QUESTION: How do you find a good photo tour operator in a foreign city?
I’m an advanced amateur heading to Rome for a week on vacation. Would like to take half a day or more to improve my skills and get some great shots.
I’ve seen several websites where they advertise transportation and access along with a photographer, but I don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling that the accompanying photographer is any further along than I am. Thanks -Tom
ANSWER: Tom, this is where the power of social networking comes in. I would first start looking at sites like Yelp (or the Italian equivilent) and checking for reviews. Then I would look at services like Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and see if I can find any photographers that live in the city/area you want to visit.
You may even be able to make a connection with a local photographer that would enjoy showing you around and get a true local's perspective. In a congested place like Rome, official tour groups may have more direct access to some of the more popular attractions. Last, I would also ask around on social sites for other photographers that have visited those areas recently and see if they have any recommendations.
In terms of doing your advanced research, we live in an amazing time for being able to do searches on places like Flickr or Google to see other images captured in our dream destination. From those pictures we can learn a lot about where and what time of day (even when to visit) to get some great shots.
I also regularly use an app called The Photographer's Ephemeris to tell me what time and where the sun and moon will rise and set. This information will be helpful for you whether you are booking a tour or setting out on your own to explore.