Travel Advice from Professional Photographer - Alessandra Meniconzi

"Find the Right Travel Guide"

China has a great variety of ethnic peoples and diverse cultures. Taken on an EOS 5D Mark III with an EF85mm f/1.2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/5, ISO 400. Flash: fired. © Alessandra Meniconzi

"I spend a great deal of my life traveling in remote corners of the globe searching for lesser known cultures. Nothing is easy; from searching, learning and organizing your itinerary to carefully packing your baggage and photographic equipment.

The places which I usually travel to are remote and, because my main photography subject is minorities, I need to come close and initiate a relationship with locals.

During my trips I always meet insurmountable language barriers as the people that I like to photograph don’t know any English. Approaching people and photographing them has never been a problem for me. I am good at developing a relationship. I am not a passive photographer or just a ‘paparazzi’. I will spend time with locals. I am open and sincere.

A herder with his sheep during a snowstorm. Taken on an EOS 5D Mark III with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens; the exposure was 1/800sec at f/8, ISO 400. © Alessandra Meniconzi

Generally, guided tours aren’t my deal but my curiosity pushes me to know more about these people. I want to know about their whole life. For this reason, I need to find the right tour guide. The person has to be: interpreter, translator, deeply knowledgeable about the place and also has to have a great acquaintance with professional photographers.

My God! Finding the right travel guide is really hard! A guide can either enhance your work or perish it. Having a good guide is the best, but sometimes you can discover a bad guide too late... maybe when you have already paid the cost of the trip. This happened on my last trip to China.

Magnificent winter scenery. Taken on an EOS 80D with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM; the exposure was 1/16sec at f/8, ISO 100. © Alessandra Meniconzi

What made my trip a nightmare was not the places visited and the people met, but the tour guide! I ran one month with a non-expert and disorganized guide.

Five months before the trip, I sent all my needs and expectations to the guide. All seemed perfect and then the nightmare began as soon the flight landed in Beijing! I already knew this guide from short three-day trips organised in the past so my judgment in choosing him was because I didn’t have any problems before and also because I was aware that he works with renowned photographers.

Even if you think you are getting a reliable guide, you can not be sure that all runs professionally according to what has been requested and paid!"

See more of Alessandra Meniconzi's work here. She is an incredible travel photographer with some breathtaking images of world cultures.

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