Creative Escapes


JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY   |   MAY 2021 **2 PLACES LEFT**  |  OCTOBER 2021  ** AVAILABLE **   |   £3200


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.


“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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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.


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

14 – 23 May, 2021
Only 2 spaces left

08 – 17 October, 2021

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



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.


“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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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.

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