Photography holidays in Spain

It’s almost easier to talk about what you won’t see on a photography holiday in Spain, than what you will. You won’t be in the packed streets, big attractions and overtouristed markets of Barcelona, for a start. Nor will you be on the classic Costas, photographing fry ups and fried Brits; budding Martin Parrs, be warned.

But other than that, the scope of these trips is virtually limitless. They take place in provinces that boast both mountains and sea, often within a 30-minute drive of each other. They visit majestic cities and tiny villages, filled with farmers and fishermen. Some are even empty, having been abandoned in the 20th century as lifestyles changed. There are dramatic gorges, steep cliffs, beached dotted with strange rock formations and even semi desert. Maybe one photography holiday in Spain won’t be enough…

Where to go on a photography holiday in Spain

Picos de Europa

‘Hidden gem’ is such a cliché – but if we were going to use that phrase to describe anywhere in Spain, then the Picos would be it. These mountains soar to over 2,500m above sea level, yet are overlooked by almost all tourists – who flock to the far better known Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada. The Picos de Europa are filled with farming villages, alpine pastures, Romanesque churches and some of the most extraordinary views. The deep ravines of the Cares Gorge present thrilling photographic opportunities in the ever changing mountain light. Elsewhere, cable cars will take you to peaks for the best panoramas. Even more incredibly, these massive mountains tumble almost into the Bay of Biscay, meaning you can combine a mountain photography tour with coastal excursions, visiting windswept fishing villages and imposing cliffs. There are plenty of family run guesthouses in the mountains, so you can stay on a traditional farm, where meals are cooked with homegrown produce.

Villages in Asturias & Leon

As rural lifestyles change, young people move to the cities and populations age, there are a growing number of abandoned villages across Northern Spain, particularly in the provinces of Asturias and León. The villages of Los Beyos, tucked into a wild and remote corner of the Picos de Europa, are some of the best known. They sit atop the steep Beyos Gorge – an extraordinary setting – with crumbling houses lining cobbled streets making for eerie photo opportunities. Close to the Galician border, the lush valleys of Los Oscos also conceal abandoned hamlets. The thick, stone-walled houses with their tiled roofs, and traditional granaries, have an almost Celtic feel.

Costa Verde

Spanish beaches usually bring to mind long arcs of golden sand, well developed for tourists from northern Europe. But this is not what you’ll find in Asturias. The Atlantic beaches of the Costa Verde are loomed over by epic cliffs rather than high rise hotels, and photographers will love the incredible rock formations, including sea stacks, caves and dramatic rock arches.

Not all the attractions here are natural; Asturias’ fishing villages are some of Europe’s most charming. In Cuderillo, set up your tripod in the late afternoon light to capture the fishing boats bringing home their catch. This quirky village is a jumble of multicoloured houses with tiled roofs spilling into the little harbour.

Galicia

Spain’s wild northwestern province is unique both culturally and geographically. Photography excursions here tend to visit As Catedrais beach, named after its fantastic, cathedral-like rock formations. Your photography guide will know the tides and can plan activities to reveal the arching rocks at their best, allowing you to shoot them from the most rewarding vantage points.

Andalucia

Spain’s Moorish heartland has some wonderfully photogenic sights, both within its ancient cities as well as in its untamed landscapes province. You’ll find beautiful Islamic tile work and intricate architecture in Granada’s old Arabic quarter as well as famous Alhambra– ideal for working on photographic details and mastering composition. The whitewashed ‘Pueblos Blancos’ sitting atop the surrounding hills are quintessentially Andalucian; what you might not expect to find here, however, is the lunar-like landscape of the Gorafe semi-desert. This surreal protected landscape is known as the ‘badlands’, and is characterised by sheer-walled cliffs and dried riverbeds stuffed with resilient plants. Nearby, some 240 dolmens – Neolithic stone tombs – date back 5,000 years and form a surreal sight up on the high plateau.

Some trips, based in Granada, offer a week of Spanish classes each morning, with a couple of afternoon photography sessions – you’ll return home with two new skills.

Our top Photography Holiday

Photography holiday in Andalucia, Spain

Photography holiday in Andalucia, Spain

Photography holidays in beautiful Andaluca.

From £595 to £795 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 18 Apr, 1 Jun, 12 Jun, 9 Sep, 9 Oct
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Hello. If you'd like to chat about Photography or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

What will I be doing on a Spanish photography holiday?

These trips tend to focus on somewhat more rural subjects, from the bucolic backdrops of the Picos, to windswept beaches and cosy fishing villages. You will meet plenty of local people along the way, of course, but don’t expect too many opportunities for street photography or gritty urban scenes.

Some photography guides will focus on different skills each day, focusing on composition in the abandoned villages perhaps, or playing with lighting techniques around the sea stacks at dawn. The rock pools at low tide are excellent places to practise your macro photography skills on the endlessly patient anemones and sea stars. Back at your accommodation, you may be offered photo editing tutorials, using software such as Lightroom.
Groups tend to be very small, sometimes with a maximum of just seven people, to ensure everyone has one-on-one time with the tutors, and gets plenty of tailored feedback. That means these trips are suitable for photographers of all abilities, as you’re treated as individuals, rather than as one big group. It’s not advisable to use point and shoot cameras though, or mobile phones; you might as well make the most of the expert tuition with a camera with plenty of manual settings. The holidays are designed for DSLR cameras, or ‘bridge’ cameras, which sit between DSLR and point and shoot options.

As you’re heading well off the main tourist drags, accommodation tends to be small, locally owned and unique. You might be staying in a restored farmhouse in Asturias, a traditional hotel in a friendly fishing community, or a charming house in an Andalucian village. Expect to be eating meals produced with local ingredients, and a warm, homely atmosphere.

Best time to go on a photography holiday in Spain

Even the most amateur of photographers will know that the key to the perfect photograph is lighting – and that means early mornings, dusky evenings and avoiding the brightest of sunlight.
Spain is, of course, one of Europe’s sunniest spots, so holidays tend to avoid the midsummer months, when everything will look washed out and flat. July and August are also pretty packed and pricey, not to mention scorching hot, especially in the south, so you’d do well to travel outside of this time.

Instead, April, May and June provide a wonderful balance of longer daylight hours with cooler temperatures, alongside wildflowers in the mountains and festivals in the towns – including Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions, and various local celebrations from flamenco to fireworks. The landscape will be refreshed, too, following spring rains.

September and October are another great time, still with sunshine though storms may hit in some regions in October, making for moody skies. In Andalucia, expect warmth to last through til October, especially close to the coast.
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: urti2009]
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