Targabatai - Old believers Village, 2019 - Pentax 67ii + Kodak Portra 400

Targabatai - Old believers Village, 2019 - Pentax 67ii + Kodak Portra 400

Dates 2020

Fri 08/05 - Sat 30/05, 2020

Fee and Registrations

Maximum 6 participants.

The fee will be $ 5,450. This includes all 23 breakfasts, all hotels (16 nights), all train tickets from Vladivostok to Moscow (7 nights on the Trans-Siberian Train), all transport to various locations for photographing, and airport pickup and departures, tuition, guide and host.

The fee does not include airfare to Vladivostok (VVO) and from Moscow (MOS) and other (affordable) meals. Visa fee is not included.

To register, email to mail@haraldclaessen.com mentioning which Adventure Photo Workshop you are interested in.

Our Journey

Below itinerary may be subject to small changes (every year has new opportunities), but one thing is for sure, it’s only a small part of what we will encounter on our Adventure, there is just so much more.

  • We will start in Vladivostok, Russia’s Far East Capital. Here we visit the Far East Mariinsky ballet and opera theatre.

  • The next day we will witness the impressive and touching Victory Day Parade, a huge nationwide celebration of the end of WWII, and a display of Russia’s military might. This is followed by the Eternal Brigade, when old and young commemorate their ancestors lost in the WWII, holding a portrait of their parents or grandparents, incredibly moving.

  • We will visit Russky Island which until recently has been closed to foreigners.

Russky Island Vladivostok

Russky Island Vladivostok

Vladivostok - Victory day parade

Vladivostok - Victory day parade

  • We will then board the Trans-Siberian Train which will bring us right to the heart of Siberia in a Time Warp similar to around 1910 USA. We plan 5 days in 3 villages, Urusha, Yerofey Pavlovich and Mogocha. The distances between these villages are relatively small. We were often told that we were the only foreigners to ever come to these villages. They are off the grid and also some of the most photogenic. Siberian people are very welcoming and once we found friends, we quickly got to know many more. Welcome to Siberian hospitality.

Siberian Village Urusha

Siberian Village Urusha

Siberian Village Urusha

Siberian Village Urusha

Siberian Village Urusha

Siberian Village Urusha

Siberian Village Yerofey Pavlovich

Siberian Village Yerofey Pavlovich

  • After leaving Mogocha, we will travel overnight on the Trans-Siberian train to Ulan Ude, the Capital of Buryatia. A predominantly Buddhist culture with temples and bustling markets await us here. The main square has the biggest head of Lenin in Russia. We will stay several days in Ulan Ude serving as our base to visit Targabatay, a village inhabited with “old believers”, descendants of people who refused to adopt reforms in the Russian church around 1650 and who were therefore forced to flee or were exiled to Siberia. We will also visit Ivolginsk (Buddhist monastery). On the road we will also stop at many other small villages.

Priest Father Sergiy in Old Believer Village Targabatai

Priest Father Sergiy in Old Believer Village Targabatai

Siberian “Old Believer’ Village Targabatai

Siberian “Old Believer’ Village Targabatai

  • After several days exploring Ulan Ude and the surrounding villages we take a beautiful afternoon ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway, along Lake Baikal, to the village of Slyudyanka, which is located along the Lake. Our accommodation is a 20 min taxi ride to the village of Kultuk, which will serve as our next multi-day stop on our journey. You will see the lake from your balcony. It’s an energising point for more to come. From Kultuk we will be able absorb the breathtaking beauty of the nature surrounding Lake Baikal, plunge into new adventures meeting the hospitality of Siberian families and make day trips to the villages in the adjacent Tunka Valley.

Tunka Valley, close to Lake Baikal

Tunka Valley, close to Lake Baikal

Siberian “Tunka Valley” close to Lake Baikal, Village Bistraya

Siberian “Tunka Valley” close to Lake Baikal, Village Bistraya

Lake Baikal - Kultuk Village

Lake Baikal - Kultuk Village

Kultuk, Lake Baikal

Kultuk, Lake Baikal

  • After several days we need to say goodbye to Lake Baikal, as we move to Irkutsk, the “Paris of Siberia”. which was also a centre of learning, on account of exiled intelligentsia. 

  • From Irkutsk we will travel to the region of Novosibirsk for an overnight stop.

  • We then arrive in Yekatarinburg. One of the largest towns of Russia and the border between Europe and Asia. Here we plan to visit a war veteran who has hosted us for the past 3 years. She will tell you in detail how she defended Moscow from air raids. We will also visit The Church on Blood on the site of the Ipatiev House where Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, and his family, along with members of the household, were shot during the Russian Civil War.

Church on place where Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia was shot - Yekatarinburg

Church on place where Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia was shot - Yekatarinburg

Aleftiny Nicholaevna, a lovely 97 year old veteran of WWII, Yekatarinburg

Aleftiny Nicholaevna, a lovely 97 year old veteran of WWII, Yekatarinburg

Yekatarinburg. Images from Aleftiny Nicholaevna’s past and present.

Yekatarinburg. Images from Aleftiny Nicholaevna’s past and present.

  • From Yekatarinburg we will travel by Tran-Siberian Railway through the Ural mountains to Kazan. Kazan is a city in southwest Russia, on the banks of the Volga and Kazanka rivers. The capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, a semi-autonomous region, it's known for the centuries-old Kazan Kremlin, a fortified citadel containing museums and sacred sites. We will also visit the temple of all religions, it’s a fascinating place with always ongoing construction and the artist gladly explain what it’s all about. Kazan also has busting local markets and fascinating regional dishes worth trying.

  • After Kazan we will travel to our final destination, Moscow, the Capital of Russia where we will enjoy our last evening together celebrating what will definitely have been one of your best journeys ever (read the comments of our participants)

The workshop

We’re passionate about teaching the different aspects of photography. A good amount of time will be spend on:

  • Giving you detailed feedback and assistance/suggestions from our side

  • Help you to become comfortable photographing strangers in unfamiliar environment with respect and dignity towards your subjects. Even if you don't speak the language, empathy has no language. In return this will make you feel relaxed and confident, which is important for making environmental portraits or street photography.

  • Recognise favourable photography situations. Not everything is interesting to photograph. We will make your internal sirens go off meaning "We've got a situation!" when photographical interesting elements which are resonating with you are aligning. Find 2-3 a day and you had a great day. We speak about what such "situations" are and what to do when you find them.

  • Judge the quality of natural light and find the good light at any time of the day. Not only in the early morning or afternoon/evening.

  • How to adjust correctly to low light situations. Do not blindly crank up your ISO setting and continue like it was day.


    We want you to return home with a personally meaningful photo essay.

Lecturer | Host

Harald Claessen  

Born in the Netherlands - Flying Dutchman. Harald is a Social Documentary and Portrait Photographer and Lecturer.

Harald’s Instagram


Weather | Sun

May - Temps Min. 5.5C/42F, Max. 17.1C/63F, Average 11.3C/52.3F | Sunrise 04:40 | Sunset 21:08 | Daylight 16:28 (Data for Yekatarinburg)

We have always had good weather in May. Temperatures may vary along this long route. We may have a cold day of 10-15C or a warm day 25-30C. Mostly it will be in-between. We will send you a recommended packing list.

To register, send an email to mail@haraldclaessen.com mentioning which workshop you would like to join.

What to expect?

Some images from our previous Siberian Creative Adventure Photo Workshops.