I get questions from people all the time about whether you need to be a photographer to come on the tour. And what about spouses? Are there things for them to do as well? And sometimes people want to move at different speeds. There are people who want to go all day long and there are those that don’t. How do we deal with this?
The answer is that I tailor my trips to my attendees. Sure, I am a photographer, and most of the people that come on my trips are photographers of some level. But most of them have spouses, who usually are not photographers and have no interest in photography. Sure, they may like to get a picture of a pretty sunset on their phones, but that’s about it. I work to make sure they have the best trip of their lives as well.
It all comes together in the way I do the itinerary – make that itineraries. I make at least three for every day of every tour. First, I make my suggested itinerary. This is what I think you will want to do. It is usually built around the idea of getting some great pictures, but not always (more on that in a second).
When I am done with that itinerary, the process does not end. Instead, I take a look at it and ask myself “would a non-photographer like this?” After doing that, I might make a different one for those that aren’t interested in photography. In any case, when I am done, I take another look at the schedule from the standpoint of the desired level of activity. Some people want to go, go, go the entire time and “will sleep when I’m dead.” Others can’t go that hard, or just don’t want to. (I don’t want to either, some days.) So then I make a more relaxing version of the schedule. It has the stuff you absolutely need to see, but includes plenty of time for relaxing at the hotel, shopping, hanging at the pub or cafe, etc. You don’t necessarily have to get up early or stay out late.
And then, of course, I make a more ambitious schedule. This is for those that want to be taking pictures at sunrise, touring all day, and capturing sunset, and going the whole time.
With Photographers and Non-Photographers In Mind
There is a lot of overlap in these schedules. As an example, let’s say it is the France tour and we are in Paris. Well, everybody wants to go to the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre, and so on. So our normal daytime activities are pretty much combined. Photographers can take pictures as we go, and non-photographers can do the same thing with their phones. Frankly, during the daytime hours, it isn’t much different since the photographers probably aren’t using tripods. The difference will be that the photographers will likely want to get out very early and do a sunrise shoot while the others will sleep in and have breakfast.
Everybody wins in this scenario. I learned this on my own family vacations. I would come back from a morning of shooting already happy with what I had done, and wouldn’t try to rush anyone out the door to get moving. I was happy – I had taken pictures when the light was good. My family was happy that I wasn’t rushing them and they go to leisurely prepare for the day and have breakfast.
Anyway, after the morning where people are doing different things, the group meets up and does things together. But don’t forget that we’ll have opportunities for different levels of activity. So if there is something you don’t want to do, you can do something else. If I know what you want to do ahead of time, I’ll work with you to make a schedule that is tailored to you. I bring my wife Susan on tours and her primary job is to make sure everyone is having a good time.
Focus on Fun
Even for photographers, I don’t create tours where you are standing behind a tripod all day. My tours go to amazing places with a lot to see and do. It just doesn’t make sense to go to Paris and spend all your time on photography. You’d miss out on a lot. Sure you can (and probably should) have your camera with you all the time, but in the middle of the day when the light is harsh you are better off focusing on touring the city anyway. We’ll focus on photography when you can get some dramatic shots, like sunrise, sunset, and even at night. Even in Ireland, which is amazingly scenic and usually lends itself to great photographs, it is important (and fun) to spend some time learning about the Irish, experiencing pub life, and doing other things. My tours try to balance that with photography.