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Sri Lanka photography tour 2023: fish guts and punctual crows

For the 4th edition of my Sri Lanka photography tour, I had the pleasure of welcoming 6 participants through this beautiful country. I have to say I am loving Sri Lanka more and more. It is like a very smooth India: lots of great photo opportunities but much more chilled, and of course with incredible food!

Here is a summary of this photography tour in Sri Lanka that took us from Negombo, through the tea plantations highlands and back to the fishy coastline.

Day 1: Negombo fishing life

As you can see, I will be talking a lot about fish in this post! Sri Lanka is a country that is very focused on its fishing industry, offering us great locations to take photos of people in action. Lots of fish markets and villages. This quickly came to the group talking about fish guts daily. Just what you need to to put you in appetite!

We started this Sri Lanka photography tour with the main fish market of Negombo at sunrise. As always, this is a great market offering open views of the sunrise over the river. We loved it so much that we decided to head back there on day 2! The amount of birds flying around allowed us to fill our empty backgrounds, and this would become a recurring theme throughout the tour. Cranes and crows were always in the good spots to add drama to our images!

In the afternoon we went to visit the beach where people dry the fish in the sun. This is the place where I took one of my favourite photos of Sri Lanka, and it always offers great photo opportunities! We also had a short photo review on that afternoon to help the participants find inspiration for the following morning. There is no better than heading to a place twice in a row with a photo review in between!

We managed to catch a very pretty sunset on the beach, working on matching the bright food carts with the sunset colours. One of my personal highlights of this trip.

Day 2: More fish and an introduction to Kandy

As I mentioned earlier, we headed back to Negombo Fish Market to catch the best sunrise colours. We worked on specific scenes that we studied on the previous day during the photo review. This allowed us to focus more on the most photogenic scenes and find inspiration through all the participant’s images. By the end of this shooting session, we had a little bit of fish guts on our lenses, adding to the local flavors of Sri Lanka!

Later on, we started our short journey to reach the city of Kandy. We spend the rest of the afternoon shooting the local market which is one of my favorites for photography in Sri Lanka. Once again, the punctual crows were here to make our backgrounds more interesting!

Day 3: train ride and remote village

We embarked on the stunning train ride between Kandy and Nuwara Elyia. This 3-hour journey offers so many great photo opportunities, from people on the train to all the pretty train stations on the way, and of course the amazing landscapes of Sri Lanka tea fields.

Upon our arrival at the train station and a short snack break in a very cool food truck, we headed to one of my secret villages in this area. The clouds spoiled our sunset plans but allowed us to hang out in the village and catch moody scenes of people playing cricket with the mist in the background.

Day 4: Tea plantations and a ride to the coast

We had organized a “date” with the local ladies of the village to come and meet them in the morning and follow them as they went to pick up tea leaves in the fields. After spending a little bit of time in the village, we followed a group of about 30 women into the fields. We didn’t know where we were going but we knew there was going to be great photos in the end. And we were not disappointed!

Later on, we drove to the South coast of Sri Lanka, including a super meal in Ella. We caught the sunset on a beach in Weligama where some fishermen were bringing their catch.

Day 5: actual fish guts and beautiful fishing nets

We started the day with the main fish market of Mirissa. This very busy market always offers incredible photo opportunities due to the number of people there. Lots of action there including the fish cutters whose job is to cut the fish people bring them. That for sure gave us plenty of great photo opportunities. The shiny wet floor also allowed us to capture very cool reflections.

Later in the afternoon, we visited one of my favourite fishing villages on the coast of Sri Lanka. We spent quite a bit of time with the people fixing the big fishing nets and witnessed all the fishermen heading out for a night of fishing. Our sunset plans were interrupted by the rain so we drove to our hotel to check in and enjoy a nice cold beer.

Day 6: magic tea shop and the streets of Galle

Another sunrise on the beach, this time capturing the fishermen coming back from the night at sea. This magic location is also home to my favourite tea shop in the whole world, where we could capture wonderful scenes of people coming for their morning tea and “short eats” in the best morning light. This place never disappoints! And of course, the crows showed up to fill our empty backgrounds when we needed them to! You can call me the crow whisperer indeed…

After a wonderful lunch in Galle Fort, we spent the afternoon exploring the old market and captured the fishermen bringing huge nets on the beach of Galle. I felt that something was missing in that image so I had to call my crow reinforcement of course.

Day 7: another train ride and afternoon bubbles

For the first time on that tour, we decided to reach Colombo from Galle using the train. The tracks follow the coast, and this is one of the most beautiful train journeys you can do in Sri Lanka.

We then spent the afternoon shooting around the busy train station of Colombo, before heading to Galle Face for sunset. Over there we photographed all the school kids playing in the fields, as well as the street sellers blowing bubbles in the air. A very good combination for some dramatic and dynamic photos (at that point I thought that calling my crow friends would be overdoing it).

Day 8: Pettah market and final photo review

One of my favorite streets to shoot in the whole of Asia: the area around Pettah market. There are just so many great photo opportunities there that we all loved it. It was a great way to apply all the things the students had learned on the tour: shooting busy scenes, using the light and telling stories.

After lunch was the time for our final photo review, and it’s always a real pleasure to see all the beautiful images that everyone took during this photo tour in Sri Lanka.

Join me for the 2024 Sri Lanka photography tour

For 2024 I have decided to add one more day of shooting to the tour, to allow us to spend more time in the highlands and the tea estates. This will allow us to venture further and explore remote villages, away from the main tourist areas. You can find the link to the tour HERE.

I am already looking forward to the Sri Lanka 2024 photo tour! And I hope you are too!

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Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.


  1. Ali T. on December 20, 2023 at 3:40 pm

    Hi Etienne, I’ve visiting your site on occasion for years and I’m so impressed with your work. I do photography in Iran, where I stay on and off. Here’s a page https://escapefromtehran.com/authentic-iran-travel-tour/where-to-go/touring-irans-nature/khorasan-day-trip-purple-valley/
    I love your taste for the strong colors. Obviously, you do a lot of post work. Are the photos on this page all your work, or also the work of your participants?

    • Etienne on December 22, 2023 at 10:36 am

      Hi Ali, thanks for your message. I see you run lots of tours in some great areas of Iran! I wish to come back to Iran soon.
      All photos on the website are mine and I really do only minimal post processing. I prefer to spend time taking photos and not editing them 🙂

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