Technical Skills - Creative Inspiration - Exciting Destinations

Sri Lanka: Elephants' Culture

At Festival & Temples, In the Wild, With Human Interaction

July 30 - August 10, 2022

8 participants

The Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) is one of three recognised subspecies of the Asian elephant, and native to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan elephant population is now largely restricted to the dry zone in the north, east and southeast of Sri Lanka. Elephants are present in National Parks but also live outside protected areas. It is estimated that Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephants in Asia.

The elephant conservation strategy of the Department of Wildlife Conservation aims at conserving as many viable populations as possible in as wide a range of suitable habitats as is feasible. This means protecting elephants both within the system of protected areas and as many animals outside these areas that the land can support and landholders will accept

We are going to photograph elephants in three distincts places. First we will attend the largest elephant parade in the world: The Kandy Esala Perahera also known as The Festival of the Tooth. This historical procession is held annually to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is housed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. A unique symbol of Sri Lanka, the procession consists of traditional local dances such as fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances, in addition to the elephants who are usually adorned with lavish garments. The festival ends with the traditional diya-kepeema ritual, a water cutting ceremony which is held at the Mahaweli River at Getambe, Kandy.
During the festivities, we will have access to temples, to staging area, where we will be able to photograph intimately the culture of the festival.

Second we will photograph elephants in the wild at a National Park. At this time of the year, the elephants gather around water hole, making for spectacular interactions between matriarchs and their youngs.

Third we will photograph rescued elephants at a private reserve. We will have access to elephants bathing in the water, walking in the forest, and being taken care of by a large staff of mahouts and ground keepers. We will have the chance to photograph these elephants in their habitat interacting with humans. It could be a kid playing with elephants, a handler taking care of them, a mahout walking his elephant, a family worshipping them. The scenarios are unlimited. This is a unique opportunity to photograph, witness and learn about the behavior of elephants around humans.

We are going to use natural light and also enhance with artificial light. We will have candid shots, as well as setups with models. You will leave the workshop with well thought out images, newly acquired photography skills, and the experience of bonding with amazing creatures – elephants. Truly, truly life changing experience!

The workshop includes all meals, accommodation, transportation, festival, park and other related fees. The workshop is led by three instructors (Oliver, Harsh, Arti), local helpers, guides, drivers, mahouts, elephant trainers, a substantial staff that will welcome us.

This is a unique opportunity to bond with elephants and humans in Sri Lanka. An experience not to be missed!

See you in Sri Lanka in July/August 2021

Photographs © Harsh Agarwal & Oliver Klink

Note: We can assist with planning for extra days (pre-post workshops) to enjoy Sri Lanka, known as “The Paradise Island”.

Registration (Elephants' Culture): $6,500
Single supplement: $1,400

Single: $1,200
Double: $800

Deposit for Sri Lanka (Elephants' Culture)

Sri Lanka Priority Interest List Deposit
As soon as the workshop is confirmed, you will received priority news to place your deposit and full payment.

Balance payment due March 30, 2022 (Payable by check or credit card (supplement of 3% processing fee)

Questions: email Oliver Klink or call (408-910-6701)


Oliver Klink has been photographing in Asia for the past 15 years. He has visited many minority cultures and wildlife in Mongolia, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka and more. He received the coveted 2018 Best B&W photographer of the year by Dodho Magazine and has published an award-winning book, Cultures in Transition. “Sri Lanka is a really unique place. It offers multitude of photo opportunities, cultural enrichment and wildlife sighting. Truly truly one of kind places.”

Harsh and Arti Agarwal are based in Agra (Taj Mahal), India. Harsh is a professional photographer and Arti a coveted travel logistician and tour guide. In 2012, they got married. Harsh has many interesting tales to narrate about this wedding shaped by the tourism industry, and of course, it includes hilarious stories about shopping experiences with his mother in law. A duo team, Oliver has traveled with for the past few years.”Sri Lanka is such an incredible place, that we could retire here!” .”

Local staff members (Guide, drivers, helpers) who enrich our stay with the most current information, special activities, and “ways in” to places you only dream about!

- Photographing over 100 elephants at a parade
- Photographing interaction between humans and elephants
- Setting up scenes with models, elephants, locals
- Photographing daily “life” of the villagers and their elephants
- Capturing the mood of working elephants
- 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) - Model shoots

- 12 days of guided photoshoot
- Accommodation, Meals, ground transportation
- Special photoshoots
- All fees (included entrance to the parade, temples, National Parks) - Instruction booklet emailed before the workshop
Not Included :
- Transportation to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Personal expenses, alcoholic beverages
- Travel Insurance
- Extra night(s) in Colombo
- Tips to local staff

Double Occupancy: $6,500
Single Supplement: $1,400

Deposit (non-refundable):
$800 (Double Occupancy)
$1,200 (Single Occupancy)

Full payment due by May 15, 2021 (payable by check or by credit card (3% surcharge)

Deposit: $800 ($1,200 for single)

Terms and Conditions

- We might encounter daily rain showers. Be prepared for moody sky.
- We are eating freshly cooked local cuisine with local meat, vegetables, and soup (not spicy).
- We are photographing around elephants, which requires careful attention
- However, the photographic opportunities are incredible. It is an amazing adventure to photograph elephants interacting with humans.

Where: Sri Lanka
When: July 30 – August 10, 2021
Who: Oliver Klink, Harsh Agarwal, Arti Agarwal, Local guides
Airport: Colombo (CMB)
Accommodations: Hotels
Weather: 70 – 90F. Moody Sky

Cost: $6,500 (+$1,400 single supplement)

Workshop details for Sri Lanka "Elephants’ Culture"


12 days of guided photoshoot and reviews
July 30 – August 10, 2022
Note: Itinerary and activities might change based on weather conditions

Day 1 (July 30): Arrival day in Colombo Airport (CMB)
- Transfer to the hotel
- Welcome dinner

Day 2: Negombo - Kandy
• Sunrise tour to Negombo fish market and lagoon
• Drive to Kandy
• Photoshoot of elephants at a historical temple

Day 3 - 6: Perahera Festival – Largest Elephants Festival in the World
• Early morning photoshoots at private temples (elephants, mahouts, priests, celebration)
• Follow elephants on route to various temples. Photograph activities at temples
• Photograph staging area of the parade (special access)
• Photograph daily parades from various viewpoints (ground level, special access)

Day 7: Conclusion of the Perahera Festival
• Photograph elephants getting ready to be transported back to their villages
• Photograph final celebration at temples
• Drive to Minneriya National Park

Day 8: Minneriya National Park
• Safari at Minneriya NP. Elephants, monkeys, birds
• Visit Sigiriya

Day 9: Sigiriya – Pinnawala
• Drive to Pinnawala
• Elephant photoshoot

Day 10-11: Elephant Photoshoot with villagers, kids, models
• Two photoshoots daily with elephants (early morning, late afternoon)
• Photoshoots with villagers, kids, mahouts, workers
• Photoshoots with natural and/or artificial light
• Learn on to choregraph scenarios. Daily themes
• Photograph large group of elephants bathing in the river
• Drive to Colombo Airport

Day 12: (August 10) Departure Day – Conclusion of the workshop
• Suggested flight departs shortly after midnight
• Conclusion of workshop

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 70 – 90F)
- Comfortable and warm layered clothes (neutral color recommended)
- Shorts and t-shirts to photograph elephants in the water
- Sandals, walking shoes
- Hat, sunglasses, and sun screen
- Rain gear/windbreaker
- Knee pads for low angle shooting

Camera Equipment:
- Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
- Elephant parade: 16 - 200mm. Fast lens recommended (F2.8)
- Telephoto lens for elephant in the wild: 200-400mm
- Tripod (optional but recommended for elephant photoshoots)
- Flash (off-camera) + diffusers
- ND Filters (3, 6, 10, 15 stops)

Other Equipment (Optional):
- Small notepad (notes, observations, …)
- Laptop (with power cord), memory card downloader
- Post processing software (Lightroom, Photoshop, plug-ins)
- External hard drives (backup)


This workshop includes:
- 12 days of guided photoshoot
- Best places to photograph elephants’ culture (parade, private locations, temples)
- Accommodation, Meals, ground transportation
- Small group (maximum 8 people)
- Daily reviews (including tips on post processing, file management, idea to build portfolio)
- Two photography instructors, one travel assistant, local guides, special staff (elephant handlers, helpers)

Not Included:
- Transportation to and from Colombo (CMB), Sri Lanka
- Personal expenses, alcoholic beverages
- Travel Insurance
- Extra night(s) in Colombo
- Tips to local staff

Travel Recommendations:
- Plan on arriving in Colombo no later than July 30. Your return flight can be booked after midnight on August 10
- We can assist with booking extra nights in Colombo (pre and post 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

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