InSight: Guides FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are DearSusan InSight: guides?

The cover of DearSusan's Insight: Istanbul Self-Guided Photo Tour ebook showing the New Mosque from Galata Bridge

Front Cover of the InSight: Istanbul guide

InSight: guides are photographer-oriented travel guides focusing on cities, regions, scenic roads and other local attractions. Written by experienced travel photographers, each provides insights on the most satisfying photo opportunities in the location.

After decades of photographing the world, we have come to realise how important preparation is for great travel experiences and how little attention is given to photography by other travel guides.

We have scouted locations, selected areas, drives and walks we feel provide the best shooting experience for the traveler with a few days to spare then provided clear information on where to go, why, what to expect, what gear to take with you, and how to avoid potential pitfalls.

There’s a lot of unpredictability in travel photography, which is why professionals scout locations extensively before shooting them.  You can plan ahead, but not much beats being on location to see what works and what doesn’t. These guides put you in the best conditions to make the most of your travels and bring home stunning pictures you will enjoys for decades.

 

How are these different from other travel guides?

Sample picture at night in Amsterdam for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Night in Amsterdam

Travel guides help you organize your trip in many ways : legal formalities, health & security warnings, lodging advice, tourist attractions … Some are invaluable to savour great food and the best watering holes.

We focus exclusively on the photographer’s enjoyment.

We discuss routes, subjects, angles, times of day, gear. Since we are sensitive creatures, you *will* find information on particularly appealing food or activities on a walk, but our goal is mainly to put you in the best possible position to bring home fine photographs of your travels.

There often is a huge difference between the historical / fun / interesting locations described in conventional travel guides and the photogenic locations we have selected. These may overlap, but not as often as you’d think. So InSight: guides often take yo off the beaten path and try to provide a different (read: photographer-centric) perspective even on the most popular tourist attractions.

[Read more: 10 ways travel guides mislead photographers ]

 

What sort of photographer are they for? Do I need to be advanced?

Venice from San Giorgio maggiore. Sample picture for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Minature Venice

Not at all. Some information (sunrise/sunset tables …) may initially be of more use to advanced photographers, but our main goal is to take you to spots we think you’ll enjoy. And that works whatever your experience.

Beginners benefit greatly since the selected walks and drives free their imagination and provide a lot of exotic backgrounds that probably wouldn’t have been on their agenda otherwise.

As long-time business travelers, we understand what it means to want to squeeze a few photography hours into a tight schedule so InSight: guides are particularly suited to this in-between-planes activity. Clear information on how to get there, how long it will take and the duration of the walk or drive are there to let you decide where and when to tackle a specific area. And even a little bit of how.

As for the advanced photographer, all those who have read or used InSight: guides have raved about them and the ground work they eliminate.

 

How can InSight: Guides help me, as a travel photographer?

An abstract from a travel in London's underground. An example in Sample picture for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Supersonic underground

Do your travel photographs look like those of photographers you admire?

Do your travel photographs look like everyone else’s rather than show a personal style?

More importantly, are you satisfied with the photographs you bring back from your travels?

If you are not happy with your photos, you likely blame your gear or yourself or both.

Don’t!

The main reasons for not creating pleasing results is neither your fault or your gear’s.

The first culprit is not being at the right place at the right time. It’s terribly difficult to produce good image while following the red umbrella of a tour guide or by lining up with the hundreds of other tourist carrying the same travel guide as yours in their hand.

The Princess's Palace in fireworks at Disneyland Paris. Ilustration for Sample picture for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Princess on fire

The second is not keeping an open mind. Think less about getting the shot of the famous attraction and more about aesthetics. If you’re serious about photography, give more or and more space to that little voice that sometimes shout “Oh WOW” inside your brain and don’t worry if you’re not following others to all the must-shoot spots. Saint Paul’s cathedral is nearly impossible to shoot correctly from close up. Instead run to the middle of Millenium bridge or any other place that provides an exciting perspective.

InSight: Guides take you to visually interesting places along walks / drives with plenty of picturesque points of view, angles and opportunities for you to release your creativity and capture the essence of a location, not limiting yourself to the most famous areas.

 

Surely, travel photography is a subjective hobby. How can you make a guide for that?

Mass worship in Rijksmuseum illustrating a design principle in DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Mass worship

That’s actually very true. Photographers come in all shapes and sizes. And all react differently to the same scene.

Besides, we always encourage beginners to find their own style, go their own way, rather than follow the masses into the same poses and auto-filtering processes.

In fact, there’s very little in the photo world that makes us more distressed than the scene on the right. What good can come of any of these hastily grabbed photographs with ten heads masking the painting ?

InSight: guides do not format your vision or tell you exactly where to post your tripod. If a specific spot particularly appeals to us, we tell you about it. But the walks are all about placing the reader in a setting that’s very conducive to creative photography and we’re quite willing to bet your photos of the area won’t be identical to ours. They’ll be even better because they’ll transcribe your vision.

Photographers and windmills illustrating a design goal for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Shooting from the car park

In a recent mini-interview, Michael Reichmann told us he never looks at the photographs of others before visiting a new location because he doesn’t want anything to bias his own view.

That’s why we provide a map, background information on the type of photography best suited for each walk (street, nature, historical, abstract, …) and very little else that could alter your judgement.

That’s also why the photographs we include in the guides are there only to show you what to expect and help you prioritise walks but aren’t presented in a way that aims to influence your style.

We do the research, map our favourite walks and leave the creative part entirely to you.

 

Is my family going to shun me?

Ferry terminal in Marseilles. Sample picture for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Ferry terminal in Marseilles

That’s a very legitimate question. Photography can spoil family vacations.

It is our experience that photographers who are very satisfied with their harvest are much more happy to spend quality time with the rest of the family. InSight: Guides ensure your harvest is excellent.

When the photographer feels he is holding back and not getting the shots while the other members of the family feel the photographer is keeping to himself, frustration arises.

The cure to this is to clearly define photo-oriented periods and family times. Plan your day as a team. For example, taking a walk – possibly alone – early in the morning gives you the best light and frees up a large chuck of the day for family-friendly shooting. You can still grab that special something that turns up unexpected, but you won’t be hunting for the shot and your family will be grateful for it.

Besides, many of the walks described take place in beautiful surroundings that are pleasant for all to see. So you can visit together, and possibly split for short periods while you focus on a particular area and catch up immediately after that for great together-time. The picture on the right was made while my family was buying ice-cream 100m further up the street.

[Read more: 5 reasons your non-photographer family will love Insight: guides ]

 

Can’t I get all this information for free on the Internet?

Morning on the platforms. Sample picture for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Morning on the platforms

There’s very little information you can’t find for free on the Internet. If you’re willing to dig it up, clean the signal and get rid of the useless chatter, you can find a lot of interesting nuggets out there.

Is it worth it? That’s more debatable.

InSight: guides are written by experienced photographers who have patiently search and analysed relevant information, then been on location, sometimes dozens of times.

We’ve been around long enough to recognize potential in an area – for multiple types of photography – and present our suggestions in an informative manner that lets you discover the place for yourself.

Compared to using an InSight: guide, spending dozens of hours sifting through the Internet represents a huge investment in time. Plus, all the photographs you will find on Flickr or other websites will influence your mind and bias your vision so that you will want to hunt for a specific shot rather than explore an area open-mindedly to get the most out of it.

 

Can readers interact?

Neon gallery. Inviting readers to collaborate in DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Neon gallery in Istanbul

You betcha! We’re counting on it!

DearSusan was born a collaborative blog and InSight: guides are no different.

Send us your comments and photographs. Suggest new walks. Every time we publish something something you created, you win.

Join conversations. Receive free ebooks by contributing information. And earn generous royalties by becoming an InSight: author. You are welcome to join us at any time.

Subscribe in the box below and send any questions to info@dearsusan.net. We answer every single one.

 

 

Can I share your guides with others?

Raging bull, legal allegory for DearSusan's InSight: Guides FAQ

Raging bull

Legal answer: No. The text and photographs in the guides are protected by copyright law and sharing is assimilated to theft.

DearSusan answer: we’d rather you didn’t share, for 3 reasons.

First of all, we have kept the prices really low so that anyone who can afford to travel will not even notice the cost of the guide.

Secondly, to create these guides, we have invested significant time in research and significant money in traveling, gear, processing, sales platforms … When you buy our guides, you make sure more will follow.

Finally, there are numerous opportunities for you and anyone else to receive free ebooks. The easiest is to volunteer help and information. Instead of making you a thief and hurting us, this makes everyone richer (see question above).

And, by the way, we are human beings who want to promote creative travel photography. If one of your friends really cannot afford a guide, send him our way and we will always work out a solution.

 

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