Royal Travancore Fotografia 2017, the largest photography workshop to take place in Kerala, India, was held last week in Thiruvananthapuram, the state’s capital. A large crowd of over 300 photo-enthusiasts eager to learn more about photography gathered at the venue long before the scheduled opening time of 8am on 26 February.
The Royal Travancore Fotografia 2017, which was organized by FQ8, a Kuwait-based group of photographers, in association with Sanchari, an online community of travellers, was inaugurated by Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
The workshop’s venue was the famed Kanakakkunnu Palace, once the official guest-house and summer retreat of the erstwhile Travancore Royal Family. Built around the turn of 19th Century in British colonial era architectural style, the palace and its sprawling grounds situated on the crest of a hillock surrounded by lush meadows, flowering shrubs and sculpted gardens, formed a picturesque background for the photography workshop.
It was in 2011 that two young photo-enthusiasts working in Kuwait, Shafimon Ummer and Kiran Mithra were brought together by their love for photography and a keen desire to improve their skills. However, with no one to mentor them and equipment being expensive, the two decided to pool their camera-kits and teach themselves photography through trial and error, and regular practice. The two were later joined by Bishara Mustafa, Riyas Moodady and Haris Ideed, all working in Kuwait.
“We set apart every Friday morning for shoots, reviewing each other’s photos before posting them on Facebook. Many people began calling us about our photographs and how they could improve their own photography. The realization that we could give back to society by freely sharing our experiences and expertise in photography is what led us to form FQ8. Today, there are over 200 members in FQ8.
Since holding their first workshop in Kuwait in 2015, the FQ8 team has organized several workshops and seminars in Bahrain, UAE and the Philippines. “As many of us are from Kerala, we thought it would be a good idea to take this initiative back home and try it on photography lovers there; that was how we ended up with the ‘Grand Malabar Fotografia’. This first workshop, which was held in Kozhikode District in 2015, was a resounding success and it encouraged us to hold more such workshops and seminars,” said Mr. Ummer.
The Royal Travancore Fotografia, which was held free of charge for all attendees, began with a session by Mr. Mustafa, an expert in wildlife photography, on the basics of framing and taking pictures. This was followed by Mr. Mithra explaining fine-art and mobile photography and the several possibilities in mobile photography that are often overlooked by many people.
Then, Mr. Ummer, a winner of Kuwait Photo Exhibition 2016 and official ambassador of Sigma lens in Kuwait, delved into more complex techniques of advanced photography, including on how long-exposure photography, which generally requires a lot of time and patience, could be done effortlessly. This was followed by Varun Thottathil, a leading travel photographer based in Kerala, speaking about ‘Travel Photography’ and on the art of freezing the lives and stories of people and places in different frames.
The post-lunch session began with product-photographer Mr. Ideed, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Photography and now a leading product photographer for media and TV commercials in Kuwait, revealed the art of capturing products attractively, with a demonstration using lovely cakes as product models.
The session then moved on, with portrait-photography expert and official lens-man for The Times Kuwait newsmagazine, demonstrating several techniques employed in framing and shooting portraits. The professional skills and charm of Mr. Moodady, as he worked his magic on the two models, Keerthi and Shamini of Sanchari, captivated the attendees. The butterfly-lighting technique and Rembrandt style framing, often seen in many traditional frames and commercials, were other fascinating aspects of portrait photography revealed to the audience.
The next workshop was a hands-on session of live-action photography with the FQ8 members guiding attendees, as the Dhanwanthiri Kalari team demonstrated the traditional Kerala martial-art of Kalari Payattu. As it began to grow dark, the enthusiastic shutter-bugs at the workshop were entranced by the art of low-light photography and light-painting, as FQ8 showed them how to capture objects lit by low light.
“The most gratifying part of a workshop is when a participant understands what you are teaching and it is then reflected in their works,” noted Mr. Mithra.