World Class Photo Tour Adventures in Asia & Latin America
Luminous Journeys’ primary goal is always to surpass our guests’ photo tour expectations and deliver unforgettable photo tour experiences for each and every person. This is not just happy talk – we are very sincere and quite successful at this. A vital element to this success is specializing in countries in which we live and work as professional travel photographers. We don’t just pop in as outsiders once a year like most; in fact we have a well established network of local relationships in all our destinations, and provide you with its many advantages. Perhaps chief among them is LJ’s unmatched insider access. You will never cease to be amazed at the number of impact image making opportunities you will have during a Luminous Journeys photo tour, most of which would not be possible to get on your own.
A critical and often overlooked key to a great photo tour workshop is having great leadership. Our leaders are not only outstanding, award winning photographers, but outstanding people who create remarkably inspiring atmospheres in which to work and play. Moreover, they have a deep appreciation and respect for YOU having trusted in them to deliver something extraordinary. Sincerely caring and going the extra mile to help you become a better photographer is just a natural extension of who they are.
As you look around our website, including the heartfelt testimonials of which we are very proud, it will become increasingly clear why Luminous Journeys photo tours are such rewarding photography life experiences. To learn more about our philosophy and approach, please see the section following the brief trip descriptions below.
What Makes LJ Photo Tour Workshops World Class?
A PHILOSOPHY OF ENGAGEMENT & GIVING BACK
Travel photography is a privilege we are very fortunate in having the opportunity to pursue. When we travel on photo tour in the developing world we do so as goodwill ambassadors, engaging the people we meet along the way with honor and kindness. We do not come to “take” pictures, but rather to make pictures. With this approach, making friends is a natural part of the process, and giving back an extension of that process.
Giving back can range from tea and a nice chat to monastery donations, to bringing needed supplies to offering small amounts of local currency. For people and places special to us that we return to, we often bring gifts of nicely printed photographs, which invariably invoke great delight. In other cases, if they have access to email or social media, we’ll send files of their best images. In addition, Luminous Journeys helps support small, underfunded charities and/or persons in desperate need. Please see Luminous Giving, especially if you are the philanthropic sort!
PHOTO TOURING THE LUMINOUS WAY
There are of course a variety of reasons people choose to go on photo tours, but most often mentioned is being afforded an abundance of great photo opportunities that would not be possible to get (or at least extremely difficult) if traveling on your own. This, along with any professional guidance needed in order to take compelling advantage of those opportunities, is essential to having a world class photo tour experience.
We will have you busy capturing images from sunrise to after sunset on most days, with well-timed, leisurely breaks for meals. No shoot is compulsory however, so if you wish to sleep late on occasion, or even take some time off to laze by the pool or get a massage, you are most welcome to. Each day is well planned and organized. We bring you to both iconic and off-the-beaten path locations at the best possible times, but we offer much more than that. There are plenty of free-shooting opportunities to roam on your own if you wish, assisted free shooting with your leader(s), and arranged photo shoots with locals. We do not believe in just taking you place to place and making you fend for yourself, while your leader(s) take a nap or focus on their own photography!
Beyond all the great image making ops, traveling and experiencing an exotic land with people who share your passion for photography is uplifting, rewarding and inspiring. New and lasting friendships with interesting people are quite often forged on our photo tour adventures.
People new to photo tours often give too much consideration to the destination and not enough to the photographers who will be guiding them through that destination. Hopefully they will never have to learn the hard way what far too many of us already have – that even the most photogenic destination in the galaxy can be severely tarnished by lousy leadership and logistical incompetence.
First Rule of Foto Club – Choose your leaders wisely. Our photographers are much more than major-award winners known for their artistic approach to powerful image making. As mentioned above, they are true professionals who truly care that you become a better photographer during your time with them. That necessarily includes helping you to achieve a higher standard of work, while either finding or honing your own vision and style.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING
Unless you are self-sustaining hermit or the last human on earth, relationships are everything. LJ’s relationship with you normally starts when you access our website, and takes the next step at first contact. It continues to evolve as we answer your questions and get to know you, either by email, phone or both. Once you feel comfortable and excited about deciding to join one of our photo tour adventures, we walk you through the simple process of making it happen. Committing to a photo tour is a significant decision, and it’s important to us that you feel comfortable and confident in making it.
In terms of local relationships, our guys have inside contacts all over, and often these contacts offer great surprises that no photo tour itinerary could ever predict. Most of these relationships have taken years to cultivate, and new ones are being made on an ongoing basis. The quality of inside access we consistently get on our photo tours surprises even us at times!
LOCATION, LIGHT, LOCATION – YOU CAN’T SHOOT WHAT ISN’T THERE
And if the light is bad, you may not want to! Our itineraries are extremely well researched and ever evolving with experience. They provide an abundance of amazing locations and impact image making opportunities, whatever the subject or scene may be. This is something only the very best photo tours can deliver.
Our photographers have a keen understanding of the many expressions of natural light, and will show you how to work with it under various conditions, from backlit subjects in a crowded market to the more controlled environment of an arranged photo shoot. Critical to this of course, is matching specific subjects/locations with the best expected light for a particular shoot.
“If you want to take more interesting pictures, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” -Joe McNally
GETTING CULTURAL – MORE KNOWLEDGE, BETTER PICTURES
Creating a friendly atmosphere and photographing local people in a way that is respectful to both people and culture is very important to good travel photography. It’s always helpful to gain a reasonable understanding of the culture in which you are working before you arrive, and then follow up with our expert local guides and photographers while on tour.
If photographing a particular ceremony or cultural practice for example, the more you know about its meaning the better you can choose how to frame your captures. You’ll always want to emphasize certain aspects in telling your photographic vision of their story.
THE HOTELS – BLENDING STYLE & LOCATION
Photo touring the LJ way means long days filled with fun and photography. So at the end of those long days, having a nice comfortable hotel with great service and all the in-room amenities you need is important. For the most part we stay in 4 star hotels (some 5 star) that we know well and have the best locations for our purposes. There are times when a nice 3 star with a superior location to an average 4 star is clearly a better choice.
In more REMOTE areas we stay at the best accommodation available. Normally they are small hotels with en suite bathrooms and air conditioning, but you won’t be mistaking them for the Ritz! In India it might be a “luxury tent” with en suite; in Myanmar it might be a rustic mountain cabin; in Bhutan a charming family homestay where you can pick your own vegetables or even feed the goats! Whatever the case you will know beforehand, and often these are only for a single night. Regardless, as adventurous photographers we can hardly expect all the best image opportunities to be near a luxury hotel & spa now, can we?
THE CUISINE – FRESH, LOCAL, HEALTHY
One of the many joys of travel is dining local and discovering new and tantalizing taste treats. Not only are ALL your meals included on tour, they are always tasty and usually include a range of choices. Sometimes you are free to order off the menu, at other times we leave it to the chefs to prepare the most fresh and delicious dishes on a particular day – with your preferences taken into consideration. If you are allergic to something, or a strict vegetarian, just let us know.
Breakfasts are usually buffets with a variety of western and local fare with coffee, tea and fruit juices. Occasionally, when departing well before dawn and not able to return, breakfast will be boxed and taken in the vehicles. Lunches and dinners are typically local cuisine friendly to western tastes, but for you more adventurous gastronomists, in many places in Asia you can get as exotic as you dare! Expect choice of meats, fish, vegetables, noodles, rice, curries and fruits. Of course in Latin America, expect the country classics plus regional variations.