Frequently Asked Questions

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If you can’t find the answer to your question here, feel free to contact us.

  • Chevron down Do I have to speak English?
  • Safaris are available in English, French, or Spanish

  • Chevron down What is the average group size?
  • Safari groups range from a few people to about 10. Group size is kept small to maximize the learning experience.

  • Chevron down Do I have to book in advance?
  • Yes. Safaris must be purchased in advance to guarantee your reservation as they may sell out. Safaris can be purchased online with these credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.

  • Chevron down Will I still enjoy a safari if I'm from the area?
  • Of course! You’ll make new discoveries and capture amazing pictures as a tourist in your own home city! You’ll also learn fascinating historical facts from our instructors.

  • Chevron down What equipment should I bring?
  • Here is a general list of suggested equipment. It is optional, not required:

    • If you have a point and shoot camera, please learn how to turn the flash off and on and how to use the white balance feature
    • If you have an SLR body, bring lenses from 20mm up to 300mm, if available. If not, an 18-55mm or 18-70mm lens is fine
    • Circular Polarizing filter and, if you have them, neutral density filters
    • Digital shooters, bring several memory cards or backup devices
    • Your camera manual
    • Spare fully charged batteries or fresh alkalines
    • Lens cleaning kit (air blower, brush etc)

    You can also rent from our colleagues at Luminoid, and they will apply part of your rental cost if you decide to purchase afterward.

  • Chevron down Can I give a photo safari as a gift?
  • Yes, indeed, we sell hundreds of gift certificates every year, especially at holiday times. They make great gifts to people who love to take pictures. You purchase the certificate in any denomination that fits your budget and it is delivered immediately as a handsome PDF to your email with the recipient’s name, your name, a transaction number, and the dollar value. You may print it or email it to the recipient. Your recipient has two years in which to choose any Safari from our calendar, using the transaction number from the certificate to pay for the Safari. If the Safari value is less than the certificate value, we will keep track of the declining balance on the card. In this way, you are not locked into choosing the Safari type or date for your recipient.

  • Chevron down What is your cancellation policy?
  • Cancellations must be made in writing via email at least 9 days prior to Safari date to [email protected] Cancellations received 8 or more days in advance of Safari date receive a refund of 75% of the amount paid. No refund is made for cancellations received less than 8 days before the Safari date. Washington Photo Safari operates rain or shine. A separate itinerary is followed on rain or snow days, utilizing landmarks with unique photogenic interiors, such as The National Building Museum, Union Station, The National Postal Museum, The Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial.

  • Chevron down Do I need to bring my own camera?
  • Yes, you do.  And if you are planning to purchase a new one soon, come on our safari after you have purchased the camera: we will teach you how to use it!

    Don’t have the equipment you need?  Consider trying before buying by renting a camera body, lens, flash or tripod at discount prices from our colleagues at Lumoid If you decide to buy they will apply part of your rental cost to the purchase!

  • Chevron down How long is a safari? Is there a lot of walking?
  • Most of our safaris are just a half day, but some of them vary in length from 2.5 hours, a full day, a weekend and even several days.

    Most of our Safaris are concentrated in one tight location, like the cathedral and its grounds. Our Monuments and Memorials Safaris involve perhaps 1‚ 1½ mile of slow, stop and go walking. All the areas we visit are handicapped-accessible.

  • Chevron down Can you accommodate corporate groups, clubs, family groups?
  • Yes, we do! we will set up a photo Safari to meet your date and time requirements and your specific photographic interests. Our groups are generally 6-10 people but we can accommodate up to 60 people by hiring additional photographer-instructors to give each person as much individual attention as possible.

  • Chevron down What if I have no experience with photography?
  • No problem! Each Safari is designed for people of all ages and all skill levels. The novice, amateur and most experienced photographers will learn how to photograph sights from a different angles using creative thinking, photography tips and the technical skills they’ve learned.

  • Chevron down How much do the safaris cost?
  • Most of our half-day safaris are priced under $100, and the full day ones are priced under $200.  Weekend and week-long Safaris are priced according to the time spent and the type of instruction offered. Our pricing is very competitive with that of other vendors offering photo instruction.

  • Chevron down Who should not attend?
  • Spouses, friends, children, colleagues, relatives who are not interested in photography might be bored on our Safaris, which are not tours but teaching workshops in photography with a lot of talk about F stops, shutter speeds, composition, white balance, ISO settings, lens use, and lighting. Our Safaris are not substitutes for the professionally guided tours given by reputable vendors such as Gray Line, Old Town Trolley, Jean Fogle Tours and by many individual licensed tour guides who are experts in the history of the area’s monuments.

  • Chevron down What is a Photo Safari? What do you do, exactly?
  • “Safari” in Swahili means “journey.” We take you on a photographic journey around specific sites teaching you photographic composition and helping you use all the features of your camera:  Aperture mode, Shutter mode, Program mode, and Manual.

    Our approach to teaching photography is hands-on, in the field, rather than in a classroom. We first give you an orientation on photography and then work with you as you are taking pictures, guiding you at each step so that you will learn how to fix mistakes.

    We offer over 150 different Safaris to our clients all year long – rain or shine – covering such topics as travel, architecture, portrait, pet, nature, museum and nighttime photography.

  • Chevron down May I bring a non-photographer spouse or friend?
  • Except for our twice-daily Cherry Blossom Safaris, we don’t encourage non-photographer accompanying friends, family members or spouses to join you on our Safaris. Your companion may get bored as we work with you on the technical aspects of your camera. We need space for our students on Safaris involving transportation. This is not a tour, it is a photo workshop. Our instructors are trained as professional photographers, not as tour guides. While we do see many of DC’s best sights, our main emphasis is on picture-taking technique. We will provide as much historical information as possible so that you will be able to take pictures that bring out the meaning of the site. We suggest that your plus-one checks out the museums and many attractions of DC, meeting you at the Safari ending point. People interested in seeing the sights should take advantage of any of the excellent guided tour bus options that are available in DC.

  • Chevron down Do you offer private one-on-one photography instruction?
  • Yes, we do! It is arranged at mutually convenient times and dates for one-person or two-person groups. It covers all topics of specific interest to you, according to your skill level.

  • Chevron down What happens if it rains?
  • Washington Photo Safari operates rain or shine. A separate itinerary is followed on rain or snow days, utilizing landmarks with unique photogenic interiors, such as The National Building Museum, Union Station, The National Postal Museum, The Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial.

  • Chevron down Do I have to know a lot about photography to come on a safari?
  • No, we serve people at every skill level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Beginners will learn a lot about their cameras, how to photograph people and places, how to do candid portraits and architecture.

    Intermediate photographers will be introduced to new techniques in architecture, slow and fast shutter speeds, creative white balance techniques, multiple exposure, and low-light shooting.

    Advanced photographers will appreciate our knowledge of the best photo op sites, camera angles and times of day, and the exclusive access we provide to some of the most photogenic venues in the DC area such as the Washington National Cathedral, St. Matthews Cathedral, the Franciscan Monastery, the Anderson House, the Folger Shakespeare Library and many others.

  • Chevron down How do I get to the starting point?
  • Almost all our locations begin near METRO stop locations, and each description gives METRO and parking options. We do not do hotel or home pickups.

  • Chevron down Who should attend?
  • From beginner to advanced amateur, any photographer will have a great learning experience on our photo Safaris. Professional photographers visiting from other cities will also appreciate the time-saving site scouting we have done at each location. Having lived in the area for many years, we know where all the best pictures are!

  • Chevron down Are children allowed to participate on your safaris?
  • Yes, definitely. Some of our best clients are children who love to take pictures! One young man with a strong interest in photography since childhood first came on a safari at age 12. Three years later, he has now been on a total of 22 of safaris and he is such an accomplished photographer that he helps us teach the classes!

    Minors who themselves really want to learn photography (not just because their parents think it’s good for them) are most welcome to come on most of our safaris accompanied by a parent or guardian. (There is no charge for the parent/guardian, other than transportation.)

  • Chevron down What do your customers say about your safaris?
  • Our customers appear to be very pleased with our Safaris. A recent survey that we took revealed a 99% customer satisfaction rating and Trip Advisor awarded us their coveted Certificate of Excellence based on positive customer satisfaction, ranking us at 12 out of 113 tours offered in Washington DC. (Only the top 10% of Trip Advisor attractions receive this award.) Of the 30,000+ people we have trained since we began operations in 1999, 8,600 are repeat clients attending two or more Safaris. Voting with their feet, 520 of our clients have been on an average of 8 Safaris apiece, and one of our clients has been on 58 of the Safari itineraries that we offer!