Looking for Ideas and a Companion for my Next Photo Trip

I’m feeling a gentle photo-itch in my hands, so I imagine it’s probably time to start thinking about my next photo trip.  I know I don’t have to travel far (or even at all) in order to make great images, but I do like to travel far and to take part in the lives of people who lead a much simpler life.  The whole thing started three years ago when I visited India together with a tourist group and came back with some very nice images.  I then made two more trips, this time alone and totally immersed in photography.

Traveling alone has the advantage of being totally flexible, but it’s a lonely 10–14 days in a foreign culture with no related soul to share your experiences.  Plus it’s surely better to have someone to divide the practical chores as well: finding the right bus or hotel, planing the route for the next day, sharing the cost of taxi and hotel, carrying just one soap or tube of sun cream, and not to forget, simply watching each-other’s backs.  But while it would be great to have company along, it is my impression that a photo trip is not really compatible with vacation and relaxation.  So it’s not terribly practical to have friends along who simply want to relax and have a nice vacation.  They will want to hit all the tourist attractions whereas a photographer will usually stay away from just those places, which are actually worst for mingling with typical locals or experiencing “real life.”  Furthermore tourist-friends might want to travel and sleep “western class” whereas a photographer might prefer more typical accommodations in order to stay focused and connected with the country he is visiting.

So to me the solution is to travel with one or two other photographers.  The advantages are numerous: common goals and interests, sharing ideas, talk about the images on a daily basis, lend each-other equipment, carry just one tripod, one laptop, etc.  Well great, but unfortunately I don’t know any other photographers who have similar interests or enough free time.

So how about this?  Is anyone “out there” interested in joining me on a photographic trip? I am very flexible, so feel free to suggest a destination, time-line or mode of transportation.  I’m really ager to hear from you!

Just to get the ball rolling, here is what I have in mind, roughly:

  • A trip to a relatively safe “third-world” country, e.g. Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, China.  I’ve visited India for three years in a row, so let’s choose a different country this time please.  And it doesn’t have to be a country in South Asia.  Africa, Central or South America, Central Asia or the Middle East are all interesting to me.  It would be great if one can get by with English there, or if you speak the language of that country.  As a very different alternative, how about a “winterly” trip to Sweden, Norway or Finland?
  • A trip of roughly two weeks, probably some time in Jan-April 2010.  Less than two weeks is just too short to get into the “photo zone,” at least for me, and longer than two weeks requires too much of my precious vacation.
  • The photographic opportunities should be centered around people or landscapes.  I’m just not very experienced or have the fitting gear for shooting wildlife.
  • Let’s not make it a luxurious trip.  Since we are talking about “back to the basics” countries, I like to travel, eat and sleep in relatively modest accommodations.  These should still be quiet, clean and tidy, just not 4 or 5 star hotels with room service and fancy restaurants that serve continental breakfast.  I like to get to know the life of the locals, and simple surroundings get me in a more appropriate mood photographically.  I would prefer to hire a car, if possible, however.  On my second trip to India I did so, and it cost me 280 EUR for 10 days.  The car was driven by a local driver who was able to suggest hotels and places to eat.  And it was enormously practical to stop and leave wherever or whenever I pleased.  I was thus able to visit remote villages and non-tourist places as much as I wanted to.

That’s it basically.  If anyone is interested in coming along or simply has a suggestion on when or where my next trip should go, I’d very happy to hear from you.