World Class Photo Tour Adventures in Southeast Asia, India & Bhutan
Luminous Journeys specializes in small group, all-inclusive photo tour workshops in select Asian destinations – Bhutan, Myanmar, Vietnam, India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. “Select” because we conduct photo tours only in our own “backyard”, where we live, work and have an intimate knowledge of the people, the culture, the locations, and the light.
We have gained this intimacy over the years in two essential ways. First, by being native born and/or having lived and worked extensively as professional photographers in the countries in which we operate; and second, by conducting enumerable photo tours and workshops in these same countries. We don’t just pop in as outsiders once a year; we operate with an insider’s knowledge and access, and provide you with its many advantages. You will never cease to be amazed at the number of impact image making opportunities you will have.
Critical to a great photo tour is having great leadership. Our leaders are not only outstanding, major 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.
Southeast Asia Unleashed!
Luminous Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam – A UNESCO World Heritage Photo Tour is led by Nat Geo contributor David Lazar. The region is definitely a ‘bucket lister’ for any travel photographer worth their salt, and here is a rare 4 for 1 opportunity!
The four UNESCO World Heritage sites we visit are Ayutthaya, Thailand; Luang Prabang, Laos; Angkor wat & Environs, Cambodia; and Hoi An, Vietnam. Plus a lot more great photo opportunities off the beaten path!
NOTE: MYANMAR IS STILL A VERY SAFE PLACES TO TRAVEL!
It is without a doubt one of the most enjoyably photogenic places in the world, made all the more so because most Burmese are warm, welcoming and happy to be photographed. Myanmar through the lens is a wholly unique and rewarding experience, certain to produce glowing memories and golden images that will long resonate.
We have 3 Myanmar photo tours this season, each featuring The Big Four iconic destinations of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay & Lake Inle, plus off-the-beaten-path adventures to legendary regions as well.
Vietnam Photo Tour Spectacular
Vietnam is one of our very favorite places to photograph, obviously! The diversity of landscapes and peoples from North to South is nothing short of spectacular. Along with Vietnamese and French colonial architecture adorned with elegant ladies wearing traditional Ao Dai, the Indochine dream comes to life for the travel photographer.
Our June Vietnam photo tour features the incredible rice terraces and colorful tribal peoples of the northern mountains, our unique Ha Long Bay photo cruise, historic Hoi An, the sand dunes & vanishing people of Cham, the surreal salt ponds & workers of Khanh Hoa, and considerably more!
Luminous India + Kumbh Mela
India is an unimaginable, almost kaleidoscopic feast for the senses. From a photographer’s perspective, most especially those interested in people, culture, street, and historical grandeur, there is nowhere else in the known galaxy that offers such an incredible diversity of photographic possibilities.
Luminous India climaxes with the greatest religious spectacle on earth, the Kumbh Mela. The itinerary also features must photograph locations in Old Delhi, Rajasthan, Varanasi and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
Luminous Bali + Java, Indonesia
The island of Bali is much more than its reputation as a crowded honeymoon & party haven, a reputation that prevents all too many photographers from seeing what an absolute photo tour paradise it is, at least in the hands of Luminous Journeys.
David Lazar’s Luminous Bali is a completely original & exhilarating Bali photo tour experience that goes well off the beaten path and into the true heart of The Island of the Gods. Highlights include private photo shoots Legong and Kecak dancers, and a visit to the neighboring island of East Java to shoot its otherworldly Volcano-scapes, plus Tengger horses w/ incredible backdrops.
Our Luminous Bhutan photo tour workshop with renowned travel shooter David Lazar is the latest edition to the LJ line up of world class photography adventures. David absolutely loves Bhutan, and was thrilled we decided to add it to the roster. Our only regret is not to have added it earlier!
This tour focuses on iconic Bhutan, plus has special inside access to a fantastically photogenic, off-the-beaten-path festival, as well as arranged shoots in small villages w/ ethnic tribes in traditional dress. More details coming soon, but you can start with…
A PHILOSOPHY OF ENGAGEMENT & GIVING BACK
Travel photography is a privilege we are very fortunate in having the opportunity to pursue. When we travel 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 (which can be difficult to come by in some areas) 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 who do great work with children or the elderly. Please see Luminous Giving, especially if you are the philanthropic sort!
PHOTO TOURING THE LJ 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 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 pre-dawn till after sunset on most days, with well-timed, leisurely breaks for meals. Each day is well planned and organized. We bring you to both iconic and off-the-betean 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.
And we don’t forget about you after the tour is over! We always share behind the scenes images taken on tour, and our photographers are more than happy to keep in touch and be of assistance going forward. We also welcome and value any input you may wish to offer about your experience with us, including constructive criticism.
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 sometimes!
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 strong shooting opportunities, whatever the subject or scene may be.
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 version 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 or 5 star hotels 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. We never short change you on hotels, rest assured.
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, or a basic tent with a separate bathroom tent. In Bhutan it might be a charming Homestay; in Thailand a village home. Whatever the case, you will know beforehand. Normally these are only for a single night, but there are some exceptions. Regardless, as 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 high quality and 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.
Breakfasts are usually buffets with a variety of western and local fare with coffee, tea and fruit juices. Lunches and dinners are typically local cuisine friendly to western tastes, but for you more adventurous gastronomists, in many places you can get as exotic as you dare! Expect choice of meats, fish vegetables, rice, curries and fruits.