The people who traveled with me

 

2016 is nearly over, and I wish to thank all the people who traveled with me to Morocco, Sicily, Iceland and India.

It was a wonderful year, also thanks to each one of you.

I learned a lot, I dared a lot of times out of my comfort box, and I laughed a lot. I made some photos that I am very proud of. I made new friends, I enjoyed the company of old friends who I don’t meet often, and I really enjoyed traveling, with all pros and cons.

We  stayed at an ecolodge to respect the environment, at a secret bay and it took us hours to find it, so secret the bay was, ahaha. We walked naked in a hammam full of other women. We danced in the car at the sound of berber music. We bought carpets, we bought drums, we bought spices.

Some of us ate rotten shark in Iceland, some of us were attacked by Artic terns, and we all enjoyed those long days with no nights. There was not much contact with the locals, but we were there for the landscapes and the horses.

In Sicily we had the best wines, ever. We got to shoot historical reenactments, we slept at the base of a volcano, we learned how to shoot stories that we created ourselves, we drove through closed roads where no cars are allowed because we got lost, we fought the GPS lack of logic in the mountains. We made lots of friends.

We helped a cats and dogs NGO in Morocco, we held a workshop for donkeys owners, we visited several international charities. We stayed at women’s cooperatives for a few days, we visited schools, we had meals using our fingers instead of forks and knives, we walked in beaches that have changed since due to the extreme power of nature. We loved every single moment.

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We are again collecting medicines for a charity in Morocco, please let me know if you can help

In India we stayed at beautiful heritage hotels, we had tea in a remote village in the dark, while women fed the water buffaloes and we sat there, sipping the tea and enjoying the moment. We were invited to visit houses, we laughed with our guide Shiv, we felt overwhelmed at the Taj Mahal, we talked with camel owners, we got surrounded by cattle in the road, we shot from the top of a water cistern and from the roof of our bus; we walked over a dam’s narrow wall for miles, we visited Old Delhi in the back of a rickshaw.

We are still in contact with many of the people we met, models, guides, drivers, hosts…

I will hopefully meet some of you again next year, 2017, in Sicily ( April), Morocco (April)  or Iceland (September).

My next photo trip to India will be in February 2018.

 

 

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Body jewelry

Piercing and the use of body jewelry is a practice that has a very long story. It is believed that in India it started from the time of the Mughal emperors in the 16th century. Many married hindu women wear a nose stud in the left nostril, due to the association in the Ayurvedic medicine of the nostril’s with the reproductive organs.

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quoting Wiki about anklets: ” Rajasthani women wear the heaviest type of anklets, which are silver and signify tribal adherence. The women wear these as costume jewelry, but also to show their bravery as a tribe against other rival tribes. The fashion for heavy anklets is declining in India now, but is still common in rural areas.

In the eastern Indian state of Odisha, which is famous for its traditional jewelry, there are varieties of anklets known as Paunji Nupur, which are worn by women. Another variety, which covers the entire foot, is known as Padapadma. In ancient times men also wore anklets. Traditionally, only Kshatriya (Royal/Warrior caste) people can wear gold anklets, and other castes wear silver anklets.

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Also men wear jewelry, for instance earrings. I did a search to understand more about it, and it seems that Designer Ana Singh said “Earrings in India have long been associated with the Rajput clan and royalty in general. If you happen to go to any one of the parties in Jaipur, you will see many Rajput men wearing a bandhgala with big earrings. Since Rajputs have been warriors, earrings make them look all the more macho and handsome, so it depends how well you are able to carry it off,” she explains.

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Surprising sights

In Rajasthan we were always surrounded by exoticism and there were surprises for us every day. Let me show you the photos and the story of some surprising sights

This particular day had started with monkeys (langur) which we hadn’t seen the previous days. They were everywhere, sitting on the road side and playing in the roof of our bedrooms. They were not shy but they didn’t also seem to search for contact with the people.

After lunch we rested a bit, we had gotten a sort-0f-cold from the dust and the pollution in Delhi, we were coughing and we needed some rest to recover. When I woke up I went looking for the others and I saw this beautiful sight, in front of Beate’s room.

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They also were not shy and they were not concerned with the shutter clicking. Kind of cool surprise 🙂

The other surprising sight, at least for me, were the goats, some were really interesting, judge by yourself. Next time I will surely take better photos of this breed of goats, they are beautiful, some are quite big, and there are some very unique color patterns to be seen.

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Young billy goat at sunset, he was rather friendly and didn’t stink, so probably he was really young:

_pds8090Cows were “decorated” for Dewali, the Festival of Lights, and we were there during Dewali, so we saw plenty of decorated animals, like this cow

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… and a mother with her baby water buffaloes, swimming in the river

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Even camels were painted and decorated, what a sight!

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India is a beautiful, complex, colorful country!

Old Delhi

Old Delhi was an overwhelming experience, for me. I know, it would be crazy to go to India and not visit Old Delhi, but…the pollution, the crowds, the noise, the traffic and the sense of being in danger every time we crossed the streets, it was too much for me.

I am glad we went there, but I have no intention to go back and re-do the experience.

The guide we got just for Delhi was unfortunately a #^*}¥~!, thank God we had Shiv for the rest of the trip. I am glad I don’t even remember his name anymore. He was the opposite of Shiv. He didn’t care.

I love the open spaces, the silence, the country side, the tiny villages, the calm.  Old Delhi was like a shock to me, as I had just arrived in the country. I was just lost, I felt my brain overwhelmed by strong harsh peeks of my senses, adrenaline stinging my finger tips every time we risked to be in collision with another vehicle. And the noise. The noise was unbelievable. Loud. Ugly. Unnecessary.

That same night Beate and myself we had the very best meal in India, with Bashir Butt.

And what about the Pashminas, he showed us some precious pashminas, hand made, from Kashmir, wow!  It was such a great evening.

Time lapse

India and how important it is to be well organized

I had been thinking about going to India for years, but always something had happened that pulled me away from that dream.

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Photo shot with Shiv’s phone, during the preparation of a photo shoot. We traveled with a 12 seat van, which seat capacity was sometimes quite useful ;-).

For all my photo-trips it takes me more or less one year ( yes!) to plan the whole thing, specially if I didn’t have the chance to do the scouting before the trip. I need to be sure that we would be going at the right time of the day to the certain place, and that the tack and the horses would be perfect, and much more. Some locations are morning places, others are better in the afternoon. It has to do with the light and with the background options.

I found in Christine and Arun the perfect team. They became our logistic organizers and problem solvers.  We started building an itinerary which was changed many times, for many reasons, along the months,  until I was happy with everything and until a certain number of photo shoots had been planned and included in the itinerary.

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Organizing a photo shoot is not easy and it has to be done well in advance and with proper know-how about the logistics, or the risk of missing the good light is high.

In the meantime I started a FB group with the small group of people who were interested in going to India with me. Three people, maximum four, can fit in this kind of trips. My photo trips are quite intense, there was not a single day where we didn’t have to get up very early, and a delay would mean missing the best light. We needed a shoot at sunrise and one at sunset, sometimes at places which were at 4 hours of distance. We planned to travel mainly by van , but also twice we would take the train  and once we would need to fly an internal flight to optimize the time. It all worked flawlessly.

We then in the group started discussing the practical side of many factors, from the equipment, to the luggage weight for the internal flight, to small important details like security at the Taj Mahal, which would hold us for too long if we didn’t follow their instructions, etc. We watched the newspapers, we talked about the culture, etc etc, for many months, in that FB group.

People often don’t realize that a shoot with horses during a trip means lots of organization. Variety of backgrounds, variety of horses, tack, transportation, time tables of all sorts, even some props, etc.

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Shiv, our guide, who would make any of our creative ideas happen

We had a wonderful guide, Shiv, who took care of everything, from our comfort to the organization of every little detail during the shoots. Without him, our trip to India would’ve never been the same.

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Our hosts played a great rold in the success of the shoots, here Hemant Deval and his son

About Sicily On Focus

First thing, when it will happen: from the 28th of April to the 7th of May 2017

Sicily On Focus will be a nine day photographic trip through Sicily, for advanced amateurs and for professionals, led by Paula da Silva.

Sicily On Focus is about horses, but it is also about landscapes, street scenes, people, other animals, culture and art.

Sometimes we may have time to rest and do some photo editing together, but not often.

If anyone is looking to shooting just horses, this is not for you.

It will be a group of 5 people.

To be part of this small group is a privilege, as it will be the last event of shared traveling led by Paula da Silva.

There is a Facebook group for the people attending, where we discuss in detail the itinerary and the  everything you need to know. For more info: paula.dasilva@libero.it

Put intention on your photos

Put intention on your photos. You can travel  with full awareness of where you are going,  or you can travel and do photography in a naif way, without doing any research about the places you will visit, ignoring traditions and history of the country, and without a clue on what the local horse and dog breeds should look like

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Young lady riding a Sanfratellano horse, local endangered breed, in the Sicilian mountains

As easy as that. Awareness. Easy to find online LOTS of information about just anything, in English, so if you can read English, there is no excuse for traveling  unprepared.

Trips should be prepared and the itinerary should NEVER be a surprise when you get there, as that would put you in a “disavantaged” situation, because you won’t understand what you are looking at, and I don’t mean monuments, I mean the local CULTURE. That is the main reason why I keep a Facebook group for the people traveling with me. The more you know about the places, the people and the animals at a new place, the easier for you to get positively inspired.

You can very easily find in the movies, books, music and local art the input to get better results while shooting, and a stimulus for even more creativity when post processing your images.

I always encourage people who travel with me to read a few books or watch some videos before the photo-trip, and I do that many months before the actual event, as it is something very important to do with plenty of time and a relaxed mind.  Most of the times the movies suggest you the “mood”,  and books give you the knowledge.

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Little boy in Sicily

Show people around you that you care, when you travel. You will get more willing “models” and a happier human environment, if you do. Show people that you cared so much that you took the time to learn a couple of important words, just two, like “thanks” and “please.

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A Sicilian goat “Girgentana”, local breed. Researchers believe it descends from the taken to Sicily by the Greek about 700 BC, or in the eighth century AD by Arab invaders.

Don’t you feel like a colonizer, but vice versa, let your open mind be colonized by the traditions, the music and the local gastronomy, at least while you are there. You will then get amazing photos, photos that have a meaning, not just touristic snaps to show that you were there. Put intention on your photos.