Calcutta/Pieter Ten Hoopen workshop 2015

Calcutta/Pieter Ten Hoopen workshop 2015

I was in Calcutta last month to take part in a workshop organised by the Lighthouse with twice World Press photo winner, Pieter ten Hoopen.

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I learned a whole lot in the short 5 days of the workshop, and being in the company of other like-minded photographers was incredibly refreshing to say the least. The workshop was also a good reason for me to finally visit India, and it was both nothing and everything I expected.

Some work I produced from the workshop:

1. Chandni Chowk

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2. Maidanmaidan_001maidan_002 maidan_003 maidan_006

As is always the case when one travels, the company is what makes the experience, and there was no shortage of good company throughout my 2 week stay. Special mentions go to:

Gayatri for being the only other female at the workshop, an awesome roommate, and always as hungry as I was. You can check out her beautiful wedding photography here.

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Pieter ten Hoopen, not only a highly regarded photographer and top class instructor, but also a warm, wise and all-round awesome human being. And pretty good on the decks too:

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Rahul and Arko for not only organising the workshop, but also for being incredibly accommodating hosts who helped me with everything from fighting with my Uber driver to getting me a SIM card when no shop would issue me one. Oh and, they also started the Lighthouse, the only space of it’s kind in Calcutta devoted to photography and connecting the international photographic community to India. I love seeing young people with vision:

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I even managed to catch up with an old Russian mate Victor who I haven’t seen in…7 years! I hosted him as a couchsurfer way back in 2008 during my gap year in Kuala Lumpur. This was a distinctly fun experience, because when he needed a shave I decided to take him to an old school Indian barber:

 

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And now here we are, 7 years later in 2015! The internet is amazing like that ~~

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Aaaand also while not technically human, the cute little Ambassador taxis that I spent as much time stuck in traffic in as I did with people also deserve a special mention. They’re as iconic to Calcutta as the yellow taxicabs in NYC, and it quickly made sense why Dr Bombay felt compelled to make a song about taxis in Calcutta in the late 90s. I would too. Sadly, the Ambassadors have gone out of production and will probably be obsolete in a couple of decades.

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Moving on, I also shot some portraits of guys playing cricket in the park. Everyone was super excited to be photographed and put on their best Sachin Tendulkar faces. I wonder if they knew these photos would only end up on the blog of a food photographer from Sydney:calcutta_127  calcutta_123 calcutta_121 calcutta_120

Some more portraits:  calcutta_129

Future Atletico de Kolkata players

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Chai Wallah in Maidan

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Young woman in Diamond Harbour, a port town 1.5 hours from Calcutta

And finally, some favorites from my time in this beautiful city, where the haze from the pollution serves as a one giant light filter, creating a dreamy, beautiful effect especially in the mornings and evenings. I remember reading in Lonely Planet that Calcutta is a city one ‘feels’ rather than simply visit, and that is a very accurate description. Unlike other big cities where there is an obvious set of things to do and places to visit as a foreigner, Calcutta is a place where it’s not so much the sights that one remembers, but more so the unique laid back, culturally rich, antiquated charm the city exudes. It’s enough to charm one into going back again and again, if not for the pollution and summer heat. I’d like to see it in winter.

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So many cricket action shots

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I thought these were just some old dudes doing yoga in the park, but they turned out to be from the RSS, an extreme right political/religious organisation who don't like muslims. They were very nice to me though and gave me some syrup-soaked plums
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A different religious group doing morning chanting for 9 days straight, in celebration of Lord Rama's birthday

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Young love in the park

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Peak hour metro hustle & bustle

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Personal belongings

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The iconic India Coffee House on College Street, a must-visit for tourists.   

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That’s all from me for now. Hopefully it won’t take me another year to come up with my next blogpost. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a gif of Gayatri eating chaat:

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