To Photo Tour Or Not To Photo Tour?

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Have you considered taking a photo tour or safari but aren’t sure if it’s worth the time, money and effort? There are many things to consider before making such a commitment, so let’s take a look at the factors that are generally at the top of everyone’s concerns.


Yes, a photo tour/safari will cost more than if you go by yourself. But at what price do you realize it’s worth the extra dollars to come home with the best possible shots? As with any photo trip, the goal is to come back with wonderful images. If you do not accomplish this because you didn’t know where to be at what time and what to do if the light wasn’t the best, you may have saved a few bucks but fell short of the goal. A good tour leader will have visited the location multiple times under varying kinds of light and should know where to be given a specific condition. He or she should also know where the iconic images reside, how long it takes to drive or hike to each, how crowded they may be and how they may have changed over the years. You’re paying a fee to get their experience, knowledge, expertise and to maximize your time and efficiency in the field.

The Dynamics

If you love the camaraderie of other photographers and enjoy talking shop for long periods of time, then a photo tour/safari is a good fit. If you want to absorb information and learn by modeling others, go on a tour. If being around people whose purpose is the same as yours is important, it’s all about the tour.

Am I Ready For A Photo Tour? 

How well do you know your equipment? Did you just buy a new camera and expect to be shown its ins and outs while on a photo tour? This being the case, you won’t get the full benefit. In order to get the most out of any photographic experience, know how to work your camera. Light changes quickly and wildlife constantly moves. Neither wait while you read your manual. Wildlife doesn’t hold a pose if you’re adjusting a setting. The rainbow doesn’t remain vibrant while you look for your polarizer that you can’t find because you haven’t developed an organized system.

Do I Have The Proper Gear?

A good tour leader will have a full equipment list of what to bring based on potential subjects throughout the trip. Is it just scenics? Is there wildlife in the area and you may also need a long telephoto? What filters will you need? Will flash be an asset? If it’s travel to a foreign country, what’s the power source and what adapters do you need? What about a backup camera body, extra batteries and chargers, memory cards, flashlight, your camera manual, cable release, etc. All these items have been researched and covered so you don’t encounter any surprises upon arrival.

Where Do I Go? 

Are you a wildlife or scenic shooter? Maybe you do both. Knowing what you want to come home with is important. Some photo tours are geared specifically toward photographing animals while others are scenery-based. What subject matter do you prefer? Maybe a tour that offers both is what you want? Sign up for one that matches your photographic goal.

If you decide a photo tour or safari is a great fit, make sure the leader’s style matches yours, by asking about the following:  

  • Does the leader simply bring you to the good locations or does on-site teaching occur?
  • Does the teacher share compositions and framing of an image?
  • What occurs if the weather is inclement and you can’t go out to shoot?
  • Does the leader provide a list of necessary gear?
  • Does the cost include transportation from the point of origination or are you expected to take your own vehicle?
  • What’s the maximum number of participants? This is important if you expect to be given help during the tour.
  • Does the cost of the tour include fees into parks, locations and events?
  • Is downtime given to catch up, download and edit files? For how long do the sunrise and sunset sessions last?
  • Does the leader know what to shoot if the weather is overcast so you come home with the best possible photos?
  • Does the leader know the positions of sunrise and sunset relative to the time of year the tour runs?
  • Does the leader know where to be to get the best sun angles?
  • How strenuous is the photo tour? Am I physically fit?

To learn more about this subject, join me on a photo safari to Tanzania. Visit to get more information.

The post To Photo Tour Or Not To Photo Tour? appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

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