Going On A Photo Safari Vacation Step By Step

The concept of going on a “Photo Safari” may not be familiar to many, however you will soon learn it is an excellent way to take a vacation even if only for an afternoon and in your home city.  What is a Photo Safari? Well traditionally it was used to describe a trip to Africa, where one of the major goals was to “capture” the Big 5 animals (and dozens of others) on film.  Travelers who embark on a wildlife focused photo safari tend to have fancy cameras with monster size zoom lenses.

Taking Travel Photos with your Digital Camera

What I am talking about here is an outing to any destination with your camera in hand, with the goal to take pictures of whatever you find.  Unlike a traditional vacation where you take photos of your family and travel partners, the focus of a photo safari should not be on yourself.  The photos you decide to take could be scenic, oddball, exotic, inspiring, insightful, or just plain fun.  The point is… well to point your camera at people and scenes that meet your own definition of photo-worthy to capture the photographic journey.

The Equipment: A Digital Camera – Check!

Digital photography has made it possible for everyone to become an amateur photographer and capture life’s events as well as vacation memories with ease.  Almost everybody has at least a low cost digital camera these days, whether pocket sized or built into your mobile phone (e.g. iPhone, Android).  So you already have the proper equipment required to take a photo safari.

Of course after going on several of these mini-vacations, you may decide to upgrade your camera (Steve’s Digicams is a great resource for reviews) as well as take classes on how to be a better photographer.

Go On A Photo Safari Steps

1. Select A Destination

What type of photos do you enjoy taking?  Are you looking to capture city life, wildlife, architecture, interesting people, random found objects, scenes of nature, or an off the beaten path destination?

Your photo safari can take place in a neighborhood, park, festival, or a local attraction right in your home town.  Consider traveling to a nearby city to get outside your comfort zone to photograph.  You may have the desire to head out into the countryside to a scenic area of natural beauty.  The possibilities are endless!

2. Decide upon a Photo Safari “Big 5”

Set a few goals for your outing so you can seek out specific places and experiences to capture in photos.  Doing so will help you tune into the destination and find targets for your camera.  Think of it like making a shopping list before heading out to the supermarket and checking off each item you locate and purchase.

On Photo Safari Snapping Flower Pictures

Examples of a overarching theme for your Big 5 can be simple or go beyond your imagination.  Here are some of my favorite subjects for a Photo Safari:

3. Pick a date and time

Saturday or Sunday is the obvious day for most working people, assuming that you normally have the weekend off.  However consider taking a half or full day off from work as true vacation time to avoid the crowds and change the experience.

Of course your choice of date and time will be influenced by your destination and goals.  For example sunsets can only be captured at certain times and locations.  The same goes for a scheduled event such as a local farmer’s market or along your commute to the office.

4. Go On Safari

Taking Photos on Safari in the City

Before packing your camera and heading out, make sure the batteries are fully charged or fresh and the digital memory card is not already full.  Bring a backup battery and extra memory card if you have one just to be safe.  Head out to your chosen destination and seek out the Big 5, or be totally spontaneous and see what happens.

For extended outdoor and nature photo safaris, dress appropriately and take food and drink in addition to your cell phone.  It is always good advice to tell a family member or friend where you will be when trekking to an unfamiliar location.

5. Process Your Digital Photos

I am sure you are an excellent photographer but even great pictures can use a little tuning.  First plug your camera or digital memory card into your computer and copy the photos so you can make some edits.  Next open your favorite photo editing and photo processing website and try out the digital tools such as crop, straighten, brightness/contrast, red-eye reduction, and photo correction filters to perfect the images.  For those that choose to upload to Google Photos, their offer auto-enhancement features that make your photos more fun and professional.

I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to make a backup copy to an external hard drive or an online album.

6. Post Your Pictures Online

While this step is not required, sharing your photos online with at least your family and friends is a nice way to make them part of your vacation experience.  Storing your photos online has an added benefit – they will serve as a backup in case your computer fails.  Your best bets for uploading and storing travel photos on the Web besides Google Photos is Flickr and Shutterfly.

Want to tell a story alongside your safari photos?  It costs nothing to start your own travel blog, focusing on your own photo safari adventures.  The most popular choices are the free Google Blogger and WordPress for the more advanced content management platform. I recommend that you store all your photos in full resolution online organized by album.  Then as you write each travel blog post, link to the preferred size of your photos within the blog editing user interface.

To learn about how to create a travel blog with step-by-step guidance, consider this course offered by world famous travel blogger Nomadic Matt: How to Build A Travel Blog.

To offer an example of some photos taken on safari, the pictures below were taken in San Francisco and posted to Sidewalk Safari, one of many travel themed blogs that I follow.

Sidewalk Safari Photo Top Pics (San Francisco)
Photos courtesy and copyright of SidewalkSafari.com – All Rights Reserved

Guided Photo Safari Tours

For those of you on a mission to become an expert travel photographer or act like one for a day or two, many companies offer scheduled and custom photo safaris which are a combination of guided tour and photography lesson.  Search online for “photo safari” or “photo tour” plus a particular place name such as New York, Paris, New Zealand, Hawaii, or a theme such as fall foliage, wildlife, or flowers.

You can also search for “photo safari blog” plus a place of interest to read what others have accomplished, appreciate their photos, and gather new ideas.  To learn more check out this article – “Safaris Where the Hunt Is for the Perfect Picture” or visit Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris.

Photo Safari Sculpture - Man with Camera

I hope you are inspired to take a short vacation break and go on a photo safari with the tips and suggestions offered here.  For those of you who have turned going on photos safari into a hobby and posted your photos online, add a comment in the reply section below with a link to share with readers of VacationCounts.

  • Katie says:

    Great advice for anyone wanting to capture some quality shots. I’m looking forward to a
    Safari holiday where I hope to capture the real big five!

  • Flowers says:

    Very cool post! one of my favorite places to go on a flower photo safari is to the local greenhouse where I can take all the flower pictures I want. They have become used to me showing up each spring hungry for pictures of flowers after a long winter of bleak blacks and whites.

    Even though I have been going there for years I still always ask and am very respectful of the customers and try to buy something if I see something I like.

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