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Planning a Photography Trip – A Journey to Namibia

Bob Wild is an award winning international landscape photographer. Armed with exceptional photography skills and a touch of wanderlust he traveled to Namibia to scout an African Safari photography workshop. In this interview we talk about planning a photography trip as a workshop, how to introduce a new location in the world to eager photography tour guests, and how to break down a new travel photography location for your own personal photography goals.

I had this conversation with my friend Bob Wild after he returned from scouting a photography trip to Namibia. I wanted to talk to him for my own selfish reasons - to see if it could be feasible to run a cycling and photography tour in Namibia. The short answer is that Namibia is probably best for a dedicated photography trip.

How you can Use this Conversation to Improve Your Own Photography

When you start taking your photography seriously you will think about your travels differently. You will think of travel photography and photography tours as a reason to travel all by themselves. Planning a photography trip is different in many ways than other kinds of travel you may have done. When you arrive in a new location you want to be prepared to make the best photos possible and to do complete photography coverage.  In this interview we talk about those specific considerations that we have learned through experience; both on our own and with photography workshop guests.

Also; if you are looking to do travel photography on a paid workshop; choose an operator who has thought through all of these topics. This could be a good list of questions to ask them before you book a trip.

Our conversation wanders around to different topics a fair bit so have a look at the time stamps if you want to hear about a specific topic.

General travel planning:

  • 5:00 - Best travel dates and weather
  • 2:40, 12:45, 31:50 - Getting a good guide or fixer
  • 6:30, 36:40 - Lodging and accommodations
  • 11:30, 37:35 - Transportation for photography tour guests
  • 14:20 - Vaccinations to get before you travel
  • 15:45  - General packing lists
  • 24:30 - Can you purchase things if you forgot to pack them
    32:55 - Meal planning and dietary restrictions
  • 38:00 - Who takes care of guest equipment and luggage
  • 53:08 - Services to include or not include for guests

Photography specific travel planning:

  • 4:20, 27:30, 34:15, 52:08 - What kind of travel photos can people expect to add to their portfolio: landscapes, wildlife, architecture, street, cultural, night sky, etc.
  • 7:20, 26:00, 35:00, 41:30 - Photography approach for unfamiliar subject matter
  • 8:40, 37:35, 43:00 - Getting guests to the right spot at the right time
  • 10:00, 21:15, 50:25 - Preparing a shot list - picking the best locations
  • 17:10, 39:37 - Camera gear packing list.
  • 20:40 - Photo backups
  • 22:20, 44:00 - Any restrictions people should know about
  • 46:25 - How much time to you have to make the shots you want to get
  • 55:20 - Closing commentary

Should you ever pay someone to take their photo?

I do want to add one note here that didn't come up during our interview. This comes up in nearly every country I have visited and led travel photography to. When I am leading a trip; I always tell guests not to pay individuals if you want to take their portrait. Sometimes it is acceptable and even expected to pay something. When you visit a local community, tribe or family; the photographer leading the tour should arrange this with the people you will be photographing. In general though; giving money for portraits is not a good practice, and especially don't give money to children. It encourages people to beg for money from tourists rather than developing skills and trades. I realize this is a much larger topic that needs an article of its own. Since I haven't written one for this site yet, here is an excellent article on the topic by Michael Bonocore for Resource Travel.

 Takeaways from this Interview

When you want to make good photos during a vacation there will be many things to consider that you don’t think about when planning a standard vacation or holiday getaway. I like doing things myself and figuring things out for myself. I consider luxury travel to be going on a trip where someone else has thought of all the details so I can avoid the stress of travel and having to plan every detail for myself. That is most often the reason why people take a photography workshop or go with a photographer who has scouted the locations and planned a photography trip with all of the logistics sorted for you.

If a photographer has planned a photo tour well, all you need to do is show up ready to use your camera. Whether you’re planning to join an organized photo tour or hoping to practice photography on your own vacation; this conversation will give you a pre-planning checklist so you can make the most of your time and come home with great photos.

Please leave comments or questions if you want more details about a topic or have a question about something we didn't discuss in this interview. I'm happy to respond here or reply personally over email.

A conversation with my award winning photographer Bob Wild about scouting a photography workshop in Namibia plus tips for planning your own photography travels.

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