UPDATE: This workshop is sold-out.

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Matt Brandon and yours truly are happy to announce the November 2017 edition of our popular Location Portraiture and Lighting Masterclass. We've combined two of India's most photogenic cities into one fantastic, action-packed workshop.

Sadhu overlooking the Ganges

The Masterclass

India in general and Kolkata and Varanasi in particular have always been looked upon as a photographer’s paradise. But even the best locations and most interesting subjects are not enough to create amazing portraits. There are other factors that come into play and the biggest of them all is lighting.

In this Location Portraiture and Lighting Masterclass, we will spend a large amount of time working with available light, sculpted light and the combination of both. This workshop will help you overcome any fears for artificial light you might have and will let you use it as another exciting tool in your photographic toolbox.

Below are some examples of the types of images you can expect to be adding to your portfolio over the course of this eight day Masterclass, which will be held from November 26th to December 3rd in Kolkata and Varanasi, India.

Your hosts: Matt Brandon and Piet Van den Eynde

This Masterclass is led by two instructors: Matt Brandon and Piet Van den Eynde. Both have a passion for travel in general and India in particular and their combined photographic strengths make this Masterclass a unique experience.

Matt Brandon is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer, who collaborates with NGOs to tell their stories and to train their field staff to do the same. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by clients such as Partner Aid International, NeighborWorks, the BBC, Honda Motor Corporation, and Bombardier Transport Corporation, Asian Geographic, KLM Airlines and others. His photographic pursuits have taken him to the countries of Egypt, Tibet, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Philippines and Malaysia to name a few. Matt also is known for teaching presenters how to present their message in the most effective and memorable way. This makes Matt a great teacher to any workshop or classroom. Matt is also a key member of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, he’s on the advisory board for Focus for Humanity and on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. Visit Amazon.com for Matt’s book of images from Kashmir titled “Kashmir, Mystery“.

Piet Van den Eynde (pronounced “Pete”) is a Belgian freelance photographer specializing in travel portraiture. He has written five Dutch books on Adobe Lightroom and currently has a dozen English ebooks for David duChemin's Craft & Vision label, such as ‘Making Light’ and ‘Making Light 2’. He also has a six hour ‘Photoshop for photographers’ video course. Finally, he has created three sets of Lightroom preset packages, one for Black & White, one for Color Grading and a mixed one. He contributes articles to photography magazines and offers photographic training worldwide. He’s an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Certified Expert and is the co-founder of Photofacts Academy, the Dutch online training portal for photography and postprocessing.
In 2009, Piet threw his camera, a flash and an umbrella in his bicycle panniers and cycled 5000 miles through Turkey, Iran, India and Indonesia. Piet will be teaching off-camera lighting skills as well as some Lightroom post processing throughout this Masterclass.

What others are saying...

This is going to be an amazing workshop, but you don't have to take our word for it: here's what George and René, two alumni of the first edition, have to say:

Having taken two workshops with these two wonderful educators and moved from a noob to shooting my first wedding this summer after only two years of shooting, I can attest to their skills in teaching photography. I can’t recommend more highly this opportunity. If anyone wants to talk about my experience, feel free to pm me. I want to add that between my two trips with these two, our time in Varanasi was my favourite.
— George Neill, Application Systems Analyst and Enthusiast Photographer
This is a workshop that will leave a lasting impression. Take the hectic street life and colorful people of Delhi, Varanasi and surroundings. Add Matt’s expertise to work with the local ‘talent’ and put the story into the picture. Spice up with Piet’s mastering of dramatic composition and off-camera lighting. Then top off with your own photographic ambition and inspiration. Whatever your visual and technical skill level may be, your imagery will never look the same again!
— René Delbar, Life-long Photographer and Gear Freak
The workshop was a great experience, I gained a lot of confidence in shooting both street and location flash portrait photography, adding fantastic photos to my portfolio. Many, many thanks to Matt and Piet!
— Thomas Lippok Vice President Sales, EMEA at HBM

The 2017 Location Lighting and Portraiture Masterclass: Itinerary

Don't think the Masterclass is only about artificial (flash) light or posed portraits. We use available light and street photography techniques just as well. All the above images were photographed with available light. In fact, it's the mix between these two approaches to travel portraiture that makes this workshop unique. To us, the difference between available light and flash is an academic one: we simply use the light that is most suitable for the image we have in mind.

Day 00, Nov 25: Arrival in Kolkata

As this is an international group, participants will be arrving from everywhere in the world. That's why we don't count this arrival day as an official workshop day and why we request you arrive a day before the actual workshop begins. Don't worry, we have your hotel covered! Upon your arrival, you will be welcomed by our representative at the Kolkata International Airport and transferred to your comfortable hotel in Kolkata. If you want to arrive earlier and explore Kolkata on your own, you are welcome. But please take note, we only cover airport transfers and hotel starting on this day.

Day 01, Nov 26: Official Masterclass start & First full day in Kolkata

As some participants will have arrived late the previous day, we take an easy start with a nice breakfast at the hotel. We introduce ourselves and have an orientation meeting.  At the start of our trip, we will also schedule some class time on off-camera lighting. Then it’s time to pick up the camera bags and explore the city life in Kolkata's Rippon Street. This is as bustling as it gets! We will explore the back alleyways of this ancient part of the city. It is on Rippon Street where you will find most of the hand pulled rickshaws. Kolkata and Rippon Street in particular is the last place on earth where you can still find and photograph these rickshaws and their drivers.

A rickshaw puller taking a break. Image © Matt Brandon. Fujifilm X-T2 | XF 23 mm F1.4 R | 1/125 @ f/6.3 | ISO 200

A rickshaw puller taking a break. Image © Matt Brandon. Fujifilm X-T2 | XF 23 mm F1.4 R | 1/125 @ f/6.3 | ISO 200

Day 02, Nov 27: Full day in Kolkata

Kolkata, or Calcutta as you might better know it, is the capital of then Indian state of West Bengal. Founded as an East India Company trading post, it was India's capital under the British Raj from 1773–1911. Today it is a city that time forgot. With its narrow streets of colonial architecture and Ambassador cabs fight for every inch of the road against the ancient pull rickshaw, this city is not to be missed. During these two full days, we have a mix of highly photogenic subjects and locations for you in store: from sand wrestlers to pottery sculptors and from flower markets to the Kalighat temple area. From the hustle and bustle of the city centre to the photogenic grittiness of street life around Howrah bridge. This bridge connects Kolkata to India's largest railway station. This is a bridge that 80,000 vehicles and more than a million pedestrians cross every day. Only in Kolkata will you see a bridge awash with humanity like this. Below the bridge is a huge flower market, bathing ghats and even cage wrestling!

Day 03, Nov 28: Last day in Kolkata followed by night train to Varanasi

We enjoy one final day of the Kolkata city life and then prepare our luggage for the second part of the adventure. In the evening we will travel by overnight train to Varanasi: an experience all in itself! 

Day 04, November 29: Arrival day in Varanasi

We'll arrive in the morning in Varanasi's train station where we will me met by our staff and taken to our hotel, a lovely old haveli (an ancient Indian palace turned into a hotel). The place is conveniently situated on the shores of the Ganges. You'll also be introduced to Manoj, our highly capable guide. We'll enjoy breakfast at the hotel and immediately go out to shoot in its highly photogenic neighbourhood. During the hottest time of the day, we have scheduled some class time. Later during the day, we continue to explore life along the Ganges.

Days 05 - Day 07, Nov 30th - Dec 2nd: Full days in Varanasi

After having worked up our photographic appetite the previous day, we continue our photographic exploration of the city and its people. We will portray Varanasi and its inhabitants in all possible ways, at all possible times and using all possible modes of transportation: we will wake up early and experience the life of this ancient city by boat. The boat ride passes along some of the 100 ghats (bathing places), with numerous palaces built by Hindu kings. You’ll be able to experience first hand the early morning rituals being performed by the Hindus. We will photograph sadhus (the wise old men that stroll along the Ganges) but we’ll also explore the back alleyways of Varanasi with its colorful markets. From the milk market to the flower market and the fish market to the chicken market! What makes this workshop unique, is that there will be a mixture of classical, available light street photography with more formal portraits where we will use our flashes to defy and even tame the blazing Indian sun. We’ll practice shooting for storytelling, composition and how to use flash to balance the harsh Indian sunlight. One night, we will have an image critique. Another night, we will have a session on postproduction. These sessions are included in the price but if you prefer to just relax or go out and shoot some more, that's fine, too! After all, it's your workshop!

Day 08, Dec 3rd: Last day in Varanasi - outbound flights

Alas, it’s time to go… but depending on your connections, there is still some time to shoot some more portraits or hunt for souvenirs for those of you who cannot return home empty-handed. After all, you would like your significant other back home to allow you to participate in future workshops, right? The official workshop program ends in Varanasi at noon on December 3rd. You will be brought back to Varanasi Airport and then it’s back home with a suitcase full of memories and a camera bag full of memory cards!

For those interested, we will schedule a class on composition and postprocessing.


While most travel photography workshops have an 8:1 or even a 10:1 guest:instructor ratio, we have purposely limited the number of participants on this trip to only eight. With two instructors, this makes for an incredible 4:1 guest:instructor ratio. We therefore expect this Masterclass to sell out quickly. As mentioned in the introduction, the February 2017 edition sold out within the hour. We regret that we cannot hold spaces: all eight spots will be allotted on a first come, first served basis.

This workshop is open to all levels of photographers using mirrorless or DSLR-style cameras who know the basics about operating their cameras. We've called this a 'Masterclass' because that's what we want you to be by the time you return back home: a master of lighting, both available light and flash, and any mix in between.

The price for this portfolio-altering experience is $4,250. This includes the following:

What’s included: Just about everything.

  • Your stay in a shared double room. You can opt for a single room on the registration page (subject to availability). The single room supplement is $900.
  • All meals and water during the tour;
  • Services of English speaking local guides for sightseeing as per the program;
  • Train fare from Kolkata to Varanasi;
  • Bicycle Rickshaw rides in Kolkata and Varanasi;
  • Boat rides in Varanasi as per the program;
  • Bottled water in the Mini Coach;
  • Tuition by Matt and Piet;
  • Model and fixer fees;
  • Use of lighting gear during the workshop: although you can bring your own lighting equipment, you're welcome to use ours.

What’s NOT included:

  • Any expenses of personal nature like tips, souvenirs, laundry, all beverages (except water), telephone calls, etc...
  • Any expenses caused by factors beyond our control like flight cancellation, road blocks, vehicle malfunction etc...
  • Any travel, medical or evacuation insurance. We'll require you to have travel and cancellation insurance and provide proof of that before the start of the workshop.
  • Your international flight to Kolkata and back home from Varanasi.

Booking and payment policy

Registrations are open now. To secure your spot, follow this link (you will be redirected to Matt Brandon's website) or click on the image below and click on the Registration tab. If you have any additional questions, please send us an email using the contact form!


Our Sponsors


We kindly thank Fujifilm Belgium for providing us with Instax printers and paper to use throughout the workshop. You'll experience first hand the joy that photography can bring when you offer a print to someone you've just photographed.

We also thank Cactus Image to provide each participant with a camerabrand-independent yet highly powerful flash trigger to use during the workshop. Read more about the fantastic new Cactus V6 Mk II here.

Finally, we thank our educational sponsors, Craft & Vision and Photofacts Academy for the early bird bonuses.

The Fujifilm Instax Printer is like the photographic equivalent of Good Karma. Step 1. Make a portrait. Step 2. Give a print. Step 3. Someone else will invariably ask you to have their portrait taken. Step 4: Repeat Step 1. [Occasional extra step: change paper in Instax printer - even more occasional extra step: recharge Instax printer's battery]

The Fujifilm Instax Printer is like the photographic equivalent of Good Karma. Step 1. Make a portrait. Step 2. Give a print. Step 3. Someone else will invariably ask you to have their portrait taken. Step 4: Repeat Step 1. [Occasional extra step: change paper in Instax printer - even more occasional extra step: recharge Instax printer's battery]


All images on this page are © Piet Van den Eynde, except for the Kolkata images which are © Matt Brandon and some behind-the-scenes images that are © René Delbar and George Neill.