A few days ago, I received a email from a potential participant about the amount of – or lack of – walking on our upcoming photography trip to Yellowstone. My correspondent noted that we would be spending more time in the van that we would walking trails in America's first national park. She wondered if I knew of any photography trips that were oriented more toward hiking.
That was a fair question, as I'm sure most photographers would prefer to be out and about with their cameras rather than stuck in a van. Certainly on the trips to Yellowstone I've conducted over the past 20 years, we do sit on our keisters during a fair portion of each day.
Photography for aficionados involves cameras and lenses and tripods and filters and memory cards and batteries. A long day hike includes the need to carry food and water and extra clothes. On a backpack trip, there are sleeping bags and tents and stoves and food to carry. That's a lot to shoulder in service of both photography and hiking.
That's why there are plenty of calendar shots of backcountry locations – of waterfalls and glaciers and high peaks – in Yosemite, and not so many backcountry images for Yellowstone. That easy accessibility to so much that Yellowstone offers is precisely why it's such a fertile field to till for groups of photographers, who can share the experience of seeing and photographing the geysers, the wildlife, and the sweeping views contained within park's mountainous landscapes.
And sharing those moments is the reason for going with a group of photographers. A group acts as a force multiplier, each participant acting to help the rest, everyone sharing ideas and looking through each others viewfinders.
Lembert Dome (Yosemite) Reflection
When I travel to places like Yellowstone and Yosemite with a group to make photographs, we all have to be for photography. We have to leave the hiking and cycling and climbing and skiing and kayaking for other days. We have to be one-for-all, and all-for-one. And that means traveling together, by van or in cars. While we lose something when we join a group – total freedom to do what we want – we gain something, too, which is a chance to learn about the creative vision of others, and in so doing, learn to see more creatively ourselves.