Traveling to the Caucasus countries of Georgia and Armenia is a contrast between sophisticated world capitals with their café societies and great food, to central Georgia’s timeless vineyards, old world rural towns, and Armenia’s scenic mountain villages. Experience all that and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta’s medieval monasteries, the Upper Svaneti villages, the Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery in Kutaisi, and the 1.8 million year old human skull of Dmanisi.

ITINERARY

Pre-Workshop Travel

Sun. May 24         depart the United States or Europe for Tbilisi, Georgia. Note that from the United States it may take up to two full days of travel to arrive in Tbilisi.

Day 1                       Tbilisi, Georgia                                   Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel

Mon. May 25       arr. in Tbilisi, Georgia, early evening orientation meeting w/ cocktails and dinner (D)                                   

 

Day 2                       Tbilisi                                                                     Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel

Tue. May 26         Today, discover the capital with a walking tour along Rustaveli Avenue, lined with Soviet Era style architecture of the opera house, cinemas, art galleries and museums, which contrasts the new futuristic architecture of the Theater, the Tbilisi Public Service Hall and the Peace Bridge. After lunch we cross the Kura River to photograph the Old Town with its dilapidated homes and ancient bathhouses. (B & L)

 

Day 3                       Tbilisi-Sighnaghi-Telavi                   Chateau Mere

Wed. May 27       Today, we depart the capital for a 2-hour drive that takes us through the  Kahetic region. This region is Georgia’s wine country, with fertile valleys surrounded by the spectacular Caucasus Mountains. Hundreds of different grapes are grown, with each village producing its own varietal. Our first stop is Pheasant’s Tears Winery for lunch and wine tasting, and a tour of its caves and vineyards. This renowned winery produces artisanal organic wines according to ancient Georgian traditions.

www.pheasant’stears.com

After our long leisurely lunch and winetasting, and photographing we continue on through the Kakheti region to our next vineyard and hotel, Chateau Mere. The family managed Chateau, is a stone castle with magnificent views of the Caucasus Mountains. The Chateau is known for producing several outstanding wines, and for its home style Georgian food. Tonight feast on traditional Georgian cuisine pared with Winiveria wines.  (B, L, D)

Day 4                       Telavi - Tbilisi                      Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel

Thur. May 28        our wine region photography tour continues with a visit to a local

Master of Georgian clay jars known as “Qvevri”, which are used for aging and storing wine underground. We next visit the wine cellar of the Alaverdi Cathedral for a wine tasting. The Monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, Joseph of Alaverdi. Located on the monastery property are vineyards and wine producing facilities, including ancient Qvevri. Today the monks produce wine and brandy. This evening we return to Tbilisi.                                                                        (B & L)

Day 5                       Tbilisi – Mtskheta- Gori – Kutaisi                               Bagrati 1003 Hotel

Fri. May 29     this morning we drive north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mtskheta group of churches. The former capital of Georgia, Mtskheta is at the cross road of the ancient trade routes. These historical churches are an outstanding example of medieval religious architecture in the Caucasus. We spend the morning photographing this charming medieval town with its Georgian Christian architecture. We then travel to the city of Gori, birthplace of Joseph Vissarionovich Jughasgvili, aka Stalin. We will visit the Stalin Museum and the Uplistsikhe, The Fortress of the Lord. The Fortress, founded in the 16C BC is an ancient town carved out of rock.  The cave town covers almost 40,000 square meters, encompassing the lower, central and upper area. An exciting photographic opportunity!  We end our day in the town of Kutaisi, famous for the ‘Golden Fleece’.   (B, L, D)

Day 6                       Kutaisi- Mestia-Ushguli                                                 Hotel Ushbu

Sat. May 30           Today, we drive north to the remote region of Svaneti, the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Its inhabitants the Svans are proud mountain people, with their white and black wool hats. We pass through the charming town of Mestia. The architecture of Mestia consists of typical Svan dwellings, fortified stone structures comprised of a tower and an adjacent house enclosed by a stonewall. Then, we drive further north to the isolated town of Ushguli. We will be the only foreigners in this extremely secluded mountain village. Ushguli means ‘Four Villages’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering rare opportunities to photograph the stunning rugged landscape of mountains and waterfalls, and the mountain people with their traditional way of life. Tonight we stay amongst these villages in a local B & B.   (B, L, D)

Day 7                       Ushguli – Tbilisi                                 Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel

Sun. May 31         Today, we continue photographing in Ushguli, hiking up the mountain to even more remote areas. We return to Tbilisi late this afternoon. (B, L)

Day 8                       Tbilisi – Dmanisi, Georgia – Pushkino, Armenia   Pushkino B&B

Mon. June 1         This morning we depart Tbilisi by van for our drive to Armenia. Along the route we stop at the archaeological site of Dmanisi, to photograph the superb skulls of Zezva and Mzia. These completely and perfectly preserved hominid skulls were discovered in 2005. Experts believe the fossilized bones date to about 1.8 million years ago and are the oldest indisputable outside Africa. A rare historic and photographic opportunity! Our last stop in Georgia is the spa town of Borjomi, famous for its volcanic salty mineral water. After we cross the Georgian Armenia border we drive to the village of Pushkino, where we spend the night.     (B, L, D)

Day 9                       Pushkino-Amberd Saghmosavank-Metsamor-Echmiadzin 

Tue. June 2           Yerevan                                       Marriott Hotel

       This morning we drive through Aragatsotn Province stopping to photograph the medieval fortress of Amberd built on the slope of Mount Aragats. Amberd means a “fortress in the clouds” in Armenia. The Fortress complex includes a castle and church perched 2,300 meters above sea level. Our next site is the 13th century Saghmosavank monastic complex of unusual temples located atop the precipitous gorge carved by the Kasagh River.  We end our day at the well-preserved Echmiadzin Cathedral Compound, with its majestic cupolas, wooden domes, and stunning rotundas with murals painted by Nagash Ovatan in 1720. We end our day in the capital Yerevan. (B, L)

 

Day 10                     Yerevan-Garni-Geghard – Yerevan                          Marriott Hotel

Wed. June 3         Today, we drive east of Yerevan to the quaint village of Garni and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Geghard Monastery. Garni has an ancient history, and is best known for its fortress complex home to the Hellenistic Garni temple, a Parthenon-like structure. Nearby is the Garni Gorge, with well-preserved basalt columns carved out by the Goght River. The Monastery of Geghard is a unique architectural construction, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain. The 4th century complex originally named Ayrivank, meaning “the Monastery of the Cave”, includes several churches completely carved out of the cliff rocks.  Spend time photographing this noteworthy site. In the late afternoon we return to Yerevan. (B, L)

 

Day 11                     Yerevan                                                                               Marriott Hotel

Thu. June 4           Our last day in Armenia is spent exploring the snow capped Mount Ararat region, stopping to photograph the Khor Virap Monastery. According to the bible, Noah’s arch landed on the mountains of Ararat. The Khor Virap Monastery is where Gregory Luisavorich (St. George the Illuminator) was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. We will photograph this dark underground chamber where he lived. We wind down our remarkable journey with a tour and tasting at the Ararat Brandy Company. Tonight is our farewell dinner. (B, L & D)

Day 12                     This morning depart Yerevan for your journey home.

Fri. June 5

Travel Information

International Flights

It may take up to two days to travel from the United States to Tbilisi, Georgia. You

should plan to arrive in Tbilisi, Georgia on Monday May 25, 2015, and depart

Yerevan, Armenia on Friday June 5, 2015.

Passport and Visas

You are responsible for having a valid passport and for obtaining all visas. Presently no visa is required for citizens of the United States. Visa support is provided for Armenia.

Who Should Attend

This workshop is for serious amateurs and professional still photographers & videographers who have a working knowledge of their camera. This is an opportunity to hone your shooting technique while developing a new body of work. Participants should be highly motivated, technically self-sufficient and experienced travelers comfortable navigating and photographing a foreign culture. Participants should be physically fit, and capable of hiking on rough terrain.

Media Recommendations

Participants may shoot still images or video using a DSLR camera or a point and shoot camera. Optional but recommended is a computer with Lightroom, Aperture or a digital imaging cataloging program and an external hard drive for backup. For those shooting video you should have either imovie or Final Cut Pro for viewing and editing your videos. Bring at least one camera body, all your lenses, a tripod, extra camera batteries, plenty of memory cards, a flash unit(s) and any light modifiers you own, a flash light for shooting at night, all technical manuals, and a notebook and writing utensil.

Workshop Fee

The workshop fee is $8,490.00 and includes shared accommodations, group hotel transfers, all regional transportation, private touring, private English speaking guides, most meals, all gratuities for our guides and drivers, and on site photography instruction and demonstrations. A 750.00 deposit must accompany your registration forms to secure your place in this workshop. Final payment is due by February 1, 2015. The single supplement charge is $795 .00

Not included are international flights, single supplement accommodations, visa fees, travel and medical evacuation insurance, personal expenses and items, personal photography fees where applicable, and meals and beverages not indicated on the itinerary, and any optional activities. Trip cancelation and interruption, and medical evacuation insurance are strongly recommended. Recommended travel insurance websites: www.travelassistnetwork.com and www.squaremouth.com

Companions/Spouses/Friends

You are encouraged to bring a companion who will be able to participate in all Workshop activities. Non-photographing companions are encouraged to attend.

Trip Highlights

  • Georgia’s wine region with wine tasting
  • Tbilisi’s Old City
  • World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta and the Upper Svaneti
  • Dmanisi archaeological site
  • Mount Aragats

What you will learn

  • How to capture compelling images of people
  • How to light an environmental portrait
  • Perfect your street and landscape photography
  • Photograph an interior
  • Hone your skills and gain confidence

 

Maine Media Workshops Registrants

Your deposit is payable to the Maine Media Workshops, and the balance of the workshop cost is payable to: Arlene Collins Photography, LLC

The above is subject to change.

 

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

 

Instructors

Arlene Collins

Arlene Collins specializes in documenting remote cultures and changing civilizations around the world. She currently develops and leads international photography workshops, offers a master photography class and topic-specific short courses in her New York City studio, lectures in the United States and abroad, and consults privately with a number of clients.

She is an Associate Professor of Photography at Parsons School of Design and teaches at the Maine Media Workshops, and for 15 years she taught in the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

Arlene is a world traveler, and the list of countries she has not yet visited or worked in continues to   shrink. She has photographed in more than 60 international locations. She has lectured in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), Havana, Cuba and Istanbul, Turkey, and she has taught workshops at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City; ROSPHOTO, the Russian State Center of Photography in St. Petersburg, Russia; the Fototeca Center in Havana, Cuba; and at the Three Shadows Photography Center in Beijing, China. In addition, Arlene has led intensive workshops to Turkey, Morocco, Mali, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Bhutan, Argentina, India, Cuba, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Closer to home, she has been a panelist on the Night Photography Seminar at New York City’s Photo Plus and has reviewed portfolios for Photo Plus, The New York Photo Festival, and the Society for Photographic Education.

Arlene has created several long-term photography essays, including Boxing photographed in New York City, Moscow, and Bangkok, and essays on the Rodeo in New Jersey and Voodoo in Western Africa. As she continues her international travels, Arlene also adds to her ongoing photographic essay on “UNESCO – designated” World Heritage Sites. In addition to her still photography, Arlene now produces video. She has created Mali: Witnessing Traditions; Ten Days in May: St. Petersburg and Moscow; The Birqash Camel Market in Cairo, Egypt; A Hamer Bull Jumping Ceremony in the Southern Omo Valley, Ethiopia, and The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: aka North Korea.

Arlene continues to travel and teach workshops around the world. Recently she returned from photographing in North Korea, and her next workshop is to Kamchatka, Russia.

 

 

 

Course Dates

May 24 to Jun 5

Levels

Tuition

$8490. See course description for details. At the time of registration, a deposit of $750 is required. All further communications, billing, etc., will be handled directly by Arlene Collins

Class Size

12