Tag: Nepal

On top of the world in Mustang!

For the last 3 weeks I have been lucky enough to have escaped the British stormy season and been basking in Nepali sunshine in the city of Pokhara.

This time of year is generally quite quiet for me as a childrens portrait photographer, so it is my time for travel! And trust me I make the most of it!

Nepal is easily one of my favourite places to travel to in the world, I have been a few times and every time I am overwhelmed with the warmth and generosity of spirit! I f you ever get a chance trust me you will never forget!

It takes effort to get to some of the locations the I like to take images, Nepal generally is 2 flights and long lay overs and a ridiculously over complicated visa system.

That said it is completely worth the tired and weary few days to arrive at a very beautiful and welcoming country.

I have been lucky enough to visit a few times (4 so far) mostly for NGO’s and worthwhile charities, I even had a very long stay of 3 months in 2016 so now every time I arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport I feel like I am at home.

For this particular trip I was training with Photojourney a photography training adventure business as one of their primary leaders for the cultural option, where we visited some of the wonderful local villages and cultural sites around Pokhara.

I was lucky enough to have an amazing group of photographers and together we visited some of the wonderful local villages and cultural sites in and around Pokhara.

We got to experience atmospheric temples, villages, beautiful lakes visit schools all from our base, the luxurious Temple Tree Hotel in Pokhara.

We will be heading back out there again this year for another similar trip if you would like to join us in October.

The trip to Nepal is a long one, so it made sense for me to expand my trip to explore another area that I had never been before, a few of the other ladies on Photojourney also had the same idea and we booked a guide and a couple of porters to carry our gear and headed off up to our first stop Jomsom, Mustang

We had expected a 7-8 hour journey however the reality was gruelling 14 hour bumpy and frankly quite terrifying journey.

I mean look at the timings! Our journey time almost doubled firstly our car overheated 4 times due to it never making out of second gear (this was swiftly repaired with and iPhone charger cable!) The exhaust fell off whilst crossing a bridge and most of this occurred in the dark on a road with a sheer drop to one side! (maybe it was better we did it in the dark?)

We arrived in the dark at around 11:30 and hadn’t even thought of the possibility that there would be nowhere open for us to stay?? Eventually however after some loud door banging we were welcomed by a very friendly family run hostel next to Jomsom airport.

Some hot noodle soup and a cold Everest beer and we all had almost forgotten about the journey.

The flight would have only taken 30 minutes! I think that this might be a good option for next time! And trust me I will be returning! When we awoke after a cold night the views were just breathtaking!

Jomsom, also known as Dzong-Sampa or New Fort, is the centre of Gharpajhong Gaunpalika and former independent village development committee at an altitude of about 2,700 metres in Mustang District, Nepal. It extends over both the banks of the Kali Gandaki River.

From Jomson our trek took us upto 3750 meters to one of the highest Vishnu temples in the world Muktinath. When we arrived at our tea house the temperature had dropped considerably and the snow was falling heavily, making the view even more magical.

The colourful prayer flags and blessing bells where coated in a dusting of white which was wonderful to capture. The temple itself is considered one of the holiest and a symbolic pilgrimage for both Hindus and Budhists, and stands majestically looking over the Muktinath Valley.

Famous for the 108 water spring taps that bless its visitors the temple is thought to be the only one where all 5 elements are represented, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Sky.

From here we trekked down through small villages and teahouses towards the beautiful town of Kagbeni, where we spent an enjoyable evening learning Nepali filk songs and dances with our hosts. (thankfully there is no evidence of this as after a few Nepali Beers I am sure we weren’t particularly good!).

From Kagbeni we headed then to Marpha which was our last stop! With our very tired feet we rested before the 8 hour long drive back down into to Pokhara!

After such big adventure it was a real culture shock to come back to the UK especially now we are unable to leave the country I feel very luck to have been on such an adventure at the beginning of the year with such fantastic people!

I will hopefully be returning to Nepal at the end of the year if we are able!

If you would like to come along to any of my new Travel Photography Workshops do please let me know if you are interested! :)And I will let you know as soon as I am able to give you more details!

At the moment we have Tanzania, Nepal (Mustang), and Cambodia in the planning with dates to be confirmed! Ready to Launch in 2021!

Saraya x

The perfectly formed, FUJI X-T20!

I am sure all of you by now have read all of the amazing reviews of all of the new Fuji film products that were excitingly released on the 19th of Jan! So my experiences? Well where to begin

As a portrait and travel photographer the obvious choice for me of the new arrivals was the X-T20, a smaller more compact little sister of the the X-T2 (a camera that I now use for ALL of my portraiture and travel commissions).

In November 2016, I was approached by Fujifilm asking if I would be interested in having a trial of another of their prototype cameras. Now is any photographer going to say no, to such a great opportunity? You’d be a fool not to get involved!

The very next day I was off on my travels again as a trainer for the wonderful Photojourney in Nepal, I packed up the x-T2 in my Billy bag and  just popped in the X-T20, and hoped that I would get a chance to give it a go.

With most of the prototypes that are sent out there are always some initial glitches, but I managed to get it up and running for a few days whilst up in the hills of Barpak, Nepal.

It was so small I would often take it out on my golden hour walks, something that I try and do everyday whilst visiting a new area, I would pop on either the 90mm or 56mm prime lens on and that would be it!

The following images were taken a year and a half after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and I wanted to really highlight the way the town had managed to regenerate and develop with vigour and pride after such an epic event, it was really very inspiring!

As the X-t20 was a pre-production model, I was unable to shoot RAW so shot all of the images in Jpeg, and then processed after in Nik software as I love the BW conversion, I was amazed by the quality and depth of the files and the sharpness! Sheesh! That 56mm APD lens is something else!

The biggest benefit to the size was that I found was that I could very discreetly hand hold the camera, in all situations and it is pretty much unnoticed, really nice when you are trying to get natural portraits.

Even more so when imaging the children of Barpak, (and there were LOTS of children!) as they were certainly less intimidated with the smaller body, I was amazed how close to the subjects I was able to get.

I’m not one to go into to all the new technologies and features, but as a photographer who likes things easy I just like things to work the way they should!

Photography for me is more about the connection and interaction with the subject, and this lovely little piece of kit certainly allowed me to have that! The eye contact that I was able to maintain was easier as I was not behind a huge DSLR,  quite often I would use the flip screen with my eyes above camera to draw an expression from the subject!

The controls and menus are pretty much the same as the X-T2, so I was used to where everything was, just slight differences were noted but nothing too out of the way.

After returning from Nepal and a couple of firmware updates (very normal for the pre-production models) I was able to shoot RAW and the files as expected did not disappoint! The files are BIG! And again lots of depth and clarity.

I am still experimenting with the body and it has also recently been in my kit for a recent family holiday to Costa Rica, it was a great to take out on days and to the beach, and I am sure it will be a great add on to my work kit also!

I am now thinking of carrying two bodies (this one being the extra) to my portrait shoots, so that I am able to seamlessly shoot both wide and long lenses quickly! When shooting children at speed this can only be of benefit! I will update you when I have started my London portrait shoots in a few weeks! (its just too cold out there at the moment!)

In the meantime for all of the camera details just click on the images above we really could learn a lot from their strength of character!

Saraya x

 

 

 

 

 

So I’m a cover girl!

A while back I was asked be the lovely Julie Oswin of the guild magazine,if I would like to be included with an article explaining my work overseas. Never one to turn down any form of publicity to spread the word about the wonderful charity Raleigh International, I jumped at the chance!

Aptly titled Creative Light the magazine for their members is an online publication with all the latest news and reviews in Photography!

Very informative with some really beautiful imagery to be inspired by, it is a great privilege for me to be included in this issue, and to be front cover as well !! Brilliant!

The cover image was one I shot in Hetauda, Makwanpur, in Nepal in February 2016.

Nepal-714

As usual I was taking my normal evening stroll, in the beautiful Nepal golden hour, when I spotted this little one, standing outside her house. I asked her mother is it was ok for me to take an image, she thankfully agreed, as I just love the colours and warmth of this image.

She gave me the biggest smile after this shot, but out of the two I really preferred this one. There is just something in her expression that really captures the innocence of childhood.

I will be heading back to Nepal later on this week, to a different area, more up in the Himalayan hills, where the scary and atmosphere is different from the Valleys, so I am looking forward to seeing the differences.

If you would like to read the full article in Creative light, please click the link here! And enjoy reading!

Saraya x

 

 

 

Nepal, a story of positivity, and growth against all the odds!

April the 25th 2016, was a destructive day in the history of Nepal, the beautiful country nestled between India and China.

At nearly mid day on a Saturday morning a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitude literally shook the beautiful country to the core for a shuddering 50 seconds.

With a death toll of nearly 9,000 and 24,000 injured, millions displaced, it is one of the biggest natural disasters to hit the country in 90 years.

Witnesses recall the day, with amazing clarity, with vivid recounts of the noise, chaos, smells, the sights and the terror that still haunts them a year on. Speaking to all survivors it is clear that they are deeply affected by the surreal events of that day and the following weeks.

Nepali travel photographer
Travel portraiture, Nepal
Hetauda, Nepal.
Nepal travel portraits

Primal instincts kicked in and self preservation seems to have been the priority, most fled to a safe place away from buildings, and checked that their immediate family were safe, and out of danger.

Mobile phone networks were down, but people were managing to text each other to confirm loved ones were ok.

With aftershocks coming thick and fast, (there were 43 recorded aftershocks in the 24 hours after the initial Earthquake), most were too terrified to return inside for at least a couple of weeks. Many rural Nepali’s lived out in the fields in fear of their houses collapsing.

Another major aftershock occurred on the 12th of May, that just added to the fear.

Here is where my story begins….

At the time I was living it up in Dubai, after a four month expedition in Tanzania. I was reveling in hot showers and good food that I yearned for months! I had a great adventure and was pleased to see my loved ones and especially my daughter, and wasn’t expecting to go out again so soon! x

When I was asked to be a photographer for raleigh Nepal, I was so thrilled I think I bullied my boyfriend with enthusiasm to let me go! I was just so in need to go!

So my story begins…

Nepal is a country well known for its people, images of Nepali’s are full of warmth, smiles and character.

Their nature is welcoming, proud and with the Gurkha strength of mind and bravery.

Strong character is built from endurance and perseverance.

Looking back, most Nepali’s that I spoke to were philosophical and felt fortunate that the death toll had not been worse,

The timing of the earthquake being instrumental in this positivity, had it been on a weekday children would have been at lessons, had it happened at night, most would have been in bed! As it occurred, is was on a Saturday and around mid day, when most Nepali’s were out in their fields tending crops, or the children playing.

This to me seems to be typical of the Nepali mentality, to find the positive in situation that the rest of us would find impossible to comprehend.

The country itself is one of the poorest not only in Asia, but in the world. With limited industry and almost impossible infrastructure, the way of living away from the main cities is basic.

For those in more rural areas of the country, live day to day from the land and their livestock, but I have never met people so happy and content in life! what they dont have are the luxuries that we might have. and when we talk about luxuries, we are talking, water, and protein.!

I cannot remember a time in Nepal when I didn’t feel welcome! I have eaten the best, slept the best, seen the best, and felt the best!  the nepalis know how to do guest! xx

These people have nothing!! but they will give you everything!

They tell me that the government aren’t helping at all!

portrait photographer Nepal

 

Please help this beautiful country!!

Saraya xxx

 

I love it ! Saraya xxx

 

Week one Nepal!

So with many thanks to my lovely clients, friends and family, I have been able to join the fantastic charity, Raleigh international, on their first ever program based in Nepal.

After heading off to Tanzania last year for nearly four months, in 2015, I am really very excited and honoured to have been asked again to document the wonderful work that they do within communities, especially as this is the charities opening program in these communities, and as such, unknown territories!

I have now been based at the Raleigh country office in Kathmandu for the last week, and what a time we have had already! The city itself, is a vibrant and active one, full of colours, smells, there is a constant hum of traffic, (even with the fuel crisis) and the dust gets everywhere.

The time here at field base has been used for training, and preparation for deployment into the villages, just South of Hetauda in the Makwanpur district of Nepal, where our volunteers will be heading to in just a matter of weeks. Everybody is extremely keen to get started and bursting with enthusiasm.

We have also been able to have a small amount of free time with which to explore, the people are welcoming and friendly, always a big smile to greet you, no matter their situation, some are still living with the very real effects of the devastating earthquake from 2015, and are in makeshift dwellings built next to piles of rubble that were once grand and substantial houses, but will still welcome you in and freely talk about their experiences.

Rebuilding is obviously taking some time, but the majority of the city is in the process of this, and the fuel crisis is certainly not making this any easier, even so you can see progress everywhere and they are keen to put it behind them. The villages may be a different story as they obviously are far more remote and inaccessible, so the process of getting back to normality will be slower.

As a team we will next week make the journey down into Hetauda, and then the team leaders will split into four groups to visit the specific villages in which they will be based for the next few months.

As the team photographer I will be visiting two of the villages Bhalu Khola, and Kiteni over the next week, to begin documenting the communities and the impact that the Raleigh volunteers will impart on the families and their lives.

Here are a few travel portraits that I have taken whilst walking Kathmandu…

Nepal travel portraits
portrait photographer Nepal

 

 

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