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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Alessandra Meniconzi

Apr03

Find the right travel guide!

By Alessandra Meniconzi, Monday April 03, 2017
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.

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 travelling in remote corners of the globe searching for lesser known cultures. Nothing is easy; from searching, learning and organising 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.

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.

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 disorganised 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!

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.

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

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.

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