The brilliant technology in smartphones allows us to show off our photographs to friends and family with confidence. And the New Year is a great time to ramp up those burgeoning skills, with a specialist holiday that will get you snapping away like a professional.
Whether you are capturing colourful street vendors in a Cambodian market or stormy waves crashing on to a North Devon shoreline, travelling is an inspiring way to improve your photography. And the best specialist holidays offer a small group of like-minded enthusiasts the chance to have fun while learning something new and rewarding.
At the luxury end there are worldwide experiences, with guidance from professional photographers, such as those offered by Creative Escapes (creative-escapes.co.uk). The firm says it will take guests – in groups up to a maximum of eight – ‘from beginner to Bailey’ while staying at highly rated boutique hotels in exotic locations.
The New Year is a great time to ramp up those burgeoning photography skills, with a specialist holiday that will get you snapping away like a professional
Its ten-day holiday in March to Cambodia offers some sensational photo opportunities: visiting sea-gypsies who live in stilt houses above the water, tours of city markets and a helicopter flight over the famous Angkor Wat temple. Prices start from £2,680, excluding flights and meals.
Even more luxurious photo trips are available from National Geographic, the publishing empire whose magazines have a reputation for fabulous travel photography.
Admittedly some of the trips are like lottery-winning fantasies, such as a 20-day luxury tour of Africa in a private jet with National Geographic photographer Sandesh Kadur in July – it costs a mere £66,000 per person.
More affordable options include joining a larger group with a photographic guide for a five-day full-board cruise of Mexico’s Baja peninsula from £2,110, or an eight-day Rhine cruise from £3,149 (nationalgeographic.com)
While the ever-changing travel restrictions may mean many of us have to stay in the UK for a while, there are still plenty of photography holidays available here.
Note that the prices include the costs of getting around once you’re there, but not getting to the destination itself. You’ll also find that some trips involve walking in rugged landscapes, so ensure you have all the right kit.
Creative Escapes is hosting a ten-day holiday in March to Cambodia with sensational photo opportunities
Light & Land (lightandland.co.uk) has highly rated guides and tutors. For example, you could spend a four-day break amid Exmoor’s babbling streams, wild ponies and rugged coasts in a small group, receiving incredible advice from locally based award-winning landscape photographer Peter Hendrie. The course costs £1,499 full-board, staying at the ivy-covered riverside Exmoor White Horse Inn at Exford.
If you prefer snapping wildlife, Nature’s Images (natures-images.co.uk) offers tuition from award-winning professional nature photographers. Its photographic guide works for BBC Wildlife and the sensational images on its website will give you an insight into the standard of its work, which is so high that many of its trips are booked up more than a year in advance.
A three-night trip in October to the East Midlands to see rutting red deer clashing antlers and fighting for supremacy sounds perfect for ambitious photographers. It costs from £625 full-board, with accommodation in a rural guesthouse. Note that, like many of these trips, single supplements apply.
Hot shot: Learn how to capture cheetahs on an Africa tour with National Geographic photographer Sandesh Kadur in July
HF Holidays (hfholidays.co.uk), Britain’s largest outdoor specialist holiday company, offers a wide choice of breaks using its own country-house bases.
Because of the boom in the popularity of photography trips, it now runs more than 18 of them, which range in location from the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Wight.
Four nights in the Highlands (August or October) costs from £579 on a full-board basis, staying in the former loch-side home of the Bishop of Argyll. Guests will explore the mountains and waterfalls of Glen Coe, while also on the lookout for wildlife.
And a four-day holiday near St Ives in Cornwall in August, photographing glorious sunsets and seabirds sitting on lobster pots, costs from £595.
Sights to behold: A three-night trip in October to the East Midlands to see rutting red deer clashing antlers and fighting for supremacy sounds perfect for ambitious photographers
An unlikely holiday operator is Jessops, the high-street chain of photography shops. It operates a series of well-organised, well-priced residential holidays in five venues from Cornwall to the Lake District.
Each costs £600 for three days and guests learn the classic skill of capturing great sunrises and sunsets.
Because of the organisational difficulties of various lockdowns and tier restrictions, the full dates and venues of its holidays are being released later this month, so check the ‘Courses’ section of the website soon as they are expected to be booked up quickly (jessops.com).
All of these holidays emphasise the use of proper camera equipment, which is more sensitive and creative than a phone lens – but also far more expensive. But what if you are quite happy with the pictures that you take on your smartphone? Don’t worry, there are even specialist photography holidays for you.
Light & Land offers a four-day holiday with two expert tutors, based at the beachside Art Deco Saunton Sands Hotel in North Devon. Prices are from £999pp.