Rad A. Drew Photography: June 2015

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why do We Love Photo Tours?

Sea Weathered Home, Cojimar, Cuba
© Rad A. Drew

In 2014, I left a corporate career in a business I’d been in for 21 years. I retired from the company, but not from work. Rather, I left the corporate world to pursue my photography career, and with that decision came a commitment to continued learning about the art and craft I love so much.

On the technological side, photography is very rapidly changing with new cameras, new techniques, new toys, and new methods of processing images being introduced nearly everyday. Yet, on the artistic side, many of the rules that guide us in creating images have remained the same since the first cave drawings. And what inspires us as artists is a deeply personal and introspective area of study.

With the technological, artistic, and inspirational aspects of photography, there's a lot of discovery and keeping up to do. I find that I need to pedal pretty fast to stay abreast of technological changes, while also continuing to learn about composition and light, and how to engage and submit to the creative muse.

One way I try to learn and stay fresh, is to go on photo tours with photographers I respect.

As one who has gone on his share of destination tours with other photographers, I got to thinking about what I like about going on tours. Why do I love to go? What motivates me? What are the benefits?

After some pondering and some discussion with a few friends, this is what I’ve come up with, not in any particular order of importance.

1. Hands-On Instruction in the Field.

In my humble opinion, there’s no better way to learn than to do, and if you do while standing next to someone who really knows their stuff, then you’ve got a great opportunity to rapidly advance your skills and knowledge while having a blast!

The Palouse from Steptoe Butte
© Rad A. Drew
On more than one occasion, I’ve had the privilege to shoot alongside today’s best photographers and teachers. Each time, I've come away a more mature photographer. 

Last year in the Palouse with John Barclay and Dan Sniffin, I not only learned a thing or two about my new Fuji mirror-less camera from John, but, thanks to Dan, I began to practice seeing in a new way. (Dan, by the way is they guy who had not one, but two images in the same National Geographic calendar a few years back. I watched and listened to him very carefully!)

With each tour experience, my skills as a photographer advance.  I become more sensitive to my environment. I learn new ways to see and to listen for what moves me. And I often learn new technical skills that help me manifest my vision.

2. Camaraderie

From Camp at Sunset on the Colorado River
©Rad A. Drew
There’s nothing like being away from home in a fascinating part of the world with a group of others who share a similar appreciation for making art from the beauty around them. Last summer I spent 10 days running the Colorado River rapids with a group of veteran photographers who had been down The River many times before. Each day we worked together to break camp, load our boats, and cooperate with each other in countless ways while on the river. Each evening we collaboratively unloaded our boats, set up camp, helped prepare meals, discussed photography, philosophized, and simply hung out. The sense of camaraderie and companionship was a highlight of the trip.

3. Forming Life-Long Friendships

Shooting at Graffiti Underground along the Delaware River
Left to right: Rad Drew, Colman LoveVictoria Porter, and Mark Murphy
© Rad A. Drew
All of the dear friends in the photo above, I met through photography in one way or another. Here we are at Graffiti Underground, the last stop on a tour that included Fonthill Castle, Longwood Gardens, and Eastern State Penitentiary.

In 2013 I traveled to Cuba with a group led by John Barclay and Tony Sweet. I knew no one else on that trip, yet, today, I am close with 5 of the people from that adventure and am frequently in touch with others. We visit each other, shoot together, and in some cases work together, as I do with my friend and marvelous east coast photographer, Betty Wiley, in the Cape Cod area. 

4. Learning from Others

On each of the photo tours I’ve done, I’ve not only met people who have become life-long friends, but I’ve met some fabulous photographers who have been extremely generous in sharing their particular expertise. I didn’t expect to learn from other participants on these trips, but I did! In fact, it’s one of the biggest benefits of photo tours in my experience. And, I’ve had the opportunity to pay it forward, too. 

Sheep Barn, Conner Prairie at Dawn, iPhone Photo
© Rad A. Drew
For example, I’m often the only guy on a trip among experienced photographers who takes the iPhone seriously. I’m no iEvangelist, but I have to say, I’ve won over my share of iPhone converts on these trips by sharing what I know.

5. Seeing Beautiful Places in the Relative Safety of a Group

We live in an age where travel has never been so accessible. Tours I’ve participated in or led have taken me to Cape Cod, Newport, San Diego, The Palouse, New York, Philadelphia, Fonthill Castle, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Louisiana Bayous, numerous abandoned locations, Cuba, England, Scotland, Wales, and to many areas closer to home that I either didn’t know about or wouldn’t venture to alone. 

Abandoned United Methodist Church, Gary, Indiana.
© Rad A. Drew
Whether it's true or not, we all feel safer traveling in a group to shoot abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana. 

My Upcoming Workshops and Tours

As you take advantage of opportunities and choose what you’ll do to have fun and build your photography skills, I hope you’ll consider the workshops I’m offering this year and next. 

Here’s a list of my upcoming events. Click the links for the details.

iPhoneography Workshops and Presentations

  • Presentation, Central Library, Indianapolis, July 8, 2015, sponsored by the Riviera Camera Club and the Indianapolis Public Library; FREE to the public 
  • Workshop (With Exhibit), Maysville, KY, September 5 (details soon)
  • WorkshopConner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana, September 19 
  • Presentation, Portland Camera Club, Portland, Maine, on Saturday, October 3. (details soon) 

Photo Tours

Other Recommended Teachers
Other great photographers and friends with whom I’ve taken workshops, gone on tours, or photographed with in recent years, and who I can recommend, include the following: 

Theresa Airey (google her)
Tony Sweet

Thanks for following my blog, and until next time, keep on shooting!



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