Group getting ready for Bear photography in Alaska ©David Hemmings
Do you love to take pictures? Do you love to travel? Do you wish you could take better pictures and learn a myriad of new things about all kinds of photography such as birds and nature? All of this while traveling to a dream destination with a small group of like minded individuals?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then perhaps a photographic learning travel adventure is for you.
There is a new way to travel these days and it is called the Photographic Learning & Travel Adventure. In the interest of space and time tapping on the keys, we will call this the “PLTA”. This is a trend that is becoming more and more popular these days in the world of travel.
It offers the participants a way to travel to what are likely previously unvisited destinations and provides a complete pre-planned itinerary of some of the world’s most exotic and beautiful places to see and photograph all sorts of beautiful birds, animals, flowers, insects, reptiles, landscapes and anything else that may strike your fancy. What does this do for you as compared to say just winging it and going on your own? Well for starters, it will mean that as soon as you get to where you are going you will be whisked away to start your photographic adventure with an experienced tour leader and photographic instructor. You will go directly to the spots where you will be shown where and how to photograph any number of subjects, usually depending on the type of PLTA you have chosen. This takes all of the guesswork and trial and error out of trying to do it on your own.
Generally speaking, the company that you travel with has been to the destination/s at least a few times or has guides that have, and know exactly where and when to put you in front of your photographic subjects. They are proven professional photographers with a wealth of experience to share with your group. They can provide you with all of the instruction and knowhow you need to come away with a wealth of new photographic knowledge as well as a photo album full of beautiful and exciting images.
A typical PLTA can be anywhere from just a few days to as long as a few weeks in length. It all depends on where you want to go, what you want to do and how much time you have to do it. Let’s look at an example of what we are talking about. Suppose for a minute that you wanted to take a trip somewhere to a place such as Alberta, Canada.
You have heard that it is a perfect destination to photograph Black Bears and Bighorn Sheep. Then you take a look at the land size and mass of the area and become overwhelmed with the vastness of it.
Photographing Polar Bears in Manitoba © David Hemmings
Then you have to think about where to go for your best chances to see a specific species and perhaps some specific behaviors you might be interested in. You have to research where to stay, not knowing which place offers the best value for your budget. So it starts, all of the researching. The Google-ing, the asking friends, the online forums, the websites, the endless emails all of the phone calls, etc., etc.
In addition to this you might be a beginner photographer, or even an intermediate to advanced photographer. Either way, you stand a better chance of getting more and better images with an experienced photography teacher and guide. Do you want to take the trip of the year or of a lifetime to photograph wonderful things and then not have the proper knowledge when you are there? Do you have endless hours and days to do the research yourself? I know that a lot of us certainly don’t.
There are also a bunch of other benefits that one can derive from a PLTA. Things such as not having to travel alone, having a group of like minded individuals with the same goals and interests, meeting new people and making new friends. Another selling point of a PLTA is that it will afford you the time that you need to properly photograph your subjects. Quite often on some organized tours, if it is not geared around photography, you find yourself rushed along from place to place while you are left shaking your head at all of the photo opportunities you have left behind.
These are all the things that a PLTA can provide, all in one organized and complete package. This is a very easy and stress free way to take a trip all the while learning a ton about photography. The company organizing the trip will provide you with a full itinerary and make suggestions as to what equipment and clothing you will require for the trip.
What if you are not a crazed photographer like some of us, or worse yet, what if your partner isn’t? No problem, trips can usually provide a list of other things to do and see at your request. It doesn’t have to be just about photography if you don’t want it to be. If you want to take an afternoon and rest in the hammock on the beach or on the veranda reading a book, by all means go ahead! Depending on the destination there are usually a few options.
Many of the trips include food and accommodations in the price, again, depending on the destination and the trip itself. In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits you will also likely receive tutoring in using the computer to process and store all of your wonderful images! There will always be time to sit around in the evening or mid afternoon to relax and discuss the day’s events with others. I have been on and run many of these PTLA’s and can tell you first hand that the participants always seem to have a great time and come away with new found friends and knowledge that will last a lifetime.
Before booking any trips like this, make sure you do some research. Check references and testimonials from other travelers. Ask to speak to the tour leader if you wish. Try to stay away from the smaller companies that just offer PTLA on a part time or a once in a while basis, usually you will get more for your money and be happy traveling with a company that has only your best interests in mind.
Written by: David Hemmings. David owns and operates Natures Photo Adventures and has been published by National Geographic and many other magazines and books.