Establishing a photo Safari program in your own community is an excellent way for skilled photographers to earn some sideline income, teaching amateur photographers how to use their cameras to improve their travel and portraiture work.
There is a significant demand in most major communities for hands-on photography instruction, especially among people about to embark on a trip who want to learn how to use their camera to best advantage before they go. Others just want to get off of “Auto” and wish to use more than just $100 worth of the features of their $900 camera!
For example, Washington Photo Safari began in 1999 with one instructor, and one itinerary and hosted just 6 clients a month that first year. By 2001 we had grown to 46 clients a month, by 2005 to 169, and now we are hosting over 250 clients a month, offering 140 diverse itineraries given by 11 professional photographers in diverse specialties as travel, architecture, portraits, flash, macro, smoke, still life, nature, nighttime and pet photography, and at locations as far as Yellowstone, New York City, and Annapolis, MD as well as throughout the National Capital area.
We are now ranked No. 1 in Google and other search engines as one of the largest photography training programs in the country and ranked #8 out of 43 outdoor activities in Washington, DC by Trip Advisor. Over 33,000 people have participated in our Safaris since 1999, one-third of them as repeat clients coming back on two or more safaris.
While the demand is out there, at the present time there are still very few communities in North America that offer regularly scheduled (i.e. 2-3 times every week, all year long) photo training excursions guided by professional photographer-instructors.
A compendium of all the photo workshops available worldwide is available at www.ShawGuides.com. While it shows many workshops periodically scheduled in cities across the country, there are very few permanent, local, regularly scheduled programs that provide hands-on training in the field, not in a classroom.
Drawing upon our experience since 1999, Washington Photo Safari director E. David Luria has developed a manual for establishing and running a local photo Safari program. It contains useful tips on organization, site selection, communications, marketing, pricing, and teaching. It also has an extensive appendix of sample instruction tips and pre-Safari emails given to clients and record-keeping worksheets. It will be shipped to the address you provide.
Using this manual and follow-up tips from us, photographers in 25 cities around the country have established local photo safaris in their communities, including Chicago IL, Minneapolis MN, Baltimore MD, Harrisburg PA, San Francisco CA, Norfolk VA, New Orleans LA, Greenville SC, Ft Worth TX, Acadia ME, Williamsburg VA, and San Diego CA.
The price of the manual includes follow-up guidance if requested, and the right to use all of its copyrighted instruction sheets and materials in your own photo safari operation.
A successful photo safari operation requires that its director be a person who 1) is highly skilled in photography 2) has good verbal and written communication skills, especially as a teacher or instructor, and 3) has a thorough knowledge of where all the best photo opportunities are in his/her community. Familiarity with several brands and types of cameras (SLR’s and point and shoots) is a definite plus as well.
The best advice we can give purchasers of the manual is to set up your safaris on a fixed schedule, every Saturday or Sunday (or both) for which clients can register on your website through a calendar. Do not just set up an unscheduled service inviting clients to email you if they would like to participate. You won’t get much business that way.
Our experience – which came as a surprise to us – is that while these kinds of photo safaris have great appeal to visiting tourists, they have even more appeal to local residents with expensive cameras who don’t know how to use them! For example, one of our most popular photo Safaris is entitled “F Stops and Shutter Speeds: How to Make This Relationship Work For You!” And local residents are in a better position to return on the other photo safaris that you offer.
While it takes a few years for a safari operation to become established and known in a community, it can eventually yield a tidy net income for its director.