Joey L's Stunning New Documentary: “Beyond” Varanasi, India

The incredibly young and talented, Joey L. has released a new documentary that was shot while shooting his intimate series of photos, 'Holy Men'. Set in the breathtaking backdrop of India, the documentary filmed by Cale Glendening shows Joey while at work with his assistant Ryan, but more importantly proves that capturing an amazing portrait isn't just about the latest gear or technique, but truly the subject.

Joey L Holy Men

©Joey L

The film shows Joey connecting to the people of Varanasi, short snippets of Joey shooting, the ups and downs of shooting a destination photo series and the precious experiences that the three friends took back home with them. Joey's work is inspirational, striking and incredibly thoughtful. After watching this documentary it compels you to aspire to better your craft and the meaning behind your work, or at least it did for me. The documentary stands at almost 45 minutes long and is definitely worth sitting down and watching the whole video in its entirety.


©Joey L

"It's not going out with a camera and taking a bunch of snapshots and picking the best ones out of two hundred. You're trying to get one photo a day, and that's a good day." -Ryan McCarney

You can see more of Joey L's work at his website here:

or his Facebook page here: Joey L. The Photographer

Rebecca Britt's picture

Rebecca Britt is a South Texas based commercial, architectural and concert photographer. When she's not working Rebecca enjoys spending time with her two daughters, playing Diablo III, and shooting concerts (Electronic Dance Music). Rebecca also runs the largest collective of EDM (electronic dance music) photographers on social media.

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I simply love Joey and his style, not always, but he is a great photographer... seen the documentary yesterday, I adore it!

I hate how good Joey is.

That comes from pure jealousy.

Awesome documentary, very well done by all three guys.  They seem like a cool bunch of dudes.

Purely in the name of playing devil's advocate, I'd suggest that this whole documentary was convoluted, over-produced and romanticised. When 90% of your piece is set-up, rehearsed and planned to the Nth degree, how are you supposed to know what is real and what is a fabrication? An epic orchestral score accompanying a planned dolly shot of rehearsed movement says 'hollywood' to me more than anything else. This documentary could have been a lot more effective if it was half the length, with half the colour grading and half the amount of detail shots whose real weight is found in the music played along side them. 

A lot of this was good; you can't argue with the quality of the images coming from Joey L and his team - beautiful! I'd only really question the integrity of the video piece. If your narrative is good you shouldn't have to rely on post production to give your content weight. It just felt like production was given more emphasis than the narrative, which to me seems like a complete role reversal. 

I enjoyed the imagery. Very nice work.(yes, thought the vid. was a tad long)

familiar with his work over the years. Good kid, great photographer.

I love it, its almost like India's Holly men are an art of its own and on the other hand tools to create a vision. I love the power of those images.

Wow, that was inspiring...

I wish it were twice as long and had some bts of the actual shoots and stuff.   Otherwise I loved it, and of course it wasn't scripted and didn't have any hollywood setup, it was 3 white dudes in the middle of nowhere.  That goes to show what they were talking about in the video is legit.  They get access to all of these cool people because they actually genuinely get to know a small group of the locals.  Awesome job... now off to befriend my local homeless peeps so I can gain access to their awesome underground lair!

Assuming you're replying to me... You don't need a hollywood setup to produce stuff that looks hollywood, and access through relationship is documentary 101 - it is not a novel idea. Try shooting a subject without relationship/research/personal investment; it's most likely going to be crap! Anybody claiming to present truths through documentary without a deep understanding and relationships with the subject matter isn't presenting truths. I'm not Saying Joey doesn't do this - it would appear that he does - I'm just responding to some of your comments. 

As for the video - I know it's legit, but for me the whole commercialism of the style distances me from the subject matter, which surely isn't a good thing. Over production gives it that hollywood feel that I do not associate with truths. Obviously this is all subjective and I'm just giving my opinion here. 

Take a look at any of Maisie Crow's multimedia projects. From 5-15 minutes and filled with so much information, projected in a completely beautiful and emotionally involving way. 

In reference to your comment "Try shooting a subject without relationship/research/personal investment, it most likely going to be crap!" -I recommend the film "Baraka".  It is deviod of any of these traits and it one of the most visually stunning films produced imo...and it contains no dialogue.  Highly recommended.

I remember Joey as a young, talented photographer on DPChallenge.  His work continues to be inspiring to many.  I found this piece not only as a documentary of India and it's fascinating culture, but also a documentary of how Joey works with his subjects by forming relationships.  I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future!

I also greatly admire Joey's work and am inspired by the way he captures the unique dignity of his subjects and 
creates portraits which, despite barriers of culture and religion, reflect a common humanity. I loved this documentary although partially because I've spent some time myself living in Varanasi so it brought back fond memories. The end piece where they celebrate Shivaratri really cracked me up as it reflected the chaos, wonder, and excitement of the festival..and India itself! It was also wonderful to see a bit of how Joey and his friends work together and connect with their subjects and environment. Powerful and inspiring images and documentary.

Very inspiring and beautiful video! The pictures are great and the guys really show respect to these very special men.

This is an absolutely stunning documentary! The cinematography here is nothing short of outstanding. The technical structure of creating a storytelling documentary is tough. I have shot photography and cinematography in India and travelled. What these guys did here was not easy. Don't just watch this video on a surface level, but analyse each shot as if it were a photo. Unbelievably good.

Such an awesome video. While the photography is stunning as usual, the message is even more important.

I am loving this video I have never felt so inspired until today. 

Thanks for uploading this video. Truly inspiring :)

this is pure inspiration :) i say that cracking my teeth out of jealousy