November 3, 2013 to November 9, 2013

Streets of Mumbai

Capture the buzz of one of the world’s most visually magnificent and stimulating cities with a master.

© Peter TurnleyThis workshop will expose students to one of the world’s most visually magnificent and stimulating cities. Mumbai is India’s most exciting and largest city, with a metropolitan population of over 19 million. It is a dynamic urban landscape. Formerly known as Bombay, it is the world’s fifth largest city and a rich canvas for aspiring photographers to hone their skills in a visually stunning, enchanting city environment.

Photographing in Mumbai will allow photographers to experience a vast range of cultural, socio-economic and human extremes that are unlike no other city in the world. Mumbai is home to great new found wealth and is India’s financial and business capital as well as the center for art, fashion and filmmaking.

Conversely, there are neighborhoods like Dharavi where over 1 million residents live in an area just over 500 acres in size—more than 18,000 people per acre.  Mumbai is a city of great contrasts in all ways, making it a fascinating city to study visually and explore. The realities of the city offer an array of visual contrasts of both new and old world: modernity, development, and old world traditions as well as diverse socio-economic conditions that span a wide spectrum of human realities. One of the most exciting aspects of this workshop is the diversity of life and scenery one can observe and photograph.

© Peter TurnleyThe workshop is and is designed to coincide with the Navaratri celebrations, which occur over nine nights. A Hindu festival with traditional folk dancing, dancers take over stadiums and clubs throughout the city. Being in Mumbai at the time of this festival offers offer students the chance to witness amazing scenes to photograph, in a city that is at all times full of an abundance of scenes of life that are fascinating to photograph.

The workshop will be taught and led by Peter Turnley, one of the preeminent visual communicators and world-traveling photographers of our time. He is also a tremendous teacher and has vast experience teaching overseas workshops. The workshop focuses on street photography, and students learn to use the camera to explore and interpret this amazing city.

Students spend approximately 3 1/2 hours each day in class with lectures, presentations, critiques of  daily work, and discussion with Peter as well as and other members of Mumbai’s photographic community. Students spend the rest of each day photographing street life around Mumbai, with the aim of creating a photo essay based around a particular visual theme of their choosing. The theme can be as broad as “My Impressions of Mumbai”, or as defined as the individual student chooses. Peter works with students in their choice of theme, which can be determined ahead of time or devised within the week.

Peter discusses various insights into technique, intent, composition, and the creative use of the camera and lens in a warm, relaxed atmosphere. He reviews and critiques each student’s portfolio, works-in-process, discusses careers, getting published and offers each student an idea of how far along they are and how they can become even better photographers/visual communicators. Most importantly, he helps each student revel in the joy and wonderment of observation and seeing. Students focus on how to use documentary photography as a tool for visual storytelling and illuminating the intimate moments of everyday reality. Students are encouraged to photograph both the ordinary and extraordinary scenes of daily life and to not shy away from the challenge of photographing people. With Peter's guidance and support, students learn to overcome any hesitations and timidity that is limiting their work.

Turnley is a master at photographing people and has vast experience in helping students relax and find a sense of purpose in the process of photographing people and daily life. He is a disciple of Henri-Cartier-Bresson, and passionately encourages his students to hone their attention to the “decisive moments” everyday life. Students create a final 15-image photo story/essay from their week of shooting in Mumbai. Peter assists help the students refine not only their photography, but gain a greater sense of creating a narrative with images, and how to conceptualize images into dynamic storytelling. Turnley also helps find the threads of commonality in the images that contribute to each person’s individual vision.

For the adventurous photographer Mumbai offers a cornucopia of diverse locations to document the many aspects of daily life here. Here are some examples. Juhu Beach on the Arabian Sea in Western Mumbai is their version of Malibu. Located in an affluent area of town, it is home to many Bollywood actors and actresses who have bungalows overlooking the bustling beach scene where street vendors serve traditional Indian street food such as bhepuri and chat to the locals.

Dhobi Ghat is the extreme opposite from what you will find at Juhu Beach. A sprawling open-air concrete Laundromat of sorts, Dhobi Ghat is where hundreds of men scrub clothes against concrete wash bins using rocks and boiling pots of water and bleach. They then hang them out to dry in an area covering several city blocks. There are also bustling outdoor markets to explore and one of the most famous is the Chor Market on Mutton Street. Once called the “thieves’ market” because of all the stolen goods, today it is a busy place selling everything from antiques and prints to chandeliers and china.

Scenes of bustling and crowded local trains and the city’s train stations will also offer fascinating themes to photograph.
Mumbai is home to many temples, churches and mosques as well. One of the most notable is Haji Ali Dargah, which dates back to 1431. Located on a small islet in the middle of Worli Bay, it is only accessible during low tide. Another terrific temple is The Global Vipassana Pagoda where up to 8,000 people can practice meditation.

Peter encourages students to explore all of Mumbai’s many contrasts by examining its complex nexus of streets and neighborhoods in an effort to create a photographic essay that captures the heart and soul of daily Mumbai life. The goal is to create a visual narrative—to tell a story with a series of images that are tied to a theme. The theme can be quite broad such as “My Impressions of Mumbai”, or quite narrowly defined- the student’s choice. Do not be concerned with developing a theme before arrival. Peter can help with the process and has helped hundreds of students craft successful photojournalistic essays in cities all over the world. However, it is recommended that a student research and learn as much as possible about Mumbai before arriving so that they  are well prepared to document the city’s rich culture.
The workshop will be based in Mumbai’s Colaba neighborhood, which is centrally located to access this vast city. Part of seven reclaimed islands that make up Mumbai, Colaba is one of the oldest sections of the city with terrific architecture like that of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. It is an area known for its good hotels, shopping and restaurants and makes for a comfortable base of operations to explore the rest of the city.

Because there is so much to do in Mumbai, this is an ideal workshop to bring along a spouse, son or daughter or partner. Non-photographic companions may join the group sessions and meals but are not involved in the critique or review sessions. Companion supplement is $150.
Peter has found four wonderful Mumbai hotels at different price points, which are all within walking distance of each other. Below are the names, rates, web sites and phone numbers of each hotel. There are many other good reasonable hotels online in Mumbai’s Colaba or Nariman Point neighborhoods. Peter will be staying at the Taj Vivanta President. Students booking there should identify themselves as participants in  the Peter Turnley Mumbai Maine Media Workshop to avail themselves of any special pricing that may be afforded.

Taj Vivanta President
G D Somani Road, Cuffe Parade
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
022 66650808
Sea Palace Hotel
26, P J Ramchandani Marg
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400039, India
022 2284 1828
Fariyas Hotel
25, Off Arthur Bunder Road,, Apollo Bandar
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400005, India
022 61416141
The Ascot Hotel
Garden Rd, Apollo Bandar
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
022 66385566

To understand the layout of the city, its hidden authentic restaurants, as well as the location of many good hotels, please see this custom Google Map that we have created especially for the workshop:

There is a daily direct flight from the U.S. from New York. There are also daily flights from Paris and London. All flights arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, located approximately 25 kilometers from the hotels that Peter has selected. Depending on travel, the commute in a cab should be about 40 minutes.

Plan to arrive by Saturday, or at the latest by Sunday morning. The first workshop session will begin at 2pm on Sunday. Flights from the States are often in the evenings, which means that students could fly Friday evening and arrive Saturday morning to give an evening to get acclimated before the workshop begins on Sunday.

The workshop ends at noon, Saturday with a show of the students’ final 15-image photo stories made during the week. Students are free to leave on Saturday afternoon, which would enable those needing to get back to the States to work on Monday the time to do so. Those wishing to stay in the region longer are free to continue their trip Saturday afternoon.

This is a digital workshop, taught and conducted with digital cameras. If you wish to shoot film, you may so do, but we suggest you bring it home for processing; to participate in critiques, you will need to use 35mm digital camera. A student should be comfortable downloading their digital images each evening to a folder, and heaving a means for their work to be transported on a flash drive or disc for daily review with Peter. At the start of the workshop, students are encouraged to choose if they want to see their work in color or in black and white, and they will be encouraged to stick to their choice of one of the other throughout the workshop.

Besides your SLR digital camera equipment, bring a body of your creative work with you to share—a portfolio or CD of images. Your portfolio can be prints or digital images. The workshop will have an LCD projector and there will be a final show of all of the students work during the final session.

A digital SLR camera is required. Students may work with a high end point and shoot camera such as a Canon G10. Two bodies are recommended, with a minimum of at least one wide-angle lens, such as a 17-35mm zoom, or 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, or 50mm lens. In order to shoot comfortably in low light situations, it will be preferable that students have a wide-angle lens that is relatively fast and has a wide aperture such as 1.4., 1.8. 2 or 2.8. Bring several memory cards (at least 1 gigabyte cards are recommended), extra batteries and necessary battery chargers. Your laptop should have image management software, such as Apple’s Aperture, Adobe’s Light Room or, as Peter suggests, PhotoMechanic, which can be downloaded, free, on a trial basis from

Make sure you have a back-up system on which to download each day’s work. This can be a laptop, a portable external hard drive storage device, flash drive, or DVDs. You will need a means of getting your edited images in a folder to Peter each day for review—flash drives are the most practical, but you can also use an external hard drive, or DVD.

Research and preparation are important parts of any adventure. There are many very thorough guidebooks for Mumbai and extensive information about the Mumbai to be found on the Internet.

 You will be a guest of the workshop for a group dinner on Monday night, and a final dinner on Friday night. Aside from the two group meals, breakfasts, lunches and dinners are independent but students are encouraged to join each other in local restaurants and cafes. 


A wide array of testimonials by students that have taken Peter Turnley workshops as well as student galleries from previous workshops may be viewed here:

Turnley has published 5 books of his work:
McClellan Street
In Times of War and Peace
Beijing Spring
Moments of Revolution