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In the fall of 2015, travel photographer Mark Edward Harris launched the first Floating Photo Workshop in France onboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. He followed up with two more in 2016. This year, Harris will be conducting his photo workshop onboard 10-day Uniworld sailings to Northern Italy and Eastern Europe on June 16 and June 28, respectively.
The complimentary workshop is intended for beginner and intermediate photographers aspiring to improve the quality of their travel photos. In addition to shooting alongside a professional photographer — who has shot for the likes of Vanity Fair, Life, Vogue, TravelAge West and others — participants will complete daily assignments, attend lectures and receive tips on how to create compelling travel photography.
Below, Harris shares highlights of his curriculum, as well as why a river cruise is an ideal place to learn photography and how river cruisers can achieve a mantelpiece-worthy photo of their ship.
Can you give an example of a photo assignment you might use on these itineraries?At the beginning of each sailing, I hand out a cheat sheet of 20 key points that we will focus on during our daily outings. The goal is to produce a solid travel photo essay of the trip that includes establishing shots such as dramatic cityscapes, environmental portraits (a portrait of a person in a space that relates to him or her), detail shots and closing shots. The specific assignments vary from excursion to excursion.
What skill will participants learn?They’ll get a better understanding of what it takes to develop a travel photo essay: a series of images that tell a story of a journey.
Why is a river cruise an ideal setting to learn a new skill such as photography?There is nothing better than a river cruise for a photo workshop because it’s a floating classroom. Everyday we end up in a new location to explore, camera in hand. We also have plenty of time in the evening for lectures and critiques.
What are some common mistakes folks make when taking photos when traveling?Many people shoot too much instead of stopping and taking a moment to really see the scene they’re recording. A painter wouldn’t paint a hundred canvases of a scene. We need to slow down and observe and, at times, wait for all the elements to come together to make a strong photo.
Professional photographer Mark Edward Harris (left) and Uniworld team up to produce the Floating Photo Workshop. // © 2017 Samantha Lau (a student of the workshop)
Harris teaches participants the components of a travel essay, which usually includes an establishing shot, such as this one. // © 2017 Thomas Hall (a student of the workshop)
Another key element of the travel photo essay is the detail shot. // © 2017 Sue Carney (a student of the workshop)
Participants will have daily photo assignments off the ship. // © 2017 Virginia Cobley (a student of the workshop)
According to Harris, one of the biggest mistakes committed by travelers is to shoot too much rather than wait for the perfect moment. // © 2017 Mark Edward Harris
Photo excursions will take travelers to quintessential photo spots as well as off the beaten path. // © 2017 Mark Edward Harris
An expert at taking environmental portrait, Harris will show students how to approach locals. // © 2017 Mark Edward Harris
One of the highlights of the workshop is getting to shoot alongside Harris and see how he achieves some of his best shots. // © 2017 Mark Edward Harris
Can you give an example of some of the shore excursions you’ll be doing on these itineraries? Some of the excursions will consist of just the photo group and their spouses (if they would like to join us). We will hit some of the classic photo stops on each of the itineraries, but we will also be on the lookout to discover places and people off the beaten path. You never know where a great photo opportunity is going to present itself.
What tips can you share about shooting onboard a river cruise? If you’re going to shoot on the ship remember that, even when it’s docked, there will be some minor vibration from the engine or movement from the water [that can affect your photo]. And if you’re sailing, there will be even more movement. As a result, photographers should shoot at a faster shutter speed to avoid camera shake. A shutter speed of 1/250th of a second or faster is a very safe place to be, though you can get away with 1/125th of a second most of the time if you are shooting a wide shot.
How can budding photographers achieve that quintessential shot of a docked ship at port?For that photograph, it’s actually better to get off the ship in the early morning or late in the day — depending on where it’s docked — for the best light. Then, walk to a position that shows both the ship and the town it’s docked in. Several of my students got some great shots in France using this approach. These images worked well as establishing shots for their photo essays.
Mark Edward Harriswww.markedwardharris.com
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collectionwww.uniworld.com