Location-aware audio has an endless list of applications, but self-guided photography tours often seem like they were made for the medium. Having your hands free when a professional photographer suggests you pause in that exact spot to best capture a vista, getting advice on which settings to adjust, and then being led to another seemingly secret – and oh so photogenic – spot takes location-aware audio tours to a whole new level.
London is the first city where we’ve seen real demand for self-guided photography tours, and so far five have been released on VoiceMap’s walking tour app by two London-based photographers.
London’s photographers as audio guides
Corinna, owner of two leading photography tour companies, Legless Lizard and Hairy Goat, has been running photography tours and workshops for over seven years. She recently turned four of her most popular central London photography tours into audio walks, and made them available for download on VoiceMap’s walking tour app, so visitors can benefit from her insight while doing things in their own time.
“There is always an element of compromise on a group tour,” Corinna points out, “whether it be the start time, locations visited or the length of time at each site. The advantage of a self-guided tour is the freedom to take the tour at your own pace and, apart from photographing the recommended subjects, you can wander off track and explore further if you wish.”
Matthew Williams-Ellis, a professional photographer and Travel Photographer of the Year Finalist, provides insider tips for photographing iconic landmarks such as the London Eye on his self-guided Southbank Photography Tour. Matthew combines the kind of detail-oriented training that you might find in a professional photography course with advice on “nurturing your photographic eye and helping you develop a proactive photography mindset, so you can apply your new found skills to any situation you find yourself in when photographing in the future.”
“I loved the tour… and as an amateur photographer who likes to take his time, it was great.”
Jeremy L, United States
“I would’ve bought a photography-themed walking tour in every city if they’d been available.”
Learn to photograph London’s most photogenic spots
Legless Lizard’s four self-guided photography tours lead you to some of the most photogenic parts of London, including Bloomsbury, Soho, Charing Cross and Covent Garden, and take between 90 and 120 minutes from start to finish. If your time is really limited on one given day, you could always do the tours in smaller chunks, Corinna suggests. Their price range also appeals to people for whom time is not the only resource in short supply: each of her four self-guided tours is available for download for just $4.99, or £3.99.
You’re not limited by the type of camera you own either, which Corinna says is a common concern. “Most cameras whether they be phone, compact or DSLR will have the opportunity to change some of the settings,” she says. “For anyone with a beginner point and shoot camera it should have Scene Modes which will allow you to use pre-set templates to create styles of photo, such as sharp or blurred foreground and background, or faster action shots. Phone cameras will have the option of lightening or darkening the photo and where you focus. Plus they have filters which allow you to change your contrast or saturation on the spot. It’s easy to turn a portion of relatively average looking building friezes into a stunning highly detailed and contrasted, black and white image that you would want to put on your wall.”
Some people say that taking a photography-themed audio tour is a bit like having a spy bug in your ear, or a hands-free cheat-sheet for photography. Others are just relieved to learn a bit about using their camera without having to crowd around a tour guide or do things at someone else’s pace.
But the biggest draw of an audio tour that’s been created by someone with a real connection to a place – be they an expert sharing insights from their particular field, a knowledgeable local, or a passionate resident – may be in the new perspectives you gain.
“When listening to someone else as you walk around, you also see what they see… It can open up you up to new ideas,” says Corinna.
Featured image by Corinna of Hairy Goat Tours