The Ladakh 2012 trip was a 12 day photographic adventure of discovery in an exotic region of Northern India. The golden land of Ladakh (Land of High Passes) is nestled between the giant Himalayas and the Karakorams. The region is interlaced along the ancient Silk Route between Sinkiang and Kashmir, which provides many spectacular views and a rich history for visitors to experience. It is one of the few “Last Frontiers” to be explored since openings its boarders to the public approximately two decades ago. Known for its deep spirituality, unique culture and warm hospitality, Ladakh provides a full experiential trip for the true adventurist.
The team was lead by two extraordinary individuals; Kristian Bogner - Nikon Ambassador and three time award winner of Canadian photographer of the year. Along with a legendary guide & friend - Chandan – he makes the Dos Equis beer guy look like a kitten – for real. With their combined efforts, they were able to expose student photographers to stunning landscapes and culture in a safe yet very informative environment. Kristian provided exceptional instruction and inspiration along the trip to ensure that participants would achieve the photographic results they desired. While Chandan enhanced the adventure with his extensive knowledge of Ladakh history and folklore, as well as ensuring participants were well taken care of and most of all – well fed!
What can one expect upon venturing into India? Plenty of surprises! So its best to go with an open mind, sense of adventure and the ability to submerge yourself in the beauty that is India – and a bottle of Pepto wouldn’t hurt either. As This photographic adventure will bring you back to the playfulness that you only experienced in your youth, captured all through the lens of your camera.
We started off our adventure by landing in New Delhi and were immediately whisked off by car to Agra – home of the magnificent Taj Mahal. Lucky for us, the new Yamuna expressway, has been put in from New Delhi to Agra. That makes this trip much more enjoyable and quicker (approximately 3 hours) than the previous 6(ish) hour trip. Just a straight clip down the new expressway brings you into vibrant Agra – well worth the toll for what you save in time!
Once we reached Agra, we took a quick a stop on the side of the road before hitting the majestic monument. This allowed us to get some pictures of the Taj Mahal from a distance in some beautiful morning light.
The Taj Mahal is stunningly beautiful even amongst the throng of people visiting the exquisite shrine, Emperor Shah Jahan built for his wife, MumTaz Mahal. We had an entertaining guide who was able to help us not only with the wonderful history of the Taj, along with Chandan’s help, but as well with getting some interesting shots of the Taj. As it turns out the guide’s father was a photographer, so he took a great interest in helping us capture some unique angles of the Taj.
After a spectacular day shooting at the Taj Mahal, Chandan showed us another interesting part of the city that few visit on their Agra trip. He took us to a cemetery to see the Red Taj Mahal. This monument is the resting place for Col John Hessing and was constructed after his death in 1803 by his wife Martha. Though it stands no where near the magnificence of the great Taj Mahal, it still is quite striking against the backdrop of the cemetery. Just don’t venture into the Red Taj if you’re scared of anything small and flying…such as bats.
We had one more quick photo stop at the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, where we took advantage of the golden light streaming down on the great monument. As well as some reprieve from the humid heat, as the Tomb is situated close by the Yamuna river and provided some much welcomed breeze. After playing with the light and with a few willing locals who happily modeled in a few shots – we hit the road again!
I don’t think one of us could recount the sleepy car ride home, but we made it safely back to the hotel in New Delhi after a long day of shooting. Even though we were tired that didn’t stop us from enjoying one of many delicious dinners we would have during the course of our trip with thanks to Chandan. After dinner we all promptly headed back to our rooms at the hotel to get a good night’s rest for the start of our Ladakh journey in the morning.
Photography by Kristian Bogner | Written by Sarah Rideout
"Everything happens for a reason – as luck would have it that reason ended up with us being able to attend and photograph some of India’s most lucrative fashion shows."
Delhi Couture Fashion Week is a five day celebration of fashion and intrigue, featuring some of the most well known names in the industry. Masked with brilliant colours, intricate embroidery and luminous fabrics – Delhi Couture Week is a radiant feast for the eyes. In which one could completely gorge on King Henry the Eighth style – with complete excessiveness and true extravagance.
For India couture represents a time when clothing was associated with fantasies, beauty, creativity and detailed artwork for the maharajas (a great king) and the moguls (an imperial power in subcontinent India) The clothing is meant to tell that story of seduction and power by using nature and human emotion as its inspiration. This was apparent during the shows with the designers’ choice of colour and creativity used to develop the clothing. The way the fabrics fell and swayed on the models as they glistened down the runway – you could see that no King would’ve been able to resist the temptation. It was very sensual with out trying to be sexy- just pure and beautiful.
This is how our fashion adventure began... We landed early morning in the hot, very humid and chaotic city of New Delhi. There was a chauffeur waiting for us at the airport to bring our bleary eyed, slightly delirious and maybe a tad hung-over (thank you British Airways) selves to the grandiose Taj Palace Hotel. Neither opulent or luxurious would even come close to describing the service and atmosphere provided by the lovely Taj Palace Hotel – but it would be a start. For instance; we totally got “leid” as soon as we walked in by two beautiful women with warm gracious smiles – oh yeaaah - the day was off to a great beginning! The wonderful staff go over and above to ensure their guests receive the highest level of customer service, one can truly define the word pampered after at stay at the Taj!
Once settled, we headed down to the lounge area for breakfast and to meet our friend, mentor and great ambassador of India - Chandan - and his lovely partner Liza. Chandan would also be guiding us through our next adventure in Ladakh (check back for our blogs on Ladakh soon!) They certainly helped shake off some of the jet leg with big hugs and smiles as they greeted us. Liza also brought with her two beautiful scarfs for us – which would prove to be very useful later that evening.
It was over breakfast that we were informed by a charming lady that some of the biggest shows of Delhi Couture Week were to take place that evening in our hotel. Kristian and I only had to quickly exchange looks to know exactly where we would be heading that evening!
After our breakfast and saying “see you soon” to Chandan and Liza – it was time for a dip in the pool and maybe to sneak a little nap. The pool was shockingly refreshing despite the heavy heat and a quick beauty rest provided us with the stamina for the upcoming evening. We pulled on the best we could find to wear based on packing for a hiking trip; flip flops, casual pants and the “nicest” tops we brought- my saving grace was the scarf (thank you Liza!) It was the only thing that kinda made me look like a fashion conscious person! With a Nikon D800E and Nikon D4 cameras around our necks we headed down to where the action was.
We went down to the main floor of the hotel and noticed an escalator down to a level below – it was there that we found what we were looking for! The escalator ride down brought us into the frenzy of the who’s who of India from the affluent to the Bollywood stars – they were all there and so were we!
We figured out where the first show was being held and spoke to the security team. We informed them of our purpose to shoot the show and bring it to the Canadian audience. They most graciously welcomed us into the media section of the first show by Shantanu & Nikhil, www.shantanunikhil.com, who delighted us with a captivating show.
We were completely stunned with the fashions and atmosphere– it was appealing to all senses and left us wanting more. After the show we ran into our charming lady friend from earlier that day. She invited us up to join her and friends and once again provided us with another useful bit of information – that the next show was the top designer in India and that we had to attend.
After some time mingling with our new acquaintances, it was time to grab a quick dinner before the big show. We went to one of the many hotel restaurants and were provided with a beautiful meal including a local specialty drink. Which at first glance kind of looked like dirty water but ended up tasting very unfamiliar but super delicious. After which we headed back down the escalator to check out the next show.
It was clear that this show was “The Show” based on the line of people trying to get in and chaos happening all around. Kristian was able to effortlessly slide in past security based on his credentials and his big lens but I on the other-hand was made to wait outside, “No room” being the explanation. Just as I heard the runway music start and began losing hope of entering “The Show”, Kris and our charming friend re-surfaced and managed to convince the security to let me in. The room was packed!!! It was Bollywood, tons of media and fashion devotees – meshed together in one room and completely bypassing any fire codes that could possibly be in place. The media section was jammed but a quick jump over a gate (thanks to one of the security guards that boosted us over) we found our spot in the pack and became completely immersed in the enchanting madness all around. The designer was Manish Malhotra, www.manishmalhotra.in, the top designer in the Indian fashion scene and it was obvious why that was the case once we saw a few models go by. The fashion was spectacular, a complete piece of art that cleverly hugged the models in all the right places. You literally couldn’t take your eyes off the runway – else you would’ve missed a masterpiece in human form. The show was topped off with an appearance by one of the top Bollywood starlets, Katrina Kaif.
All and all – the evening was completely mesmerizing – not only by the designers but also by all the lovely people we met who helped create such an enthralling experience. Kristian captured some truly incredible shots of the beautiful fashion, which will certainly help keep this moment alive in our minds for some time to come. I think its safe to say we would happily return to Delhi Couture Week 2013 if the opportunity presented itself.