One of the things I like to do is spend time as a tourist in my own town. Literally. Every so often I will join a walking tour and let someone take me around and show me the sights. I sling my camera around my neck like any self-respecting tourist and with a new set of eyes I begin to appreciate things I seem to miss living here every day.
Walking tours are usually inexpensive and are led by knowledgeable hosts who are frequently well connected. Often when you arrive at stops along the way, you are taken behind the scenes and you are given the opportunity to make photographs you might not otherwise have. The tour host will have a good relationship with the people you meet since they see them on a regular basis and you might even parlay that into a story later on.
Here are a couple of photographs I made while on a tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown.
We visited a Chinese bakery and were treated to some fresh baked buns at the front of the store. It was only when the owner invited us into the back that we were able to photograph the people preparing the buns and then taking them out of the ovens. That kind of access in Chinatown is almost unheard of unless you know someone there. We also stopped at a local traditional medicine store and were given free range to photograph inside and to ask as many questions as we wanted. This is a great way to do research for future stories or to get ideas for a new photographic project.
Ten months ago I moved to a new part of town and last weekend I joined a walking tour of the village where I now live. The Boardwalks, Barrooms and Boats tour cost me $5 (yes that’s right, just $5) and I was the only participant. The guide was very open to giving me the usual talking points but because we were on our own, he was able to go off script and I could ask him anything I wanted. During this tour I didn’t make a single picture with my camera although I did carry it with me. Instead I used the opportunity to collect more information helpful to my long-term photographic project on the village plus I came away with a few new ideas.
The Bangkok Photo School offers private workshops that appeal to those who are just visiting the city for a few days but you can also be a tourist in your own town. There is an option to bring together 3 to 6 of your photography friends and we can take you around for a day or half a day. For more information, visit us here.