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Panda Express

China: The Yi Minority

Sichuan Province

November 1 - 8, 2017

5 participants only


ATTENTION: We will visit exclusive places during this workshop; therefore the number of participants is capped at 5 (maximum). During the last workshop in July, we did not see a single Westerner, just to show you how unique this place is.

The focus of this workshop is remote villages, inhabited by the Yi Minority. They live in the mountains of the Sichuan province. To give you some idea of what to expect, here is a statement I wrote for a body of work, entitled “I am Yi”.

I am Yi

Why care about remote cultures, their living conditions, and their customs? Is it nostalgia? “Is it a humanitarian impulse to use pictures to educate and change the world, not just to record” (The Concerned Photographer by Cornell Capa (1918 – 2008).

The Yi are the poorest Chinese minority living in the remote mountains of the Sichuan province. They strive to survive, to support each other and to protect their culture from modernization. Education, perceived as a disruption, is a path to a “better life”, but offered only to the eldest two children. The large number of younger children simply take care of their siblings. Their future, bleak at best, can rapidly take a turn for the worst.

What seem uncontrollable changes of the world we live in are magnified by their isolation. Environmental disaster, such as the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, which killed 69,000 people, changed the dynamic of the region to either abandonment or on the contrary to “build up” for commercialization. The Yi are proud of who they are and changes to their lifestyle make them homesick.

Are their stories and situations unique? They may or may not be, but they are real. Spending time traveling thru their land, you are on an emotional roller coaster, ranging from rejection, to resentment, to intrusion. The acceptance seldom felt, reminds us that changes in life are hard to accept, that the understanding of each other’s genuine feelings takes time and should prevail over commercial cynicism.

Do their struggles invite us to remember our past, to draw parallels to the changes of our modern society? History repeats, but is forgotten until visible in front of our eyes and soul. I felt I travelled thru time and found a piece of my own history. I cared about the people I photographed, perhaps anticipating what would be next for them.

Are we Yi in our own world?

Here is a quote from the Tao de Ching (translated by Stephen Mitchell), which give you an idea on how this workshop could enhance your photographic vision:

A good artist lets his intuition
Lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
And keeps his mind open to what is.
Thus the Master is available to all people
And doesn't reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
And doesn't waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

Our goals are multiple folds, with the following cropping to the top: We want to make your experience memorable by taking you to a place most Westerners don't know about. We want to share more than just photography so you can discover new ways of thinking and improving your personal photographic vision. We want you to come back and be radiant as we are.

If China is likened to a garden, the minority people in Sichuan are exotic flowers. Sichuan is one of the multi-ethnic provinces in the country. In addition to the Han people, there live another 52 out of China's 56 ethnic groups, including the Yi, Tibetan, Qiang, Miao, Hui, Tujia, Naxi, Lisu, Bouyei, Manchu, Dai, Zhuang, Bai, and Mongolian minority peoples.

China is changing like the rest of the world, except that changes in China are much more pronounced and quick. Chinese philosophers have been praising this place for centuries and for good reasons. Come and experience it with your own eyes and soul.
Like Father Like Son
Dates Recap:
November 1: Start workshop in Xichang (XIC))
November 8: Conclusion of the workshop in Chengdu (CTU)
Optional Extension: Avatar Mountains Workshop (Landscape and minorities in Hunan)
November 8:Direct flight from CTU to DYG
November 9: Start of the workshop
November 20: Conclusion of the workshop in Zhangjiaje (DYG)

Hope to see you in the Sichuan Province in early November.

Registration: 5 participants ONLY

Double Occupancy:$4,200
Single Supplement:$400

Deposit (non-refundable):
$800 (Single Occupancy)
$500 (Double Occupancy)


SPECIAL OFFER (Valid until September 30):
Sign up for both workshops (Yi Minority, Avatar Mountains) and get a free upgrade to single room (Saving of $1,000)

Balance payment due by September 30, 2017 (Payable by check. Option to pay by Credit Cart available too)

Avatar Mountains Workshop Description click here

Oliver Klink has been photographing in China for the past 13 years. He has visited many minority cultures and National Parks in Sichuan, Hunan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Fujian and more provinces. His image, “Herding Instinct” won the grand prize at the Rayko International Photocontest in 2014, others have received “mentioned” in the Black and White Spidar Awards for the past 5 years. “China is changing rapidly, as the traditions in remote villages are vanishing. We travel with unique privileges from local guides and field experts, and where Westerners have seldom been seen.

Jeffrey Tang, field expert, has been my guide in China for the past 10 years. His strength is to connect with the local people and make us feel “welcome with them”. His attentive demeanor and attention to details enable us to travel safely and give us privileged access that will make your images “stand out”.

We’ll have local guides, critical to gain access to the villages and families.

- Photographing with special access to minority villages
- Model shoots
- Daily review of images (emphasis on “what else can I do”)
- Brainstorming sessions (theme, story telling, portfolio, hero shots)
- Post processing and workflow (efficiency, accuracy, quality)

- 8 days of guided photoshoot
- Accommodation, Meals, ground transportation
- Special permits & Model shoots
- Instruction booklet emailed before the workshop

Not Included :
- Transportation to Xichang (XIC) (start of the workshop)
- Transportation from Chengdu (CTU) (end of the workshop)
- Transport from Xichang airport to hotel
- Personal expenses, alcoholic beverages
- Travel Insurance
- Extra night(s) in Xichang
- Tips to local staff

Single: $4,200
Special Offer: Sign up for both Yi Minority and Avatar Mountains (Save $1,000)
Deposit (non-refundable):$800
$500 (Double Occupancy)

Balance payment due by August 30, 2017 (payable by check)

Registration: $4,200
Deposit: $800

Terms and Conditions

- Moderate walking on trails and uneven rocky paths.
- We will photograph remote villages, where people can be adverse to photography.
- Weather can be challenging. Be prepared for moody sky.
- We are staying in local hotels, eating freshly cooked local Chinese cuisine with lots of vegetables, soup, local meat (not spicy).
- Accommodations are safe and the best that can be found in this region. You have internet access, western toilets.
- We are traveling on ultra-modern highways to the local unpaved roads.
- However, the photographic opportunities are incredible. It is an amazing adventure and photographic experience.

Where: Sichuan Province (China)
When: November 1 - 8, 2017
Who: Oliver Klink, Jeffrey Tang, and local guides
Airport: Xichang (XIC) – start; Chengdu (CTU) - end
Accommodations: Local hotels (single or double occupancy)
Weather: 45 – 70F. Moody Sky
Cost: $4,400

Workshop Extension:
Where: Avatar Mountains, Zhangjiaje (Hunan)
When: November 9-20, 2017
Who: Oliver Klink, Local guide
Airport: Zhangjiaje (DYG)
Accommodations: Hotel (single or double occupancy)
Weather: 45 – 70F

Workshop details for Sichuan Yi Minority (China)


8 days of guided photoshoot and reviews
November 1 - 8, 2017
Note: Itinerary and activities might change based on weather conditions

Day 1: (November 1) Arrival in Xichang (IC)
Airport pick up
Drive to Butuo (3 hours drive)

Day 2-7: Various Minority Villages in the remote mountains
- Early morning departure to catch light on morning activities
- Various stops, based on unique activities and sceneries
- Mid day break for pick-nick lunch
- Afternoon shoots in various villages
- We will find unique scenes just driving and meeting people, visiting their homes, photographing them with family
Day 8: Drive to Chengdu
- Conclusion of the workshop around noon
- For participants joining Avatar Mountains, early afternoon flight to Zhangjiaje (DYG)
- Transfer to Chengdu airport for international flight

What to Bring

Upon signing up for the workshop, you’ll receive a detailed coursebook describing what to bring, recommended camera gears, booking your flight, extra activities pre or post workshop.

Clothing: (temperature ranges from 45 – 70F)
- Comfortable layered clothes (neutral color recommended)
- Sturdy shoes (walking on uneven pavement)
- Hat, sunglasses, and sun screen
- Rain gears/windbreaker
- Knee pads for low angle shooting

Camera Equipment:
- Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
- Lens for portraiture: 100-200mm
- Lens for grand scene: 10 – 50mm
- Lens for “street”: 35 – 100mm
- Recommended to bring fast lenses (F1.8, F2.8, etc.)
- Tripod (Optional, likely use just sporadically)

Other Equipment (Optional):
- Small notepad (notes, observations, …)
- Flash with diffuser

Photography Review Equipment (Recommended):
- Laptop (with power cord), memory card downloader
- Post processing software (Lightroom, Photoshop, plug-ins)
- External hard drives (backup)


This workshop includes:
- 8 days of guided photoshoot
- Accommodation, Meals, ground transportation
- Special permits & Model shoots
- Small group (maximum 5 people)
- Daily reviews (including tips on post processing, file management, idea to build portfolio)
- One instructor, One local expert, special local guides

Not Included:
- Visa Application
- Transportation to Xichang Airport (XIC) and from Chengdu (CTU)
- Transport from Xichang airport to hotel
- Personal expenses, alcoholic beverages
- Travel Insurance
- Extra night(s) in Xichang
- Tips to local staff

Travel Recommendations:
- Plan on arriving in Xichang on or before November 1. Your return flight can be booked in the afternoon on November 8 (from Chengdu CTU)
- We can assist with booking extra nights in Xichang (pre workshop) and airport transportation

Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance Suggestions:

Here are a few recommendations but please browse around as services and prices vary.

- Travelex Travel Select (800) 228-9792
- Travel Guard or Travel Insurance Services
- Travel Insurance Services (Walnut Creek, CA) (800) 937-1387
- Atlas International Insurance (HCC Medical Insurance Services)
- TEN (Travelers Emergency Network) Emergency Evacuation Coverage
- Medjet Assist 1-800-527-7478

Example Images from Past Workshops

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