Discover how to spot a quality photo tour from a Gram-worthy photo tour PLUS the best locations to visit with your camera…
As a landscape photographer, I’ve been around the world a coupla times (probably more) to see the sights through the eye of my camera. You could call this frequent travel a perk of the job, but to me there is no better way to discover what makes a new place unique than to experience it through the lens. And that incredible feeling is what lives at the core of a quality photo tour.
What is a “photo tour” exactly?
Well, it does what it say on the tin. It’s essentially a group of creative people visiting a location to take photos, hopefully with an expert photographer or guide. However, it’s not uncommon for people to fall victim to the idea that a photography tour is the modern day answer to our travel photo-obsessed culture, where every travel experience is rated based on its suitability for “The Gram”. This breeds distracted travellers who constantly hold up their smartphone and never actually CONNECT with a place! Now I’ll be honest – there’s a bunch of photo tours out there appealing to that saturated social media market, and good luck to them, but that is not a quality photographic tour.
To me, a quality photo tour is more of a photo workshop.
It actively AVOIDS situations with unnatural poses, queueing for the best angle, selfies, tourist trap hotspots and iconic locations with millions of photos already on Google Images! Instead, it should offer you a unique opportunity to travel somewhere new with your camera and learn from a group of likeminded creatives.
How can you spot a quality photo tour?
There are a few strategies you can employ when searching for a decent photo tour to ensure it won’t disappoint. The best strategy is to research who your guide will be, and if they are not a professional photographer, enquire whether one will be accompanying the tour group. Once you know who is leading your party into the wilderness, look up their photographic portfolio for a better idea of their level of experience and talent. It’s also useful to research if they have been shortlisted or won any industry awards, or stand as an ambassador for well known industry brands such as Fuji, Canon, Sony or Chromajet.
In my experience, it’s a good indication of a great photographer if they have talked in public or have presented at a conference on their work – this shows they are up for knowledge sharing, which is exactly the kind of effective leader you want to take you on a tour.
I’m not asking you to become their stalker – this is simply the smartest way to confirm that a tour will be led by an enthusiastic photographic professional, with the proven leadership skills to share their industry knowledge and skills with the wider group.
Where are the best places in the world to look for a photo tour?
To date, I have organised photo tours to more than 25 countries worldwide, and I know I still have so much to see in this world! But I find it incredibly motivating that there are so many beautiful, untouched places still available to us as photographers. There’s no formula for finding the best location for a photo tour, it is different for everyone. You may want to escape to a completely isolated patch of wilderness (try Kamchatka or Mongolia). Or you may prefer the wild, bustling colours of a city (try India). I’ve included some of my personal favourites for you to consider as you hunt for the perfect photo tour to suit your interest and budget…
Glenn’s Top Countries to Try a Photo Tour in the World:
Slovenia – for the romantics
Nestled in Europe sits one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. Ensure you visit in winter like I did to miss any crowds (sustainable Slovenia is seriously upping its tourism game) and capture snow-capped Triglav National Park, or iced-over Lake Bled with its charming island church.
Sri Lanka – for the exotic
For a small country in the Indian Ocean, this place packs a punch to the senses! Beyond Sri Lanka’s landscapes sits the opportunity to capture paradisiacal beaches, lush tea estates, any of 15 national parks, 350 waterfalls or meet the island’s elephants (or leopards).
India (during Holi) – for the full spectrum
Every year, Spring brings the Holi festival to India (also known as Rang Leela / Colour Play) and I would highly recommend booking a photo tour in North India during this time to experience something completely different. To describe the Holi period as ‘colourful’ is an understatement, but I’ll leave that for you to discover firsthand!
Kamchatka – for the wildlife
This peninsula in far Eastern Siberia is possibly one of the truly “wild” (or undeveloped) spots we have left in this world, and that’s what makes it such a privilege to photograph. It’s home to a rim of volcanoes and a population of brown bears that make truly magnificent subjects.
New Zealand, South Island – for the adventurous
Visit in autumn to see the island in its most stunning colour palette. Every time I’ve traveled here, my experience has been unique, as both the scenery and weather are so changeable. Tour from the East to West Coast in a few hours and you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world (hopefully not Mordor).
Put simply: quality photo tours (or photo workshops) are an ideal step-up for photography enthusiasts, beginners or amateurs who also love to travel. I am personally invested in sharing the art of photography with as many people as I can, and that’s one of the core reasons I founded Fotoworkshops. It’s an established platform to connect professionals with amateurs in inspiring locations, which sounds like a pretty savvy creative process for successful photography to me.