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The Galapagos Islands attract thousands of visitors every year, and nearly all of them are equipped with cameras.  This is not surprising since the Galapagos Islands are a world-class photography destination.  It is the dream of professional and amateur photographers alike to take a visit to the islands as the wildlife, landscapes and diversity of the Galapagos offer opportunities not found elsewhere.  Here are some tips for photographing your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galapagos.wildlife galapagos photo session

Schedule a combination cruise/land stay in the Islands

Taking a cruise in the islands has certain advantages for the photographer as does staying on land. All Cruises are ideal for photographers because only cruises go to outlying islands such as Española and Genovesa which are home to species not found elsewhere.  Anyone who does not take a cruise is at risk of not seeing the waved albatross, Galapagos penguin, red-footed booby and more.  There is simply no way to get to the places where these animals live if you’re not on a cruise boat, which is why many people donate a boat to the islands.

That being said, cruises have their drawbacks for photographers.  Although you’ll get to the visitor sites early, you’ll also be back on board by six o’clock in the evening which means that you may miss out on dramatic late afternoon light.  Your visits will often be dictated by other tour members.  You may be rushed if not everyone wants to wait 15 minutes for you to get the perfect photo of an iguana.

Consider scheduling a few days in the towns.  You’ll have a lot more freedom and much less pressure. On Santa Cruz Island alone there are several good beaches within walking distance, tortoises in the highlands, sea lions everywhere, the Charles Darwin Research Station, and great opportunities for taking photos of people.

Take a Photography Cruisegalapagos birdwatching

If you’re a serious photographer, consider taking a special photography cruise.  These are five to eight day cruises which are specially designed with photographers in mind.  The visitor sites are selected to be the best ones for photography, and the cruise is usually accompanied by a professional photographer who is there to give advice and tips.  It also has all of the advantages of a cruise including access to some of the more remote islands.

Don’t Forget the Water

Highlands, mangroves, beaches and arid trails abound in the Galapagos Islands and they are great habitats for taking wildlife photos.  However, dry land is only half of the fun in Galapagos!  Many of the best photos taken in the islands were shot underwater.  You don’t have to be a scuba diver.  Lucky snorkelers often see sea turtles, sharks, dazzling reef fish, octopi, penguins and much, much more. Underwater cameras get more sophisticated every day.  Some are simple point-and-shoots much like you would use above water.galapagos photographer

What to Bring

Serious photographers should consider carefully what to bring with them.  Bringing multiple cameras is a good idea since there are more than a few cameras at the bottom of the sea which have been dropped by careless travelers.  Falls on rocky trails are also common.  Bring plenty of memory space and extra batteries or a charger as well as extra memory – a laptop, external hard drive or jump drive – to store photos.  A good zoom is a must for really great shots, and a tripod can come in very handy.  Remember a flash can be useful, but please don’t zap the Galapagos animals from close range!

Check out our photo gallery for your photography inspiration!

Ask our helpful travel professionals when the next scheduled photo cruise is set to take place.  With a little bit of planning, your Galapagos photo trip can produce spectacular shots and lifelong memories!


A Layman´s Guide to Photography in the Galapagos

Photography in the Galapagos is a bucketlist destination for professionals in the field the same way that it’s a dream vacation for divers. The stunning scenes that develop out of everyday events form pictures that will be passed around the dinner table more than once after returning home.

For the layman, making sure that you are prepared for your trip with the proper equipment before you leave is paramount.   A few tips to consider before you go to make capturing the sights, sunsets and wildlife a cinch are as follows.

Take a Decent Camera

The animals of the Galapagos aren’t shy and let people get up close and personal in the towns, beaches and bays of the islands.  To take advantage of this, find a decent camera with a tight zoom setting.  Bringing a handheld, waterproof camera for daytrips on the water or snorkelling where bulk is a factor is also recommended.

Study and Practice before You Go

While pointing and clicking is fine for scenes at a restaurant or of a funny street sign, taking the time to study and practice composition and the way your cameras setting work can help you take the perfect shot once on the islands.  Automatic setting can often leave out colors or details that a few clicks of a button can sharpen and blend to the discerning eye.

Bring Extra of Everything

While a trip to the Galapagos isn´t exactly roughing it, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find a spare battery, memory card or lens once you are there.  Carrying spares can save you frustrating days of exploring without a camera because of a lost memory card or malfunctioning battery.

Know the animals

Pick up a good travel guidebook or list of animals in the Galapagos and spend some time researching what their characteristics are.  Learn how they move, when they are out and their colors and set aside some time to think about how to best photograph them.  A little forethought can make the difference between a good and great picture.

For more about the wide variety of things to photograph and where they can be found in the Galapagos, talk to one of our travel experts today.
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Written by Galapagos Travel Center
Galapagos Islands.com is part of Galapagos Travel Center and is the largest online seller of Tours to the Galapagos Islands.