Flights, camera, action! Photo holidays

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Holiday snaps blurred? Lens cap left on again? Perhaps it’s time for a photographic break, where expert tuition combines with stunning scenery. Kate Simon adjusts her viewfinder

What’s the attraction?

Some say we spend too much time behind the camera lens when we go out to see the world. But however long you like to linger at the viewfinder, there’s no escaping how important photography has become for capturing memory-making images.

The rise of the smartphone has not only made us more snap-happy, it has driven down sales of digital cameras. However, it seems that more and more of us are seeking to cultivate the photographer’s art. Hotels, tour operators, safari companies, even cruise lines are now cashing in, with taster sessions or  full-blown expert-led trips. They could  provide the perfect opportunity to make those out-of-focus holiday snaps a thing of the past.

Flash photography

Skyscape rather than landscape is the quest of the autumn Northern Lights holiday in Norway with The Mighty Fine Company (0845 072 0090; mightyfinecompany.com).

The four-night trip heads north of the Lofoten Islands to the fjords, moors and valleys of Vesteralen to guarantee truly dark skies for the best possible chances of capturing this amazing phenomenon.

By day, guests brush up on their photography skills at workshops, with time for a spot of hiking, kayaking and wildlife-watching.

From £1,408 per person, including return flights from Gatwick to Evenes via Oslo and four nights’ full board. Departures between  12 September and 30 November.

Golden opportunity

Cox & Kings (0845 154 8941; coxandkings.co.uk) has hooked up with Magnum Photos to secure top credentials for its new photography tour of India’s Golden Triangle, which runs from 16-27 February 2014.

The joint project will see Magnum’s Martin Parr lead the way from Delhi to Lucknow via Jaipur and Agra to capture shots of cultural life and landscapes and architectural sights.

This is serious stuff; participants will also attend a lecture at the Centre for Photography in Delhi. The tour costs £3,800 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow to Delhi with Jet Airways, B&B, transfers, tuition and some meals.

Twice as nice

Don’t fancy spending your whole time looking at the viewfinder? Go Learn To (0845 625 0445; golearnto.com) offers a good choice of dual-activity holidays that marry photography with activities such as surfing and yoga.

For example, a week’s photography and cookery holiday in Essaouira, Morocco, exploits the photogenic qualities of the harbour town and the country’s delicious dishes.

Trips to the market are complemented by lessons in how to create local recipes such as tagines. From £925 per person (no single supplement), including transfers, accommodation, most meals and tuition. Flights not included. The next departure is 4 October.

Home front

You don’t have to go far to find photogenic locations. A number of hotels around the  UK offer photography short breaks. Among them is The Four Seasons Hotel (01764 685333; thefourseasonshotel.co.uk) in Perthshire, with a land scape photography course set in the Scottish Highlands. The four-day break starts on 13 October, from £664 per person, including four nights’ full board and tuition.

Meanwhile, on the Isles of Scilly, the Star Castle Hotel (01720 422317; star-castle.co.uk) is hosting its first photography trip from 9 September. The price is £745 per person, including four nights’ half board.

Deep south

A trip of a lifetime for the truly intrepid is  offered by Exodus (0845 863 9601; exodustravels.com) – the chance to join a trip to South Georgia to photograph polar wildlife.

It’s hardy stuff, with a whole week on the remote island focusing on its seabirds and penguins, as well as historic sites of early Antarctic exploration. Your guide is photographer Paul Goldstein, with zoologist Mark Carwardine on hand to help appreciate the wildlife.

The South Georgia Spectacular, departing on 2 November from Port Stanley, starts at £7,195 per person, for the return voyages by ship to the Falkland Islands, 17 days’ accommodation, meals, and tuition. Flights extra.

Insider information

“Pay attention to detail. Alongside the wide landscapes and cityscapes and the portraits of family and friends, don’t forget the small stuff – the little details that define a place: a row of café tables in Paris, yellow taxis in NYC, or the exotic fruit in a Mumbai market. A few small detail pictures add to the overall sense of place.” Craig Easton  (craigeaston.com) is the winner of the Cutty Sark Award for Worldwide Travel Photographer of the Year 2012

Picture book

When you’re not on the road, draw inspiration from these travel photography tomes.

Through The Lens: National Geographic Greatest Photographs (National Geographic, £13.99) collates 250 of the best photographs taken for the magazine. In Portraits (Phaidon, £14.95), the Magnum photographer Steve McCurry captures the diverse people he’s met on his travels around  the world.

Lonely Planet Travel Book (Lonely Planet, £20) provides a pictorial description of every country in the world.

Look out for Above The Clouds (Lecturis, £35) this autumn, photographer Tim Hall’s take on the Arlberg Mountains in Austria.

Single shots

Sharpen up your camera skills in  preparation for your travels with some undivided attention from Mike Marlowe of Creative Trails (0845 643 5027; creativetrails.com), who offers one-to-one tuition as part of a programme of worldwide photography tours.

The bespoke tuition is run on location around the UK, with recent workshops including a day in Holland Park, west London, showing a client how to use their new digital SLR to take holiday photos, plus how to approach and photograph strangers in the street. Price £295, including lunch and refreshments.

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