DAVID KINGHAM PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR REVIEW
Full disclosure, David and I are friends, but I am going to do my best to give you an honest review of one of his tours. As with any tour, the customer must accept that you are at the complete mercy of the mercy of the weather. Doing a photography class/tour is always a coin toss in regards to getting beautiful weather. The best advice I can give someone is to research an area first thoroughly to make sure you are going during a good season. Most photographers who do tours specifically plan classes in areas during the right time of the year. Do not assume that is always the case.
As many of you know, almost all of our trips involve long distances by car. It is always fun to see people's reactions when they hear of how many miles we drive on trips. Many think it is cool, and others feel we are partly crazy. Both could be correct assessments, which is fine with us. The experiences we have encountered along the way will always be special. We made a decision a while back that we wanted to visit Death Valley National Park, but both of us were unfamiliar with the area. My good friend David Kingham does photography classes there each year, so we purchased a private tour to avoid wasting time wandering.
There are a few things I need to see from the photographer I am considering paying to show me around. First, I want to see their work from the area. If there is nothing inspiring/interesting with their own photos, how much they can show me? Secondly, I look at how familiar they are with the area to avoid the "maybe they got lucky" situation. I think that photographers doing classes/tours in areas they have been in for a while will know the land better. This encompasses everything from the weather, knowing where the good sunrises/sunsets are, knowing off-the-beaten-path gems, campgrounds, etc. Even though we were looking at the weather forecasts for Death Valley, David was able to tell me a particular spot to pay attention to. We would be camping one night at during the trip at the Euraka Dunes, and it gets much colder than the rest of the park. By him telling us that ahead of time, we were able to prepare for the 15 degrees weather adequately.
Lastly, I look for genuine communication from the photographer when signing up for the class. If they are not very personable, then that could be a possible red flag. I think people get confused thinking that every photo tour/class is done by someone professional. A lot are out there just to take the money.
I have taken two classes from David now. The first one was in Rocky Mountain National Park. I was not familiar with the area, so he picked me up from my sister's house. We had some time to spare before the Milky Way was visible, so he showed me a couple of spots before we made our way to our first destination. During the night, David was constantly attentive to what I was doing, offering feedback, allowing me to try out other lenses he had, and engaged in conversations that were not always photography related. Doing all of this helped provide a relaxed environment, which made it easier for me to learn.
Fast forward to 2017, and now he has a partner-in-crime named, Jennifer Renwick. This combination creates a very friendly environment, and conversations began effortlessly. Outside of shooting, we had several dinners with them, drank red wine out of plastic cups, and made life-long memories.
IN THE FIELD
One of the things I admire about David so much is that his success does not go to his head. At no point is there ever a moment where you feel some elitist attitude. David would regularly walk around and see what my wife and I were up to, offer suggestions, and help us with any problems we were having. I always like to ask what other photographers might be thinking, or looking for, when they approach a scene so that I can learn to see things in multiple ways.
David was very knowledgeable on where to go, where not to go, and was very forthcoming as to why we wouldn't visit certain areas. The eye-opener for me was how many spots we would not have made it to, or driven right past, had it not been for David knowing the area. Many of the cool features in Death Valley sit right off of the road at times, but there are no signs. You would drive right past them unknowingly. David did take pictures while we were out, but it was after we were settled. He was always close by so that if I had a question, I could easily call for him. Brandi and I pretty well knew what we were doing, so we didn't need someone always standing over us. The few times I needed help, though, he was there answering questions with easy to understand explanations.
I cannot think of any real negatives towards David's and Jennifer's tours/classes. I know his other classes involve more learning, but that's not what we signed up for. I would highly recommend any of his classes, and would personally take another one in the future. Hopefully, this might help anyone who is thinking about taking a class for the first time.
Prices: Varies depending on class, or size of group. Compared to other guides, they are definitely affordable for what you get with them.
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Web Site: www.exploringexposure.com
The below photos are from the trip. Enjoy.