JOIN OUR WOMEN SUPPORT WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHY TRIP TO INDIA
- Contribute to the college education of girls you photograph
- Spend one on one time photographing our ‘wards’ in their homes and villages
- Visit Varanasi (holiest city of India), Kolkata (Mother Teresa’s home) and Chandelao (hamlet in rural Rajasthan).
-Get up close and personal with Indians and their culture through the eyes of Archana Kumar, a native Indian, and a New Yorker now
- Participate in a kind yet constructive peer-to-peer review
Travel Photography With Heart
Travel photography is now more popular than ever, but too often it focuses on the exoticism of a culture, thereby objectifying the people in the images we capture. The resulting photographs reduce individual lives to nothing more than decoration, ignoring their core humanity. Photos For Humanity Workshop was founded to provide a different sort of travel photography workshop—one whose time has come—dedicated to introducing a mindful approach, based on the principles of dignity of and mutual respect for the people we portray and their culture. We believe that learning about different cultures and making personal connections with those who generously allow us to document their lives is as important as returning home with compelling images. Equally important to us is offering a fair value exchange by financially supporting the girls and women from the communities we photograph.
What to expect
We aim for a symbiotic and mutually rewarding relationship with our subjects. The end result: we make beautiful images, the photographed receive support. Both are enriched by the cultural exchange and a connection made, however brief, with someone they would otherwise never have met.
This requires a certain code of behavior from the workshop participants:
• Always ask for permission. Body language and hand gestures are understood even if there is a language barrier.
• Engage with your subject before and after the shoot. It is important not only to establish a personal and respectful connection before you take a photograph, but continuing the connection leaves your subject feeling appreciated. Portraits are a gift to you from your subject—treat it as such.
• Do not shoot images of the impoverished, destitute or physically challenged. To do so is objectifying and profiting from someone else’s misfortune.
• No flash photography. No one wants a blinding light in the face. Again, this is just a matter of respect.
• Be respectful to other photographers. When everyone adopts a team sensibility, everyone gets good images and has a fruitful experience. Hogging a subject or a scene is bad form.
• Operate from a position of cooperation, not competition. PFH workshops are communal by nature and we expect everyone to support the other participants. No image is worth degrading that fellowship.
***If you are a competitive photographer who will do anything for the “perfect shot”, including endangering yourself or pushing aside fellow photographers, THIS WORKSHOP IS NOT FOR YOU.
Costs & Registration:
The fee will be $ 4,995, of which 15% (almost $750) will go to supporting the college education of the girls in Chandelao. This includes all hotels, 13 breakfasts, several lunches and dinners, all van and bus travel to various locations for photographing, various guides, and airport pickup and departures. The fee does not include airfare to/from the U.S and other meals, nor does it include internal flights.
History of Photos For Humanity
In October 2018, we launched the Proof of Concept Workshop—the Maiden Voyage—with great success. The enterprise started with a question: how can a group of photographers make images of people in a foreign culture without exploiting them? The answer: by entering into a mutually beneficial arrangement with the community.
We raised $5,500 to pay for the first year of college and books for 43 girls from the village of Chandelao, Ramsani and a few other neighboring hamlets in Rajasthan, India. We started with a list of 26 girls, but once the word spread, more girls became interested in furthering their education.
Our Workshop Experience
On October 27, a small, cohesive group of seven women traveled to Chandeloa, Varanasi and Kolkata. Although the brainchild of the founder of PFH Archana Kumar, the workshop was a collaborative effort, with every member bringing their special skills to the experience.
In Chandelao, each photographer partnered up with at least one girl (our “wards”) who was a recipient of our scholarships and spent time with them individually. As we got to know our wards, we photographed them and their families during their day-to-day activities. They also acted as our guides as we walked around the villages, meeting and photographing other families.
In Varanasi, we photographed devotees on the ghats (with their permission, of course), walked the narrow alleys, experienced the nighttime and early morning Fire Ceremonies and visited the local wrestling school (Akharas). We dined together each night on a home-cooked meal with an expansive view of the Ganga (The Ganges).
In Kolkata, we participated in the local festival, Kali Puja, at the home of Archana’s friend Raja, a talented Sari designer. We were privileged to join Raja’s family in the immersion ceremony, which included prayers, song and dance, all leading to the final event: a ride to the Hoogly (Ganga) to immerse the Kali Goddess idol. We also visited the Potter’s Colony, where artisans make the clay goddess idols, and the chaotic but beautiful local fish market.
Every two days, we held a Peer-to-Peer Review, which was based on the understanding that the work we do is intensely personal and scary to put up for a critique, and so should be reviewed kindly and constructively, using our ever-developing sense of collaborative teamwork as a guideline. Throughout the workshop, the spirit of cooperation nurtured not only the atmosphere where the participants felt free to create beautiful images, but also the blossoming of friendships with one another. Consequently, the cultural, photographic and personal experiences were richly rewarding for the entire group.
Having attended many photography workshops all over the world, I have decided that the time spent in India with Photos for Humanity was the most rewarding. The small group size, the collaborative structure, as well as the knowledge that we were giving back to the community we were photographing, are all elements that put PFH workshops a cut above. Add to this the personal connections I made along the way both with people we met in India as well as my photographer colleagues, makes the experience a treasured life-long memory as well.
~ Susan Borowitz, West Harrison, New York
This journey was very special because Archana has a heart for her home country, and she generously shared her knowledge, experience and personal relationships with us along the way. It was a pleasure meeting her friends, connecting with strangers, and having her ability to translate the Hindi language. I enjoyed the combination of planned events together as a small group, and the flexibility of having free time to explore on my own. A highlight of this workshop was spending time in the homes of young women who want to attend college, and the opportunity to help support them financially as part of the workshop fee. Photographing in India was exciting, vibrant and inspirational, and I hope to continue going back to this welcoming country.
~ Linda Omelianchuk, Atlanta
One of the special features of Archana’s workshop is the personalized nature of the experience.
Because of her contacts, you will meet people and visit places you would not normally have access to in a workshop situation.
~ Robin Langsdorf, New York City
The privilege of being able to travel and photograph while learning about and experiencing other cultures is a very special gift that we bestow upon ourselves. Taking part in Archana Kumar's India workshop has also presented us with the gift of 'giving back' by allowing us to be able to give the gift of helping to further the education of so many young women in the rural villages that we visited. This makes her workshop entirely different from others that I've known. With Archana, we learn, meet and interact with these young women while being immersed in their worlds. Because this is Archana's country, we're given a deeper insight into the Indian psyche, the local customs and spend time with her friends and their families. I definitely look forward to joining this workshop again. It was such a truly unique, relaxed and educational experience with an extremely talented, caring and supportive group of photographers.
~ Romney Müller-Westernhagen, New York City