What to look for in choosing a photo tour that meets your needs
Photo tours are increasingly popular activities for travellers looking for new ways to discover the places they visit. These may vary from city walks of a few hours through to expeditions of several days or even weeks to the most faraway corners of the planet. They may be tailored to anyone from complete beginners to advanced professionals. While we offer photo tours and workshops in Paris and London, we have also been on the other side and understand it can be difficult to pick one that suits your needs. Here's what we learned along with some points to keep in mind to help you choose a photography activity that you'll love.
Types of Activities
Before we get into some of the decisive questions to address, it is useful first to distinguish between a photo walk, a photo tour and a photography workshop:
- Photo Walk:
- A group of people getting together for a few hours to photograph subjects that catch their attention. Minimal instruction is provided and each person in the group takes photos along the way. This is a great activity if you don't want to go on a photo outing on your own and are looking to spend a few hours with like-minded people who are interested in photography;
- Photo Tour:
- Lead by a professional photographer who provides coaching and instruction on technical aspects and the creative process. The coaching can be tailored to beginners or advanced photographers. The duration of a photo tour can vary from a few hours to a full day or more. This is a hands-on approach to understand, practice, receive feedback and refine your photography skills;
- Photography Workshop:
- Lead by a professional photographer who shares his or her creative vision and technical instruction with the participants over several days. The small group of participants receives instruction on a variety of photography techniques while exploring different locations with the lead photographer to coach them along the way. Photography workshops are perfect opportunities to immerse yourself in photography, while experimenting and receiving constructive feedback in a supportive environment.
Finding photographers who offer photo tours has become easy. Choosing the right one is a different story. When reviewing the various options for a photography activity, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What will I learn?
First and foremost, determine your limits and how much photography coaching interests you.
Have you just bought your first camera and have no idea what all those buttons are all about? Then you will need a good introduction to the basics of photography and guidance on where to start. Make sure the lead photographer of the tour can provide instruction at your own level, that there will be enough opportunities for you to ask all the questions you need and that you will receive feedback on your progress.
Are you already comfortable with your camera, but some advice on creativity and visual expression in the new location would be helpful? Then look for exciting itineraries that will inspire you, with some diversity in photography opportunities and unfamiliar environments. Choose an experienced local photographer who will also lead you to places you would not find yourself at the right time of the day.
2. How much one-on-one instruction will I receive?
The number of people in the group is important to know as you want to make sure you have time to address your own questions with the lead photographer. There is no secret: the smaller the group, the more personalized instructions you will receive. Even a short half day or a full day photo tour will give you perfect opportunities to really learn, make good progress and have fun if the number of participants is kept to a minimum. Once you determine how much attention you think you will need, you can choose between private one-on-one tours or group tours accordingly.
Some photo tours are also designated to take a group of photographers to a fix set of locations that provide a specific view, while others offer guidance as to how to take better photos, using the location as the backdrop for your photography class. While the first option is good for some postcard images that can be seen everywhere, the second one will provide long-lasting benefits for your own photography and will help you take some great images along the way.
3. Who is the lead photographer?
Of course, you will meet the lead photographer during the tour, but it is always good to know who they are before you choose an activity. Before you choose a tour, have a look at the photographer's profile, the style of photography they specialize in and review their portfolio. Are the images you see in the portfolio of good quality, original, well seen and well taken? Do they inspire you to learn from this person?
Check how much time will actually be spent with the photographer to learn at his/her side, whether it is the technical side or the creative vision. Some are known to use the photo tour to build their own portfolios while on location, leaving the participants on their own to figure things out!
4. Is it a reputable photo tour?
Make sure to read all the information provided by the photo tour organiser. When does the tour start, what areas are explored, is there a choice of locations, how will the tour proceed, what will be discussed – everything is important. FAQ pages are usually very helpful as well to address some of the questions you might have. Try to find reviews posted on independent review sites such as TripAdvisor, to see how past participants felt about their activity.
Last but not least, simply browsing the website of the photo tour organizer can help you assess the quality of the services offered and the commitment to excellence. If it is well written, detailed, has high quality images and multiple good reviews from previous participants, do not hesitate any further and just book your photo tour!
A photo tour is a perfect way to learn photography, rekindle your creative side, explore new places, create some great photos and have fun all at the same time. As photo tour leaders, we also enjoy meeting our participants, watching them learn along the way, and it is always great to hear from them after they go home.
Have you been on a photo tour recently? Share your experience with us and let us know where you went. We'd love to refer to them when people ask us in the future.
About the Author
Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.
Sophie has been a photographer, educator and traveller for most of her adult life. She founded Better Paris Photos in 2008 (which became Better Travel Photos in 2014) to deliver exceptional photography experiences to travellers.