the logistics of the trip and I was responsible for teaching photography and leading the photography expeditions. We took a group of eager travelers, rented a car, and drove through Rajasthan in the north of India. We had a blast! From photographing the Hindu Spring festival of Holi to documenting the daily, colorful life that is India, everyone left the trip with tons of photos to remember the trip with and as a better photographer.
When I lived in Asia, I worked as a travel photographer. My job took me to a number of culturally intense and challenging places like India, so this part of the trip was nothing new. Since being back in the States, I've been teaching photography, so I definitely felt comfortable coming up with the lesson plans and teaching how to use a camera. What was the most challenging part of the trip was dealing with everyone's-except Heather who had been to India several times before-first time to India and the experience they were having adjusting to such an intense country. India is an incredible place. Being one of the world's oldest countries, there are many historical sites to see. It's also very colorful. From the bright hues of the women's saris to the rainbow spectrum of the architecture India is definitely a kaleidoscope of visual treats to enjoy and to photograph! But India isn't only color and culture. It's also limbless beggars, many of them children, pulling on you for money. It's garbage in the streets. It's endless traffic that can be literally suffocating especially in the heat. It's bureaucracy and red tape that make what could be the easiest of errands in the West, take forever. It's crowds of people and traffic vying for space in the road. India, to sum up, is everything. It's everything of humanity squeezed in a relatively small space and it can be overwhelming.
But no country offers a travel experience like India does. It's challenging but extremely rewarding. With that, many people experience culture shock their first time there. Not only was I teaching photography to the students on this trip, I was, for all basic purposes, their guide as well. It was a challenge for me to deal with everyone's culture shock, but it taught me a lot about understanding, empathy, and patience. And to see people come out of their culture shock and fall in love with India was extremely rewarding for me.
So I would say the trip was a huge success and I've already got the wheels turning for other trips in the future. I'd like to take a group of students back to India, but also to other countries-like Thailand and Greece.
Stay tuned for word of future workshops!