Go on a safari and learn to shoot - like an expert photographer

(NYTIMES) - There’s travel photography, and then there’s travelling for photography.

An increasing number of travel companies and hotels today offer learning excursions and tours aimed at aspiring photographers, spanning a few hours to a few weeks.

Ms Janine Yu, an adviser at the New York City-based travel company Indagare, said that because of photo-sharing apps like Instagram, more and more people are taking up photography as a hobby.

“The travel industry is catering to this growing interest in a fun way,” she said. “After all, what more enjoyable way to learn how to improve your camera skills than by exploring a great destination at the same time?”

Here are 10 tours, trips and hotels to bring out your inner Ansel Adams.

1. A Photo Safari at &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya

Learn how to take frame-worthy images with the new photo safari at this camp, in an area rich with game, including wildebeest, lions and hippos.

Guests can book the safari for as little as a half-day or for up to several days and are lent the equipment they need, including a Nikon 600mm camera.

The safaris are led by a naturalist who is also a skilled photographer, and they take place in a jeep equipped with electrical charging stations for the cameras, 360-degree swivel chairs with camera mounts for long-lens stability and a fully stocked bar. Prices from US$275 (S$372) for a half-day. Camp rates start at US$330 per person per night, including all meals, game drives and transfers. (&Beyond’s Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp and Serengeti Under Canvas offer similar tours.) Book at andbeyond.com

2. Strabo Photo Tours

Aspiring photographers have their pick of more than 50 trips a year from this travel company specialising in photography vacations, which are offered on six continents (only Antarctica is excluded) and run the diversity gamut.

Trips to Slovenia’s glacial lakes and vineyards and to the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica are two examples. Most journeys last 10 days to 14 days, and all are led by a professional photographer as well as a local guide; there are usually four to 12 travellers on every itinerary. From US$2,595, including accommodations, some meals, daily photography lessons and destination tours. Book at phototc.com or by calling 607-756-8676.

3. Vermejo Park Ranch, Raton, New Mexico

Owned by media mogul and conservationist Ted Turner, this property, a 236,740ha expanse of terrain ranging from shortgrass prairie to alpine tundra, offers themed photography packages three times a year.

Each is for four nights and led by a professional photographer, but their focus varies. The September package, for example, covers shooting the elk-mating season. Prices from US$3,500 a person, inclusive of accommodations, all meals and non-alcoholic beverages and non-guided activities such as horseback riding. Book online at vermejoparkranch.com or by calling 877-288-7637 or by e-mailing reservations@tedturnerexpeditions.com

4. Quasar Expeditions Photo Safari Galapagos Cruises 

The Galapagos Islands are renowned for abundant wildlife such as iguanas and green sea turtles, and these seven-night cruises, offered nearly monthly, supply a chance to photograph the animals up close.

The naturalist guides-turned-photographers who lead the cruises run nightly briefings, where they review guests’ photos and teach them techniques to get the best shots for the animals they will likely see the following day. Also, guests disembark from the boat early to get sunrise shots of the islands and come back to the ship in the early evening so they can capture sunset images of the islands, too. Prices from US$4,620 a person. Book by calling 800-247-2925 or e-mailing infousa@quasarex.com


A green sea turtle in the waters of San Cristobal island in the Galapagos Archipelago, which is renowned for its abundant wildlife. PHOTO: AFP

5. Manhattan Architecture Photography Tour, New York City 

Hit some of New York City’s top architectural landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building and the New York Public Library with this three-hour tour from TripAdvisor.

Led by a photographer, participants will learn how to work with lines and angles to bring these buildings to life and also learn how to photograph architectural interiors. This tour is offered several times a week and scheduled in the afternoon to take advantage of the sky’s changing colours. From US$100 a person. Book online at tripadvisor.com or by calling 855-275-5071.

6. Paris Night Photo Tour, Paris 

The already picturesque City of Light becomes even more photogenic at night, and this three-hour private tour, tailored to every skill level, is an opportunity to learn how to capture it after dark.

A photographer teaches travellers techniques for shooting famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Place de la Concorde, and also shares tips on taking images of common sights in the city like boats on the Seine River.

The cost is 180 euros (S$290) for the first person and 30 euros for each additional person for up to a total of four people. Book online at aperturetours.com/paris-night-photo-tour

7. PhotoWalks Freedom Trail Tour, Boston

This 90-minute tour is a photography class and history lesson in one. A photographer, who is also a historian, leads the excursion to famous sites associated with the American Revolution such as Boston Common, the Benjamin Franklin statue and the building where the Boston Tea Party meeting took place.

In all, participants visit more than a dozen spots and learn the best camera settings and angles to capture keepsake images of the iconic attractions.

Prices from US$40 a person. Book online through viator.com or by calling 888-651-9785.

8. Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Set in the heart of Siem Reap, this property has an in-house photographer who leads day-long excursions allowing travellers to photograph a variety of scenarios in the town and its surrounding area.

The trip starts off on a longboat down the Kompong Phluk water village and includes a kayaking excursion around Tonle Sap Lake and a trip to a food market to shoot pictures of local delicacies. The tour is US$300 for two people and includes a car with a driver.

Guests can also book the two-night Zooming in on Cambodia package, which includes accommodations, the tour and a three-day pass to the Angkor Wat temple complex. From US$1,400 a person. Book online at belmond.com/la-residence-d-angkor-siem-reap/


Floating houses along Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

9. Photography Tours of Ireland

It doesn’t matter where in Ireland you’re visiting or how adept at photography you are – the Dublin-based travel company, Adams & Butler, has a team of professional photographers throughout the country and can arrange for photography tours at every skill level.

Possibilities include Dublin by night for after-dark shots, the mountains and lakes along the Ring of Kerry at sunset and the sprawling estates throughout the countryside by day.

The company can also arrange for camera loans. From US$300 for two people for a full-day tour. Book by calling 800-894-5712 or e-mailing sales@adamsandbutler.com

10. Art & Clarity Adventures, Napa Valley 

Get an insider’s view of the touristy Napa region with the three- or six-hour photography tours, run by photographers Janna Waldinger and Lowell Downey.

The tours take you through Napa’s hilly terrain and vineyards, but also touch less-frequented spots such as the woods and along Napa River; participants learn about camera settings, depth of field and how to properly frame the subjects they are shooting.  And if you have a particular interest, such as nature or architecture, photographers Waldinger and Downey can tailor the tour accordingly.

Prices from US$99 to US$500, depending on the length of time and number of people. Book by calling 707-480-4003 or by e-mailing sales@artclarity.com