Photographic Safaris

Jul 29th, 2008, 07:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 31
i just did some searches on some common digital photography web forums, and some of the names that Bill H mentioned had some hits on their names. i guess that is the answer. more photographers go on these trips, rather than people who are approaching it from a different angle of just african travel.

what i can find is the biggest differentiators for these trips are:

* very few people in a vehicle. usually 3, but a few will put 4.

* teaching while out on game drives, plus some do slide shows at night.

* optimization of schedule for more photo opportunities and fewer fillers.

...more research to come....
jgardner is offline  
Jul 29th, 2008, 08:32 PM
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I have been asked what I found wanting, this is a brief summary of what I found on the net

Joe Van Os

Next trip to Masai Mara, limited to 54 people!!! 10 days $8,000 Only 3 per vehicle

Some quite disparaging comments on photo net

Andy Biggs

Very expensive ,Tanzania 9 days $9,000, no details of numbers or vehicle limits
No independent corroboration on net.

Todd Gustafson

Nothing available till 2009 Tanzania 9 days $9,000 visiting lots of disparate places for a short time

Joe McDonald

Website not up to date, no prices or numbers, again two days each at many places .

Art Morris

One of the best photographers in the world but mostly concentrates on birding and seems to operate with Todd Gustafon.

Most of these seem to operate mainly in Kenya and Tanzania, and seem to try to do a tour rather than stay in each place for more days.

Costs seem to average around $1,000 per day when compared to lodges and private vehicles elsewhere it is not overly more expensive, if you get some benefit from it.

I will as suggested try elsewhere, but look forward to any information that Jgardner can come up with, thank you for looking.

crosbysquare is offline  
Jul 29th, 2008, 08:52 PM
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When I look at cost per day, I count only the days you are on safari, not total days on the trip. Costs usually well over $1,000 per day of safari.

And that's another problem I have with these photo safaris, they are not long enough. Typically 10 days which includes 2-3 days of travel/flight time. So then you get about 8 days on safari. For me to spend $2k on airfare and many hours getting there (from USA) I want to have at least 14 days on safari.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2008, 10:36 PM
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Carry 999,

We agree on something again! The trips organised by most of these photographers are very short and jump about a lot.

At least when we went with Andy Rouse we were in the Mara for 10 days at one place, in one private camp for a very small group. It was also considerably less than cost of these others, and to be quite honest featured a photographer who is within the top echelon of his field.

As a further question has anybody had any experience with top African Photographers i.e. those that live there?

Africa Geographic runs some interesting trips, that might be worth looking at.

Jul 30th, 2008, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,540
I've done a couple of trips to Botswana with Chas (Charles) Glatzer Three people per vehicle so you get the row to yourself. There were 6 people total including Chas, two vehicles and he spent alternate days in each vehicle so he was with you for half the trip. I definitely learned how to photograph wildlife. He teaches composition, lighting, exposure and he's a very generous teacher. If you are interested, read the testimonials on his website. What you read there is what I have experienced on his workshops. Some of my images from that trip are here

I'm going on a workshop with him in September (Spirit Bears in B.C.). Lodging will be on a 71' boat and Chas leased the whole boat for 7 or 8 people so that his workshop will be the best it can be. A managable group that he can give the best he has to give. Which is a lot.
sundowner is online now  
Jul 30th, 2008, 07:22 AM
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Was your trip reasonably priced in 2005?

What was the most important thing in terms of photographing wildlife you learned on that trip?

shatila is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 07:23 AM
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ok. here is some of my research and opinions:

joe van os = wow. 54 people!! i didn't realize the groups were that large. that is silly big. next!

joe mcdonald = absolutely horrendous web site. i am talking circa 1994, maybe worse. the colors are gross, and his own images on the site aren't any good. i have seen his prints in person, and they are quite good. but his web presentation is about as bad as it gets. and hoot hollow sounds like a children's book. they seem to have a great reputation, and that is worth its weight in gold. they do trips all around the globe, so his kenya trips aren't plentiful enough to be able to choose a date that fits my work schedule.

andy biggs = i have read some of his posts on this site, and he seems like a really nice guy. and i love his images. he is likely the more creative of the bunch. more is said about him on other photo forums than of any other photographer that leads trips to africa. his prices aren't that different than anybody else's, but they are on the shorter end. i sent him an email and he indicated the shorter trips are to make the safaris fit the short vacation schedules of those with limited time off. he also offers extensions to make the trips longer for those that want more time. i suspect all of these guys do the same thing. his groups range from 11 people to 14 people, depending on the country and style of trip. tanzania is 14, but moving back to 11 next year. he was the easiest to reach, as all of the other guys have assistants that reply to emails.

todd gufstason = not enough information online. just summary dates and costs. heck, i don't want to have to send an email to find out what his trips are all about. kind of frustrating. his images are just ok. my images from tanzania a few years ago were decent, and i expect that my leader would be able to blow me out of the water.

art morris = polarizing guy, it seems. some love him and some don't. he isn't an african specialist, so his trips aren't very often. he goes with todd gufstason, which tells me todd is his underling? who knows. art has a huge following, and i like his images. i am not a birder, so i am not sure what i am going to get. i don't want to be interested in big mammals when the rest of the group is interested in some tiny brown bird. i love it all, but i am more interested in mammal interaction. it's something i didn't get enough of on my last safari.

andy rouse = i didn't know he ran safaris. another generalist. i like his images, primarily from a composition standpoint, but his processing is a little too heavy handed for me. it's like he is messing with the shadows and highlights tool in photoshop too much. i hear he is a nice guy, which stands for something.

i also found a few other photographers to throw into the mix, based on looking at the web sites above.

andy biggs has 2 other guys that run safaris with him. bruce dorn and chris gamel. bruce dorn is a canon explorer of light, which is a feather in the cap. and i don't know anything about chris. he is a wildlife biologist by trade, which i like the idea of.

todd gufstason has two guys other than art morris helping him out, too. martin plant is one of them, and he appears to be a wedding photographer in the UK. david vore is the other guy. i couldn't even find much about him, as he doesn't appear to have a web site.

in the end, most of the pricing was similar, so there is a cost to going on these trips that is over and above a standard safari. you also seem to get more, primarily in the areas of fewer people in the vehicle. i did call one safari agent in florida and got a price quote for an itinerary that mimicked one of the safaris from one of the above photographers. there was about a $400 difference. i claimed that there were 3 photographers that wanted a private safari, and the locations we were interested in staying were identical. so the markup makes sense, and isn't what i expected to see. i am totally willing to pay an additional $400 for the added leadership and instruction. the question is would i have stayed in the same lodges or camps, done the same number of days, etc? probably.

so now i am looking to do a trip in 2009 or 2010. i will look around to see when i can travel, and then choose a safari that best fits my travel windows. and boy do these safaris book up quickly. dang! i don't want to anticipate which photographer i will choose, but i think i have narrowed down the list a little bit.

bill h, are you going to run photo safaris in the future?!?
jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 07:37 AM
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sundowner, thanks for adding chas to the mix. i just did a quick search and saw some very very nice images on his web site. another generalist, which isn't bad, but it sounds like he does a fair amount of teaching. that is a *great* thing, and something that i am interested in. why did you choose him over the others? did he have any africa experience? i don't see many africa images on his web site, unfortunately.
jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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ok. i just got an email with a list of more than 10 references for me to openly contact. only 1 photographer has proactively given this information, and others haven't been able to get it to me or have sandbagged. interesting.
jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 08:53 AM
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Bill_H said:

You are basically paying for the trip leader's knowledge of where to go, when to go and what to do when you're there. Whether this is worth an extra 50% - 100% over do-it-yourself is a good question

Well I don't think so.

Why should I pay extra to go to places which I could choose by myself.

If you are a keen photographer, which I suspect you are if you are prepared to pay that much money - you know that the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset often give the best results. So if you come across an interesting scene at that time, be patient. (So don't pay for that either)

Knowledgeable guides at hand can tell themselves when a scene could work for a great picture or not. (So I don't need a professional photographer for that)

It is marketed like you are gonna have tremendous better photos if you are joining them ... well I don't think so unless you are a person who don't know much about photography at first.

But then it wouldn't make sense to go on a trip like that ... better follow a course at home.

shatila is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 09:08 AM
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i agree and disagree. the problem is that on my safari my guide was nice and knowledgeable, but in the end he didn't have a clue where to put the vehicle without my having to instruct. he also took me to locations that i knew would be much better in different light. for example, we went to some hippo pool in the late afternoon and all the only place where we could shoot from was a place where we had to shoot into the sun. i asked him about this, and he told me we could come back in the morning when the light was over our shoulders, and there would be fewer people in the morning as well. huh? why didn't we do this in the first place? things like that kind of drive me nutso. i want instruction, because my photo skills are ok but limited by the lack of experiences. i mean, i know photography, but i don't know photography all that well in Africa. and i suspect i won't have all that many more trips to africa in my lifetime, so i want to make sure that i have the best opportunities to get my best shots. so i guess a balance of instruction in the vehicle, some sort of looking over my shoulder back at the lodge or camp while on my laptop, some slideshows perhaps to the group, and then some sort of followup when we get back home.

i am beginning to believe that the safari business really is about the tailoring of safaris to meet your specific needs. my last safari was a great experience, but it only met part of my needs. just like a walking safari wouldn't meet a photographer's needs.

i wish i could hire a photographer for like 2 days before my safari really begins. that way i could control my cost and perhaps be on better footing going forward.

it seems that many people on fodor's go to africa regularly. i don't, unfortunately. after planning my next safari, i probably won't be on the forum much or at all. it makes sense that if you have been to africa many times you probably have the photography thing nailed by now, but for those with limited time and experience it is a different situation.

i found a few other photographers that run trips, although much less frequently. i can post if people find it valuable.
jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 09:24 AM
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J Gardner,

Thanks very much for your continued efforts.
You appear to have found much the same as me, except that most of the stuff about Andy Biggs is written by himself, I can find no books by him or even prizewinning photos.

Andy Rouse is clearly not just an African Wildlife photographer but he has written several books containing African Wildlife Pictures and featured in many leading Wildlife Photography competitions.
Judging by his blog he must have been in Africa taking photos over the past few years, and obviously Sniktawk accompanied him on one of these trips.
I like his photos a lot, but as I said it appears that there are no safaris available to the general public at the moment.

I looked at the Africa Geographic Safaris and found them to be well priced, they also in some cases feature Mark Tennant!

crosbysquare is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 10:03 AM
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andy b. appears to be the new guy on the block, as he started running trips back in 2003. i did notice that his images were used by banana republic in their summer 2008 catalog, as well as all of their store walls. perhaps he just doesn't pursue the publishing route? no idea. but book publishing isn't one of my requirements in a photographer. looking at his schedule, i doubt he has much time to write anyway.

i also found a few more names: martin harvey, robert knight, james hager, nigel dennis, and daryl balfour.

i suspect if i keep on writing all of these names are going to show up in google searches. ha ha. great marketing for all of the names on the list. maybe it is time to stop.
jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Well everyone, here I go again .
jgardner - IMHO, your good posts would be so much easier and pleasant to read if you would capitalize letters as used in common business English.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 02:10 PM
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you must be very spefial as cary999 asked you in a very polite way to comly with HIS/HER rules. or he/she has eaten lots of chalk ;-)

once up on a time he/she offered me literally two choices: comply or leave

guess what i chose ;-)

i am able to read and understand your posts the way they are written!


divine54 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Yes, jgardner, you are in good company.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 03:06 PM
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Oh my. I don't want to be grouped in with Divine!

Time to be less lazy, I guess. Compliance is my middle name.
jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 03:15 PM
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jgardner - you must be a married man
And happily married I would add

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 03:32 PM
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hey, wait! I just noticed you drop your capitalization at the beginning of sentences, too! Other than that, I though my written English is quite good.

Yes, I am happily married. Hopefully she thinks so, too. I wonder what our teenage kids think, though.

jgardner is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 03:42 PM
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Hey wait a minute guys, I'm new here and thought Divine, Pippa and Sinktawk were all the same person. Whats the scoop??
Temba is offline  

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