Darjeeling Tea Plantation

Learn documentary field techniques while documenting fair trade work in the Himalayas.

Thatcher CookThe workshop takes place in remote villages in northeast India, nestled along the Himalayan Mountains. Students have the opportunity to work directly with a humanitarian development organization to document projects that provide infrastructure and promote fair trade to villages located in the tea gardens. 

Participants learn documentary field techniques and then put them into practice on rural tea plantations and farming communities in northeast India’s Darjeeling district. Participants spend the first two days in Darjeeling, learning from morning lectures and afternoon shooting assignments. Then participants spend two nights in a rural agricultural village, staying with a family and photographing daily life. From there, participants will travel to a remote tea plantation and photograph the tea harvest while staying with local families for four days. The final two days are spent editing photographs and attending follow-up lectures. Student photographs are used to promote development programs on Darjeeling’s tea plantations and to raise money through printing and selling postcards and calendars at shops in Darjeeling. Additionally, money from student tuition is used to support development programs in Darjeeling.  

Brendan BullockThe Darjeeling Tea Plantation workshop is intended for photographers, aid workers, anthropologists or university students with a passion for documentary photography. This workshop covers such topics as approaching and gaining access to beneficiaries, working with interpreters, ethics and workflow. Students leave the workshop with a working foundation of documentary field techniques as well as a small, completed portfolio. 

This workshop is not a place to learn new cameras or computer software. Students are expected to be familiar with all their photographic gear, including their computers and software. Additionally, Darjeeling is a rugged and remote area where unexpected delays and changes of schedule happen. For this reason, students are encouraged to be flexible, patient and, most importantly, adventurous.

Accommodations in Darjeeling City are of a high standard. Participants stay in a house with a view of Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. Food is prepared at the house by local staff and all laundry and house cleaning is taken care of as well. This is to encourage a family-style environment among participants and to accommodate late night critiques and discussion. Accommodation on the plantation is humble. To ensure an authentic experience and great photographs, participants stay with local families in their spare bedrooms and share meals and facilities. There are daily midday discussions among participants and intermittent one-on-one critiques with the instructor while in the village.

Tuition includes meals, lodging, emergency evacuation insurance and four-wheel drive ground transportation to and around Darjeeling. Tipping, souvenirs and airfare to and from Bagdogra Airport (IXB) is the responsibility of the student.

Terms and Conditions for Destinations Workshops

1. Reservations & Payments

A deposit as indicated on the registration page is required to confirm your reservation for the workshop.  Final payment in full is due 45 days prior  to the date of departure for your workshop.  Maine Media Workshops + College (“Maine Media”) reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the due date.

2. Cancellations

All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of the postmark, or upon receipt of an email providing notice of cancellation. If you provide written notice of cancellation  60 days or more prior to the departure date for your workshop, your deposit, and any additional payment, will be refunded in full, less an administration fee of $55.00. If you provide written notice of cancellation less than 60 days prior to the departure date for your workshop, your full deposit will be forfeited; any additional funds paid to Maine Media for the workshop will be refunded.  No refunds of any amount will be made to persons who (i) fail to provide written notice of cancellation, or who (ii) begin a workshop, but fail to complete the workshop.

3. Basis of Rates

All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars; all payments must be made in U.S. dollars.

4. Insurance

It is strongly advised that you purchase Trip Cancellation, Baggage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and/or Accident and Sickness Insurance Protection. Camera equipment, computers, and baggage are carried entirely at the owner’s risk. Maine Media shall have no responsibility for any lost, damaged, or delayed property, or for an individual student’s medical needs, accidents, injuries or illnesses.

5. Itinerary Changes

The itinerary for your workshop is subject to change without prior notification.

6.  Passports and Visas

A valid passport is required for all travel. You are required to notify Maine Media as to the nationality under which your passport is registered. If you are a U.S. citizen, Maine Media will notify you if your destination requires a visa.  Non-U.S. citizens are required to contact the appropriate consular office for entry requirements for their workshop. Participants are responsible for obtaining their passports and visas. To participate in the workshop, you must have a passport that is valid until at least six months after the date on which your trip is scheduled to be completed.

7. Medical Issues

All participants must be in good health.   You must advise Maine Media of any health condition, physical condition, or emotional or mental condition that may require special attention or that may adversely impact the other participants in your workshop. All students are required to complete a “Waiver of Liability” form and submit it at the time of registration.  This document may be found on the course description page.

8. Liability Waiver

Every participant is required to sign Maine Media’s Waiver of Liability before departure for their workshop.   Click here to download.

9. Responsibility & Photography

To ensure a safe photographic experience, you are required to obey local customs and be considerate when photographing people or sensitive locations.  The faculty member for your workshop has the right to expel any person from the workshop for behavior that is in violation of the law; that is disruptive; or that compromises the group’s safety or enjoyment.  No refunds will be made to any person expelled from a workshop. Maine Media shall have no obligation to pay any costs incurred by a person as a result of that person being expelled from a workshop. 

Sign and Return Waiver Form