Many people have taken up photography as a hobby during the COVID lockdowns – whether for the first time or a rediscovery – thanks to the wealth of accessible tutorials available online, as well as more free time.
Unlike baking sourdough bread, photography is a COVID hobby that people are still excited about (if you are an avid baker too, apologies), and with worldwide travel reopening, tour operators like Backcountry Journeys (opens in a new tab) are seeing an increase in bookings for their photography tours.
“Our tours fill up fast these days,” says Russ Nordstrand, Founder and CEO of Backcountry Journeys. “Many of our clients have taken up photography as a creative hobby during the shutdowns and they come to us to improve their skills while capturing incredible landscapes and wildlife.”
A study found that engaging in leisure activities during COVID-19 had protective benefits for psychological health. Photography tours provide the opportunity to combine a creative outlet with travel and time spent outdoors, which relieves stress and hones skills different from those we might normally use in our daily lives.
So now that travel is broadly open again, will we suddenly see an upward trend in photography tour bookings for 2023? Keenan Hursh of Backcountry Journeys shares what’s hot right now.
Keenan Hursh is the Website, Copy and Content Specialist for Backcountry Journeys, a company that offers a wide range of all-inclusive photography tours around the world. Backcountry specializes in small group tours to maximize one-on-one time with photography experts and tour guides creating more meaningful and educational experiences – for a variety of skill levels, from new owners to cameras to expert photographers.
Have you seen an increase in demand for photo tours?
Yes, we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for our photography tours, many of which sell out a year or more in advance. Our reservations and waitlists are filling up faster than ever, and we’re excited to deliver more amazing experiences for new and existing customers.
We have specifically seen a surge in demand with the rollback of COVID restrictions and regulations. As more destinations become available and the travel process becomes less risky, customers are ready to return and experience epic adventures.
What types of photography and location have been popular?
We do all kinds of trips focusing on different styles of photography all over the world, but there are several trips that have definitely been very popular lately. We offer desert tours of the American Southwest that visit national parks such as Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Joshua Tree.
These trips are perfect for landscape lovers and we also organize them in winter. Backcountry Journeys also offers amazing Alaskan trips across the state, from the Kenai Peninsula to the Katmai Coast. Whether you’re looking to photograph grizzly bears catching fish in a waterfall or capture the beauty of the Northern Lights, we’ve got an Alaskan trip for you.
People have also been very excited about our international wildlife travels in Asia and Africa. Whether photographing mountain gorillas in Rwanda or searching for jaguars in Brazil, these trips are perfect for wildlife photographers.
Are many of the tour participants brand new to their photographic journey? Do you see more enthusiasts or pros?
Yes, many of our clients are new to their photographic journey and not necessarily familiar with the use of their equipment. Our guides are experts in helping someone who recently bought their first camera (opens in a new tab) to learn the basics of setting up the perfect shot as well as to discuss much more advanced knowledge and expertise with photography experts. We ensure that all of our trips will be educational and enjoyable for all of our customers, regardless of their current experience level.
Setting up your own photo workshops (opens in a new tab) can be rewarding but tricky, so you might be wondering if it’s likely we’ll see an increase in photographers – both those with beginner cameras (opens in a new tab) and professional cameras (opens in a new tab) – sign up for visits to improve your skills.
While photography tours are a great way to meet other like-minded creatives, test your skills with seasoned professionals, and try out new gear—they can be pricey, too. It remains to be seen whether we will see a large increase in the trend of photo tours (more than before the pandemic).