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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Insider Interview: James Smith, Photographer

A few weeks ago, we shared some info on the photography tours that Insight Vacations has recently added to their collection. Since then, we’ve met the professional photographer who will be on hand during one of those trips, James Smith. James, who also writes a travel/photography blog (we’re partial to this post about travel agents!), talks with us today about photography tips and his favorite places to shoot in Europe. James has worked in the travel industry for years as a cruise ship photographer and videographer. Now, he’s sharing his knowledge with guests who are passionate about improving their own vacation photography.

photo: Insight Vacations
What camera equipment is worth the baggage fees?
It entirely depends on what kind of photography you're interested in. There are some remarkably good pocket cameras that can make some excellent prints. Even some mobile phones are more than capable. However to get the most of your images, I would bring a digital SLR camera, a mid-range lens (the one that came with the camera will be fine) and a flash for portraits and evening events. A tripod is very useful for low-light shots where the exposure is slower and can blur the photo. It's also great for making panoramic landscape images that need to have a steady horizontal axis. There are lots of tripods that are both lightweight and compact.

They say the best time to shoot is dawn and dusk, for the subtle lighting conditions. Will there be concessions made during the tour to make sure photographers have a chance to shoot during these times?
Great photos are achievable at any time of day, though the strongest contrasts are when the sun is at its lowest. There will be times after the tours for shopping and photography.

The guests can feel free to get up bright and early before breakfast to get a few shots in, though they should be careful not to miss the coach!

Do you have any tips or easy changes that people can make to bring their photos to the next level? What are some common mistakes or pitfalls that budding photographers should avoid?
(1) Never delete a photo from the preview on the back of your digital camera; wait until you see it full size. It might be worth saving or editable to become something special. (2) Always have a spare battery, memory card/film and lens cloth. (3) Take plenty of shots and shoot your subject from different angles. Move around it/them and pick your favourite.

In the destinations of the tour you’re part of, what are your favorite scenes & subjects to shoot?
I'm really looking forward to Rome. Although I've been previously while working for Princess Cruises, it's such a beautiful city and there's enough to keep a Photographer of any level busy for years. I'll have to bring a few memory cards, plenty of batteries and keep snapping. The Vatican often stop people bringing tripods and big equipment in, though the common digital SLRs are so common-place I wouldn't expect any issues.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, James!
For more information on this trip, call your FROSCH travel agent, or visit

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