How timeflies

I think it was crossing the border into Senegal when the penny finally dropped. The queue of dusty trucks, oil tankers and (our) procession of ‘bangers’ snaked back as far as the eye could see, and the already four hour wait looked like it was going to be some while yet.

Roger Norum (Creative Escapes co-founder) & I, having signed up for the London – Banjul Rally the previous year (a charity version of the famous Paris – Dakar, but using cars that cost no more than £200), found ourselves reminiscing about precisely how terrible our art degree tuition had been. And now, having ‘grown up’ how utterly dated the majority of photography and writing courses were, cut from similar cloth.

The idea that we could really do something better had been bubbling for months, so with some time to think, we set to work outlining our manifesto. How we thought things should be done.

First, all the tech heavy stuff had to go. My lecturer had made sure I knew the precise angle of the blades inside the lens, the type of glass used, even the location of where the damn thing was manufactured. But did I know simply which lens to use at any given moment? Nope.

Next, how come all of the courses only taught you just how to use your camera? How many weeks can you spend just learning about all the switches, buttons and dials? What about actually taking pictures, composing, working your subject. The interesting, creative, reason-why-we-do-it-bit?

Also, I’d lost count of the amount of microsleeps I’d had in the lecture hall. Is it really possible to talk without stopping for an hour? Can we join in? Can we have a go?

And so itbegan

We spent the summer in the south of France trialling our new ideas – and the feedback was so positive we decided to go for it – with France, Spain & Morocco our first trips.

And just a couple of months later, we opened the weekend editions of the broadsheets and saw our writing holidays had been voted Five Best Writing Holidays by the Guardian and our photography holidays Six Best Photography Breaks by the Telegraph.

Not bad for our first ever press.

Creative Photography Holidays Guide

More than ten years later, we’ve travelled the world, had stacks of amazing press and experienced some unforgettable adventures with you.

And that manifesto we put together then is still proudly pinned to the wall of our HQ. Of course, we’ve expanded the ethos of non-tech, creative tuition, and folded in lots of lovely boutique hotels (well, we may as well stay somewhere nice), restaurants only the locals know about and some unique experiences not available elsewhere – from meeting Fidel’s photographer in Havana to shooting a living goddess in Kathmandu.

Along the way, we’ve published over 50 of your pictures in various magazines, newspapers and journals. And from our very first trip to France, with Jay winning The Guardian ‘Photograph of the Month’, many of you have won awards from shots you’ve taken on the trips. We’ve been blessed to attend numerous awards ceremonies for super-prestigious photography competitions, including Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year, National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition (the two biggest photo comps in the year). A few of you have even turned pro, and won awards to boot!

But the best thing is we’ve been to places we never thought we would go to, learnt the art of photography, made some friends for life, and acquired travel stories to wow any dinner table. So …