Grab your favorite travel buddy (your camera, of course), make like Walter Mitty, and explore the world through a new lens! You don’t necessarily have to traverse the frigid Himalayas with your photographer friend in search of a lost film negative. But, if you share that same passion for great photography, you can set your sights on a creative adventure travel program, which combines adrenaline-pumping international experiences with adventure photography workshops, tours, and trips. Turn your dreams of improving your photography skills into a reality in virtually any destination you can imagine. The choices of subject, setting, and style are all up to you to decide.
You might be tempted to think that because people are currently traveling the whole world and photographing it, wherever you would like to travel is the perfect destination. In some ways, this is true; your photography skill naturally improves as you develop an eye for capturing scenes, framing, lighting, and other technical skills over time. But even so, through more intensive photography programs in specific locations, you can bust beyond your intrinsic abilities to see the world in a whole new way.
There are truly some amazing places where you can hone your craft. If Europe sounds interesting, spend a summer exploring Iceland or sip wine in between shutter snaps in France. Elsewhere, there are photography opportunities in destinations like the Himalayas (including Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan) and Argentina, where you can immerse yourself deeply in the culture and simultaneously get an inside look through your camera lens.
In these locations, you’ll not only have a chance to experience what it’s like to travel within the country, you’ll learn to use a new lens or two through which to view each destination, literally and figuratively. That being said, this is a very small sampling of the photography travel programs out there; if your dream destination isn’t on this list, a quick search of our database will likely turn up options wherever you want to go.
Photography Program Opportunities
The list of photography travel programs is almost limitless. As big as the world is, there are photographers documenting it in unimaginable ways, and many are building high-quality programs and courses to help teach others their skills.
Photography travel programs range in size, though the highest quality ones offer small groups and one-on-one guidance in the course of learning each new photographic skill. Some programs focus more on portraiture and city scenes, whereas others will focus primarily on landscapes and outdoor scenes. Ideally, programs should contain a mix of settings, subjects, and styles.
Most photography tours are not 100 percent adrenaline-inducing; after all, it’s hard to take a great photo when your heart is pumping or you’re running away from a tiger. That being said, if you can dream a way to photograph it, there’s likely a program for it. Want to swim with and photograph sharks? You can. Want to learn night-sky timelapse in isolated, rural locations? You can do that, too. The adrenaline-factor is as much a matter of your interests as picking a destination in which to set up your tripod.
Tips & Advice for Travel Photography
Depending on the destination you want to photograph and your willingness to endure whatever elements there may be, the great part about photography travel programs is that you can do them anywhere, and anytime.
Most structured photography travel programs will respect Mother Nature when it comes to scheduling. You’re not likely to get the same experience learning telephoto photography skills when it’s monsoon season and the clouds hang low over the rainforest in Indonesia as you would when the sky is not dumping buckets on you. It’s important to consider the seasons and weather when planning to travel abroad for a photography program to ensure you get a chance to experience and capture the moments you hope to.
When participating in a photography travel program, it’s best to make sure you understand exactly what gear you’ll need before departure; whether it’s cold weather gear for Antarctica or two new lenses you’ll learn to use in Tanzania. Making sure you have the right equipment before you leave will save you a lot of trouble once you arrive. High quality photography equipment is almost always more expensive while abroad, especially when you factor in exchange rates.
Another important note for travel photographers is to be mindful of using people as subjects in your photos. Ideally, you will obtain permission from strangers before capturing the memory. Simply smiling and pointing to your camera normally does the trick, even if the person you want to photograph doesn’t speak your language. Be sensitive when it comes to taking photos of children; ask the parent if he/she is present before you upload photos other people’s kids all over your social media profiles.
Benefits & Challenges
Photography is both a science AND an art. Whether you’re studying photography at home or abroad, learning the technical skills to take a good photograph is only half of the journey to becoming a worldly photographer. Learning your own style and how to create art through your photographs is both a challenging and deeply rewarding journey. Just like learning any other art form, painting, drawing, composing music (you get it), be prepared to ride a creative roller coaster, and to learn to love the ride.
You’ll get to document your experiences. Many travelers go around taking point-and-shoot photos that cut off the top of someone’s head. This won’t be the case for those who choose to explore travel photography abroad. Your photos will improve to help capture the world, and your experiences of it, in all its glory.
Your future-self will thank you. Just like your friends will secretly be jealous of your amazing photos on Instagram and Facebook, your future-self will look back and be grateful that you learned a skill to help preserve your memories to share with the grandkids one day, and none of your photos will have a blurry finger in the corner!
If improving your photography skills is of interest, the world is your oyster! Photography travel programs exist all over the world, and can give you the chance to both see and capture your travel experiences through a camera. Whether you shoot with a smartphone, DSLR, or something in between, you’ll come home with priceless souvenirs and a skill you can use every time you set off on a new adventure.