Are photography tours a growing trend for 2023?

photographers on a photo tour
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many people took up photography as a hobby during the COVID lockdowns – either for the first time or a rediscovery – thanks to the wealth of accessible tutorials to be found online, along with more leisure time.

Unlike baking sourdough bread, photography is one COVID hobby that people are still enthusiastic about (if you are a keen baker too, apologies), and with travel re-opening around the world, tour companies like Backcountry Journeys are seeing an increase in bookings for their photography tours.

“Our tours fill up quickly these days,” says Russ Nordstrand, Founder and CEO of Backcountry Journeys. “Several of our clients took up photography as a creative hobby during lockdowns and they come to us to improve their proficiency while capturing amazing landscapes and wildlife.”

One study found that engaging in leisure activities during COVID-19 had protective benefits for psychological health. Photo tours provide the opportunity to combine a creative outlet with travel and time spent outdoors, which relieves stress and hones different skills to those we might normally use in our daily lives. 

So, now that travel is on the whole, open again, will we suddenly see an upward trend in booking photographic tours for 2023? Keenan Hursh at Backcountry Journeys shares what's popular right now.

Backcountry Journeys
Keenan Hursh

Keenan Hursh is the website, copy and content specialist at Backcountry Journeys, a company that offers a wide range of all-inclusive photography tours across the globe. Backcountry specializes in small group tours to maximize the one-on-one time with photography experts and trip leaders creating more meaningful and educational experiences – for a variety of skill levels from first-time camera owners to expert photographers.

Have you seen an increase in demand for photo tours?

Yes, we have seen a massive increase in demand for our photography tours, many of which are fully booked a year or more in advance. Our reservations and waitlists are filling up faster than ever and we’re very excited to provide more amazing experiences to new and existing customers. 

We have specifically seen a large increase in demand with the rollback of COVID restrictions and regulations. As more destinations become available and as the travel process becomes less risky customers are willing to get out there again and go on some epic adventures.

What types of photography and location have been popular?

We do all kinds of trips focusing on different styles of photography all over the world but there are several trips that have definitely been very popular recently. We offer desert trips in the American Southwest that visit national parks including Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Joshua Tree. 

These trips are great for landscape enthusiasts and we run them in the winter as well. Backcountry Journeys also offers incredible Alaska trips all over the state from the Kenai Peninsula to the Katmai Coast. Whether you’re looking to shoot grizzly bears catching fish on a waterfall or capturing the beauty of the Northern Lights we have an Alaska trip for you. 

People have also been really excited about our international wildlife trips to Asia and Africa. From shooting Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda to searching for Jaguars in Brazil these trips are perfect for wildlife photographers.

Are many tour attendees quite new in their photography journey? Are you seeing more enthusiasts or pros?

Yes, many of our clients are new in their photography journeys and haven’t necessarily mastered how to use their equipment. Our guides are experts at assisting someone who recently bought their first camera to learn the basics of setting up the perfect shot as well as discussing much more advanced knowledge and expertise with photography experts. We make sure all of our trips will be educational and enjoyable for all our guests no matter their current experience level.

Setting up your own photography workshops can be rewarding but tricky, so you might be wondering whether it's likely that we'll see an increase in photographers – both those with beginner cameras and professional cameras – signing up for tours to enhance their skills.

While photography tours are an excellent way to meet other like-minded creatives, test out your skills with seasoned pros and try out new gear – they can be expensive, too. Whether we'll see a sharp spike in the trend for photo tours (more so than before the pandemic) is yet to be determined.

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.