better travel photography•COM
Newsletter 57 - sent on the 1 July 2022
Imagine travelling with us!
I was in India photographing the chaotically engaging Holi festival when Covid first emerged over two years ago. Now, after three jabs and two mild Covid infections, I am heading back to this most entrancing and photogenic of countries. In a few days I will be on a plane heading up into the remote, high altitude region of Ladakh, exploring hidden valleys and vibrant traditional festivals. Communications are tricky in Ladakh, and for much of the time we will be off grid, but I will be posting images to this gallery and to Instagram when I can.
Following on from our recent survey, we are in the process of sorting out an exciting range of tours for the next couple of years. Information about these will be released when I am back from India. In the meantime though we still have two great tours scheduled that still have places available. These are Impressions of Rajasthan at the end of 2022 and Impressions of Uzbekistan in May 2023.
I have written a lot about these tours in previous emails, so wanted to take this opportunity to let you know a little more about what it is like to travel with me, and why I have chosen Intrepid Travel to run the land arrangements for my tours.
What are our tours like?
I approach travel photography on a holistic basis, and run my trips in the same way. For me, successful photography is not just about the technical aspects of the camera, it is a glorious mix of the technical, the creative as well as travelling with an exuberant spirit of engagement. I am not the sort of photographer who hovers in the distance taking pictures with a long lens; I believe that in order to be able to photograph things successfully you have to experience them in the first place, and so to be a good photographer, you should aim to be an avid collector of experiences. I will encourage you to travel in this way, and show you how to walk up to people, engage them and then come away with meaningful and evocative portraits. Along the way we will try everything – whether it is strange food, photographing a ruined temple by moonlight or even hand-feeding a wild hyena!
Creatively, I will teach you how to approach any subject and how to see, and construct a picture. This creative approach will work irrespective of the equipment you use, and allow you to take more evocative and effective pictures.
That being said, as well as the creative and cultural aspects of the trip, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the skills of photography than you ever imagined. I studied a degree in photography, and have a deep grounding in all of the technical aspects. I will be able to teach you anything that you want to know in a way that is patient and easy to understand. This will include when to increase the ISO, achieving the correct exposure and how to balance shutter-speed and aperture. I will show you how to manage contrast, and also the correct use of a tripod, and professional tips stacking images for depth of field, contrast and even to make people disappear. Depending on the tour, I will also be able to show you some astrophotography techniques as well as a range of post-processing techniques to help you to bring the best out of the pictures you take.
I will hold a number of short, targeted talks about aspects of photography, as well as briefings to help to to get the most out of subjects that you will encounter. Sometimes this will take the form of practical sessions, where I will teach you how to shoot star trails or panoramas. I don't rely on endless set-up photo-opportunities, where you will have to jostle with others to try to get pictures which ultimately will look quite canned and fake. I want to teach you how to approach a subject, see and take your own pictures, equipping you to take pictures on your own travels in the future. Then you can be truly proud of the unique pictures that you come away with.
I will also set enjoyable projects to motive you to try different things, and will hold regular reviews of images so you can get some valuable feedback and also see the sort of images that others are shooting. Lastly, I am supremely approachable, and am always willing to share knowledge and answer questions; as well as privately looking at images and suggesting ways to develop and improve.
I am also mindful that any photography tour is also your holiday: I try to make as many of the early sunrise starts as possible optional, and if you would like to take a day off to relax, or shop, then I won't be offended. I try to make the background noise of my trips a mix of laughter as well as the clicking of shutters. Expect some great meals accompanied by drinks and conversation; evenings in bars talking about life as well as looking at pictures. Also expect to learn and experience a lot about your destination; we will be accompanied by an experienced local Intrepid leader at all times, and I will empower and encourage them to share their knowledge and to show you the country that they love and are proud of.
Some of the past feedback for my tours is below.
Travelling with Steve has been a joy. He has the happy knack of being able to combine his extensive knowledge and experience of travel photography with an inexhaustible supply of optimism and off beat humour.
Whether you're a seasoned traveller/photographer or a novice, you'll find something special and unique in every trip. I don't say this lightly, but Steve's photography tours can create pivotal life moments, the ones that you always reflect back on as vibrant, exquisite, empowering, and profound.
Why I work with Intrepid Travel
I sub-contract all of my land arrangements and bookings to Intrepid Travel, and so if you come on one of my tours you will actually be fully covered by Intrepid's industry bonding. If you book your flight through Intrepid too, then you can even get a full ATOL Certificate.
I decided to work with Intrepid Travel sixteen years ago, after they approached me to lead two tours for them. Ironically, one of these tours was to the Pushkar Mela, and was the first time I worked with Chetan – Intrepid's top leader in India, and the leader of my forthcoming trip to Ladakh and the trip to Rajasthan later in the year. I had known the founders of the company even before this.
Essentially, I like the Intrepid product. I like their attitude to travel, and find their tours are a fantastic way to travel around the World. Their leaders are unparalleled, and will always add a huge amount to any trip. Many of their leaders have become close friends and I will often organise a repeat trip as I know that they will do a good job, and also be good company. I rate Intrepid's choice of hotels too: they always seem to have unique selling point. Often the location, it might also be a particularly relaxing garden, a historic property or simply an unparalleled view. I also appreciate Intrepid's network of local partners, and the fact that they have people on the ground to make sure that destinations are safe for travel.
Intrepid are unique in the travel industry. They are the largest B-Corporation certified travel company, which means that they are a business that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Intrepid are also committed to running their business in more sustainable way, and are the World's largest Carbon Neutral Travel company, who have signed up to a 7 point climate commitment. Darrell, one of the founders of Intrepid Travel, even represented the travel industry at the recent Glasgow COP26 Climate conference.
Intrepid set up the Intrepid Foundation over twenty years ago in order to put something back in to the communities they visit. It is also a great way for travellers to make donations that will be effectively spent making peoples' lives better. We often visit projects that are supported by Intrepid Travel which helps to give a much deeper understanding of a country.
Travelling with Intrepid isn't all that you have to think about if you care about responsible and environmentally aware travel, but it does go a long way. You do know though, that you are travelling with a company that puts the planet above profits and has a stated mission to “Create positive change through the joy of travel”.
Impressions of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is the most colourful of the states of India and our Impressions of Rajasthan tour takes you on a whirlwind of ancient forts, painted merchants' houses, remote desert towns and great cities, whilst also visiting two of the stunning November Fairs: the Pushkar Camel Faiir and the Kolyat Mela at Bikaner.
Getting firmly off the beaten track we will be able to explore the great sights of the region, breathe in the desert atmosphere as well as meeting and photographing many of the stunningly photogenic people of the region.
Impressions of Rajasthan departs from New Delhi on the 30 October 2022 for 15 days. At the moment we have just four places left, including a female roomshare place. Under our new variable pricing policy, the cost is from £2395 for 8 people to £2095 for 12 people. You can see the full itinerary on this link and download the pdf for the tour here.
Impressions of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a fascinating country, with cities evoking of the lost days of the Silk Road, and conjuring up images of camel-trains, formidable fortresses and exquisitely decorated mosques and madrassas. This unique tour encompasses the most historic cities of Uzbekistan - Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara - and crosses the Kyzylkum Desert, explores the fertile Fergana Vallay and visits the remote village of Darband.
Impressions of Uzbekistan departs from Tashkent on 8 May 2022 for 13 days. At the moment we have just three places left, including a female roomshare place. Under our new variable pricing policy, the cost is from £2150 if 8 people travel, down to £1895 for the full 12 people. You can see the full itinerary on this link and download the pdf for the tour here.
Better Travel Photography
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