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The Rabari – Encounters with the Nomadic Tribe – Book Review

| December 19, 2011 | 2 Comments

Rabari - Encounters with the Nomadic Tribe

An award winning photographer Mitchell Kanaskevich and editors of bring us a refreshing documentary and travel photography guide.

This travel photography eBook describes the approach and the reasoning behind producing documentary photographs, and gives useful tips on how to handle a travel photography project. The documentary project used to illustrate these tips was Mitchell’s encounters with Rabari – a nomadic tribe of Indian cattle herders.

The book is structured differently than other photography books out there, which we found very refreshing. The eBook is structured as a case-study where 10 of Mitchell’s photos are analyzed in detail. Each photo is analyzed through:

  • Background Information – Story behind the image. These details are a great documentary body of work in itself and help better grasp Rabari culture and customs. Background Information also illustrates how did the photographer come to the opportunity of taking the image, and is as such useful to newbies looking to get into documentary photography.
  • Objectives – Depicts photographer’s goals, and what he wanted to achieve with the image. It also describes how do these objectives impact choice of subject, background, lighting, and basically all elements that create a strong photo.
  • Light – An interesting and highly useful section which describes the lighting setup behind each photo. Given the fact that this was a documentary/travel project, the choice of equipment was very limited, and most of the lighting was done with a help of a reflector. Don’t expect fancy studio set-ups here. The plus side is that this section actually illustrates how much can be achieved using only natural lightning with a little bit of manipulation.
  • Moment and/or pose – Covers communication with the model and how to direct the model to produce the desired result.
  • Composition – Covers the reasoning behind compositional choices. There are many photography books about composition rules, and this one thankfully is not one of them. Rather than just listing composition tips, the author discusses the composition choices describing in simple English WHAT he did and WHY. It is that WHY that tells the photographer how to approach the image, and if the compositional rules should be followed, or broken.
  • Biggest challenge – This is a very interesting section as it describes the challenge presented in each photo, and what steps the author took to overcome it.
  • The What and Why of post processing – Post processing is sometimes regarded as cheating when it comes to photos, and that the photos should be best done in-camera. While we do not argue that you should strive to get the best result possible in camera, the author nicely describes the need for post processing:
    “Post-processing is an integral part of each photograph. Our cameras have limitations – colors often don’t come out as richly as we saw them and tonal range that the eyes see is simply impossible for the camera to reproduce”.
    This section is not step-by-step tutorial. The author describes WHAT did he do to improve the image and WHY, and assumes that the guides on HOW to do it are easily available on the Internet. We believe that this is the right approach as it keeps the guide simple and easy to follow. Note that some degree of understanding the post-processing is required to fully reap the benefits presented in this section.

At the end of each photo analysis there is a small table with several Quick Tips that provides a nice summary of the lessons learned from shooting that particular photo, presented in easy to understand and remember way.

Take look at the screenshots below for more detail about the looks and the content of the book.

Background and lighting

Background info and lighting

Model and pose & Composition

Model and pose & Composition

Closing Comments

There are many books on photography nowadays, however most of them focus only on rules, lessons and tips. Thankfully, Rabari – Encounters with the Nomadic Tribe is not just another one of them. It is new and refreshing. We liked the approach that Mitchell took in terms of explaining the background, the objectives, and all other elements that had to work together towards creating a truly great photo. Such approach helps the reader understand the photographer’s mindset, and the creative decisions the photographer took in order to “Get the shot”.

This book is a great case study on documentary photography, where you can learn a lot about how to shoot, direct and post-process documentary travel photos, in a simple and easy-to-read manner.
Did we also mention that this book looks just amazing on the iPad ?

Digital Photography Student - Recommended

The Rabari – Encounters with the Nomadic Tribe book can be purchased online as a digital download from, and it costs $24.95. However if you hurry up and purchase it before Christmas, you can get it here for special Christmas release price of $19.95.

Click here to view more details

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Category: Beginners Photography, Photography Books, Travel Photography

About the Author (Author Profile)

Alan Graf is the editor and founder of Digital Photography Student. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is also editor of – a Croatian wallpaper archive, and his own photo gallery at

Comments (2)

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  1. Rowan Sims says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the review. I always enjoy reading other people’s perspectives on books I’ve reviewed. Very well written and comprehensive. Thanks for sharing. I’ve reviewed it also if you’re interested in reading:


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