• Art of Japan
• Kimberley Coast
• Sub-Antarctic Islands
I’ve been lucky in my career to have spent a lot of time sailing on expedition ships. I’ve been to Antarctica, the Sub-Antarctic Islands, the Russian Arctic, The Kimberley Coast, the gorgeous islands of New Caledonia, and more recently I spent a few weeks in Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. Expedition ships are a unique way to travel, and for many places it’s far and away the best way to travel. Comfy digs every evening, easy sailing through the night to arrive somewhere new at dawn, and a team of experts to help you make the most of time ashore.
Japan is one of the most unique places I’ve travelled on expedition ships. And from May 2024 I’ll be pairing up my photography workshop experience with the charms of sailing around the big island... and a few smaller ones.
It was 15 years ago when I first did a sailing voyage around Japan, and had a chance to immerse in their art and culture. It’s a very different experience on a boat compared to travelling independently in Japan. There’s good and bad. If you’ve never been to Japan before it’s a great way to get familiar with the local customs before you head into the chaos of Tokyo or Osaka on your own! But it’s also a great way to access some out of the way places that would be really hard to visit any other way. We still get to enjoy eating local food during the daytime, spend quality time in narrow laneways and ancient temples, and meet lots of wonderful people who make Japan such a culturally unique destination.
One of the most difficult things for me travelling alone in Japan has been the language. There are places where English will get you by, but I often felt the places I most wanted to experience were out of reach due to language barriers. It’s a paradox that the things which make Japan unique and special can also make it hard to access. So I’m looking forward to travelling with Heritage Expeditions in May next year and having the benefit of an entire tour company behind me. I’ll be focusing on the photography and helping my workshop participants, and let Heritage do the heavy lifting with the tour side of things.
This will be a very different travel photography experience to anything I’ve run before. Is it a photography tour or a photography workshop? I’m calling a workshop, which just happens to take place on a palatial ship that makes stops everyday at ports across Japan :) The expedition ship that Heritage are running these days is quite a fancy vessel and a lot more comfy than what I’m used to in decades past. It’s nice to see the company moving forward in this way and I feel like both me and the company have grown older and wiser over the years, so now we get to enjoy a little extra comfort on our travels.
Someone asked me if I’ve entered my “Armchair Recliner” phase of travel! In a way that’s true, albeit with my favourite camera in hand and a local sim card in case I get lost while wandering ashore. I’m still keeping my Himalayan photography adventures, and there’ll be plenty of other special trips and workshops in the years ahead, but actually I am really excited about taking this step and having a little “Home away from Home” with Heritage. I’ve met so many great people on my travels with them, so many amazing experts and really switched on guides. Bringing a little of that into my future workshops is definitely a bonus.
My plan is to do a few trips with Heritage each year, and offer a private photography workshop program that lets us make the most of our time aboard. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the past decade to have had the chance to sail with Heritage Expeditions, and make a bunch of new friends along the way. These guys are pioneers in expedition cruising, having been in operation since 1984, and are still family-owned and operated.
We’ll have a series of presentations and review sessions throughout each journey, and of course I’ll be there to assist everyone in the group with support on the ground (and on the water). For some journeys there may be opportunities for our photography groups to get a few extra privileges, like landing ashore for the dawn light or an extra zodiac cruise to capture penguins. These extras always depend on weather conditions, tidal schedule, and available resources for any given sailing departure. It will also depend on what joy the light is offering us on the day. Sometimes we might simply enjoy shooting the last light in a stunningly remote location from the top-deck of the Heritage Adventurer.
These voyages aren’t what I call photo tours though. My finely crafted experiences in the Himalayas and The Arctic are completely designed around maximising the opportunity to capture amazing images. We sacrifice some comforts and maximise some expenses in order to get some great shots. Aboard our expedition ship I’ll be running workshops, not photo tours. I’ve selected specific voyages on the basis that the itinerary experience itself already aligns wonderfully with inspiring photographic opportunities. They are itineraries that I already know to be rewarding for me, and I will do my best to share that inspiration with you.
From 2024 we’re planning to offer three Expedition Workshops: Japan, Kimberley Coast and Sub-Antarctic Islands. You can book a spot right away by following the links below. Everything is handled by Heritage Expeditions directly, so you can deal with their team to discuss cabin options, transfers and add-ons. There’s a modest premium on each departure to join my workshop, which is far less than what I normally charge for a 4-day workshop back home or a two week tour in Bhutan. They’re excellent value.
As always I’ll be available to chat in detail before the trip and help you plan. I encourage all my travellers to jump on a Zoom session when they book and chat about their camera gear, and their photography journey. I want to know how best I can help you, and make sure you’re properly prepared for the trip before we hit the open seas. For some folks it’s a case of working out which telephoto lens to pack. For others it’s an emphasis on learning ways to be more creative with the camera.
We’re all on different journeys, even when we’re in the same boat. That’s the joy of travel and photography :)
I have a special page with information on the new workshops, and info on how to book:
Art of Japan Workshop
16 days in May 2024
Kimberley Coast Workshop
11 days in August 2024
Sub-Antarctic Wildlife Workshop
12 days in December 2024