Wendy, I’ve been browsing through National Geographic’s guided tours, particularly the small-group photography trips. Do you have any experience with these? I’m typically an independent traveler, but the photography aspect sounds really enticing and I’m just wondering if you would recommend them. Thanks for your great site! –Becca
Becca, I’ve heard mixed reviews. One great photographer I know, WendyPerrin.com contributor Susan Portnoy of The Insatiable Traveler, took a National Geographic photo tour to Morocco in 2010. She says that, although she had fun and it ran without a hitch, it was disappointing from a learning-about-photography perspective: “It was clear to me that they used one of the general itineraries, added a professional photographer to the tour, and called it a day. Nothing was altered to consider the special wants/needs of photography, especially where light was concerned, which is the crux of successful images. We were having breakfast in the morning when the best light was available, out in the field when it was harsh, and then in museums at sunset. After being on other photographic tours since, I am very aware of the things it lacked.” Check out Susan’s article Six Things to Consider When Booking a Photography Tour.
Another great photographer and WendyPerrin.com contributor, Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo, has had a different experience. He’s taken three National Geographic photo expeditions—to India in 2008, Burma in 2013, and Ethiopia in 2014. He also did Nat Geo’s Tuscany Photo Workshop in 2005 and its Santa Fe Workshop in 2008, and he’s headed to Japan with them in November. Eric has also written advice that I’m sure you’ll find eye-opening: Photography Trips: What You Should Know First.
Whatever you do, Becca, be sure to choose a destination you’ve always dreamed of exploring and a photographer you like and admire. Good luck with your decision, and here’s hoping the photo trip you pick will be the first of many!