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Photographing the Wild White Horses is a dream come true for most people, capturing this world-renowned and noble breed splashing through the shallow waters of the marshland and lakes with the Gardians (Camargue Cowboys) on horseback.
On this workshop, you get to photograph not only the horses but also stunning portraits of weathered Gardians (Camargue Cowboys) and also some amazing street photography during the festival.
The gypsy festival witnesses the Pilgrimage that transforms the seaside town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer into a place of rituals, traditions and a wild carnival of Flamenco as Europe’s Gypsies come together to celebrate their faith and culture.
A procession, headed by the king of the Gypsies and the archbishop, alongside the Gardians, dressed in their traditional outfits on beautiful Camargue horses, traditional Arlesian women and children, takes the relics of Saint Sara, the Patron saint of the Gypsies, through the village streets, singing their chant and wading into the Mediterranean with the crowd, to the sacred waters.
This is the perfect combination for Wildlife, Streetlife and Equine photography.
We will collect you from Montpellier airport (by mid-afternoon) for transfer to your charming hotel in the medieval town of Aigues-Mortes. Take time to unwind, unpack and perhaps explore the streets of the city that lies within the mile-long rampart walls.
Around 17h00/18h00 we will meet for a welcome drink & briefing meeting at the hotel.
We spend the morning shooting portraits of the Gardians (Camargue Cowboys) with their ‘weathered’ faces – they are perfect subjects for stunning black and white classic portrait photography. Serge demonstrates how to obtain a classic portrait, along with some great tips for working with subjects who may not be comfortable in front of the lens. You will learn about composition, lighting techniques using daylight and portable flash, lens choice and how to deal with the elements around you.
In the afternoon, Serge will guide you through an exclusive shoot photographing portraits of some real gypsies in their gypsy caravan. This is the perfect opportunity to capture amazing images but it will also prepare you for the festival days to come.
We head to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for the day to witness the Pilgrimage that transforms this seaside town into a place of rituals, traditions and a wild carnival of Flamenco as Europe’s Gypsies come together to celebrate their faith and culture.
A procession takes Sara, the Patron saint of the Gypsies, to the sea. Just before this, inside the Church, the reliquaries containing her relics will be slowly brought down from the ‘High Chapel’, in the midst of the songs and praises. The statue of Sara, carried by the Gypsies to the sea, symbolises the waiting for and welcome of the Saints Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome.
We head back to Saintes-Maries for the second day of the Festival.
Following the morning’s solemn mass, the ‘craft’, with the statues of the two Marys aboard, is borne to the sea, accompanied by the crowd of gypsy and non-gypsy pilgrims, carried by the ranchers on horseback and the Arlésienne girls in costume. The bearers go into the sea to symbolise the arrival of the Saints Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome and of the Faith. The Bishop, on board one of the traditional fishermen’s boats, blesses the sea, the region, the pilgrims and the Gypsies. The Procession then returns to the Church amidst the joy and acclamations, accompanied by musical instruments and the ringing of bells. In the afternoon at the Church, with prayers and a popular fervour, the ceremony of bringing the reliquaries back up to the ‘High Chapel’ takes place.
At dawn, we head to the beach for a shoot with a beautiful White Stallion. We photograph him dashing and diving in and around the sea and surf, as well as rearing up on the top of the sand dunes, making for a wide range of dramatic action shots.
Late afternoon, we photograph the Camargue white stallions sparring – this is a unique opportunity to photograph these magnificent creatures with their feisty temperament in full flow, as they rear and entwine at full height.
We leave before dawn for the Parc Ornithologique, which is a natural Camargue wetlands area. We will be accompanied by a our specialist BBC Wildlife photographer who is an expert on where to be and at what time to get the birds at their very best. He is the only person authorised to access the park before sunrise and before it opens to the public so you can capture wonderful, exclusive images of Camargue birdlife and Flamingos.
In the afternoon we photograph the Camargue Wild White horses running through the marsh and heading straight towards your camera! We shoot several drives with the horses running across your field of view! We will also take shots of the ‘Gardians’ (Camargue Cowboys) dressed in their traditional Camargue shirts, surrounded by the herd as well as some close-up portraits.
In the morning we have a final session with the Wild White horses running through the marsh but at a different location and with a different backdrop and composition, providing a wide-range of iconic images.
Flights from Montpellier airport in the afternoon.
We have built up strong relationships with the locals who highly respect traditions, wildlife and their treasured land
If you would like to arrive a day early to beneﬁt from a course on your camera, settings, techniques and how to obtain the best out of your workshop, please let us know. We consider the pre-course very worthwhile for intermediate-level photographers and essential for beginners or photographers with new equipment they are not familiar with.
Before you book your flights, you might like to consider arriving a day or two earlier or staying a day or two after the workshop to make the most of the beautiful region and sunshine – we also offer an amazing horse riding experience and can recommend other excursions & activities – just ask Ros for further details.
Payment by bank transfer (please request our banking details) or by PayPal online