Travel Philosophy

If you're considering signing up to join one of my upcoming adventures, here's a rundown on my travel philosophy.

First and foremost, trips are about having fun.

It seems like this should go without saying, but all too often, I come across people (not among my friends!) who seem to lose sight of this basic fact. Above all else, whether animals cooperate or not; whether gear functions properly or goes bonkers; whether the weather is sunny or stormy; whether logistics go smoothly or unexpected hurdles appear that need to be negotiated...travel is about having fun. Never lose sight of this.

My trips are for small, dedicated groups.

Trips I arrange are for small groups. By small, I'd say a range of two to eight people, depending on the circumstances, is where I'm most comfortable. Group size is in part dictated by the subject/ experience concerned. In some instances, such as when it makes sense to occupy an entire resort for a special purpose, there might be more people involved. But in all cases, the purpose of having small, intimate groups is to get to know one another. Really talk. Not just make fake smiley faces at breakfast and otherwise ignore one another.

I'm proud of the fact that many people whom I've met through the course of travelling together have been become close, trusted friends, both with me and with one another.

In addition, I stay 100% focused on whatever the objective of the trip is. During a trip to observe and photograph humpback whales, for example, I will be up early, spend the day looking for whales, and hit the sack early. No drinking, carrying on to late hours. If you're looking to party, we will be at cross-purposes. 

Having a balanced, healthy outlook on life is important.

Traveling in small groups of course means that it's vital to have compatible personalities. To get along with my friends and me, it's important to be able to play nice with others, and to be resilient, meaning that you can cope with the unexpected twists and turns that are inherent to both travel and nature. Having a wicked sense of humour helps a lot. If you can laugh at yourself and make everyone else laugh, you'll fit right in!

Learning is an integral part of travel.

For the trips I arrange and subjects I pursue, I will have spent considerable time reading about, researching, and asking others about the animals and environments concerned. During trips, I strive to learn as much as I can about the biology and behaviour of the animals I photograph, the ecosystems and environments I find myself in, and the cultures and people I visit.

Creating captivating images is the result of good karma.

With the right personalities, sufficient background knowledge/ preparation, and a bit of good luck, both I and the people who travel with me are often able to take great photos. I feel compelled to highlight though, nice photographs come as a result of all of the factors above. If you're having fun and making friends, seeking to learn as much as possible, not getting worked up when things don't pan out as planned...good photographic karma results. Conversely, if you're too self-obsessed, making others unhappy, etc., things usually don't work out so well.

I don't run photography workshops.

My trips are not photography workshops. There are many people who excel at teaching the basics of photography and enjoy doing it. To be perfectly honest, that's not me. I am, for lack of a better description, someone who takes photographs primarily by "instinct and feeling," so to speak . Of course, I understand the relationships among aperture, shutter and ISO, but I can't get too worked up about using one setting vs. another.

Most important to me are the animals and environments concerned; then the story I want to convey (feelings, emotion, message, mood, etc.); and bringing up the rear are technical concerns.

Of course, if you have a camera problem or question and I actually know the answer, I'm happy to share. Quite often though, someone else on the trip concerned will know more than I do. I'm secure enough to say "I don't know" or "So and so knows more than I do" when it's applicable.

On a related topic, I hate, hate, hate obsessive debates about one brand or piece of equipment being better than another bit of gear. It just doesn't matter to me. Gear is gear. I'll use what works, and I strongly prefer practical tests over theoretical rambling. I once had a person who considers himself quite the authority tell me emphatically that the dome port I'm using absolutely will not work with a particular lens that I'm using, based on calculations he'd done...never mind that I had been using the combination with great success for years!

If you're still keen on joining an adventure after reading the above...

My general process for announcing trips is as follows:

  1. Inform people who have travelled with me before, and those who have expressed a specific interest in the destination or subject concerned;
  2. Send out my trip newsletter (sign up here);
  3. Post trip details to this site.

Since there are a limited number of spaces for each adventure, trips sometimes fill before I post information to my site. I keep a waitlist however, as the realities of life often intrude upon vacation plans, which means people end up canceling from time to time.

I will need a deposit to hold a spot. If you end up having to cancel, I'll do my best to find a replacement person and send you back whatever you've paid, less bank charges. Please note that in the event that I cannot find a replacement, I may not be able to send back funds. The best boats, accommodations and such require payment in advance to secure.