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EMS Photo Adventure: Lens on Panama

Spend a week in Panama with Panama born and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Essdras M Suarez and truly SEE Panama!

Quick Details


Washington Photo Safari is excited to announce our collaboration with EMS Photo Adventures for an upcoming weeklong photo program in Panama in April 17-24 of 2020: A LENS ON PANAMA, designed by one of most popular WPS instructors, Panama born and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Essdras M Suarez. He created a LENS ON PANAMA with photographers in mind.

Come and join a small group of photographers in this colorful adventure and truly SEE Panama and experience its variety of climate, flora, fauna, landscape, culinary delights, and of its rich cultural history and its indigenous ethnic groups through a local’s know-how approach.

During this program, you’ll learn how to better your skills in Travel Photography, Street Photography, Portrait Photography, Nature and Landscape Photography, Macro Photography and even some Food Photography.


  • Touring the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks, explore Panama’s old town, visit unique marketplaces and walk along the colorful Amador Causeway
  • Taking a canoe ride to visit the member of the Embera indigenous tribe living along the shores of the Panama Canal and enjoy a very special meal
  • Walking along the renown Pipeline Road area in search of bird life
  • Spend 3 days in the cloud-forest highlands of Panama, in Chirqui Province, where we will:
    • Tour a Bee and Butterfly Haven
    • Find out how coffee goes from “cherry to cup”
    • Photograph champion, thoroughbred horses
    • Wander the streets of the picturesque Town of Boquete
  • Visit special areas in Panama City: Casco Antiquo, Amador Causeway and Balboa Artisan’s Market
  • Stay at some of the most highly rated lodgings in Panama and enjoy some of the finest dining


City of Panama and surrounds

  • Tour the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and Visitor Center where you’ll learn about the history and engineering of one of the original Eight Marvels of the World. In addition to the locks, you will photograph massive container ships filled sky-high, the electric tug boats that pull these behemoths through the lock and sleek sailboats crossing this famous waterway.
  • Stay at the Five Star Gamboa Rainforest Resort Lodge with is warm breezes and tropical birds singing over your room’s private balcony and hammock on the Panama Canal and Chagres River waterways.
  • Ride a jungle gondola over the canopy forest offering a unique perspective of wildlife at a height almost touching the treetops where you might see bird nests, monkeys and even sloths.
  • Go on a guided bird-watching tour on Pipeline Road, known for having one of the highest concentrations of bird species in Central America. According to experts the number of species that can be seen during a couple of hours of walking down Pipeline Road could be anywhere between 65 to 85 species seen and around 35-40 heard but not seen
  • Take a dugout canoe ride to visit an Embera Indigenous tribe’s village along the shores of the Panama Canal and step back in time where you will witness the way this gentle tribe has lived for centuries. And share with them a traditional Embera meal of fish or other protein accompanied by fried plantains, all wrapped in a banana leave.

Chiriqui Highlands and Town of Boquete

  • Bring your macro lens to fully capture the beauty of local bees in this area of Panama where the average temperature is 75 F year around. Learn about honey, how it is made and its apparently endless health benefits.
  • Be ready to photograph an explosion of colors on the rainbow-colored wings of dozens of butterfly species as we visit a Butterfly Haven. The background of luscious green forest slick with perennial dew shine. And while being serenaded by calls and sound of myriad of birds and a variety of tropical fauna.
  • Tour a coffee plantation and photograph the workers of this traditional highland crop as you learn what it means from “cherry to cup.” Taste a variety of different grains and even bag your own coffee to bring home with you.
  • Photograph the archetypal equine, one bred generation after generation for the sole purpose of speed. The vibrant-colored green mountains in this part of Panama are world renown for their thoroughbred racehorses. And, raw beauty and power seem to be a pleasant side effect of this environment.

Panama City

  • Finish the adventure by returning to Panama and visiting the Casco Antiguo and doing some Street Photography in one of Panama’s oldest neighborhood. One, where the architecture has more similarities with New Orleans French Quarter than with anything else in the country.
  • Photograph the Balboa Artisan’s market where you might catch a glimpse of the colorful Guna Yala indigenous women dressed in their traditional outfits made out of molas, hand-made textiles with intricate designs depicting daily life. The Guna Yala women’s full costume includes a patterned wrapped skirt; a red and yellow headscarf; beaded bracelets worn on wrists and ankles; gold nose rings, and earrings along with delicate and subtle tattoo work on their faces.
  • Finish the adventure by photographing the Amador Causeway, which links three islands, and that was built from dirt removed during the construction of the canal. From here you will be able to see ships waiting to enter the canal.

As We Tour Panama Together:

As we learn about Panama’s culture we will expand our photographic knowledge and practice.

Instruction will cover quality of light, light origination angles and their effects on the resulting images, proper exposure and metering for specific results, and we will discuss and practice the different kind of focusing modes.

While in the field, we will discuss perspective, composition, and techniques such as panning, freezing, motion blurs, and the ways to predict action and how best to capture those moments.

There will be no more than 12 photographers on this safari, so we urge you to make your $800 deposit to EMS Photo Adventures as soon as possible, the deadline is December 15, 2019

The estimated air travel cost to Panama City, Panama (PTY):

NY: JFK – Panama City, Panama: $798
Dulles to PTY: COPA $572
Atlanta to PTY: Delta $752
Orlnado to PTY: COPA $356
Miami to PTY: COPA $367


If you want to learn more about your photo mentor/ instructor: Essdras M Suarez

With Essdras and his team not only would you get hands-on, real-time instruction while on-site, but you will also get a photo slideshow presentation while in the country of the things and places you have both seen together. He also regularly offers constructive critique of the participant’s work while on location.

Here is what some of his clients have had to say about his instruction:

“You are a natural teacher and I am so glad I was able to have the opportunity to take this class!  The word will spread quickly about you! Thanks so much.”

– Catherine

 “Essdras has a unique ability to put his audience not only on the scene but behind the lens of his camera.  He is able to make you comprehend the context of a photo so vividly that it makes you feel as if you are actually there. He makes it feel real.  Essdras explains so humanely the technical elements required to take a world-class photo, that you realize that what the photo conveys it’s so real it will stay captured forever.  To this day, many years after, I think of Essdras presentation, his photos and the context that lead to it.”

– Jorge

 “Everyone in the group had a great time and learned a lot.  You not only have a great deal of knowledge that you share but really take the time to make sure everyone is getting the most out of the experience with individual help.  I really liked the “assignments” and feedback in real-time. As I look back over the photos, I can remember what you were stretching us to achieve.” 

– Catherine

“This was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. Our leader Essdras was outstanding and was able to provide an insight into the Cuban culture that was unique and fascinating. If you take this trip, expect to be shoved out of your comfort zone, in a very good way.  As I said on the previous page, easily the best group leader I’ve ever traveled with, including those from National Geographic and Smithsonian. In addition, a wonderful photography teacher.”


“Excellent trip! great photo ops and instruction. Was truly set up for photographers. Were taken to the right place at the right time with ample time to shoot and explore. Professional guides were better than excellent and were totally connected to the locals. Paladars and accommodations were wonderful… I also like spontaneous adventures – a trip to the barbershop on a very hot day.  Nice hair cuts for Ess and Steve as well as continued instructions by Ess on things to photograph and how to do it.”

 – Julia

 And here is a link to the photos of Panama that you can take while on this trip: LENS ON PANAMA