News and Updates

Kandy Esala Perahera 2018 • August 17-27

Past Events

Workshops in Sri Lanka (August 2016)
"Improve Your Photography and Tell Your Story"

 Sunday, August 21 – 9:00-11:00 – Kandy
Workshop at the American Center - Kandy

 Monday, August 22 – Colombo
10:00 - 12:00:  Workshop for university students in collaboration with the
Institute of Sri Lankan Photographers  - TBC

4:00 - 6:00:  Outdoor workshop with photojournalists and social media activists
with a field trip to Wellawatta

 Tuesday, August 23 - Jaffna
3:30 - 5:30: Workshop at the American Center

9:30 - 11:30: Workshop with local photojournalist experts/alumni for
media students at the University of Jaffna

August 25, 2016 – Matara
Photographic workshop at the Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Matara. (Click on photo to the right for a larger image.)

August 25, 2013 – Colombo
Photographic workshop sponsored by the Photographic Society of Sri Lanka at the Lionel Wendt Center in Colombo.

August 24-25, 2013 – Colombo
Photography Exhibition at the Harold Peiris Gallery at the Lionel Wendt Center sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo and the Photographic Society of Sri Lanka

August 17, 2013 – Kandy
Presentation to Access Micro Scholarship Students -3:00PM
Public Lecture: "My Life as a Photographer in America and Sri Lanka" at the American Corner in Kandy, Sri Lanka - 4:30 PM

August 15 & 16, 2013 – Jaffna
Photography workshop, presentations and exhibition for youth forum members and high school & university students at the American Corner – Jaffna, Sri Lanka

August 12, 2013 – Colombo
Public Lecture: "My Life as a Photographer in America and Sri Lanka" at the American Center in Colombo, Sri Lanka - 4:00 PM

January - February 2013
Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera Exhibition at the Wyandotte Arts Center Gallery – Wyandotte, MI (Click here for a related photograph.)

October 25, 2012
Royal Oak Library - Lecture in Friends Auditorium, Royal Oak, MI
Michael Sarnacki presents a copy of his book to Mary Karshner Director of the Royal Oak Public Library. (Click on photo to the right for a larger image.)

October 24, 2012
Oakland Community College and American Society of Media Photographers Lecture and Book Signing - Oakland Community College Auditorium, Royal Oak Campus - Royal Oak, MI (Click here for a related photograph.)

August 9, 2012: Michael Sarnacki Honored by the Governor of Kandy
The Honorable Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Governor of the Central Province of Sri Lanka, presents a gold plaque to Michael Sarnacki to commemorate the completion of his book and his return visit to Kandy. (Click here for a related photograph.)

Aug. 6 to Sept. 4, 2012: Exhibition at the American Center in Colombo
An opening reception was held at the American Center of the United States Embassy in Colombo on August 6, 2012 for the exhibition of the photographs from Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera. It was immediately followed by a presentation of the project by Michael Sarnacki in the Lecture Hall of the American Center. (Click here for a related photograph.)

August 1, 2012: Book Presented to the Sri Lanka President
A slipcase edition of the book was presented to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a ceremony marking the end of the Kandy Perahera season. This year’s event was the 1,700th annual procession honoring Sacred Tooth Relic on the island. (Click here for a related photograph.)

July 31, 2012: Meeting with the Sri Lanka Photographic Society
Michael Sarnacki met with the membership of the Sri Lanka Photographic Society to discuss the project and the details of his photographic technique and style. The Sri Lanka Photographic Society has been active for the last 130 years! The invitation to address the group was a great honor. (Click here for a related photograph.)

July 29, 2012: Book Signing and Reception in Colombo
A book signing and reception was held at the Vijitha Yapa Bookshop in the Crescat Boulevard Mall at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. (Click here for a related photograph.)

July 28, 2012: Presentation in Kandy at the American Corner
Michael Sarnacki makes his first presentation about the project at the American Corner in the Senanayake Public Library in Kandy. (Click here for a related photograph.)

July 23 – August 9, 2012: A Triumphant Return to Sri Lanka
Michael Sarnacki returns to Sri Lanka to celebrate the completion of the 17-year long project documenting Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera. (Click here for a related photograph.)

July 19, 2012: Meeting in Los Angeles with the Sri Lanka Foundation and the Sri Lanka Patriots
Michael Sarnacki meets with Wickrema Gankanda of the Sri Lanka Patriots and Dr. Walter Jayasinghe the founder and President of the Sri Lanka Foundation to discuss the book and exhibition. (Click here for a related photograph.)

July 15, 2012: Michael Sarnacki receives an Overseas Cultural Grant from the United States Embassy in Colombo
Michael Sarnacki receives an Overseas Cultural Grant from the U.S. State Department for expenses related to the presentations and exhibition of the project at the American Center in Colombo.

June 18, 2012: Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington D.C. Celebrates the Launching of "Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera"
Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera, a photographic masterpiece by photographer Michael Sarnacki was ceremonially launched in Washington D.C. on June 18, 2012. The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. sponsored the event as part of its robust program to promote the book and exhibition, and more broadly to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination in the United States. (Click here for related photographs.)

May 31, 2012: Exhibition Opens at the Swords into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery, Detroit
The first major exhibition of the photographs goes on display in Detroit, Michigan at the Swords into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery. The exhibition runs from May 31st to June 14, 2012. A grand and festive Opening Reception was held on May 31st, followed by a Gallery Talk on June the 14th, where Michael Sarnacki outlined his experiences in Sri Lanka. The exhibition and accompanying events were a great success. (Click here for related photographs.)

May 22, 2012: Book Arrives
At long last, the shipment of books arrives from Hong Kong. Sri Lanka receives 200 copies that are sold out in one week. We receive 1,000 copies and quickly arrange to ship 200 more to Sri Lanka.

April 17, 2012 - Advance copies of book arrives
A few days ago a small number of advance copies of the Sri Lanka book arrived. What a joy! I am very pleased with the production and really glad that I’ve had the opportunity to have complete control over the content, look and feel of the book. I think I’ve seen just about every book produced about the Kandy Esala Perahera and I can say, with all modesty, that this is the finest book ever produced about one of the world's greatest events. Simply put, it’s all that I hoped it would be and I look forward to sharing it with each of you.

There are only 1200 copies of this first edition printed. Two hundred copies will arrive in Sri Lanka in a few weeks and one thousand copies will be distributed from the United States in early May. If you are interested in purchasing a book, or the special book and print edition, I would urge you to pre-order soon.

The book can be pre-ordered from this site or (Book only or Book, slipcase and print)

March 27, 2012: Approved for printing
As of this date, we have seen and approved all aspects of the printed book…design and layout, printed sheets, varnish pages, cover color, end sheets, slip case, book jacket, gold foil stampings, etc. We are very pleased with the entire production and can’t be more excited. We should be receiving a small number of advanced copies for promotion in a few weeks. The large shipment of all complete books is scheduled to arrive in the United States (1000 copies) and in Sri Lanka (200 copies) in mid-May. We are now accepting pre-orders for the book.

Orders can be placed using this site or through Since there are only 1200 copies of the book printed for worldwide distribution, we would urge you to pre-order you book immediately.
We are also in the process of producing prints for the premier exhibition of this project from May 31-June 14 at the Swords Into Plowshares Gallery in Detroit, Michigan. We will keep you informed as this event nears.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

February 20, 2012: The Final Proof Sign-off
Today Trista Sample and I signed off on the last of the proofs for the Sri Lanka book - including the slip case, the book jacket, book cover, varnish pages, UV coatings, gold foil stampings, photos, photo placement, captions, text, and overall look of the book.  It's now in the hands of the craftsmen and craftswomen at Everbest Printing in Hong Kong.  Needless to say we are excited to be this close to the completion of the book.

We are planning a book signing and exhibition event sometime in the months to come.  When we know the expected delivery date of the book, we will let you know when and where the event will take place. 

Special thanks to Ryan Arend and Jared Stevens at FCI Digital for their expert assistance and courteous cooperation with the changes made to refine the book.  And thanks to Maureen Nolan for one last proof reading and for some thoughtful suggestions that we worked into the book.  And hugs to my wife Jeanne who caught one rather large typo that no one else seemed to spot – always covering my back. (Click on photo above for a larger image.)

Dec. 17 , 2011: Book Production to Begin Soon
Today we formalized arrangements with a book broker for the production of Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera. Trista Sample and I have been working with book designer Mayapriya Long since July and together we've created something really special. The process has taken longer than I first thought, but I have to keep reminding myself that, "What is made with time, time respects."

I would anticipate that the book will be available sometime in very late February or early March. We will most definitely have an exhibition and opening reception somewhere in the Detroit area to formally launch this body of work. I will keep you informed about all the planning in the months to come. I'm looking for a suitable venue now, if you have any ideas please let me know.

The photo above right shows the front jacket cover. The yellow title and framing will be gold foil stamped and the photograph will be UV gloss coated – so it should look wonderful! The book has 272 pages and more than 300 photographs and illustrations. Obviously we'll be monitoring the production of the book as closely as we can. It seems that soon this dream will become a reality.

Thank you all for your support and goodwill. (Click on photo above for a larger image.)

Sept. 2, 2011: Prints Completed for Kickstarters Supporters
Trista Sample makes a final inspection of the prints supporters of the Kickstarter effort will be receiving. Each print is encased in a custom handmade sleeve complete with a red and gold elephant emblem. In the coming weeks the prints will be delivered to all those who pledged an amount rewarded with a print only. The supporters who pledged an amount for a book and print will be sent their print when the book is received later this year. (Click on photo for a larger image.)

July 31, 2011: Design production begins. Michael meets with book designer Mayapriya Long.
Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mayapriya Long lives and works in her home studio near the town of Lovingston, Virginia. Mayapriya, a name she acquired during her time in India, will be assembling the material in a manner that reflects our impressions of the religious and cultural nature of the region. Mayapriya is a great designer and a great individual. (Click on photo for a larger image.)

July 1, 2011 Project update: Print and Book Production
We have started making prints for the contributors of the Kickstarter program. We will be printing more than 140 photographs! We anticipate distributing these prints during the month of August. We are also making final adjustments to the text and images for the book. Our goal is to have all the book material to the designer at the end of this month. The book will be in the hands of the designer Mayapriya Long during the month of August. Once the design is completed we will then send if off for printing. Again our goal is to have the finished book in hand by November. We will do everything we can to stay on this timeline. (Click on photo for a larger image.)

June 15, 2011: Serendib Magazine Feature Story
The most recent issue of Serendib Magazine published by BT Options includes a feature story on Michael Sarnacki’s work about the Kandy Esala Perahera. The issue includes both photographs and the written text by Michael Sarnacki. The magazine will be distributed in all fights of Sri Lankan Airlines during the months of June and July of 2011.

June 9, 2011
"Photographer Goes Online to Finance a Distant Artistic Calling" –

June 1, 2011: Kickstarter Fundraising Successful
Through the thoughtful generosity of more the 175 individuals the fundraising effort on Kickstarter was successful. The project’s goal was surpassed on the very last day of the program. In the coming weeks the manuscript and photographs will be turned over to a superb graphic artist for book design. Please check back here for further updates. Thank you all for your support and well wishes.

June 1, 2011
"Royal Oak photographer raises $20,000 online for book" – The Daily Tribune

May 23, 2011
"An Interview with Photographer Michael Sarnacki" – - Sri Lanka

May 21, 2011
"Royal Oak Photographer Tries to ‘Kickstart’ Book" – The Daily Tribune

April 17, 2011: Fundraising
Today we started a major fundraising effort using Kickstarter, a site used by artists to raise money to produce their project. A video on the site explains the project and what the funds will be used for. The funding goal is $20,000. The deadline for the fundraising effort is June 1st. If the goal is not reached, we receive no funding. It is an all or nothing proposition. We urge everyone to visit the site and make a contribution to this project. It also is important to inform your friends and colleagues about this effort. To support this project through Kickstarter, please click here.

September 1, 2010: Back home again
I've just arrived home again after spending the last three weeks in Sri Lanka. It seems that the majority of my time was spent traveling to attend meetings regarding the publication of the book.

During my travels to Colombo, I met with Dammikka Sriwardhana, a very talented designer, along with Dharani Karunaratne, a Sri Lankan publisher, who is "very keen" on printing and distributing the book. I am eagerly awaiting a formal proposal from these individuals which will detail an arrangement to design and publish this assembled body of work.

Although I had less time to photograph this trip, I did have time to make a few new friends and reacquaint myself with some people I’ve known for many years. I again had the opportunity to meet with Sri Lankan President Rajapakshe. He looked a bit tired and I couldn’t help but tell him not to work so hard. He laughed and said he had no option.

April 27, 2010: Washington D.C. meeting with Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States
American photographer Michael Sarnacki presents a copy of his manuscript, Sri Lanka and the Kandy Esala Perahera; Discovering the Spirit of Buddha in the Land of Elephants, to Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya. Mr. Sarnacki has been researching and photographing the festival since 1995. The project is meant to increase international awareness about Sri Lanka’s important religious and cultural heritage.

Under the direction of Ambassador Wickramasuriya, plans are now being made for a major book and exhibition. Both the book and exhibition will be made available in the United States, Canada, in numerous European countries, and of course in Sri Lanka. These special projects, detailing the grand Kandy Esala Perahera, are expected to add to an increase in tourism.

April 2010: Upcoming Meeting with Sri Lankan ambassador the United States
With the assistance of minister Wasantha Perera, a meeting is scheduled with the Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Jaliya Wickramasuriya

October 8, 2009, Toronto: Meeting with the Sri Lankan ambassador to Canada
Michael Sarnacki met with Bandula Jayasekara, Consul General for Sri Lanka, to discuss the project as well as publication and exhibition possibilities.

August 5, 2009, Kandy: Meeting the President of Sri Lanka

On Poya Day, Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapakshe, was presented with a manuscript of the book and a photograph of an elephant in front of the Dalada Maligawa. The presentation was made at the President’s House by the American author and photographer, Michael Sarnacki, accompanied by Dhammika Swarnasinghe and Buddhie Ramawickrama of Kandy as well as Sarath Ekanayake, Chief Minister of the Central Province. The book will go into production in the coming months and a series of exhibitions are being planned to coincide with the publication. Exhibitions of the photographs are being planned in the United States, Canada and at the Queens Hotel for all Kandyans to view.

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