Photographic Tours: Tips from an experienced traveller
After participating in several workshops, I have a few tips that might help in assessing whether a particular trip is going suit you, and be good value for money
The most important thing to be clear about, is what you would like to get out of a trip. There will be several options available and professional photographers offer different types of trips. Is it technical help? Assistance to develop your own vision and style? How to decide which lens to use? Help with composition? The challenge to think or look at things differently? or simply the chance of being in a great location, so you are happy to pay someone to help you get there?
There is the photo tour, that advertises “to get clients to fabulous locations at appropriate times of day for photography” This is hopefully with a bias to sunrise and early light, and late in the day with options for location for blue hour and sunset, along with prized locations for that particular destination. Whether it be street, landscape or city scapes, you would hope that the expertise of the pro and local guides would help you get to optimal place at the best time of the day.
A workshop should offer more than this, hopefully with tuition about location, composition, and review of images from the day, and possibly some post production tips. If there is time, either depending on weather, or time allocated, then image review and the opportunity to see what others in the group have been shooting, and discussions regarding processing or workflow are more than welcomed. As a result, the fees for a workshop may be more. If a photo tour is to a more exotic location, either being remote, or specialised, then you would expect to pay more for this luxury also. It is usually assumed that you will know how to use your camera, but appropriate to ask if beginners are welcome.
Things to consider when assessing whether a particular tour or workshop is for you are:
- The experience of leader, or professional photographer. How long have tours or workshops been offered for?
- What is the quality of his work, and do you like his style of photography?
- Has he been there before, does he use a local guide? Local knowledge is invaluable and this is really what you are paying for.
- Will the pro be shooting himself, or is he there with the intention of teaching and making sure that his clients are happy?
- Are hotels in good locations? What are the transport arrangements?
- How much walking/ hiking is involved? Will you be able to carry your gear? Will you be able to keep up with the group?
- Where do other trips go in the same area, and how does this one compare? Does it include the locations and experiences that will be important to you?
- How long is the trip? Is this a good fit for you? What if it’s not working out, is it too long?
- Consider that an ideal length of time might be 8-10 days, and that 2-4 weeks of early starts every day, and often late finishes, might become tiring in time. If for some reason things are not going well, 2-4 weeks can be quite prolonged. You may not be so creative under these circumstances.
- Is the itinerary flexible if weather or other circumstances interfere with the initial schedule?
Some tips for trying to assess if a trip may be for you:
- Have a look at the website of the group or professional photographer, and the interaction on social media that is available.
- Is he helpful and is there a blog that you can subscribe to? Are there tips for trips or shooting in the field available? maybe some free ebooks, or even for purchase.
- This helps to provide a sense of the product and quality of education that might be available.
- Many times professionals offering workshops or tours have published books or run courses in the past, and you can get a sense of their style of education.
- I have also found that once you have been a client, then there may be opportunity for more input afterwards, either with repeat trips, or email interaction and assistance with post production, and opportunity to be involved in a community from the trip, either through Facebook, or blogging etc. It’s always great to see online how others interpreted the same environment, as you don’t always get the chance on a trip, and also where else they travel to or what they do photographically in the future.
What have others said about the trips:
- It’s helpful to see what others have said about previous trips or advice that might be provided online. Again, this gives a sense of what might be on offer, and if it suits you.
- Consider the demographic of the client base if you can find this out. Will the others on the trip be like you? like minded? Similar goals? Or culturally quite different. Diversity is great, but also consider that if you are spending a large amount of money on a trip, it might be helpful to find out if others might have similar ideas, travel and learning goals. Age group may be relevant if the trip is very physical. ( lots of hiking etc)
- Another idea is that if you have a few friends that have similar interests, then maybe there is the option of a private trip for your group. Write to the pro and see what the options might be.
To prepare for a trip, and during:
- Get lots of sleep before you go, as you are usually running all day and night.
- Make sure you are fit.
- Know your gear inside and out. Don’t try out a new camera for the first time on a trip.
- Have spares (consider 2 camera bodies, spare batteries, make sure everything is working before you leave)
- Have waterproof and appropriate gear for you and your camera.
- Don’t take more than you need.
- Speak up, otherwise it is assumed that you are happy. It’s important that you vocalise and ask for help if that is what you need, or if something is not up to expectation,
- Ask lots of questions, the pro should be there for you.
- Ask for feedback, and try to get some image review. Emphasis is usually on shooting time, particularly when the light and weather is good, but in down time or poor weather, this can be great.
- Interact with others on the trip, there will be a wealth of knowledge and experience in the group.
Camberwell Camera Club