We're delighted to team up with a dear friend, Josh Neukam, to offer an amazing 11-day photography workshop tour. In the first part of the interview, we got detailed information about the 6 photography workshops he will guide during the trip.
What are the top 3 most breathtaking spots of this trip?
That’s of course completely subjective. Some will have such great appreciation for the cultural aspects of this trip, some fascinated by the people, others in awe of the magnificent beauty of the landscapes, etc.
For me personally, I love mountains around the world. And the Karst mountains from Guilin (Guanxi) through Guizhou are just incredible, especially those lining the Li River in Yangshuo.
Another favorite of mine is the rice terraces. Jiabang’s are rated among China’s top five best terraces to see. Not only does it offer an extraordinary view, but it’s quite an amazing way of life for the local farmers. You not only leave with some amazing shots, but also great admiration and respect for their ingenuity.
And for third place, that’s really tough for me. Wanfenglin (10,000 Hills), the Canola fields of Luoping, and the Stone Forest stand out in my mind as some personal favorites. But I think I’d have to go with the Stone Forest. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and quite spectacular. Even if you just enjoy the main entry, it really is a sight to behold. However, my main reason in choosing this as my third is because of our night photography workshop. Seeing the stone formations against the star-painted night sky while in an area nearly void of light pollution, it will be something to be remembered for sure!
What about the crowds at the scenic spots? Are they avoidable on this trip?
Crowds can most certainly be a problem when traveling the world. And of course, it all depends on the travel season and where you go. We’ve tried to find a balance of offering both touristy and off-the-beaten-path locations. I love to wander, but the reality is that some of these touristy locations offer some incredible scenery worth stopping for. There’s a reason crowds frequent these spots.
So what’s our plan? Balance. We will visit some locations that encounter crowds, and we will visit other locations where we may be the only tourists around. And we’ll also offer unique vantage points of some of these well-known locations in order to avoid the crowds and offer photo opportunities most travelers might not experience with ordinary tours. But make no mistake, the crowds offer a great opportunity to capture modern-day Chinese culture. As they say in Chinese, “人山人海,” which translated literally means, “People mountain, people sea.” It’s definitely something you’ll want to see at least once!
What was your reaction/impression traveling for the first time to S-W China?
Overwhelmed. In a good way. This part of China is one of the most culturally, ethnically, and geographically diverse places in the world. There’s a reason Nat Geo, BBC, and others of the like spend so much time in this region. I’ve lived here for nearly two years, and I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface!
But looking beyond the generalities, I was, and am still, blown away by the kindness and warmth of the Chinese people. My family and I are constantly shown tremendous hospitality, from our first visit until now. I really have learned much from these amazing people.
Have you done similar tours before?
While I have both led groups and taught photography, this is my first tour to combine those things together. I believe the photography community around the world is looking for something like this, and there are few who do it. I’ve spent the past two years living in China, studying Chinese, traveling through southwestern China to scout locations, learning culture, developing local contacts, and even opening a business in China that specializes in culture and arts exchanges and activities for this reason.
While this is our first photography workshop tour, I have spent altogether nearly five years of planning and preparation to produce what I believe will be a world-class experience. This tour alone has taken approximately eight months to design! I’m confident our guests will be more than satisfied with the details, diversity, training, and personalized assistance they experience on this tour.
Is the tour suitable for children?
Absolutely! I have four young children myself, currently ages 3-11. They have actually seen two-thirds of the locations on this tour, and have been to all three of the provinces our guests will travel to.
If a reader is interested in bringing their children, we would most certainly welcome them with open arms! While I have put great care into offering an adventure that provides luxury and comfort for our guests along the way, I also recognize that Asia is quite different from the West. We will eat foods that might not fit the palette of your children, and we will have a lot of time on our feet, as well as a few longer bus rides.
Should you be interested in bring children and have any reservation or questions about their children attending, I’m just an email or phone call away. From one parent to another, I’d certainly be happy to share our honest perspectives and experiences of traveling China with children. While there are challenges and stresses to any kind of travel with kids, I, sure you agree it’s one of the most culturally-enriching adventures they’ll ever experience! And we’ve definitely not regretted offering those opportunities to our children.