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Photo Tour Comparisons

 


Making Comparisons: Before you choose a photo tour, ask some questions

 

Each of us wants good value for money, an excellent travel experience, plus the best of all photography opportunities. This being so you owe it to yourself to compare your photo tour options from top to bottom, and to this end we suggest that before you choose any photo tour - ours too! - you should ask some questions.

We provide some of our own answers below, but if you can't find the answers you're looking for try our question and answer page, or email your question to us.

 

If you cancel after paying your deposit will you receive any of it back?
Nobody wants to make a habit of giving money away do they? . . .
We don't and won't, and why should we? It seems unfair that the moment you pay a deposit for a tour say a year or 4 months out, that you should lose your entire deposit of several hundred dollars.
Your deposit is 100% refundable all the way through to 61 days prior to our photography tours unless otherwise stated, and even then there is only a $100 penalty should you decide to cancel in the next 30 days.  Read more regarding our cancellation policy here.

What is the size of the group?
Photography and large groups are not a practical combination . . .
Our maximum number in the British Isles, Europe, New Zealand, the USA and Canada is 8 clients.
Only in South America might we go a little higher, usually 10, as we have the additional expense of local services.  How does that compare with a photo tour you're considering?
Realistically though, don't you think that group sizes in the double digits is too many?

Is the information you need readily available online, or do you have to ask for it?
Let's face it, this is the age of instant information so why would anyone withhold it? . . .
If you have to email or call for the trip cost or the itinerary . . . why?
All of our itineraries are online here, plus we have a hugely comprehensive question and answer page here, plus additional 'overview' information on our home page.
Should you need to ask a question, email us and your questions will be answered promptly.

Do you have to follow the tour leader in your own vehicle?
A number of photo tours and workshops are conducted this way, i.e. you reserve your own accommodations, and follow the guide in your own vehicle etcetera . . .
On Travel Images photography tours we do it all, i.e. we include all accommodations and ground transport and so on. See the brochure of the photo tour that interests you for full details.
All of our clients spend the entire trip together on the same vehicle.  One advantage being that John can give photographic advice via the vehicle audio at any time.
Traveling as a group eliminates the possibility of losing the guide, or having to find parking space at each photo stop.

Is too much time spent traveling, and less on photography?
Spending hours on the bus with few or no photo stops between locations will frustrate you . . .
Travel Images photo tour itineraries are designed to be 'photography rich' with multiple photo stops each and every day.
We stay as close as possible to key sites so that travel is kept to a minimum when the light is best . . . at dawn and dusk.
Ever seen a great shot that the guide/driver won't stop for? That doesn't happen with Travel Images as we think as you do, and invite clients to stop our comfortable vehicles for an image of their choice at any time.
How many miles per day? Sitting on a bus/coach for hours on end with few or no photo ops is going to get weary quite fast.
Because we're not trying to maximize the number of miles we cover each day, we're able to spend more time at each photography stop, and don't have the need to bypass some locations because we're behind schedule.

How do the itineraries compare?
Let's look at an Ireland photo tour as an example . . .
Does the other tour stay in one place throughout the entire tour, or do as we do which is cover Ireland's best locations in a roomy minibus?
Our own Ireland photo tour starts in the Dublin area, then moves on to Northern Ireland for the Mourne Mountains and Antrim coast. Then back into the Republic of Ireland for exploring from Donegal. Rugged Connemara comes next followed by County Clare which boast the Cliffs of Moher. On to Killarney for a Dingle peninsula exploration, plus the Gap of Dunloe in the MacGillycuddy Reeks mountain range. On our way across country back to Dublin the day's highlight is the spectacular Rock of Cashel, but we're still not done. Lastly comes Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains, and we conclude with a half-day tour of Dublin on foot. Of course, we include a huge amount of photographic material in addition to these locations, so just imagine what you're missing by not actually exploring Ireland!  OK, don't just imagine as our Ireland images can be seen here.
Is it a bus tour?  Such trips are restrictive in terms of getting to remote locations, and meals are often required to be on a rigid schedule because of the size of the group.
When moving from one hotel location to the next, do they make multiple photography stops along the way, and make time for detours for additional important shots? We most certainly do.
Is there any back-tracking during the itinerary? Wouldn't you prefer to travel in one direction throughout the trip on our tried and trusted itineraries, thus gaining more photography time?
OK, so should we have whet your appetite for Ireland, our itinerary is here.

Is there a well-stocked online photo gallery displaying a cross-section of images from the trip?
Some photo tour folk have too few images with which you can get a good feel for what you are going to photograph during the tour . . .
If they do, were they shot by the guide?
Our own galleries contain a healthy cross-section of images shot by John, and are examples of what you can capture too!  Go here.

Can you claim a loyalty, frequency or early enrollment discount? . . . etcetera
We feel that if you come back to us year after year, that you be rewarded for such loyalty . . . but our discounts don't stop there . . .
Travel Images gives discounts for repeat clients, early enrollment, room sharing, 'non-photo' travelers, 2 trips in 12 months, and client referrals.

Is the daily itinerary run like a bus tour with a rigid schedule?
Light and weather help create photo opportunities, but rigid schedules can often get in the way of great photography . . .
We run our photo tours on a flexible schedule, and tailor that to best suit our clients and the light situation on any given day.
There are tours know exactly where and what time they'll be stopping for lunch and dinner, but by sticking rigidly to such a schedule it's likely that you'll miss a good photo op when it arises.
Conversely, we stay flexible, make the most of the light each day, and our clients still get to enjoy local meals anyway. Decades of leading photo tours has given us a vast experience, which in turn finds us easily adjusting to the best option for any given situation.

Are you likely to be stuck indoors eating meals when the light is at its best?
The company I worked for in the 80's used to schedule dinners during the evening light. Not a good idea . . .
Apparently a large number of the bus/coach tours indulge in this practice at the expense of good light photography. But, if you've enrolled for a photography tour, isn't the light the reason you're there?
In our case, if the sunset is at say 8, 9 or 10 pm, we'll eat at around 6 to 7 pm, and are in the best location when the sun gets ready to set.
In the autumn and winter when sunsets occur at around 4 to 7:30 pm, we shoot until the light has gone . . . then depart for dinner.

Are you paying more for less?
It may be difficult and time consuming to go to the trouble of comparing photo tours, but a few hours into the 'wrong' tour you'll wish you'd have done your due diligence . . .
We see online photography tours to the same locations as ours, but are shorter in length, priced higher than ours, and don't cover the territory at as slow a pace as we do.
   We encourage you to take time to compare!

Is 'Day 1' of the trip in reality your own travel day to the gateway city?
This is a common 'ploy' that makes the trip look like it is a day longer than it actually is . . .
We should point out that some of our competitors advertise a 10-night trip, but the first night is spent by you on the way to the tour location on your own time.  Isn't this awfully misleading as it's really a 9-night trip?
Travel Images tells it like it is. A 10-night trip means a 10-night trip, period. We do not and will not, include your travel nights as being part of a tour . . . for example, your overnight flight to Europe.

Is the tour vehicle sufficiently 'spacious'?
We own two passenger minibuses, one in the US, maximum 8 clients, and one in Europe, maximum 7 clients. Both are customized for our trips, plus you can stand up in them . . . you don't have to crawl past bench seats in a van with a low roof.
We rent passenger vans for a few of our photography locations, and factor in vacant seats.
As our vehicles can traverse the narrowest of lanes - Wales has the narrowest! - we can access photography locations inaccessible to larger vans and buses.

Will you get assistance in your quest to become a better photographer?
It's not about a 'one hour class' occasionally, it's about helping clients all day and every day . . .
With Travel Images you get the whole well-rounded experience which includes as much guidance, teaching, and image suggestions etcetera that you can take.
We'll help you with exposure, composition, camera settings, 'seeing the image' and much more.
Want image critiques?  Sure.  Bring along images from previous trips for comments, and/or call upon John for input on what you're shooting at any given moment in time . . . in the field.
We also schedule critiques during free time, but not during the evening on summer tours as we're out doing photography. You've traveled a long way to get great shots, so we maximize your opportunities.
As we schedule photo tours, and are out in the evenings during the best light, we don't schedule formal 'classroom' sessions, but opt instead to guide and teach you on an hour to hour, day to day basis. Besides, why would you want to fly to another country, and spend a lot of time indoors?

After the trip, will you receive field notes describing the time and place of each photo stop?
At Travel Images we keep a record of every stop we make, describing what we were shooting and the approximate time. If your camera is set for the local time, you'll have an exact cross-reference just when you have to have it! See 'field notes' for more details.

Are you likely to receive a DVD memento of you and your fellow travelers on the trip?
John enjoys shooting images of our clients shooting their own images on every photography tour we lead.
On the last night of the trip at dinner, John puts on a presentation of these images, video too, titled It's You!  A copy of these images, plus videos, is mailed to you on a disc shortly after the trip.

How does the leader-photographer compare?
No two Leaders are alike, and there are a lot of subtle nuances that can impact your photography and enjoyment of any given photography tour . . .
Experience: John has been leading photography tours since 1988, and prior to that was exploring a number of our current photography tour locations in our calendar over a period of 14 years.  Please note that we have led photo tours to most of our locations many times over.
Availability: Will the other guide be with the group at all times during the tour?
Photography: Does the other guide teach/help/guide in a friendly, non-intimidating manner, and is practical and not overly technical when it comes to sharing advice?
Driving: Might the other guide drive with great consideration for safety, doesn't tail-gate, doesn't speed, and drives as smoothly as possible for passenger comfort?
Friendly: You really don't want a guide that is grumpy, impatient, selfish, inconsiderate, and won't help you with your photography do you?! Then John is your man, and comes with a great sense of humor and an affection for all of his clients. Laurie adds additional balance to all that John offers . . . yes, we have two guides on every trip.

Might you be blessed with an upbeat, 'can-do' leader-photographer?
The wrong guide can change the whole dynamic of a photography tour including the morale of the group . . .
John is a pro photographer with bundles of experience and know-how dating back to the 1970's.
He loves nothing more than sharing what he has learnt with clients. here are no 'secrets', and no withholding of photographic know-how as John will share all he knows about photography each and every day.
John Baker is the happy and practical face of photography!  Check John's photo galleries here.

We firmly believe that the best way to do business is to do it right!

In conclusion, if the photo tour you're considering and comparing with ours isn't clear about what is being offered, or the type of experience you can expect, then you owe it to yourself to ask pertinent questions and avoid a major disappointment. Conversely, if you have a question for us, do please ask it!


For more answers to questions go here, and/or scroll down our home page.

 

 
 
 
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Travel Images Photography Tours: Guided Landscape, Natural History, Macro and Wildlife Photography Tours
Phone: 208-559-8248  |  Postal: Travel Images, P. O. Box 2434, Eagle, Idaho 83616