better travel photography•COM
Newsletter 64 - sent on the 1 March 2023
Immerse yourself in travel
One of the really useful things about teaching – whether it is running Travel Photography Masterclasses, leading tours or even writing magazine features about photography – is that it forces me to define things that I have been doing for some time already. Having to explain things to other people crystallises thoughts and helps me to formalise my photographic method. This is pretty much what happened when I was updating some talks for the recent Destinations Show in London. I have set out some of these thoughts about travel photography below, so that you can gain some insights into the my attitude towards travel photography, which influences how I travel. This will give you an idea of how I run my tours, something that I think is vital before booking any trip.
I am currently working on itineraries for a number of future tours – some are repeat destinations, others to new and exciting parts of the world. Destinations that we are working on include trips to Mongolia, South and NE India. I am expecting to launch the first of these exciting trips in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, we have just two scheduled departures: to Jordan and Uzbekistan. Officially the Uzbekistan trip is full, but there is always a chance that a place will come up, so if you are interested, then please fill in the booking form to go onto the waitlist.
My approach to travel photography
Photography is a pretty unique discipline in photography in that you will get the best and most engaged pictures you have to engage with the your subject and experience as much of your destination as possible.
This is especially the case with travel portraits, where you want to use the strength of your own personality in order to get the subject of your picture to react to you – in such a way that it allows you to create a unique portraits that shows what it was like to be interacting with them at that moment in time.
This is how I travel in the world, and how I encourage people to travel on my tours. The whole atmosphere is about maximum engagement, and seeing, doing and feeling as much as possible.
Most other disciplines of photography call for a more remote and detached approach: if you become a part of the action when shooting sports or wildlife photography for instance then something bad is likely to happen.
I really believe that one of the great powers of photography is that the person looking at your pictures will vicariously feel something of the emotion that you took when you were taking them. If you are bored and disinterested, then so will they be. If you are engaged, and maybe scared, thrilled or on edge - then they should pick up some of that emotion, and your pictures will be more effective.
On a practical level, this means that you need to immerse yourself completely in your destination. I advocate that you should regard yourself as a collector of experiences first, and a photographer of those experiences second. This will help your pictures to be engaged, exciting and will help you to reach out to the person looking at your pictures and provoke a response from them.
It also means that you will get a lot more from your travels. You will see more, feel more and experience more. Irrespective of photography, I feel that this is a much better way to travel, and that is one of the main reasons why non-photographing partners will get as much out of my trips as photographers themselves.
Join us in Jordan
Jordan is a fascinating country, dripping in history, and with a warm and friendly population. You can find ruins from the Bible, Romans, Crusaders, Saladin and of course the Nabateans, who built Petra. You are even able to wander in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia in the sprawling wilds of Wadi Rum.
We have arranged this trip to take in the very best of this photogenic country, starting in the sophisticated city of Amman, before moving on to the atmospheric Wadi Rum - recently featured as a location in SAS Who Dares Wins! We will be able to photograph eroded rocks and even star trails from our comfortable desert camp, before continuing on to the Red Sea at Aqaba, where we will take a snorkel boat, to witness the remarkably well preserved coral relatively close to shore.
Moving on from here we visit the incredible city of Petra: on of the absolute must-see places in the travel world. Nothing can prepare you for the scale and the majesty of this ancient city. The approach, along the narrow siq, is one of the true Wonders of the World, and we have three nights here - enough to comprehensively explore the site, including many of the outlying areas.
Steve has travelled to Petra a number of times over the years, and knows a number of atmospheric walks, tucked away tombs and angles that will allow you to avoid the crowds and come back with the sort of shots that you always dreamed of. This will include photographing some of the local bedouin who used to live in caves in the area.
Less travelled, we visit the Kerak Crusader castle and then the remote Dana Nature Reserve, where we stay in a traditional village at the top of a deep and picturesque valley.
Our final destination is the pleasant city of Madaba, which we use as a base to float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, explore Mount Nebo and wander the sprawling Roman city of Jerash. hailed as the best preserved Roman city outside of Italy.
Impressions of Jordan departs from Amman on 13 September 2023 for 12 days. Under our new variable pricing policy, the cost is from £2595 per person if 8 people travel to £2295 per person for the full 12 people. At the moment we have 9 people either booked, or holding places, so if you want to snap up one of the remainiong places, please get in touch as soon as possible. You can see more information on this link. You can see the full itinerary on this link and download the pdf for the tour here.
Impressions of Uzbekistan 2023
Uzbekistan is a unique experience, 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. If you have travelled in Northern India, then much of this architecture will be familiar, as the Mughals who conquered India and built the Taj Mahal hailed from Uzbekistan.
This unique tour encompasses the most historic cities of this incredible country - Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara - and crosses the Kyzylkum Desert, explores the fertile Fergana Vallay and visits the remote village of Darband.
More than anything though, Uzbekistan is about the people. Long situated at the crossroads of history, the people encompass the many visiting influences to this land. The culture is a blend of the Silk Road travellers, the relaxed Islam of the founders of the Mughal Empire and the old Soviet Union. People are welcoming, and one of the biggest problems of photographing them is avoiding highlights from wide gold-toothed smiles! It is a place where you will often be welcomed into a restaurant with the Islamic greeting of Assalomu Alaykum, and then offered a bottle of local vodka for just a few dollars instead of beer or wine.
Impressions of Uzbekistan departs from Tashkent on 9 May 2023 for 13 days. We have just two places left on this trip, costing from £1895 per person for the full 12 people. At the moment this trip is officially full, but if you are interested in joining us, please fill out the booking form to go onto our waitlist. Places do sometimes crop up. You can see more information on this link. You can see the full itinerary on this link and download the pdf for the tour here.
Better Travel Photography
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Otherwise, I hope that you have a great festive season, and hope to travel with you at some point in the next year or so!
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