I recently travelled to the UK and Europe for a family holiday and invested in a workshop with a local photography guide. I know great locations, lighting, and angles for landscape photography in my own country but wasn't sure where to start overseas.
In this blog post, I’ll talk about my experience with Northumberland landscape photographer and guide, Emma Rothera (spoiler alert: it was fabulous!)
fINDING THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE
I had a clear idea of what I wanted before I started Googling ‘photo tour guides and workshops’. I was keen to:
Emma Rothera quickly popped up in my Google search as an ideal photography guide. I read reviews, checked out her style, and went with my instincts. A few emails later, and I was booked on her First Light, Sunrise, and Golden Hour Photography Workshop on Holy Island (simultaneously forgetting that I’m not great early in the morning).
These are inspiring times for me, photography is my passion and my life, I live and breathe it and couldn't go a day without it. The things I have been blessed enough to experience and see throughout my career so far, have quite literally blown my mind. I am fortunate enough to be able to do something that is essentially every part of who I am everyday of my life
PLANNING THE TRIP
With no room for my usual tripod, I found a second-hand retro Stabilo Bilora for twenty bucks (bargain of the century). Emma recommended I dress for about 11 degrees (Celsius) as Spring time has been warmer over the past few years.
During the month before the trip, I’d spent time photographing Cyclone Gabrielle relief work in New Zealand, so I was confident in my level of fitness and ability to get muddy, although I had no room in my luggage for proper work pants and boots.
Once the workshop booking was confirmed, I went down the Google rabbit hole of Holy Island. I like to visualise a location and understand some of the history before photographing it. Read more about Holy Island and it’s castle, monastery, saints, viking raids, puffins, lifeboats, seals, and other delights at Visit Lindinsfarne. I can also confirm there are pubs, coffee roastery, a gin distillery, and gelato on the island.
Words cannot describe the magic of The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, particularly as you cross the causeway, admiring staggering views as you go, and feel as though you are entering a secret world as you approach the island.
THE PHOTO TOUR ON THE DAY
I was up early for my tour – leaving the house at 4.30am to cross the Holy Island causeway before the tide rolled in. Meeting Emma was a delight, and it was apparent that our common interests and sense of humour would give us loads to talk about.
Emma took me to a key viewpoint of the Lindisfarne Castle to watch the sunrise. As a visitor to the country (and Northern Hemisphere), I would never have thought to visit this spot at this time without Emma’s guidance. There were so many little gems of information that she shared with me about getting the best out of landscape photography – particularly around aperture, patience, and where to find light.
The weather system decided to buck the trend of warm springs, and instead of the mild 11-17 degrees Celsius, it was freezing with a biting wind. But none of that seems to matter when you're taking photos. We didn’t get the perfect sunrise - that would be predictable. Instead I was challenged to find different angles of interest with my low tripod. Throughout the workshop tour, I learned about life on Holy Island, it’s flora and fauna, and Emma’s experiences as a photographer.
The chill kicked in as soon as the workshop finished, but luckily the Post Office Café was open, where I had eggs on toast and one of the best coffees of my entire holiday as I waited for the tide to roll back out. Jeans covered in dirt and wide-angle lens smudged with sand (it face-planted), I made my way back over the causeway with fresh inspiration for my landscape photos.
Throughout the rest of my trip in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I regularly applied Emma’s advice not only to landscapes, but also to my architecture and street photography.
Next time you’re on holiday overseas or in your own country, do a little Googling to find a local photography guide or workshop and get out of your comfort zone (but wear plenty of layers).
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