Street performances of tango are a common site in Buenos Aires.

As I continue to daydream about the Antarctic trip that’s four months away, I’ve been thinking about our first stop: Buenos Aires. We start the trip with a day or so in Argentina’s charismatic capital city before flying to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of the country, where we board our cruise ship for the Antarctic peninsula.

I loved Buenos Aires when I did this trip 15 years ago, so I’m going down there a day early in order to see more of it. And I’m thinking about signing up for a photo tour.

Just about every major city worldwide has photographers who’ve made a business of offering photo walks—you book them to take you around to some of the best places for doing photography. You might be part of a group tour, or it might be just you and the photographer, one on one.

Two years ago, for example, when I hosted a Penn State Alumni Association/Odysseys Unlimited trip called “Portrait of Italy,” I knew I’d have some free time in Venice at the end. I did what I often do—I Googled “how to photograph Venice,” or words to that effect. That led me to a photographer named Arved Gintenreiter, who has really detailed and helpful photography tips for Venice. I saw that he also offers photo tours, so I inquired about his availability for the day I’d be there; it turns out he couldn’t do it, so he referred me to a colleague, Marco Secchi. I booked Marco and paid him 300 euros for a three-hour stroll.

Marco is a photographer for Getty Images and does the photo walks on the side. He knows where to find colorful laundry hanging outside …

… and he showed me some interesting ways to compose photos of gondolas.

It was a great way to see parts of the city that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own.

A few years before that, I was flying to Savannah to speak to a couple of Penn State alumni chapters in the area, and I got to talking to the guy sitting next to me on the plane. I told him I’m really interested in wildlife and bird photography, and he suggested I check out Larry Watts, a guy who offers photography-by-boat tours off Hilton Head Island under the name Salt Marsh Photographic Cruises. Not long after I landed, I talked to two friends of mine who winter on Hilton Head and are members of the chapter I was speaking to—they were interested too, so we got in touch with Larry and booked a photo cruise for the three of us.

As with Marco Secchi, Larry not only takes you to the good spots (as evidenced by how close he got us to the brown pelican at left, and the American oystercatcher at the top of this page), he also gives you tips to improve your photography. I remember him pointing out that I tend to put my camera down before the action is fully over; he exhorted me instead to keep firing away when a bird is flying, and even after it lands. For one thing, it might take off again, and if you stop shooting, you’ll miss a good shot. To this day when I’m photographing birds, I hear Larry’s voice in my head going “Shoot shoot shoot shoot don’t stop shooting shoot shoot shoot!”

So, in preparation for the January trip, I’ve looked at some photography walks for Buenos Aires and found a guy—Bernardo Galmarini—whose photography tours get high marks on TripAdvisor. I’ve contacted the Penn State travelers to see if anyone else is arriving early and would like to do the tour; if so, I’ll make the arrangements for our group. If not, I’ll probably book Bernardo for a few hours on my own.

And it turns out I’ll be heading back to Hilton Head Island next spring to speak to a few chapters again. You can bet I’m going to look up Larry Watts.

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One thought on “Hire a Local Photographer to Show You Around

  1. Marco is great. Did an early morning walk with him a few years ago. We had St. Mark’s Square all to ourselves. So great!

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