(Final)15 STEPS GUIDE TO PHOTOGRAPHY TRIPS
There are of course different ways of organizing photography trips. I have been traveling on my own for many years and the last 12 years I have been designing and organizing photography trips to “exotic” destinations such as Ethiopia, Benin, Togo, India, Ghana, China, Cuba, Turkey, Bhutan, Myanmar, to name a few of the more than 50 countries I have visited.
I am, of course, biased, for the last years, 100% of my time and efforts have been devoted to adventure photo tours and organizing photography trips through my own company, Nomad Photo Expeditions. I will nevertheless try to be as unbiased as possible. I believe in giving the best sincere advice following my experience and perception.
I have personally experienced all kinds of approaches to photo travel. I hope that this post will help the passionate travel photographer to find his best choice among the different possibilities.
Here are the main options for a photography trip:
- Go on your own.
- Join an organized Photography trip
- Go on your own and hire a fixer or a local photo tour
- Participate in a standard touristic tour with your camera.-
When I run photography trips in India, in Varanasi, I make sure to be next to the river – the old city- avoiding the nice touristy hotels. This makes a good 45 minutes difference when you want to reach the early morning ceremonies at 5 am..
PHOTOGRAPHY TRIPS ON YOUR OWN.-
The key here is research, time, and knowledge. this is a great option if you do your research properly and have enough time for it and, later, the trip.
If you travel on your own, you must arrange hotels, hire cars as well as guides, models, admission fees, and just about everything else. Many travelers appreciate the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all of the details have been taken care of before they leave.
There are really no “photographic” guides-books that are focused to people photography. You might find much about animals or landscapes, destinations, restaurants, and attractions, but not about people photography.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: WHAT / WHERE / WHEN / WHO
As we are talking about photography trips, obviously your major effort should be aimed at finding and deciding what your goals are photography-wise.
- What is the story I want to tell?
- Where do I have more chances of reaching my goal?
- Where do I have more chances of reaching my goal?
- When Should I be there?
- Who can open the doors?
The typical first step will be to get a guidebook. But here comes the surprise: When you consider people photography there is no such thing as “photographic” guides-books. The existing books will only give you references to well-known, touristic, typical places. And of course most of the time these will be interesting places for… non-photographers.
All the basic information you need is on the Internet.
You will have to look for pictures of other photographers, events, festivals, etc.. I constantly collect images that I like and keep them for future trips.
HOW DO I GET TO THE PLACE?
- How long does it take to reach the photographic spot?
This can make a big difference with your results especially when you want to be before sunrise or sunset. Being next to “your” photographic spot makes everything easier, you are more motivated to go there whenever you feel like it.
- Is your hotel next to interesting photographic places?
A hotel next to the center of a city does not mean much photographically speaking. You want to be staying close to where the action is. When I run photography trips in India, in Varanasi, I make sure to be next to the river – the old city avoiding the nice touristy hotels. This makes a good 45 minutes difference when you want to reach the early morning ceremonies at 5 am..
THE POSSIBLE SAFETY ISSUES ON A PHOTOGRAPHY TRIP
- Is it safe?
Depending on your destination, this can make a big difference! It’s not the same to be on a photo trip in Addis Ababa or in London. Many times when you book on-line a new hotel you just take into consideration the location in terms of its distance to the center of the city.
You should bear in mind that there are destinations where you do not want to be on the road late. There is an obvious danger traffic-wise (terrible roads, obscure paths) and you can as well encounter people you do not really want to meet.
MAKE SURE YOU WILL HAVE PHOTOGRAPHIC ACCESS
- Will it be open? Will my photography subjects be available for me?
It seems like an obvious question, but I know of people who have planned a trip to India mostly for a photography trip to the Taj Mahal only to find once there that a large part of the premises was closed to the public and that the visitable areas and the palace were covered with scaffolds as they were following restoration works.
- Do I need permits? Can I have access with my camera and tripod?
Many times I’ve found myself having to leave my tripod outside. And now and then even the camera! Check before leaving to the place, you will avoid disappointments.
FIND THE BEST TIME FOR THE PLACE AND THE SITUATION
- What is the best time for photography there? Will the sun reach the place early in the morning? Are there tall buildings that will screen the sun?
Again, it seems to be a simple question. On many destinations, you wake up very early only to find that the height of the buildings does not allow the sun rays to reach the street and the subjects.. The sun can not overcome the buildings.
Why would you go on an organized photographic trip? The answer is clear: if you are serious about photography and do not have too much time to spare, it will save you lot of time, problems and money: You will be on the right spot at the right time.
IDENTIFY YOUR BEST SPOT FOR THE PHOTO SESSION
- And which will be the best point of view?
At times this needs a lot of knowledge and on-site experience. Most landscape photographers don’t have a second chance: if you are at the wrong spot for a sunset that’s it! You won’t have time to repeat on the same day the same spot before sunrise.
DETERMINE THE BEST LOGISTIC PLAN AND TRANSPORTATION
- Where are you going to stop if it’s hot? Is there a place nearby to have lunch?
How long does it take to reach the place?
Organizing the transport to the place is very important. And planning beforehand the rest will help you much with your photography. Being tired is the best way to run out of inspiration and ideas.
Good logistics will get you near where the action is and will save you lots of time. I try to be as near to the place as possible. On my photography trip to Ethiopia, when we visit the Southern tribes, the poor condition of the roads forces you to endure long journeys in your off-roads. Whenever I can, I try to find a lodge as near to the tribe as possible. It has saved me as much as 4 hours traveling to the spot!
DECIDING WHEN AND WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO REST
It’s often convenient to stay in one location for two consecutive days if you have a very busy itinerary. This allows for a better understanding of the area and should you need it, the possibility of repeating pictures or adjusting your photographic discourse to the daily incidents or circumstances.
A strategically located accommodation is essential with a view to establishing personal relationships with local people. Many times you want to encounter again someone you met the day before. It gives you a feeling of familiarity and control of your photographic work.
Hope this helped a bit. It will be continued. For the moment, should you like to get some inspiration, please do visit my photography trips !