There are ups and downs when traveling with a photo group.
One of the most important advantages is time: a group of people aiming to make pictures will often stay in one place long enough to experiment with light and angles and to focus on details, long enough to make the average non-photographer fidget with boredom and restlessness.
Being with a group of photo enthusiasts means that you have access to lots of advice and input. On the flip side, it can also mean being overwhelmed by other people’s styles and and ideas, and having difficulty holding on to your own.
It means being put in the right place a the right time. It also means competing for space and having to work around others – and taking lots of dud pictures that include other people’s lenses, feet, heads, flashes, and other body- and camera-bits.
Sometimes, like at Hsinbyume Pagoda in Myanmar last September, with photographer Karl Grobl and guide Mr MM, it means having “models” organised. This is always a lot of fun, and is much easier than negotiating permission with subjects yourself. However, it also means waiting your turn while subjects wilt in the heat, losing the moment, or having the eyes of your subject drawn away by someone else, just as you are about to take the picture you have been warming them up to.
But, it provides a welcome opportunity for photographic exercise. For me, Hsinbyume Pagoda was a challenge in lighting: dark skinned novices in dark robes contrasting severely with a white pagoda against a whiter-than-white sky; dark skinned novices in dark robes disappearing in the dimness of the pagoda’s interiors.
It also gave me a chance to make the kind of “orchestrated” photos that I don’t normally take.
Certainly, there are pros and cons of traveling with a photo group.
But I love that it gets me to places I might not otherwise go, and stretches me to make pictures I might not otherwise attempt.
And, ultimately, it means coming home with so many pictures it is hard to know where to start!
‘Till next week…