Travel & Cultural Documentary Photography

Exploring with Tilak Hettige

Exploring with Tilak Hettige

Photo: © Tilak Hettige

Most travel photographs are tourist photographs, nice scenics but lacking in substance. Renowned travel and documentary photographer Tilak Hettige, whose work has appeared in magazines and who has published several books, knows that publishers and editors look for striking visual narrative beyond the pretty pictures.

In this challenging three-day workshop, Tilak takes students to a historic heritage town two hours from Manila, showing them how to immerse themselves in the character of a place while on location and through prior research.

Students will edit their shots for a final presentation, discussing among themselves and with Tilak their impressions and sentiments of the place and how they captured these in their photographs.

The workshop is project-based, and assumes the student is very knowledgeable with camera controls and basic composition. The workshop’s schedule is demanding but highly rewarding.

Field assistants will help to navigate any areas of difficulty and discuss all your photographic concerns.

An introductory get-together will be held on Thursday evening prior to the workshop.

Schedule and Venue

Day 1 6:00 PM-8:00 PM, PCCI Studio A and B Introduction, briefing, short lecture, and slideshow

Day 2 6:00 AM onwards whole day location shoot (transportation provided by PCCI)

Day 3 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM Critique/Review of photos and complete the final project

Who will benefit

  • Photographers who wish to contribute to travel magazines and to the travel and tourism industry
  • Staff photographers and writers of travel magazines, tourist destinations, hotels and resorts, and other related enterprises
  • Photographers who travel a lot and wish to go beyond “postcard-pretty” pictures
  • Commercial photographers (such as advertising, wedding, architectural) who regularly shoot on location
  • Editorial photographers who regularly shoot on location, whether or not for travel photography
  • Amateur photographers who want to do part-time work for travel magazines

What is covered

  • Introductory lecture on travel and documentary photography
  • Whole-day shoot on location
  • Editing assignment and presentation
  • Time-tested tips from an instructor who has traveled to more than 35 countries
  • How to use available elements to convey impactful scenes that depict a sense of place
  • How to avoid tourist snapshots and cliche “postcard” shots of known landmarks
  • How to build ideas for a photo story before the shoot
  • How to work in adverse travel or locale conditions


  • The participant must have attended the PCCI basic photography workshop or equivalent
  • Extensive knowledge of basic camera functions, parts, and accessories. These are not covered in the workshop

About the Lecturer

Tilak Hettige, a product of New England School of Photography in Boston, USA, has worked in the photography industry since 1981 in places like Boston, Washington D.C, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the Philippines. He is an accomplished author-photographer. He first won international recognition when he became the photographer of the year in the International Photographic Society, Washington D.C. in 1997. In addition to winning many subsequent awards Tilak’s work has been published in many books, international newspapers, magazines and calendars. His photographs have also been displayed in many exhibitions in the Philippines and outside and several of them are in private collections in several countries.

Among his publications are the recently released Tilaka: The Spiritual Third Eye and Saffron Robes: A Photographic Essay on Buddhist Monks. Currently he is working on two more books.

He now resides in Manila and has joined the country's most prestigious Camera Club of the Philippines. In 2007, he joined the faculty of the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging.

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