Best time to go on a photography holiday

Best time to go on a photography holiday


SEASONS, CLIMATE & EVENTS

One of the bonuses of being a photographer is that the best time to go on a photography holiday is quite often the season that more conventional holidaymakers would prefer to avoid. Think Africa’s lush green season, when wildflowers colour the savannah; Asian monsoons, where storm clouds provide a brooding backdrop; and Eastern European winters, when ice crystals give forests a fairytale sparkle. Travelling off season gives you the added benefit of not having to Photoshop-out the heads of hundreds of other tourists – and local people tend to be more relaxed, too, as they’re not overrun with visitors. Peak times can still provide other treats, however, such as sapphire skies and migrating wildlife; our map reveals the best time to go on a photography holiday in each region.
Iceland Southeastern China Southeast Asia Spain India Borneo Morocco Scotland Slovenia Turkey East Africa Bolivia
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Iceland

Iceland This Arctic nation is a land of seasonal extremes, each presenting photographers with a new challenge. Mid-June basks in the midnight sun – 24 hours of light to take photographs in. Sep-Oct and Feb-March are top times for the Northern Lights – with more daylight than midwinter, in which to capture ice formations and snowy landscapes. The late winter also sees orcas migrate to the surrounding waters.
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Southeastern China

Southeastern China The subtropical climate of China’s Guangxi province means you’ll be looking to avoid both the humid heat and the heavy rains. April-May and October are both dry and comfortable, although July and August’s monsoon brings brilliant blue skies – interspersed with heavy rain. January and February are invariably chilly; we wouldn’t recommend travelling midwinter.
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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Indochina is a classic winter getaway – their warmest, sunniest months coincide with the northern hemisphere’s most miserable. But while this is a lovely time for sunlit shots, don’t rule out travelling during the summer rains; popular spots such as Angkor Wat and Inle Lake will be far less crowded, while rural scenes will be refreshed, and wild skies will create powerful shots of rice paddies and stupa-filled landscapes.
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Spain

Spain While the hordes flock to Spain in July and August, those with a creative eye will leave the crowds to scramble for sun beds, and travel when the fiercest heat subsides. Andalucia will be glorious from April-October, with early spring one of the best times for festivals. Alternatively, catch spring wildflowers in the Picos de Europa – or the autumn foliage, which seems to set the mountainsides on fire each October.
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India

India Enormous India has something to catch your eye year round – whether you’re looking for vibrant local festivals, or endangered wild tigers and rhinos. July-mid October see monsoons in much of the country, and tiger reserves inaccessible. Winter, from Nov-Feb can be very cold but clear, while the heat increases from March onwards – head to the Himalayas to escape the heat.
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Borneo

Borneo There really is no best time to travel to Borneo, making this one of the most flexible destinations for a photography holiday. November-February are wetter than most, making trekking tough, and reducing access to the Kinabatangan River. But as your closest wildlife encounters are likely to take place in the sanctuaries, you will see orangutans and other native species year round.
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Morocco

Morocco If you’re heading to the Sahara, we recommend travelling outside of the June-September heat, unless you want to spend sweaty days chasing desert mirages. Spring and autumn offer the loveliest climate across the country, from the cool heights of the Atlas Mountains, dotted with Berber villages, to the buzzing souks of Marrakech and the majestic minarets at sunset.
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Scotland

Scotland Photographers often seek to avoid the harsh light of midsummer – but not so in northern Scotland, where the long June days bathe mountain landscapes, seal colonies and isolated fishing villages in a golden glow. The Inner Hebrides are all about big skies and panoramic landscapes – bring a wide angle lens! The summer months are also a great time to spot seabird colonies, red deer, porpoises, dolphins and even whales.
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Slovenia

Slovenia The Balkans are an increasingly popular tourist destinations – but are still deathly quiet outside of the summer months, when the winter chill sets in. Slovenia’s Julian Alps can be visited year round, but in winter the scenes are extra special – think Narnia or the Snow Queen, with frozen waterfalls, glittering frosts, and clear winter skies reflected in ice-blue lakes.
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Turkey

Turkey With a continental climate, Turkey is bitter in winter and roasting in summer – so spring and autumn are the best times for a photography holiday – with the added bonus of missing the summer crowds and peak prices. The softer light is ideal for photographing Istanbul’s stunning architecture, Cappadocia’s magical fairy chimneys, rural villages and idyllic vineyards.
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East Africa

East Africa If it’s the Great Migration you’re after, then June-September is the best time of year to travel to Kenya to see more than a million wildebeest and zebra making their way across the great plains of the Masai Mara in search of food. Our top tip? Avoid school holidays for lower prices and fewer crowds.
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Bolivia

Bolivia The bright light, deep blue skies and surreal landscapes of the Bolivian Andes are a true photography treat, and they’re at their clearest – and coldest – from May-Oct. Bring extra warm layers for the freezing nights – though you’ll thaw out during the day. Travel at either end of the season for warmer weather. The dry climate means you’ll get right across the salt flats, rather than skirting around the edge – and don’t miss a Titicaca sunrise.
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Best time to go on a photography holiday


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL’s SUPPLIERS RECOMMEND

Oktay Ortakcioglu, photographer and founder of our supplier, Imaj Photography Holidays, shares his tips on the best time to go on a photography holiday to southeastern China: “For the Guangxi area of China, I recommend October and April as they are the driest months with comfortable temperatures. For great blue skies, I recommend August although there is a high risk of rain most of the days.
Geraldine Westrupp, founder and photography guide at our supplier Wild Photography Holidays, shares her best time to go on photography holiday to her adopted home – Iceland: “There are three times of year that we run trips to Iceland. One is in the winter, and by that we mean February, March, and maybe the beginning of April. There’s the chance to see the aurora and the landscapes are very icy and wintery but there’s good light by then. In November to January there isn’t enough daylight for running good quality trips. In June and July we’ve got light all day, birds and flowers, so we run wildlife and landscape trips. Then we have a slot in September-October so there’s autumn colour, but there’s also aurora.”
Bibiana Tellez-Garside, from our supplier High Lives, who specialise in tours to Bolivia: “We recommend spring or autumn in Bolivia and the Andes as it is dry season and not too cold. But if photographers want to take photographs of the Uyuni Salt Flats mirror effect the best time to go is January and February, however the some sections of the salt flats and the desert will not be accessible.”
Lesley Schofield, owner of our supplier All Points East, runs trips across Southeast Asia: “Sometimes the low season, our summer, is better for shots in Southeast Asia; you get more interesting light. You get fantastic skies because you’ll get rain clouds coming in and going across. The rain isn’t all day long, it’s quite nice, it refreshes things and it’s much quieter – and cheaper! I would say each season has its advantage in terms of photography though, and anyone who’s been to Angkor Wat in the summer, the winter – they’ll have totally different shots because of the difference in light. Plus, you’ll still get tourists, but not at the same level. So you stand more chance at Angkor Wat or getting the fabulous door on your own, and being able to take that photo – whereas in the high season you don’t.”

Festivals & events for photographers


OUR TOP PHOTOGRAPHY PICK

The Northern Lights Head to Iceland or Norway’s Lofoten Islands to witness one of nature’s most magical displays: the Northern Lights. The lights are visible from September-April, with the equinoxes (late September and late March) said to be the best time for viewings. They also have more daylight than the midwinter months – meaning you’ll have chance to get out and about during the day to snap the stunning Arctic landscapes.
Photo credits: [Top box: Rajarshi MITRA] [Southeastern China: Bernt Rostad] [Southeast Asia: Paul Arps] [Spain: the very honest man] [India: LASZLO ILYES] [Morocco: 16:9clue] [Scotland: amateur photography by michel] [Slovenia: Mirci] [Turkey: Moyan Brenn] [Bolivia: Noemí Galera] [Oktay Ortakcioglu - Guangxi: thisnomad] [Bibiana Tellez-Garside - Bolivia salt flats: Madeleine Deaton]
Written by Vicki Brown
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