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Photography tours are a unique way to learn about your camera, explore a new country or place and meet like minded fellow travelers and potential friends for life. They are designed to be a trip that gives you the best photo opportunities in spectacular and usual locations while you receive advice and tips from a local guide who will take care of the details while you enjoy yourself in style.
When you travel to a dream destination with a guide waiting to show you around, then the world really does become your oyster; so pack your camera and your gear and get ready for the time of your life when you book a photo tour!
Photography Tour or Workshop?
Some people love to go to workshops, the attendance of which often involves considerable travel to reach, while others prefer to take part in photography tours. The primary difference between the two types of events is that a workshop tends to be more classroom based whereas a photo tour is a real feet-on-the-ground trip that takes you around some of the most photogenic sites of the area.
A photography workshop also tends to be a more hands on learning experience where the course conductor will focus on teaching you new techniques and methods whereas a photography tour lets you get out in the real world with the option of asking for extra help if you need it on site.
When you’re on a photo tour the main purpose of the tour guide is to make sure that you can get to the various locations without any hassle, overseeing transport and timings as well as acting as a translator if need be, especially in countries where English is not commonly spoken.
Of course the two can complement each other very well although it’s always worth understanding the differences between the two events to avoid disappointment when you arrive.
What Should You Check Before Booking A Photography Tour?
Before you head off to partake in a photo tour there are a few things that you should always check out in advance to ensure that the operator is high quality and can deliver what they advertise. There are horror stories of people who feel they’ve been scammed by an overseas operator or felt they didn’t get what they paid for; and with more new operators coming onto the scene each year it’s more important than ever to do a little research before you set off.
- Does The Operator Have Local Knowledge and a Good Reputation: You always want to find out if the potential provider of your photo tour has genuine local knowledge or else works in partnership with authentic local tour guides. This will ensure that your trip is smooth and hassle free as well as getting you to the right locations at the perfect time of day! When you travel with a local guide you’ll get the inside scoop on the secret, tucked away photo opportunity while having your transport and arrangements made for you.
- Find Out Exactly What’s Included in the Tour: The websites and promotional material that operators use for photo tours can be a little misleading at times and so it’s worth confirming the details with the organizers so you understand exactly what you’re getting for your money.
- Does the tour include your accommodation costs?
- Are meals, drinks and other extras included with your accommodation?
- Will you be expected to pay for transfer fees and transport costs during the tour or these included in the price?
- Do you need to bring all of your own equipment or does the operator provide items such as tripods, lenses and other accessories?
- Are entrance fees and other one off costs included in the package?
- Will you be expected to tip locals during the tour or has this been handled for you in advance? To clarify anything you’re unsure about or is not clear in the operator’s promotional material a simple email will usually suffice although, if you can, a quick phone call might be the best way to iron out any concerns you have before you depart.
- How Big is the Tour Group? This is a very important aspect of your photo tour and can have a huge impact on the quality of your experience. It all depends on your personal preferences but usually a group of between 5-10 is an ideal figure because you’ll still get any personal attention you need, be able to travel from site to site as a group fairly easily while still giving you plenty of scope to meet new people and make friends along the way. A larger group will probably work out cheaper but you might end up getting a more generic and scripted tour without room for changes based on the interests of the tour members. A bigger group can also be more chaotic and spoil more remote locations which you might prefer to visit in a smaller and more intimate group. When you’re looking into the group size you should also inquire about the guide to participant ratio.
- Read Reviews and Check Out Recent Testimonials: Testimonials and customer reviews can give you an invaluable insight into the experiences of visitors who took part in a photography tour before you. Your tour operator is very likely to share reviews on their own website but generally speaking these will be handpicked and quite flattering! To find more reviews a simple Google search will usually do the trick but sites like TripAdvisor, Google Reviews and Facebook are always reliable places to find more opinions on a given tour or operator.
- Check Visa Requirements: If you are travelling overseas you should always check with the tour operator to find out what the specific Visa requirements are for the country. These requirements may vary depending on your own nationality, the time of year, the length of your stay and the purpose of your visit. Usually Visa information is quite clear but if you’re in any doubt then don’t hesitate to ask because if you make a mistake it can be very costly to rectify once you arrive at your destination! Most tour operators will be happy to walk you through the Visa process to reach their country and the information should always be listed on their website for you to study as well.
- Is Your Passport Valid? Similarly, just as with your Visa, your passport needs to be up to date and valid before you travel overseas. If you need to renew your passport before you travel again then be sure to do so several months in advance just in case there are any glitches in the process and it takes longer than expected.
How To Prepare For a Photography Tour?
After you’ve checked the reviews, testimonials, looked into the tour operator and details of the photo tour itself, made sure your passport is up to date and your VISA is applied for; then it’s time to get yourself ready for the trip!
- Check your gear and your camera: If you’re recently bought a new camera then it’s time to get busy and start reading the manual, learning all the features and how to use them and start practicing as often as you can! You can go on a weekend workshop to master the basics if you don’t already know them and if you are already a very competent camera user then just brush up on your skills. Run through your gear as well to check that everything is working – the last thing you want to do is to arrive and discover something is not working!
- Pack Your Kit: Spend a little time packing up all the kit you intend to take with you – from camera gear to clothing and other personal items. Make sure you have the right camera equipment for your photo tour. If you’re going on a Safari photo tour then you’ll probably want a good zoom or telephoto lens whereas a more city based cultural tour might be better served by a wide angle lens for architectural shots.
What Kind of Photography Tours are Available?
There’s a massive range of photo tours that are available and the right one for you will depend on the type of genre that you want to work within and your own personal interests? Do you love wildlife and nature photography or do you prefer urban, architectural and cultural scenery? Is there a specific country that you’ve always wanted to visit or a landscape you wanted to explore with your camera?
Here’s a few landscape and wildlife based ideas to get you started :
- Iceland. Famous for its stunning scenery and spectacular volcanoes Iceland is a photographer’s dream come true with the unique Northern lights at night! The country’s natural ecosystem is almost untouched and you can see Orca whales, seals and sea birds in amongst the other worldly geological formations. The best time of year to visit is between February and March or October and November.
- Ladakh, India. Nestled high up in the Tibetan Plateau this extremely remote region of India is a feast of culture and natural beauty; with Buddhist temples and monasteries, huge mountain ranges, impossible landscapes and very friendly locals who are more than willing to show you around. The ideal time of year to visit is in early to mid summer before the monsoon season starts.
- Borneo – photograph the Orangutans. Visiting the Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Kalimantan, which is home to more than 4,000 orangutans, is a once in a lifetime experience as you explore the tropical forests by boat and capture the wildlife in its pristine habitat. As well as orangutans you can photograph gibbons, hornbills and proboscis monkeys, among others! The best time of year to visit is between October and November.
Explore the World and Your Artistic Vision with a Photography Tour.
Whether you go alone, with friends or family, or as part of a group, a photography tour is one of the most exciting and engaging ways to see the world. Enjoy being shown around by a guide while being given the opportunity to take photographs in some of the most pristine and spectacular scenery you’ll find anywhere.
It’s also great fun to plan your trip and get everything ready before the real adventure even starts. During the trip you’ll find your inspiration peaked and your creativity reawakened and when you get home you’ll have an amazing collection of memories and photographs to treasure.
If you’re a passionate photographer then a photo tour should already be on your bucket list; but if it’s not then it should be soon! There’s so many places to discover and whether you travel overseas or within your own country, there’s a perfect trip just waiting around the bend.
Are you thinking of joining a photography tour?