Creative Escapes

Japan

JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY | 8 - 17 OCTOBER 2021 ** LAST FEW PLACES **  |  13 -22 MAY 2022 ** AVAILABLE  ** | 7 - 16 OCTOBER 2022 ** AVAILABLE **  | £3200

JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

Japan is a world apart – a wonderful little planet floating off the coast of China – its ancient culture a bounty of riches. From the grace of golden-robed monks at dawn to the ethereal beauty of a Zen rock garden, Japan has the power to enthral any traveller.

This is a place to leave your comfort zone without being uncomfortable. Whether it’s staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), soaking in a bubbling onsen (hot spring) or gazing at the apparition of a geisha, Japan offers regular doses of ‘wow’ against a backdrop of ultra-modern comfort.

From a stay in a temple at a 1200-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site, grooving with Elvis in Yoyogi park, eating divine morsels in our pick of Japan’s tiny gastropubs, to glimpsing sacred Mount Fuji from bubbling hot springs – you’ll get behind the scenes of this country, both new and old on our Japan photography tour.

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“Creative Escapes takes everyday travel experiences to an inspiring new level. You’ll learn new creative skills, meet like-minded folk and traipse off the beaten path for a holiday to remember. The experienced guides are photography gurus and passionate travellers, who will lead you to the hippest hotels and the prettiest locations on the quirkiest of adventures. Fun is foremost so there is never a dull moment”

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Highlights.

Combining ancient culture with exquisite natural landscapes and dazzling modernity, the Asian nation is stirring an increasing number of travellers’ souls. There has always been a fascination about getting ‘lost in translation’ when it comes to travel, and there’s really no better place to do this than Japan. This is a country where the past meets the future. It can seem full of contradictions – Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also been quick to adopt and create technology, fashion and art.

Our Japan Photography Tour of the “Land of the Rising Sun” curates our pick of the most photogenic hotspots, takes you behind the scenes to get a closer look, and mixes old with new like no other.

On our Japan Photography Tour, you’ll learn to:
Perfect the art of street photography in the most vibrant city on the planet
Gain new skills in low light photography – just after dusk when colours ping
Create narrative-led monochromes inside the world’s largest fish market
Understand insider tips on travel photography to make your images stand out.
Practice landscapes at 4,000ft fronting sacred Mount Fuji.
Hone your decisive moment in the backstreets of Kyoto shooting Geisha.
Create a photo series inside a 1200 year old UNESCO pilgrimage site.

Itinerary.

We’ll meet you fresh off the plane at Tokyo Haneda and into our boutique hotel in eastern downtown, where Tokyo’s modern cityscape intersects with the charm of old Edo. Here, we’ll meet up with locals Ito and Mari, and start our Japan photography tour with a gentle walk to spots only locals know about – exploring craft factories, shrines, temples, small coffee roasters, Japanese sake bars, and art galleries – a view of the city far from the tourist trail.

Next morning, we’ll dive into some skills in street photography, then tour the hotspots of the city by metro, from the edgy street fashion culture of Harajuku, catch a wedding by the Meiji shrine then shoot the famous Shibuya crossing at dusk. We’ll round off the day with a well-deserved cocktail at the bar on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt, made famous by the 2003 film ‘Lost in Translation’.

Up early this morning to Tsujuki, to photograph the tuna auctions in the world’s largest, busiest fish market. We’ll indulge in a sushi breakfast of the freshest fish on the planet, before going to Sunday church at the oldest temple in Tokyo – Senso-ji.

Later, we’ll swing by Yoyogi park to snap the dancing Elvis’s, then to Akihabara to tune into Japan’s bizarre otaku culture. There’s just time for a beer at a quaint izakaya bar before dinner at the Robot Restaurant, featuring a raucous pop-culture show with robotic monsters, dancers & lasers.

Today, we’ll head west a few hours to Hakone, Tokyo’s favourite escape. It’s a Japanese ideal: a land of onsen (natural hot springs) and jagged, misty mountains. At the centre is calm, cool Lake Ashi, a natural reflecting pool for Mt Fuji, which rises in the distance.

We’ll check into our modern ryokan, each room equipped with a private onsen pool facing the woods; our base to explore this spectacular region. We’ll ascend the Hakone Ropeway to the Owakudani crater, a mountaintop volcano with steam vents and bubbling pools; the views of sacred Mount Fuji are to die for.

If time permits, we start the day deep in the Hakone forests, for a dip in the hot springs at Tenzan Onsen – terraced natural outdoor pools at the foot of a wooded slope, with a stunning traditional style bath house.

Then, we depart south to Kōya-san – a raised tableland covered with thick forests and surrounded by eight peaks – the major attraction here is the Kōya-san monastic complex. One of Japan’s most rewarding destinations, for the natural setting of the area and the opportunity to stay in temples, we’ll get a glimpse of long-held traditions of Japanese life – shooting the morning offering at Okunoin Temple, witness 10,000 lanterns lit floor to ceiling at Torodo Hall, and snap the magical Shingon Buddhist fire ceremony.

We stay in a shokubo – cozy temple accommodation originally for Buddhist priests – with stunning cuisine, in house spa, and incredible views from each room.

Up early, we’re out before dawn to shoot the serene monks in saffron robes lighting incense and ringing bells, capture hypnotic morning chanting in the main hall, then photographing the stunning surroundings of this 1200 year old UNESCO site – this is a photographers paradise for all tastes.

Later, you’ll dine together in the main hall, resplendent in your yutaka robes, enjoying a bento box of edible delights, before a snooze in the most unique hotel room you ever stayed in.

Then to our final stop at Kyoto. With its rich colours, tradition, history and culture, Kyoto is a city that allows visitors a glimpse into the past: atmospheric temples, sublime gardens, traditional teahouses and geisha scurrying to secret liaisons. We check into our designer hotel in the heart of Gion, the stunning geisha district, then take a tour early evening through the ancient cobbled streets, before a review of the shots of the day.

Kyoto happens to have one of the world’s largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage sites; so today, we learn the inside track to on professional travel photography to shoot travel shots that stand out from the pack.

We first head west to shoot the other-worldy Arashiyama bamboo grove, catch the glinting Kinkaku-Ji, – the Zen temple’s top two floors are completely covered in brilliant gold leaf creating a magnificent view against a bright blue sky and lush green garden. Towards dusk, we head to Fushimi Inari, Japan’s most famous shrine, on a hidden hike far from tourist eyes, exploring secluded trails that lead through to thousands of vibrant tori gates set against bamboo and beautiful evergreens. There’s just time for some street food and a chilled glass of something at a local izakaya to complete the day.

Time to flex your documentary and portraiture skills today, starting at the 400 year old Nishiki Market in Gion, which is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” by the locals. The vibrant and atmospheric market is the best traditional food market in the city and is lined with stalls offering tasty goodies such as yakitori, tempura and sashimi.

Later, we tour the backstreets around Pontocho Dori, famous for its geisha and traditional Japanese tea houses. And then one of the highlights of our tour, a private photoshoot in a 16th century temple of a stunning geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha). We’ll be on hand to help create your set, shoot your idea and enjoy one of the most memorable photoshoots you’ll ever experience. Truly stunning.

Finally, we round off our tour with a show of our finest images, before heading out to celebrate in the mazy backstreets of old Kyoto. Next morning, it’s time for a last bit of shopping, before we head to the airport and fly home.

Details : Japan Photography Tour

08 – 17 October, 2021
Last few places

13 – 22 May, 2022
Available

07 – 16 October, 2022
Available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto.

£3200 / £395 single supplement

Price includes
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Private portrait shoot with Geisha
Entrance to Robot Show
Group transfers to and from the airport
All transportation between shooting locations
All entrance passes to Temples & National Parks
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are direct flights to Tokyo Haneda from the UK, serviced by British Airways, JAL and All Nippon Airlines. Prices start from £500. As the trip ends in Kyoto, you can either fly back home from there, or take the bullet train back to Tokyo (recommended) which is around £90.

"Fabulous locations, amazing hotels & great memories. Thanks to Creative Escapes I have moved from taking a gazillion bland photographs to images I am really proud of. Already thinking about my next trip!"


Lorraine Byrne, Dublin


Creative Escapes

Bhutan

BHUTAN PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY   | 11 - 19 September, 2021 ** LIMITED SPACES ** 01 - 09 September, 2022 ** AVAILABLE ** | £3775 Deposit only £100

PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS BHUTAN

Bhutan is one of the last true unspoilt countries on earth. A Himalayan kingdom packed with unparalleled natural beauty, gentle people high with Gross National Happiness. And festivals amongst the most colourful on the planet.

Join us for 10 days culture, adventure and majestic photo-blessed scenery, touring this Buddhist stronghold of soaring, Himalayan peaks, tranquil countryside dotted with traditional farmhouses, monasteries and temples, claret-robed monks, fluttering prayer flags; and fast flowing slate-coloured rivers – ending in a party unlike any you’ve ever been to before.

It won’t be this untouched forever.

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“Creative Escapes are a good option if you want a dedicated learning holiday. Group sizes are small, meaning there’s more 1-on-1 time with tutors, less competition for spots to shoot from and plenty of supportive group critiques. Creative Escapes – the name says it all!”

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Highlights.

A place of untouched natural beauty – steep, pine-forested mountains are sliced through with deep valleys and peaks reach 7,000 metres – this is one of the only countries on the planet to actively discourage mass tourism – Bhutan gets a trickle of visitors compared to its neighbours in Nepal, India and Tibet.

Instead of GDP, Bhutan measures it’s success on peoples happiness, not earnings; the air is some of the freshest on the planet (Bhutan is the only country in the world to be carbon negative, where it produces less CO2 than it absorbs), and with TV only introduced 11 years ago, this is one of the last, original societies left.

You’ll depart hypnotised by the beauty of the Himalayas, discover how Buddhism is intrinsic to Bhutanese culture and shoot some of the stunning fortress monasteries dotted across the country. Come the end, we’ll take centre stage at the Thimpu Tsechu, the most photogenic festival on the calendar for a party to never forget.

Movement and story: shoot work from the festival with identity
Shoot planning: use time effectively and come back happy every time
Telling stories through your work – creating images with impact
Learn how to critically evaluate your work during and after the process
Techniques in formal portraiture; getting the sitter to come to you
A look at Magnum photographic style; key approaches, tricks and impact
Blending, looking beyond the obvious, objectivity, perspective and positioning
Putting you in the picture: elevating your work to the next level
Editing your work effortlessly, without looking forced

Itinerary.

Touchdown into Paro on the first day of your Bhutan Photography Holiday – and transfer to the city’s elegant old town. After some snooze, we’ll take our first peek – capturing dramatic images of the valley from Ta Dzong, before walking down to Paro’s traditional centre, Rinpung Dzong, to shoot the monks in the courtyard.

Today, we depart Paro and fly to the remote Bumthang Valley – the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It is brimming with several precious and ancient Buddhist sites – and almost scot-free of tourists.

Here, you’ll learn the art of great travel photography, and create images few on the planet will have ever seen before. We’ll reveal skills to help you choose the best positions to make your images really stand out, how to compose correctly, and use light to best effect.

Next day, you’ll tour local villages and work on a series of images that defines the region. You’ll get 1-to-1 guidance on getting the right exposure, interacting with locals and creating interconnected photographs that would grace any travel mag.

Later, we’ll swing by the microbrewery run by a Swiss national, Mr Maurer, who produces chilled wheat beer to soothe any creative exhaustion. Bliss.

It’s just 60km to Trongsa from here, crossing the Yutong-la pass at 11,000 feet with spectacular views, then overlooking the river Mangde, Trongsa Dzong – the ancestral home of the present Royal Family – sits majestically with fabulous views of the Himalayas, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist. The rambling assemblage of buildings that comprises the dzong trails down the ridge and is connected by a succession of alley-like corridors, wide stone stairs and beautiful paved courtyards.

Over 200 novice monks live here, where we’ll try out new skills in reportage, shooting in situ images of life in a monastery, then have our first show of images, reviewing each in detail.

Against a backdrop of forest-clad mountains, the Gangtey Goemba temple complex rises dramatically from a cluster of hilltop cottages – only a few hours from Trongsa. One of the oldest Nyingma monasteries in Bhutan, Gangtey Goemba has recently been renovated, and the fine workmanship of Bhutan’s best woodcarvers, sculptors, and painters here makes for fantastic photography.

Today, we rise early and shoot the glacial valley of Phobjikha, considered one of the most beautiful landscapes in Bhutan. Along the way, you’ll capture vistas dotted with prayer flags, local hamlets with authentic, characterful faces, and fields covered in dwarf bamboo. Later, we’ll take a dip in the hot springs at Gasa, then a short hop to Punakha, where we’ll visit Chimi Lhakhang – the Temple of Fertility – built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman) in the 15th century. Monks, rows of prayer wheels and beautiful slate carvings; the Bodhi tree here believed to have been brought from Bodhgaya. This is a photographer’s paradise.

This morning, we look at documentary landscapes, weaving a route through the magical Punatshangchhu River and Wangdue Valley, then rising high up to 3160m at Dochula Pass for a view of the Himalayas unparalleled in Bhutan. Afternoon, the first glimpse of the festival, Thimpu Tsechu. We’ll do our first recce to prepare our next day’s shoot, and then take our positions next morning to capture some magic.

Fronting the enormous Tashi Cho Dzong, locals dress in their finest outfit and jewelries, watching sacred mask dances in an arena, competitors shooting ancient archery bows, markets, concerts; all the trimmings of a festival. Your tutor will be on hand to help you produce a final series that will be shown in a pop-up exhibition later that night. We then head out to party, Thimpu has a buzzing nightlife scene, and party the night away to celebrate our photographic triumphs.

It’s just over an hour from Thimpu to Paro, our final stop, then a short drive to the base of the Taktshang Monastery, then you begin the ascent to Tiger’s Nest, one of the most important – and stunning – locations in Bhutan. This symbolic structure clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (the second Buddha) flew here on the back of a tigress. The views are of course incredible, unforgettable. Iconic.

We’ll take our time perfecting the best shot, then take a tour around the inside of the monastery, before descending to Drukgyal and late afternoon shoot the peak of Jumolhari, all 7,329 meters of it. This is a photoshoot to savour.

And, to round off this magical tour, we’ll light 108 butter lamps at Kyichu Temple and shoot a special prayer by the monks. Satisfaction guaranteed.

On our final night, we’ll have a huge exhibition of all your final images, then head out into town to celebrate our creative genius.

Next morning, we’ve got just enough time for some final 1-on-1’s, some last minute shopping then board the plane back home.

Details.

11 – 19  September, 2021
Limited spaces

01 – 09  September, 2022
Spaces available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in Paro, Bhutan.

£3775 Deposit only £100

Price includes 
10 days, 9 nights full-board accommodation at listed hotels (or similar)
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
All inland travel permits as described by Bhutan Tourism Board
Traditional ‘Khada’ (silk scarf) on arrival
All Royal Government of Bhutan Royalties and Taxes as applicable on date
All tours and intercity transportation with accompanying English speaking guide
Bhutan visa processing charges and Visa fee
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes international and internal flights.

 

There are no direct flights to Bhutan from the UK, so we will need to fly via Delhi or Kathmandu. Flights to Paro via Delhi/Kathmandu start at £400, with an internal flight required starting at £120.

"Fabulous locations, amazing hotels & great memories. Thanks to Creative Escapes I have moved from taking a gazillion bland photographs to images I am really proud of. Already thinking about my next trip!"


Lorraine Byrne, Dublin


Holi Festival

HOLI FESTIVAL PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY  |  09 - 19 MARCH 2022 **AVAILABLE** |   £2995

INDIA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS HOLI FESTIVAL

The festival of Holi has always been a boisterous one, in which Indians wait patiently for the one day when they can welcome in spring – and put on the largest party of the year. 

Across ten days, we’ll learn reportage in the ‘Pink City’, lunch with India’s highest caste in the indigo-hued streets of Jodhpur, before witnessing the spectacle of Holi at the most famous (and energetic) celebration in all India – Vrindavan.

Along the way, we’ll snooze in not one but two palaces, meet the Maharajah’s personal palmist and shop some of the finest materials, leather and jewellery in all India, before taking our positions at the party of the year.

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“We’re looking at the next phase in travel; luxe boutique hotels, gourmet food and locations to die for. This is not a technical photography course; it’s cool, creative, funny, quirky, high-end and the guys that run it really know how to create great holidays. Definitely try it.”

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Highlights.

There are few photo assignments more invigorating than Holi – days of wild celebrations in cinematic form – the party designed for your camera. And what better place than Vrindavan, the birthplace of Krishna, and a Holi celebration over several days that is the most colourful and energetic in the land. You’ll weave through the celebrations, and take up vantage point to capture all the action as it unfolds.

Our exclusive tour starts in the calming blue city of Jodhpur, home to India’s highest caste, stepwells, and gorgeous architecture, and to-die-for shopping. We’ll capture a slice of society shooting reportage aboard a train to Jaipur, and munch delicious snacks in the famed alleyways of the Pink City.

At every step, we’ve weaved a route to give you a unique look at both modern and traditional India. From portraits of Brahmin families, young divers backflipping into centuries old pools, to the Taj Mahal at dusk – this is a photography holiday quite unlike anything else.

Shoot scenes few on the planet have witnessed, in a Holi celebration in two locations around Vrindavan.
Brush up on your food photography, with a photo/eating tour of Jaipur’s ancient alleyways.
Learn the art of black and white action photography at a centuries old Stepwell pool.
Practice long lens photography from our special vantage points over two glorious Holi celebration days.
Capture the incredible architecture of the famed Taj Mahal, learning travel photography secrets to shoot iconic locations (but in your own unique way).
See the streets that made Steve McCurry famous, a sea of indigo-hued houses in the heart of Jodhpur, India’s blue city.

Holi Photo Safari Itinerary.

We start in the ancient city of Jodhpur; our base one of the cities’ newest upscale sandstone hotels, the Radisson Jodhpur. There’s just time for a quick dip in the lap pool, or a treatment at the SVA Spa after your flight, then we’re into camera basics, quickly bringing ourselves up to speed with the manual functions of the camera, all in non-technical language. Those skills learned, we’re out for our first photo shoot – a breathtaking dusky view of the Meharangarh Fort – chance to capture the first of many shots that will make you smile. We’ll celebrate your arrival with a chilled raspberry Martini at the open-air rooftop bar inside the exclusive Raas hotel, at the very heart of the old city. A very warm welcome to India!

Next morning, we’ll head out on photo safari into this stunning blue-hued city, first reviewing some composition styles used by professional travel photographers to make their work stand out from the pack. Then after an exclusive lunch with a Brahmin family – the highest caste in Hinduism – we’ll tour the uniform indigo painted houses creating colour block images inspired by Steve McCurry, then complete our tour at the Toorji Ka Jhalra, a recently restored stepwell built in the 1740’s and now the best location for urban cliff jumping. We’ll take our positions, switch over to black and white, and shoot all the action as the light softens into the night.

Travelling by train in India is surely one of the ‘must-do’s’, so we’re up a little early this morning to catch the 12466 SF Express to Jaipur. With the soft morning light flooding the carriages, we’ll try our hand at documentary photography in perfect light, chance to tell a story about authentic Indian life, in a location that can’t be any more real. The shots our groups shoot on trains are consistently jaw-dropping, so you’ll be sure to add some gems to your collection.

We’ll check into the Narain Niwas Palace just before lunch, a 10-acre heritage-listed estate in the heart of the city, perfect to escape and unwind in. Later, we’ll take you on a quick tour by auto rickshaw through the highlights of the city – cameras in hand  – before drinks at Bar Palladio, the coolest bar in India (Vogue Magazine call it “supremely chic”, and we have to agree!).

This morning, we’ll head to the first of the Holi festivities – the Lathmar Holi. It reenacts a visit by Lord Krishna to his beloved Radha at her village, who apparently teased her and her friends. Taking offence to this, the women in the village chased him away. For Lathmar Holi, the ladies today playfully wave their sticks at the men, who try to ‘shield’ themselves as much as they can. The unlucky ones are captured by the enthusiastic women who then, make the men wear female clothing and dance in public. The whole scene is hilarious, energetic and wonderful to photograph.

Next morning, we’re back in Vrindavan for the Holi celebrations, darting around the streets with our expert guides seeking vantage points to shoot the colours unfolding, dipping into the crowd to shoot portraits of the local revellers, and venture towards the centre of the celebrations at the Bankey Bihari temple, built in 1864 and the most revered shrine in Vrindavan.

Later, back at the palace, we’ll celebrate all of our hard work with a final night’s party in the opulent grounds of the hotel, before an exhibition of all your work the next morning. Following one final 1-on-1 session to give detailed feedback on your progress, style and next steps, we bid farewell to new found friends and head homewards, back to Delhi for your evening international flight back home.

Next day, we head to the morning flower market, to shoot all the vibrant colours in soft light, before witnessing the darshan – an unbelievable hypnotic chanting ceremony in the grounds of the Govind Devji Temple.  Later, we’ll dive into the myriad backstreets of the city, tour the technicolour spice markets, observe the stunning pink architecture of the Hawa Mahal and get to grips with shooting high energy street scenes in saturated colours. Along the way, we’ll stop for a few snacks – or chaat – tasty Indian street food famous in Jaipur – and learn the fine art of travel food photography, getting tips on lighting, position and lens choice – for best effect.

Later, we’re back at the palace for chilled refreshments; its breezy verandahs and pool provide solace from the energy of downtown Jaipur. Here we will round of the day reviewing our creative hard work from the last few days, then dine on an open-air walled restaurant, waiters buzzing around bringing local delights for you to try.

And the next day is all yours – time to relax by the pool, the best shopping just metres in small boutiques in the hotel grounds, or head out to the famed Amber Fort and take an elephant tour to the summit. Your choice!

Today we head east to our final hotel, the majestic Laxmi Niwas Palace – completed in 1926 and a fine heritage hotel with ornate furnishings, huge pool and oversized rooms. En-route, we’ll stop off at Chand Baori, one of the most beautiful stepwells in India, and the location of several period Hollywood films. Built by King Chanda in 800AD, the well is 20m deep and 3500 steps on 13 levels – at the bottom of the well, the air remains 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface. Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.

Next day, a short drive later, we arrive in Agra in time to visit one of the icons of India at sundown – the Taj Mahal – the magnificent mausoleum which eptomises the golden age of Mughal architecture and the reign of Shah Jahan. After finding our spot for shooting the best images, we’ll choose to stay in the compound or shoot the sunset from a secret vantage point – almost tourist free – to shoot more images for your collection

Safari Details.

09 – 19 March, 2022
Spaces available.

10 days. 9 nights. Starts in Jodhpur, ends in Delhi, India.

£2995 / £395 single supplement

Price includes
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Street food tour of Jaipur, with guide
Express train from Jodhpur to Jaipur
Entrances to the Taj Mahal complex
Lunch at a local Brahmin home
Rickshaw rides in Jodhpur, Jaipur and Agra
Palmist reading from the Maharajah’s astrologer
Access to Lathmar Holi & Vrindavan Holi
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation between shooting locations
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions
All Indian Government Service Taxes

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are direct flights from the UK into Delhi from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air India, indirect flights via the Middle East with Etihad and Emirates. Prices start at around £350. You will also need a one way ticket from Delhi to Jodhpur at the start of the trip, prices start at £28.

"A wonderful way to travel & see the world - with excellent photography teaching and direction. An opportunity to get off the tourist trail and into the heart of the country’s people and culture - and develop your photography skills whether a beginner, hobbyist or professional."


Anil Iltas, Salisbury


Rajasthan

PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS   |  11 -21 NOVEMBER 2021 **AVAILABLE** |  TBC NOVEMBER2022**AVAILABLE** £2595

ALL SKILL LEVELS : PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR, INDIA

Whilst the rest of India might be modernising at pace, old Rajasthan endures, evoking rulers with giant moustaches, harems of beautiful women in the finest coloured silks and some of the most spectacular palaces ever built. Rajasthan is the jewel in India’s crown. 

Experience unforgettable nights in luxe heritage forts and opulently restored Havelis, using every imaginable mode of transport. And our handpicked collection of boutique hotels, gourmet dining spots and secret photographic locations will bring you the best India has to offer.

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“These tailor-made trips by firms like Creative Escapes give visitors an insider’s perspective of the countries they are touring, with local experts guiding them through unique experiences, in-the-know restaurants and places not normally open to the public, such as private vineyards and kitchens. While the hotels are top-notch and transportation is comfortable, these holidays are for those seeking something more—the acquisition of knowledge and new skills.”

Highlights.

If romance could be manufactured, Rajasthan would be a good place to make it. With its wild desert scenery, ancient sandcastle forts, pastel-coloured cities, dust-speckled light and its swathes of scarlet, fuschia and marigold textiles, India’s largest state is sure to induce a bout of wanderlust.

Located in the north-west of India and covering an area roughly the same as Germany, Rajasthan is relatively easy to get to, and travel around. It offers outstanding value for money and, arguably, has the most tightly packed collection of cultural sights of any Indian state, thanks to the legacies of the Rajput warriors and Mughal emperors. Yes, it can be noisy and frenetic, but, for soft adventure and sheer spectacle, Rajasthan is hard to beat.

Craft incredible travel photographs of the most famous fair in the world, Pushkar Mela
Shoot Jaipur’s iconic Hawa Mahal, and the opulent Amber Fort in dusky light
Capture the famous Taj Mahal from our secret vantage point at dawn
Learn reportage black-and-white photography aboard an overnight express train
Witness the ganga aarti, myriad candle-lit flower rafts floating on the Ganges
Try out fill-flashed portraits of saddhu’s, in our studio aside the river
Capture ‘atmosphere’ of thousands of hindu pilgrims bathing in holy water

Rajasthan Photo Safari Itinerary.

From touchdown into Delhi, we’ll whisk you off to our 15th-century fort in rural Rajasthan for some well needed R&R, chance to recover from the long flight. and ease you gently into the frenetic hubbub of India – the perfect start to your Rajasthan, India Photography Tour. We’ll start by reviewing some of the in camera techniques to prepare you to shoot in some of the epic locations on our Rajasthan odyssey – from the vast desert swathes of the Pushkar Camel Fair, the low-light positioning of the Taj Mahal at dawn, and the energy from hundreds of pilgrims rushing to bathe in the Ganges.

Each, a new set of techniques to add your your repertoire. Then a dinner on the terraces in palatial surroundings, the perfect start to our Indian adventures.

Up early, we depart our royal retreat and take the road to Pushkar, the holy city, and check-in to the stunning lakeside Pushkar Palace. Built by the Maharajah of Jaisalmer in the 15th century, this small palace has fabulous, panoramic views of the city. On arrival, we’ll take a seat on the shores and dive straight into our next task, learning how to bring some narrative into our images – capturing faces and expressions in the myriad scenes throughout the city – before venturing out to explore the Brahma temple – the only one in India.

Towards dusk, we’ll don our small backpacks and head out to the jaw dropping Camel Fair. Held each November at the time of the Kartik Purnima full moon, Pushkar Camel Fair is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences, a spectacle on an epic scale, attracting more than 11,000 camels, horses and cattle and visited by over 400,000 people over a period of around fourteen days. For visitors it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the colour, spectacle and carnival of one of the last great traditional melas, which brings livestock, farmers, traders and villagers from all over Rajasthan.. Over two days, we’ll shoot a number of assignments, from formal portraits under canopy, to dusty reportage of the days events, to sublime sunset vistas over the campgrounds. We guarantee this is one photo-shoot you will never forget.

Today, we depart our camp retreat and take the short hop to Jaipur, the regal capital of Rajasthan. Late afternoon, we’ll take a trip towards the Amber Fort, a truly beautiful palace atop a hill overlooking Jaipur. We now skip the decorative elephants leading you to the top in light of many recent concerns about animal cruelty – instead weave a route by Jeep to the top. The tour is an event itself,  an exploration to shoot the opulent interiors of the Fort; from the tiny Siladevi Temple, with inlaid silver doors, to the maharajah’s apartments and the Sukh Niwas (Hall of Pleasure); carved marble relief panels into ivory-inlaid sandalwood doors and a channel that once cooled water right through the room. From the Jai Mandir you can photograph the fine views from the palace ramparts over picturesque Maota Lake below or capture the melee ‘reportage’ style all around you. Finally, we descend again by jeep and return to our haveli for some rooftop sundowners, and kick back to watch the sun gently falling over the horizon.

Next morning, we dive into the myriad backstreets of the city, tour the technicolour spice markets, observe the stunning pink architecture of the Hawa Mahal and get to grips with shooting high energy street scenes in saturated colours. Along the way, we’ll stop for a few snacks – or chaat – tasty Indian street food featured by Gordon Ramsay. Our stunning haveli (or Indian mansion) is in the plush central district and its breezy verandahs and pool provide solace from the energy of downtown Jaipur. Here we will round of the day reviewing our creative hard work from the last few days, then dine on an open-air terrace, waiters buzzing around bringing local delights for you to try.

Today we head to Agra – the home of the Taj Mahal. En-route, we’ll stop off at Chand Baori, one of the most beautiful stepwells in India, and the location of several period Hollywood films. Built by King Chanda in 800AD, the well is 20m deep and 3500 steps on 13 levels – at the bottom of the well, the air remains 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface. Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat. A short drive later, we arrive in Agra in time to visit one of the icons of India at sundown – the Taj Mahal – the magnificent mausoleum which eptomises the golden age of Mughal architecture and the reign of Shah Jahan. After finding our spot for shooting the best images, we’ll retire to our haveli haven and sample a modern interpretation of Indian cuisine.

After a restful nights sleep, we’ll rise extra early, locate our secret location to take some incredible images of the sun rising over the Taj Mahal, and shoot away in a sea of orange light, before heading off early afternoon to the buzzing Agra station, chance to capture modern Indian life in a classic documentary style. Early evening, we’ll board our sleeper train to Varanasi, meeting locals from all walks of life and shooting some memorable documentary and portrait images, before drifting off to the gentle, hypnotic movement of the train travelling through the night.

Arriving just after dawn, we’ll transfer directly to our plush heritage hotel close to the banks of the Ganges, and take some time to unwind in the lovely surroundings. We’ll hold some 1-on-1’s today to give you a detailed personal review of where you are at, then head out towards dusk for our first look at the Ganges, and the Ganga Aarti, a spiritual ritual using fire as an offering, usually made in the form of a flower raft with a lit candle, that’s floated off down the river. It’s a truly incredible spectacle and a photogenic wonder.

We spend the early morning on board our private boat, touring the ghats to witness the hoards of Hindu pilgrims bathing in the Ganges river’s sacred waters. You’ll observe funeral rights, and tour the winding backstreets, home to over 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, “Golden Temple’, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This is one of India’s most beautiful, crazy, colourful and chaotic places; it’s a veritable smorgasbord for any photographer and an expeience you’re not likely to ever forget. Together, we’ll develop a final portfolio of images, ready to show on our final nights exhibition; be that portraits of expressive saddhus, using a remote fill flash and softbox (a la Joey L), saturated reportage shots of Hindu pilgrims bathing in the river, richly coloured night shots of dusk at this most spiritual of places or the everyday humour of this bizarre city. The possibilities are truly endless. Along the way, we’ll be there to assist your production, edit your best and then prepare for our exhibition show and final night’s celebration.

Our 11-day pilgrimage takes in the photographic highlights of this picturesque state, from world renowed festivals, to iconic buildings and one of the most visually stunning places in all of India. Welcome to Creative Escapes’ tour of Rajasthan.

Tour Details.

11 – 21 November 2021
Available

TBA November 2022
Available

11 days. 10 nights. Starts in Delhi, ends in Varanasi, India.

£2595 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
10 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
11 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Entrance passes to Pushkar Mela, with guide
Overnight sleeper from Agra to Varanasi
All transfers to and from the airport
Boat ride on Ganges
All transportation between shooting locations
Private photoshoot of the Chand Baori
Dusk aarti on the shores of the Ganges
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are direct flights from the UK into Delhi from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air India. Prices start at around £400. You will also need a one way ticket from Varanasi back to Delhi at the end of the trip, prices start at £50.

"A wonderful way to travel& see the world with excellent photography teaching and direction. An opportunity to get off the tourist trail and into the heart of the country’s people and culture and develop your photography skills whether a beginner, hobbyist or professional."


Anil Iltas, Salisbury


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Sahara

SAHARA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY   |   5 - 14 NOVEMBER 2021  ** AVAILABLE ** |   5 - 14 NOVEMBER 2022 ** AVAILABLE **   |   £2480

SAHARA TOURS MOROCCO

Few places in the world are as otherworldly as the Sahara Desert, wrapped in folklore and romantic exoticism; a place to get away from it all, enjoy unique adventures and gawk at the milky way.

Our ten-day Sahara photography tour takes you deep into desert, to Erg Chigaga, and our luxury tented camp. Here we’ll trek by camel photographing remote nomadic tribes in situ, dine out under the stars with the Gnawa band, shoot famous film sets and enjoy true adventure straight from the pages of literature. This stunning journey is a must for the inquisitive traveller.

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“Photographers can start by capturing the snake charmers and souks of Marrakech and then move deeper into the bosomy dunes where subject matter ranges from nomadic Bedouin camel herders and Tuareg tea ceremonies, to ancient gnawa music played out on goatskin drums and unforgettable sunsets and sunrises. Not forgetting the myriad forms of the dunes themselves.”

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Highlights.

A fount of solitude and the desert of childhood imaginings, the Sahara Desert is like nowhere else on earth. It is the world’s largest desert, at once continental in its scale and exquisite in its detail, from a sand sea the size of a small European country to an orange sand dune sculpted to perfection by the wind.

Yes, we investigate all of the excitement of the myriad souks, jaw dropping architecture and bustle of Marrakech, but the Sahara is where few tourists have ever been – and it shows. Friendly people living on the fringes of society, this is chance to shoot images of a culture few have ever witnessed.

Street reportage in the Marrakechi medina; incredible light and scenes
Shoot stunning portraits of underground hammam stokers
Capture street life in one of the only authentic Berber villages in Marrakech
Try our still life in Yves St Laurents famous garden
Snap panoramics landscapes on the set of Gladiator, Game of Thrones and Jason Bourne
Shoot nomadic tribespeople in their homes, far from tourist eyes
Try out star trails at midnight, with the band playing in the background

Morocco Photography Holidays : Itinerary.

Twenty minutes after touchdown on your Sahara Photography Holiday, you’ll be at Tigmi, our luxe boutique hideaway Harpers Bazaar called ‘a blissed out haven’. With breath-taking views over the Atlas mountains, this is the perfect place to relax, unwind and discover your creativity.

Today, we’ll start slowly – starting with the basics of photography, right from the very beginning, all in non-techy language. In no time, you’ll start to realise all these buttons, switches and dials are quite easy when you know how –and we’ll take some initial practice shots at dusk in the Berber village of Tagadert, before unwinding in the spectacular dining hall, sampling our first of many glasses of superb Moroccan vino.

Next morning, we’ll try our hand at being paparazzi, then test out all of our lenses to see which ones really shine. Then into the medina in Marrakech, trying out some composition techniques in Yves St. Laurent’s private garden, then, after a quick bite at a local’s hangout off the Djemaa El-Fna square, we’ll take out first peek at the souq – myriad bazaars lacing the core of this ancient medina.

Here, we’ll capture artisans crafting fine leathers, carpets and jewellery, plus go to a secret underground location to meet the hammam stokers. We’ll round off the day at Café Arabe – drinking chilled sundowners and watch the sun dip down over the Atlas Mountains.

Up early, we climb Morocco’s most dramatic (and highest) pass, the Tizi-n-Tichka along the former caravan route towards Ait Benhaddou, a spectacularly photogenic UNESCO World Heritage Site, location to films such as Lawrence Of Arabia, The Jewel Of The Nile and Gladiator. We’ll shoot inside its kasbah, a fortified village known for its pisé clay architecture – touring the houses of the few remaining residents who still live in its crumbled ruins.

Continuing our journey south, we’ll catch the pink tinges of sunset across the beautiful Oases in the lush Draa Valley, and a glass of something refreshing in M’Hamid, our stop for the night and the end of the road before the Sahara begins. Early next morning, we’ll board our fleet of Land Cruisers and into the desert, bathed in orange hues as far as the eye can see. After a couple of hours journey over some of Morocco’s biggest dunes – and stops to capture this incredible natural beauty – we reach Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp, our palatial home for the next few days.

Fresh from a restful sleep amid the dunes – the team at Erg Chigaga will cater to your every need – starting with a hearty breakfast. This morning, we’ll turn our attention to the next stage of your photography; people pictures. We’ll run through step-by-step professional techniques on how to shoot the best portrait and documentary images.

After lunch, we’ll venture by camel to a nearby nomadic settlement, and photograph travelling desert-dwellers who live and work in this harsh climate – chance to put all the lessons learned into practice. As the sun begins to dip, we’ll have our own private tea ceremony, atop the dunes, shooting Bedouin herders chatting over a charcoal fire, and after setting up our own pop-up ‘dune bar’ – witness the ever-moving spectacle of a desert being transformed from a mass of undulating orange sand into red, then purple then finally jet black. Magical.

This morning, we’ll review yesterday’s images, giving you individual hints and tips to improve your work, before climbing aboard our Land Cruisers once more, hunting in teams for more remote Nomadic encampments close to the Algerian border. As these camps frequently move, our team, communicating by radio, will triangulate travelling communities deep in the desert – giving you a truly unique chance to capture some stunning, rarely seen images of elders, children, parents and living conditions in this unforgiving, remote place.

Lunch will be provided on the fly, as we refine our technique under the watchful eye of your tutor to produce incred- ible images. Later, we’ll dine out under the stars, and review our finest images projected under the night skies, then relax around a blazing bonfire, where Bedouin musicians with goatskin drums and electric guitars will sing you soulful Gnawa ballads to while the evening away.

And for those with energy to spare, the stars are the brightest you will ever see – late late we set off on night safari; a days shooting to remember.

Today we leave the camp, and head North West towards Foum Zguid – a longer route out of the desert, but chock full of photographic opportunities. As we depart the dunes, we’ll indulge ourselves in some black and white desert scapes, continue more portraits with the characters at the Auberge Iriki, plus spend time capturing the majestic rock formations that fringe the desert.

As the sand turns into gravel and then tarmac, we’ll head towards Taznakht, a small town central to carpet production, and shoot Berbers in situ. Returning back to our blissed out haven at Tigmi late afternoon, there’s just time to unwind in the hammam – the antioxidant massage – with argan, camellia seeds, evening primrose and fennel is perfect for ironing out any final creases from our road trip. We’ll also host our second set of 1-on-1’s, chance to discuss your progress and help prepare for your final piece of work over the last couple of days – before indulging ourselves with the chef’s famous moelleux au chocolat and a restful nights snoozing.

Chance for some ‘you time’ today –and with the weather in the mid-twenties, you can choose to catch some rays, a swim in one of two tadelakt pools, or another treatment in the hammam – we definitely recommend the steam scrub, with savon noir and and geranium oils that will leave your skin looking silky smooth. The final day before departure we spend working on a final project of your choice – basing ourselves in the heart of the medina, we’ll bring together all the skills you’ve learned to produce one concluding killer piece of work, shown on our outdoor screen over drinks later that night, before we head out to Bo&Zin, an opulent restaurant populated by the local elite, and celebrate all of our creative achievements. Next morning, we host our final 1-on-1 sessions to give you a detailed review of where your skills lie, where to concentrate your photography next, plus some sugges- tions on kit to enhance your images – before departing for the flight back home with new-found friends, a bag full of images and some once-in-a- lifetime memories.

Morocco Photo Tour Details.

5 – 14 November, 2021
Available

4 – 13 November, 2022
Available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in Marrakech, Morocco.

£2480 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Full board and complimentary bar at Erg Chicaga Luxury Desert Camp
Entrance to Yves St Laurent garden, Jardin Majorelle
Guided tour around Ait Benhaddou film set
Private portrait session with underground Hammam stokers
4×4 Jeep and Camel transportation inside the Sahara desert
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Entrance to nomad villages, with tea
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are direct flights from the UK into Marrakech, serviced by British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Thomson and Royal Air Maroc. Flights start from £75.

"Thank you for an amazing Moroccan adventure! I learnt so much and had such an incredible time! Creative Escapes is a fantastic company, the whole experience was excellent - from initial queries about the trip, throughout the booking process, and of course - the 10 days away. Great balance of photography, learning, and having fun!"


Sophie Bradley, Southampton


Cuba

CUBA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS  |  8 - 18 NOVEMBER 2021 **WAITING LIST** |  7 - 17 NOVEMBER 2022 | ** AVAILABLE ** | £2670

CUBA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

 Wave after wave of convertible Buicks pass you by as you stroll looking for sunset views over the Malecon. Behind you, the faded, colonial architecture of Habana Vieja, slowly being restored brick-by-brick. Cigar smoke scents the air and all around, the sounds of the Buena Vista Social Club start to hum. This is our award-winning Cuba photography tour.

Come experience eleven days of turquoise Caribbean seas, lush tropical plantations, step-back-in-time museum towns and the unmissable Havana. We’ll snooze in some of the best, dine in local paladares and get to the very heart of both rural and urban.

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Selected as one of our Top 10 Photography Holidays, you “shoot Havana’s fading colonial architecture, learn techniques for close-ups of its famed murals, and take some black-and-whites at a cigar factory – before reviewing your pics over mojitos and checking out the local music scene. You’ll also head out to rural Cuba for portraits of tobacco farmers and capture the dusk light over the limestone mogote hills. The trip ends with a pop-up exhibition in Havana.”

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Highlights.

Like everything that happens in Cuba, the reported ‘US tourist invasion’ is taking it’s time. American travellers can only visit under strict visa restrictions, such as educational or professional visits – and tourism is still technically illegal. This has meant just a minor increase on numbers from last year, so this isle of intrigue, romance and politics quite unlike any other, is still muy autentica.

There are rousing rhythms, dancing in cobblestone streets (for real), wafting cigar smoke, a bounty of beaches and a Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack to accompany every style of journey. And ours takes in the highlights.

We’ve been running trips here for years – garnered awards for them even – and know all the best bars, restaurants, shooting locations and people in the know to make our photography tour to Cuba really rather special.

Meet with Roberto Salas, Castro’s personal photographer, at his house
Capture incredible street images of Habana Vieja; faded murals, crumbling buildings and of course those decrepit 50’s Buicks
Shoot professional cigar rollers, in an exclusive location frequented by celebs
Create timeless black-and-white portraits of tobacco farmers in Vinales
Craft panoramics of the stunning mogotes – limestone cliffs in lush plantations
Exclusive access to photograph the Cuban Royal Ballet in their classrooms*
Practice interior photography in one of Havana’s finest mansions
Try out sports photography in a famed outdoor boxing gym
Snap the hotel where Al Capone used to meet all the mafiosi
Try out documentary photography on a rickety old train deep into the Cuban countryside
Create images right out of the pages of travel magazines, in our dusk shoot in ancient Trinidad

Cuba Photography Tour Itinerary.

We’ll transport you right off the plane downtown to our 5 ****** hotel fronting the sea in downtown Havana, where you’ll get a first glimpse of the sights, sounds and jaw dropping architecture of this incredible city. Then after a restful sleep & leisurely breakfast, we’ll dive into the basics of camera control and operation – and head off to shoot some street scenes in the old town.

Later, we’ll get our first view of Cuban life (and catch some rays) in the back seat of a 1950’s convertible Buick and cruise along the Malecón towards Revolucion Square, to witness where Fidel used to address over a million Cubans in his famous rallies. You’ll get to shoot parts of Havana most tourists never see, stopping en route to practice your new found skills. Come evening, we’ll soak up the buzz at a local paladar – Cuban gourmet restaurants – and sample local delights in an elegant mansion setting which retains its original 1948 furniture, decor and artwork.

This morning, we’ll arise early, to shoot the vintage cars arriving in the main square, chance to get some incredible shots of these museum pieces in situ, then it’s off deep into Habana Vieja, and revere the incredible architecture, street scenes and life in this stunning part of Havana. You’ll try out some techniques in composition not found in pages of the monthly magazines, giving your images extra impact and interest.

Later, we’ll take you to a private cigar rolling house far from the tourist masses, and get your own cigar made to your exact requirements for a special souvenir. We’ll also swing by the house of Roberto Salas – Castro’s personal photographer – who will regale you with stories of Che & Fidels revolutionary adventures, and show you his incredible work.

Next day, we’re off to Vinales, popularly known as the ‘Garden of Cuba’. Here lush, hilly landscapes provide panoramic views over tobacco, coffee, sugar cane, oranges and avocados in an atmosphere of almost complete serenity. After a delicious lunch on an organic farm overlooking the Silencio valley, we’ll swing by a working tobacco farm, shoot some portraits of local farmers, and learn how to roll our own. We’ll then explore the scenic valleys further, punctuated by a series of limestone karst hill formations, or mogotes.

On our return, we’ll hold the first of our 1-on-1 sessions, spending time with you individually to assess you progress and give you tailored advice on ways to help take your images to that next level.

This morning, we’ll take a drive south east to Trinidad, a UNESCO-listed town and perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where the clocks stopped in 1850 and have yet to restart. In the early 19th century, huge fortunes were amassed from the sugar trade, creating illustrious colonial-style mansions bedecked with Italian frescoes, Wedgwood china and French chandeliers. The shooting possibilities here are endless. You’ll get to see the rural Cuba en route, trying out your landscape skills,  then we’ll celebrate our arrival with a ‘Canchanchara’ a chilled cocktail made with rum, honey and lime which is the speciality of Trinidad; later, we’ll swing by an open air acoustic concert in the heart of the old town, right under the stars.

Next day, up early the next day to catch the morning rays, we’ll take our seats on board our 1919 wooden-carriage train and journey to the once formidable Valle de Los Ingenios, the sugar-caned landscapes. In between shooting some glorious landscapes, here we’ll hold more 1-on-1’s – individual reviews of your images to date, observations on your photography style, plus ongoing support to take your work to that next level. That night, we’ll review the work on the big screen, giving you plenty of professional tips on how to improve your photographs.

Today, you’ll learn the art of black and white photography in the cobbled streets of ancient Trinidad – and understand how to tell stories using your photography. We’ll review images of past masters, then take to the streets, along with your tutor watching closeby, and craft some timeless images of a town steeped in history.

Next day is you time; perhaps you’d like to head off on ‘seafari’ to Cayo Blanco island, a tropical island famed for its powder white beaches, stunning coral – and lobster BBQ’s! Or  you could head for Playa Ancon, a precious ribbon of bleached white sand and crystal azure sea 12km from Trinidad; for the more energetic, head somewhere cooler and do some mountain trekking in the Topes de Collantes, 20 minutes north. This former Che hangout has breathtaking pine trails and culminates in a refreshing dip in the stunning El Cubano waterfall.

This morning, we’ll make our way back via the famous Bay of Pigs, and the incredible architecture of Cienfuegos. Here, and later at sunset in the dusky streets of old Havana, we’ll further develop our documentary photography skills, pictures that tell a story, and learn pro skills in narrative, positioning & engagement.

Next day, chance to go behind the scenes today of the real Cuba, on our guided photo walk to some of the most incredible locations in Havana – including a mix of shooting dancers at the Cuban National Ballet (*permission granted on the day), interiors at the finest and most beautiful private houses in Havana, portraits of artists in an artisan community west of the city, documentary B&Ws at a 50’s government owned ice cream parlour, still life in a hotel where Al Capone used to meet all the mafia bosses, plus sunset shots of boxers training in a stunning outdoor gym, and street documentary of life before the night starts in the backdrop of fading architecture, fifties automobiles and the faint whisper of music.

This is a smorgasbord of photographic delights, and chance to test all your new found talents behind the camera, before our final presentation and show of all our best images of the week, at our very own ‘pop-up’ photo exhibition over some refreshing mojitos.

lazy morning – with some free time to take in the last few glimpses of this incredible city – and chance to get some 1-on-1 feedback from our professionals on your progress, your emerging style and tips on where next to take your photography. We’ll share a final lunch together, before departing back to the airport for the flight home.

Cuba Photography Tour Details.

8 – 18 November, 2021
Waiting list

7 – 17 November, 2022
Available

11 days. 10 nights. Starts and ends in Havana, Cuba.

£2670 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
10 nights accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
11 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Private audience with Roberto Salas at his house
Private entry to exclusive cigar rolling house, with cigar
Entry to the Royal Cuban Ballet (permission granted on the day)
Private photoshoot at a famous boxing gym in old Havana
Guided walk, with lunch, through the tobacco fields in Vinales
Private photoshoot inside one of Havana’s best interiors
Group transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Train ride through rural Cuba
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

Virgin Atlantic fly direct from the UK into Havana, starting from £650. There are a multitude of other flights with minimal connections using KLM, Air France, Iberia and more, from £450.

"I had a fantastic time in Cuba last month with CE, my first group holiday of any kind & I was nervous but need not have worried! Hotels, guide, tutor & locations all excellent plus the company of a lovely bunch of fellow travellers made it a very enjoyable memorable trip! Thank you!"


Jo Wimbush, London


Costa Rica

COSTA RICA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY   |   22 APRIL - 1 MAY, 2022 **AVAILABLE**  |   £3200

COSTA RICA PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS

Sandwiched by the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the Caribbean Sea on the other, with lush jungles, pristine beaches, never-ending wildlife, and lots of happy people in between – this is surely one of the most beautiful countries in Central America. 

Our 10-day Costa Rica photography holiday combines exhilarating adventure, captivating wildlife, gorgeous coastlines and neck-aching volcanoes; you’ll see such vibrant, deep shades of green you’ll think there’s been an addition to the colour spectrum.

There is truly something for everyone in Costa Rica, the country that holds number one position on the Happy Planet Index. It won’t take long to realise why …

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“Gone are the days when photography holidays meant seeking out Athena poster images of palm-draped beaches or fluorescent cocktails backlit by a golden sunset. On Creative Escapes’ photography tours, you’re not going to end up with hackneyed shots; Instead, the company’s ultra-contemporary trips focus on giving a thorough understanding of cameras and creative techniques by homing in on some of the city’s coolest spots.”

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Highlights.

Costa Rica is tiny, smaller than Wales, but huge in versatility, with coasts on two oceans, coral-lined beaches and active volcanoes, luxury resorts and surf camps, roaring streams and rich biodiversity.

According to the most recent Happy Planet Index, which aims to measure human well-being and environmental impact, Costa Rica came out top as the most satisfying place to live on the planet.  Britain, on the other hand, languishes in 34th.

It’s coffee is some of the best in the world, trickles of tourists (so plenty of space to shoot); it has four UNESCO World Heritage sites, a quarter of the country is part of a protected forest or reserve – there are not one but fourteen volcanoes and it’s tropical rainforests are often referred to as “jewels of the earth”, as they are home to two-thirds of all living animal and plant species on the planet.

Learn the art of street photography in the backstreets of San Jose, not a tourist in sight
Shoot inside the jungle at night; vibrantly lit tree snakes, tarantulas and red eye frogs in their natural habitat
Create sweeping panoramics from elevated positions deep in the cloud forest
Craft rich black-and-white reportage photography at a working coffee plantation
Snap the vibrant emerald lakes of Irazu, an active volcano at 3,342m
Set up a beach studio, capturing portraits of local ticos

Costa Rica photography tour itinerary.

It’s only a short hop from the airport to our luxury boutique hotel in the heart of San Jose – Costa Rica’s spectacularly set capital city – ringed by jagged mountains, lush planta- tions and volcanoes on all sides. Our hotel, the Grano de Oro, is the finest hotel here, a 40-room former Victorian mansion, is a true oasis, a sanctuary in the heart of the city. Here we begin the basics of photography; understanding in very non-techy language how to confidently use your camera. Later, we’ll swing by some of the opulent museums of gold and jade, capture some colourfully arresting murals and hipster buskers in historic neighbourhoods, and then kick back and drink the buzzing night- time atmosphere at Calle La Amargula. Welcome to the world’s happiest place!

Today, we head north, to Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve, extending over 35,000 acres and eight life zones atop the Continental Divide. Home to over 100 species of mammals, 1,200 amphibians plus jaguars, pumas and the resplendent quetzal, we’ll check into our junior suites, and get ready for our first adventure. At nightfall, a new world awakes in the clouds, and we’ll be there to capture the nocturnal biodiversity of the tropical forest by flashlight, led by experienced guides. Next day, we’ll delve further into the skills required to shoot great nature photography, then board the sky tram. Soon, high inside the forest, we’ll walk along sky trails at the level of the treetops, with spectacular views of the entire Biological reserve. Then, for those brave enough, we’ll descend 2.5 kilometres of ziplines up to 40mph, chance to silently observe the forest in all it’s might.

Costa Rica is home to a great number of volcanoes, six being active and another 61 dormant or extinct. Today, we’ll venture first to Irazu, the highest volcano in Costa Rica, from which on a clear day you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. After an afternoon shooting over the emerald lake and surrounding moonscapes, we’ll take a short drive to Turrialba, to our stunning ranch with fabulous views of an active volcano – chance to learn the art of night photography in plush, safe surroundings. Next day, we’ll switch into black and white mode, going behind the scenes at a working coffee plantation, chance to get your hands dirty roasting beans, grinding, blending then a private tasting (and some liqueurs too).

East today, to the Caribbean, to where the flora and fauna meets gorgeous beaches, crystal clear blue waters and unspoilt, authentic seaside towns. Here we’ll chill, chance to get into the Caribbean rhythm, and capture portraits in this untouched paradise. Today, we’ll find our own adventures, meeting rainforest fruit farmers, local surfers, and hawkers cooking up a storm in their rickety shacks. This is Costa Rica in second gear, and a smorgasbord of photographic opportunities to capture one of the last original communities. In your freetime, take a snooze in the grounds of our luxury hotel, learn how to surf, or learn the art of creole cookery in our lunchspot at Maxims. Later, we’ll review all of the shots of the day, beachside – with cocktails, of course.

Our final stop back to the luxurious Grano de Oro, chance to put all your skills in portraiture, documentary, action, nature and landscape photography into practice, and work closely with your tutor to develop some shots for our final nights pop up exhibition in the grounds of the hotel. We’ll help pinpoint your emerging technique, give you tips on where to develop your skills, and some advice on the best kind of kit to suit your style. Finally, to round the trip off, we’ll host a pop-up outdoor exhibition overlooking the city of San Jose, then head out to celebrate all of our creative exploits. Next day, you’ll have time to relax and explore Costa Rica one last time before the plane flight home.

Details of photography holiday in Costa Rica.

22 April – 1 May, 2022
Spaces available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica.

£3200 / £395 Single Supplement

Price includes 
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Entrance to Monteverde Cloud Forest
Private night shoot in the jungle, with guide
Ziplining in the Cloud Forest
Private tour of coffee plantation, with samples
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation between shooting locations
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

British Airways operate twice-weekly flights into San Jose from the UK. Virgin Atlantic and Delta also operate a codeshare via Atlanta, with minimal connection times. Prices start from £500.

"A fantastic experience. The venues for each day's shoot are varied and well chosen, and the instruction is great, tailored for the people on the course. The restaurants are good too, with a variety of styles and cuisines, as is the hotel. There's a wonderful atmosphere on the course, working hard on the assignments, reviewing each other's work, and relaxing in the evenings."


Andrew Merritt, Oxford


Yosemite

YOSEMITE | 07 - 17 OCTOBER 2021  ** AVAILABLE **  | 06 - 16 OCTOBER 2022  ** AVAILABLE ** | £3295 

YOSEMITE PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS CALIFORNIA USA

Yosemite, Death Valley, Joshua Tree … California’s parks are home to some of the most iconic views and landscapes on the planet. And we’ll see all of them on our Yosemite Photography Tours.

From the cerulean skies over Joshua Tree – completely devoid of light pollution – capture the vivid Milky Way, light falling gently over the trees and outsized boulders that dot the landscape; then north to the rugged expanse of Death Valley, and watch the late afternoon light tint the mountains at the lowest point of the USA. Finally, you’ll explore Yosemite’s granite wonderland, watching myriad waterfalls cascade into a sheer glacial valley.

There is only one California photography road trip.

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“Creative Escapes are a good option if you want a dedicated learning holiday. Group sizes are small, meaning there’s more 1-on-1 time with tutors, less competition for spots to shoot from and plenty of supportive group critiques.
Creative Escapes – the name says it all!”

Wanderlust logo

Highlights.

People have flocked to California ever since the gold rush 1848-1855, with high expectations.  No place on earth can match California in terms of diversity and beauty; it has the largest, tallest and oldest trees in the world (Sequoia, Redwood and Bristlecone Pine). And one of the highest waterfalls in the world – Yosemite Falls, and one what many consider the best view on the whole American continent – Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. All part of our trip!

Along the way, explore mid-century Modernist architecture in Palm Springs, shoot some pics on a 30’s Wild West set, and sample some of the finest wines California has to offer.

Learn the art of the ‘opening shot’ deep inside Joshua Tree National Park
Shoot the 50’s architectural splendour of downtown Palm Springs
Create mysterious documentary images in Salton Sea, an abandoned town
Refine your composition skills on a Western movie set, Pioneer Town
Bag some famous travel vistas along Route 66, and Roys Cafe
Shoot the salt flats, moonscapes and moonlit dunes in the lowest point of the USA at Death Valley
Set-up your spot in myriad locations made famous by Ansel Adams

Yosemite Photography Tour Itinerary.

After touching down in LAX on the first day of your Yosemite Photography Holiday, we’ll whisk you off to our chic retreat – and chance to first meet the team who will be leading you on this tour of Calfornia, and unwind after a long flight. After a restful nights sleep, and a hearty American Diner breakfast, we hit the highway towards Coachella Valley, through the spectacular wind farms and arrive in Palm Springs in time for lunch at our boutique hotel, our base for the next few days shooting. Come the afternoon, we’ll start with an exposure session, learning all about your camera, then a tour of the area’s famous art deco architecture. You’ll then have time to relax around the pool and spa, then end the day with drinks and dinner at the uber-chic Parker Hotel, just down the strip.

A short landscape class in the morning looking at master landscape photographers will prepare you for our first shooting encounter in the afternoon, Joshua Tree. With its surreal geologic features, we will learn techniques on how to spot, approach and capture to best effect varied landscapes, in rapidly shifting light conditions. Later, we’ll review our images poolside, our team giving you both individual and group feedback on your images. Next morning, we’ll spend time looking at composition, finding more unusual approaches to make your images stand out from the norm – taking composition beyond the postcard ‘syndrome’ – then back out to visit Pioneer Town, an old ghost town with a saloon, church, working post office, and some very interesting locals – chance to step back in time and shoot the Wild West.

We set off first thing for Death Valley, arriving at the Furnace Creek in time for lunch. Our afternoon session will teach you how to understand light and prepare you for tonight’s first sunset shoot in this unique landscape. Later, your tutor will give a live demo – chance to learn some insider tips that will elevate your images to that next level. We then shoot a sequence of dusk images on the valley floor, and on into the darkness to shoot long exposures at night, in conditions with almost zero light pollution.

Next day, a whole day’s shoot in monumental Death Valley awaits, starting with a short trip to the salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in America (and the hottest place on earth). We’ll then catch the afternoon light on the Ubehebe Crater, located in the black volcanic sands in the northern half of the valley, before setting up our tripods in the Mesquite Sand Dunes, to pay photographic homage to the likes of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. A day’s photography at its very best.

Up early, we head north towards the eastern end of Yosemite, stopping to take a break in the eastern foothills of America’s most famous national park. Next day, we take our skills to the next level, entering into the east gate in the park made famous by Ansel Adams, and reveal techniques on how to ‘see’ in Black and White, understanding tones and the Zone system, plus see how filters in-camera can make dramatic effects to your images. We’ll take our first glimpse at the valley floor, touring all the major locations made famous by Ansel Adams, and trying our hand at some of the techniques he used to create his world renowned images. Later, we’ll review the best of the day on the big screen, with the backdrop of the sun setting over Yosemite National parklands – and hold some 1-on-1 sessions to personally tune your work – before some well deserved fine dining in a locals restaurant.

Over the next few days, we leave behind the trail left by Ansel Adams, and document our own version of Yosemite National Park, touring a multitude of incredible locations by dawn, daytime and dusky conditions. With 1-on-1 live tuition at each location, we’ll shoot Horsetail Falls in rich, sunset light, get incredible vistas over Half Dome shot from Glacier Point, then south to Mariposa Grove to capture the centuries-old Giant Sequoia’s. We’ll take our time at Tunnel View, waiting for the best light on El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall – this is two full days – a smorgasbord of the finest locations the Park has to offer, and you’ll bag each one in turn, amassing a killer collection of epic landscapes, in time for our outdoor pop-up exhibition and final nights feast, chance to revel in just how far we have come on our photographic journey through California.

Next morning, you’ll have chance to get some final 1-on-1 feedback from your professional tutors on your progress emerging style and tips on where next to take your photography. Before lunch, we sadly say our farewells, exchange email addresses with new found friends (and creative collaborators) and board the plane back home – chance to reflect on 11 days odyssey through magical California, from art-deco chic of Palm Springs, the historic Wild West beyond Joshua Tree, sparkling crystalline salt formations at the base of Death Valley – and it’s myriad alien landscapes to boot quite unlike anywhere else. And finally, Yosemite, the World’s most photogenic national park, where you’ll amass a bagful of photographic trophies, and complete the experience of our road trip of a lifetime.

Tour Details.

7 – 17 October, 2021
Spaces Available.

6 – 16 October, 2022
Spaces Available.

11 days. 10 nights. Starts and ends in Los Angeles, California.

£3295 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
10 days boutique accommodation at listed hotels (or similar)
11 days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Entry passes to Yosemite, Death Valley & Joshua Tree National Parks
Entrances to Pioneer Town, Bodie, Ubehebe Crater, Mesquite & Mono Lake
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Night shoot in Death Valley
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, all meals.

 

There are many direct flights from the UK into LA, serviced by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and more. Prices start from £500.

"Trip was great. The tutor was absolutely brilliant - great on the technical side obviously but also very thoughtful in his feedback, challenging where he needed to be - and a great laugh overall.  "


Courtney Waterman, London


Nepal photography tour

Nepal

NEPAL PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS   | 3 - 13 MARCH 2022 **AVAILABLE** £2480

NEPAL PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS

Few places on earth fascinate and capture the imagination more than Nepal. This vibrant, breathtaking country offers a rich canvas on which to further develop your passion for photography – on our 10-day Nepal Photography Tour.

With daytime temperatures averaging 26c, its the perfect time of year to escape to the Himalayas and immerse yourself in the spectacular landscapes of Pokhara and Kathmandu – taking time to shoot portraits of returning Everest sherpas, go trekking with a Gurkha, explore the myriad medieval streets of Thamel, plus tour the lush forests of Chitwan National Park, capturing tigers, leopards and rare dolphins.

Experience unforgettable nights in authentic Nepali hideaways, mountainview retreats and boutique, luxury hotels, using every imaginable mode of transport, from elephant to rickshaws to good old-fashioned hiking boots.

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“These guys have got it right. Tuition seems effortless, even the most hardened luddite of the group grasped each of the lessons straight away. Before you know it, you realise that you have the ability to take any photographs in any situation. And that feels good. Throw in top hospitality and plenty of socialising makes this two-thumbs up”.

HORDALAND FOLKEBLAD

Highlights.

Nepal is a colorful jumble of pagoda-topped temples, ornate religious monuments, carved wooden Newari architecture, chaotic streets, and majestic mountains. The country is home to ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is bursting at the seams with cultural and natural wonders. A few monuments are still under repair, but their stories of rival kingdoms, mythical deities, and spiritual devotion are unchanged.

The Kathmandu Valley includes the ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, each with its own Durbar Square of courtyards, royal palaces, and temples from the 12th to 18th centuries. Dotted around this cultural collage are superlative religious sites— like Boudhnath, a giant white dome that is Nepal’s largest stupa and center of Tibetan Buddhism. Nestled in a lush valley northwest of Kathmandu, Pokhara lulls with lakeside charm and a jagged, snowcapped Annapurna backdrop. Further south, the steamy subtropics of southern Nepal cradle Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to 68 species of mammals, 544 species of birds, and 556 species of reptiles and amphibians.

The best thing about Nepal is there’s always another adventure.

Craft dusk vistas of Boudhnath stupa, the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet.
Attend a private portrait shoot of the Kumari, a living goddess in the ancient royal city of Patan – not available to tourists.
Shoot the endless ranges of the snowcapped Himalayas, from 20,000 feet.
Snap tigers from the back of a 4×4 Landrover in Chitwan National Park.
Try out intimate portraits of the Tharu tribe, in the local long house.
Capture the Annapurna region, from a walk designed for Prince Charles.
Photograph Gurkhas and Everest summiteers on private shoots.
Document the incredible architecture of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur

Nepal Photography Tour Itinerary.

Fresh off the overnight flight, we’ll whisk you over to our luxe bolthole minutes from the airport – The Hyatt Regency – and chance to have welcome drinkies with the team who’ll be escorting you on your 10-day Nepal Photography Tour.

After a restful nights sleep, we’ll dive right into the basics of photography, getting you up to speed with that tricky looking (but not really when you know how) digital SLR, then take you to the magical Boudhnath stupa, steps from the hotel.

Here, we’ll take the first of many spectacular shots (supported at all times by our attentive tutors), then get a private blessing in a 16th century temple overlooking the stupa, before sunset cocktails with a dramatic view of the Himalayas.

Next morning, we’re up early to take an optional mountain flight over the snowcapped Himalayas – chance to fly directly over Everest in planes with oversized windows; the views are out of this world. Back at base, we’ll have a look through some of the most famous images taken in Nepal, and analyse some of the styles so we can try out for ourselves.

We’ll also equip you with a handful of techniques to make your images really stand out, then head to the medieval city of Patan, enjoying a lunch at a local family house. We’ll then tour the ornate streets of this city, getting 1-on-1 guidance from our pros, before a private photoshoot with the Kumari, a living goddess, normally not available tourists. Later, we’ll review our images poolside under the stars; our team giving you individual feedback on your best of the day.

More spectacular views today as we head south to Royal Chitwan National Park, which covers almost a 1000 sq. kilometres of lowland Nepal. We’re here to safari – where our team will give you step-by-step guidance on the techniques of shooting killer wildlife photography. The park is one of the last refuges of the endangered one-horn Rhino, and there are sizable populations of tigers, leopards and rare Gangetic dolphins. Up early to catch the morning rays, we’ll load our kit onto our own personal elephant and take a tour through sal forest, water marshes and rippling grasslands to hunt some shots.

Later, we’ll head out in 4×4 Landrovers to explore deeper into the jungle; chance to shoot some Tigers. Later, we’ll visit the Tharu – people of the forest indigenous to the region. We’ll have drinks in a Badaghar – ‘the long house’ – chance to meet –and shoot – an ancient community first hand. Later, we’ll review our best images of the day under myriad shooting stars (we counted 40 last time!).

Today, we head north to spectacular Pokhara, to our boutique retreat with picture perfect mountain views, and a millpond calm lake on which to observe them – all in glorious sunshine. Here we’ll reveal the techniques of amazing landscape photography – running through the masters who’ve defined the genre, then deconstructing what makes a landscape great. Armed with these new found skills, we’ll take a trip the Peace Pagoda, the perfect spot to shoot the afternoon light over the Annapurna range, before taking a private row boat across the lake and our own private outdoor BBQ.

Next morning, we’ll climb up to Sarangkot, capturing the sunrise over the Himalayas – panoramic views are quite spectacular from here. Back in Pokhara, we’l meet up for lunch with some Gurkhas, fearsome Nepalese warriors with incredible tales to tell. You’ll even get chance to have a private photoshoot by the lake afterwards.

Later, we’ll have tea at the exclusive Tiger Mountain resort, then take the easy Royal Trek, designed for Prince Charles, where we’ll get incredible sunset views of the Annapurna region. Great pictures are guaranteed.

Next morning, we’ll say farewell to unique Pokhara and board our flight back to Kathmandu, and explore the ancient royal district, trying out some street photography in the myriad backstreets. We’ll meet up with some former Everest Summiteers over lunch, then a private portrait photoshoot with them – before capturing the ancient atmosphere of this timeless city as light falls. Later, we’ll review our images as a group, and get individual feedback on your emerging style and skills.

On our final full day in Nepal, we’ll prepare you to shoot your final piece of work, in the magical city of Bhaktapur. We’ll give you 1-on-1 feedback, then help you design, prepare and shoot a final group of killer images for review in our pop-up exhibition later that night. The rest of the day is yours to explore the intricate and beautiful streets of this kingdom – come evening, we’ll dine outside in our final night celebration dinner, presenting our collection of images, then celebrate in style in Babar Mahal, where only the most well-to-do Nepalese hang out.

Next morning, we’ll have our final 1-on-1’s, where our tutors will give you personal feedback on your style and where to next take your photography, before boarding the plane back home, reflecting on the gentle beauty of Nepal – as close as you can get to heaven.

Details.

4 – 13 March, 2022.
Spaces available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in Kathmandu, Nepal.

£2480 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
9 days boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Elephant & Jeep safaris in Chitwan National Park, with guide
Private photoshoots with the Kumari, Gurkhas & Everest Summiteers
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
All entrance fees to parks, monuments and temples
Boat ride on Phewa Lake
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are no direct flights into Kathmandu. Fly into Dubai, Doha or Delhi, perfect for a few days explore – then it’s a short hop from there. Prices start at around £500.

"Quite simply one of the best things I have ever done."


Paul Goodhead, Manchester


cambodia photography holiday

Cambodia

CAMBODIA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS  |  4 - 13 MARCH 2022 ** AVAILABLE**  |  £2680

ANGKOR PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS CAMBODIA

Angkor has the grand scale of the Great Wall, the beauty of the Taj Mahal and the spatial symbolism of the pyramids, rolled into one. For buffs of any kind, its paradise.

Across ten galvanising days, our team use the backdrop of this UNESCO World Heritage site – and the fascinating hub of Siem Reap – to reveal the craft of stunning photography, with breathtaking results. And to soothe any creative angst, our Cambodia photography holiday workshop is held at one of Asia’s most renowned luxury hotels, a converted French governors mansion that melds Art Deco elements with modern chic for an atmosphere of sophisticated and discriminating splendour.

Experience old Asia in style.

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“This 10-day luxury photography retreat will teach you everything you need to know about accomplishing the perfect shot, in a jaw-dropping location. Enjoy one-to-one guidance with leading photographers, and test your new skills around the stunning temples of Angkor Wat. The company behind it, Creative Escapes, believes in expanding all horizons, and combines photography with diversions such as a tour of the local food market followed by a cooking lesson in Cambodian delicacies. Participants can keep up their skills afterward with alumni-only shoots that are held throughout the year.”

Highlights.

Diverse, awe-inspiring and quite magical. It’s unlike anywhere else on the planet. Our Cambodia photography holiday tour follows an opposite flow to other tourists, often finding we have entire temples to ourselves – and venture beyond the tourist eyes to NGO villages, behind the scenes at the local circus, and search out sea gypsies in situ – getting you closer – in private.

Throw in plush hotels, divine fooding and a people with such infectious charm you can’t help but fall in love with this sublime piece of old Asia.

Learn the craft of shooting thousand-year-old bas reliefs in beautiful light
Shoot in-situ portraits of circus performers, on stage and behind-the-scenes
Create timeless black-and-white images on the street and in the local market
Craft candid portraits in an NGO village, whilst on the ‘rice run’
Set-up a pop-up studio in the middle of a sea gypsy village, fronting the lake
Capture ‘atmosphere’ in a jungle-canopied temple, in dawn’s soft light
Shoot monks-in-training in Siem Reap’s stunning Wat Bo school

Itinerary.

Twenty minutes after touchdown on the first day of your Cambodia photography holiday, you’ll be reclining on your own balcony in the gardens of our chic retreat, letting all the stresses and strains fall away. This is FCC Angkor – a converted governors mansion meets modern hideaway – your home for the next 10 days shooting, adventure and relaxation.

We’ll start slow; taking our time with the basics of operating your camera (it’s really easy when you know how) – cracking aperture, shutter speed and ISO – then a quick trip out along the river to practice.

Come evening, sample some gastronomy at one of Asia’s best restaurants – Cuisine Wat Damnak – the £16, 5-course degustation is truly astonishing.

Next morning, we’ll go take our first peek at Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most iconic temple. Literally ‘heaven on earth’, our guide will lead you on a grand tour of its bas reliefs, heavenly nymph carvings and majestic towers, letting you loose to shoot the first of your collection of jaw-dropping images (all monitored closely by our team of experts, of course).

We’ll return late afternoon, running through in non-techy speak which lenses suit which job, then grab a drink by the pool at happy hour, taking time to visit the Visaya Spa and get your complimentary foot rub, just to ease any last strains out of your body. Pure bliss.

Today, we’ll start by giving you some of the composition techniques the pros like to use (and like to keep secret), then try your hand at some documentary photography in the local Phsar Chas market, a short walk away in town. Here, locals buy goods from fish, to vegetables, to hairspray; you’ll get up close to the action and learn how to take images that really tell a story.

Later, we’ll review our hard days work under the stars and have your first 1-on-1 – your own personal time with your tutor to individually work on your skills.

Next morning, it’s off to Kompong Pluk, and board a hollowed-out canoe for a ride through a flooded forest of mangroves; once there you’ll capture some killer black-and-whites in this timeless gypsy village. That night, after our review of the day’s best, we’ll head to Miss Wong’s for a few lemongrass martinis – then head to our exclusive behind-the-scenes access at Phare, the Cambodian Circus.

It’s an early start this morning – but well worth the effort. Sunrise over Angkor Wat is quite magical; then afterwards, whilst all the tourists head home, we stay out, to the forest temple of Ta Prohm. Here, silk cotton trees have grown out of the ruins, in the lush surroundings of dawn-lit jungle. For one glorious hour, we’ll have the entire place to ourselves at this incredible temple; chance to create some softly lit landscapes you never thought you could take.

Then, before our afternoon snooze by the salt water pool, we’ll swing by Bayon – a multitude of serene, enormous stone faces of Buddha jutting out from the upper terrace.

The entire next day is your own; head into town or do absolutely marvelously nothing by the quiet, lapping pool. Later, we’ll take a walk over to Wat Bo – one of the town’s oldest temples. Here, you’ll witness the hypnotic effects of hundreds of chanting monks, plus a chance to shoot some too.

This morning, we’ll have a guided walk through a remote NGO village and chance to see the real rural Cambodia. Later, you’ll learn how to make traditional Cambodian cuisine in our pop-up cookery school right in the centre of the village, before sampling your fine dining in a traditional stilt pavilion. We then take part in some responsible tourism – and head out with some supplies for local families; chance to learn customs and beliefs within the village (and take some killer images).

Next day, we’ll delve into the secrets of portraiture, then shoot some of the temple guardians at Preah Khan, even stopping to find a secret chamber (hidden from most who pass by it) – once decorated with fist-sized rubies and emeralds on it’s bas-relief walls. This afternoon, our tutors will take you out individually, working with you to refine your style and further build your portfolio to take home. Later, we’ll dine above-ground in an 18th century old Cambodian house.

We then complete our 10-day odyssey with a final piece of work. Our team are on hand round- the-clock to offer support, assist with problem spots and provide comments, critiques or edits, then culminate in our final night pop-up exhibition. Over an apertif, we’ll view the incredible images that have been created, then have a sumptuous celebrationary dinner in our very own private open-air dining room.

On the final morning, we host our final 1-on-1 sessions with each of you, highlighting where we think your skills sit, some tips on things to try once home, plus some equipment suggestions that would fit your shooting style. Then, after a light lunch, we sadly say our farewells and exchange email addresses with new-found friends and creative collaborators, then board the plane back home.

Details.

4 – 13 March, 2022
Spaces available.

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

£2680 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotel, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
4-day pass to Angkor Wat complex, with guide
Complimentary foot massage at the Visaya Spa
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Backstage passes to Phare, the Cambodian Circus
Entrance to NGO village, with cookery class
Boat ride on Tonle Sap lake
Optional dawn helicopter flight over Angkor Wat
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are no direct flights to Siem Reap from the UK. Fly into Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur – perfect for a couple of days explore – then it’s a short hop from there. Flights start at around £500.

" Overall, I have come away from my Creative Escapes trip wanting to go on another one as soon as possible. It exceeded my expectations both in the course content and in what I actually learnt in such a short period of time. I think I'd like to try them all!"


Shakira Cassidy, Belfast