One thing that goes hand in hand with my love of travelling is my love of photography. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new cities through my camera lens, taking far too many photos then playing around with editing afterwards. I’m no expert – in fact I still haven’t got around to working out all the settings on my new camera and am definitely guilty of overindulging on the ‘automatic’ mode. I have taken part in a couple of photography tours before, including an awesome night photography workshop in Melbourne, and I think they are a great (and completely underrated) way of exploring somewhere new.
On my recent trip to Chile, I spent my first morning exploring the city and getting my bearings as part of a Santiago photography tour with a company called Foto Ruta. When researching what to cram into my short week away, their name cropped up a few times as a recommended activity and after reading about their Street Scape tours, I was sold! These small group or private tours start with a brief lesson on photography basics in a local cafe, followed by a two to three hour guided walk around the city, through winding side streets and local markets.
The lesson at the start doesn’t go into too much detail – don’t expect to turn up a novice and walk away semi-professional! It’s there as a reminder to those who already have good foundational knowledge of the basics of photography, and to act as an introduction to those who are not familiar with any photographic terms. The talk covers ISO/ aperture/ shutter speed etc but also the rule of thirds and a few other useful techniques. Once you leave the cafe, you’ll work your way into the centre through side streets and squares, capturing some of the most beautiful areas in Santiago. The great thing about being with a local guide is that they are familiar with the most photogenic spots and can come in handy when taking photos of people, as they double up as a translator if you don’t speak Spanish!
Unlike other tours I’ve been on, Foto Ruta puts a lot of emphasis on creativity. Finding texture in buildings, looking for angles and shapes within buildings, reflections in puddles… you get the idea! This was actually quite a challenge for me to start with as I’m so used to whipping my camera out and taking a generic shot of a building or attraction with little thought behind it. Having to look for the little things and the finer details really forces you to look at a city with a different perspective, which I really enjoyed!
When the tour ends (for us it was in Plaza de Armas), you will head to a local bar/ cafe and relax with a complimentary glass of Chilean wine. During this time, your guide will look through your photos with you to comment on which ones they think look best and how you could improve for next time. My guide Chloe also works as a photographer, so it was great to receive some professional advice. I actually found this process really useful as I took quite a few different photos of each subject from multiple angles, so I was able to see afterwards which techniques worked most effectively.
For me, it was a great first morning in Santiago and the perfect way to get to know a city inside out and from a unique perspective. I also learnt a lot and ended up using a lot of the techniques on my subsequent trip to Valparaiso, putting more thought into what I was trying to achieve with each photo. Foto Ruta offer a few different tours alongside Street Scape, including one for iPhone photography and one specifically dedicated to food! You can check out the full list of tours and prices on their website and if you let them know you heard about the tours through my website, they’ll knock 10% off! 🙂 (Note: Not sponsored/ I don’t get any commission if you do!). If you are planning on joining one of the tours – remember to charge your camera! Spare batteries are a bonus. The tour will be pretty intensive for your camera, and viewing the photos at the end is often quite draining, which I didn’t realise!
I’ve included some of the photos taken on my tour within the post, but the rest can be found on my Flickr page if you are interested 🙂