Have you ever been on a photo tour? Wondering what it’s like to travel with a group of photography enthusiasts, to experience the destination like a local and capture breathtaking photographs with the guidance of professional travel photographers? This short article brings you behind the scenes of what it’s like to travel with us to far away lands…
It’s 4:30am and your alarm is going off… sure it’s early but there’s nothing quite like a sunrise in the tuscan countryside. As with almost any activity on our tours, this shoot is optional and you can stay in bed and get more sleep if you’d like. (As long as our guests are with us while traveling between destinations, you are free to do your own thing at anytime during our tours.) We discussed our sunrise shoot the night before at dinner, so your camera bag is already packed with the necessary gear and ready to go.
Our group meets in the lobby of the hotel and start the short walk down the street to our sunrise location. We are lucky with this shoot as our hotel is so close by. Other mornings we may need to hop on a bus or train if the shoot isn’t as close to our hotel. We always do our best though to stay as close as possible to our shooting locations.
After a short 10 minute walk we arrive at the hillside overlook that will serve as the backdrop for our sunrise shoot. Our pro-photographer tour leaders would have talked about what to expect and shared some pictures of the location prior to arriving so the group understands the composition and subjects. Once we arrive everyone begins getting their gear in order, tripods setup, filters attached and cameras ready!
Our professional photographers typically setup their tripods to shoot, however are freely moving about the group the entire time. They are there to guide you, answer questions and check the images you are taking as the shoot progresses. They will discuss your composition and your goals for capturing the subject, giving their feedback on camera settings and the gear you are using, making sure you get the best image possible.
Typically our group starts the shoot together in the same general area, however over time our guests move about and find their own angle for the shoot.
Once the sun has risen past “golden hour” we pack up our gear and walk back to the hotel for breakfast. Breakfast is typically a buffet style and a mix of western style breakfast and local fare. In Italy there would be an abundance of pastries, meats and cheeses, along with eggs and cereals. After breakfast we have a 2 hour window before we board our bus to head to our next stop. During this time you are free to do as you wish. Our guests are typically packing their things, showering and reviewing the photos they took at sunrise.
After an hour bus ride we arrive at San Gimignano, a small hillside town in the Chianti region of Italy. Unlike our time in Rome where we took part in private group tours, you will be free to explore San Gimignano on your own, visiting the shops, churches and cobblestone streets of this magical town. Often our guests group up with their new found friends and explore together or join our photographers, however you are free to do as you wish for the few hours we have here.
We meet back at the bus at a pre-determined time and are off to our next stop, a private winery tour where we will sample local wines and eat an incredibly delicious lunch sourced from the local nearby farms. Sitting outside, overlooking the tuscan hills with fresh cheeses, meats, olives, breads and more, this is a meal to remember. So simple, yet so Italian.
Back to the bus we are off to our next stop, another quaint Italian hillside town, with more local wines and endless shooting possibilities while exploring the winding cobblestone streets. Filled with window box flowers and classic Italian architecture, each turn is yet another postcard to capture.
As evening approaches we’ve made our way to Florence, the next stop on our adventure. We check into our hotel and have an hour to freshen up and get our gear ready for our sunset shoot. After meeting in the lobby, we board our bus and head off to the edge of town to a hillside overlooking the city. This will be our location for sunset, an incredible vista overlooking the vast city of Florence. After working with our pro-photographers during the shoot we wrap up and head back to the bus to make our way to dinner.
The restaurant for dinner is a short 10 minute walk from our hotel and as we arrive we are ushered to our awaiting table, already stocked with breads, cheeses and wine. It’s as if they knew we were coming! (of course they did, all our meals are booked months in advance!) After a feast of Florentine steak, truffle infused pastas and overflowing carafes of local wines we end our night sharing stories from the day and ready to do it all again tomorrow.