When I visit a new city for the first time, I'm gonna be honest: I'm a total tourist.
I hit up all the famous spots, sporting my (sometimes) ugly walking sandals with a camera hanging around my neck. NO SHAME.
There are certain places that are must-sees for a reason, and I'm not going to skip them when visiting a city for the first time just because others have taken photos of them before me. (And, in fact, I often visit places over and over again — I was in London for the fifth time this week, and took photos of Big Ben and St. Paul's for the fifth time. Don't judge.)
BUT, there are certainly times when the crowds get to me and I want to do something a little different. You know, to keep things interesting.
So when in Spain earlier this year, I decided to sign up for a photography tour of Barcelona.
I've done cool tours of cities before — everything from food tours to Game of Thrones tours — but never a photography tour before. (Which is actually kind of weird, considering how much I love taking photos.)
I had no clue what to expect from FotoRuta, which offers photography tours in Barcelona, London, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. I didn't even know where the tour would take place until after I booked it.
This could have turned out horribly — but it didn't. The tour ended up being way better than I expected.
I went on one of FotoRuta's Streetscape tours, which is cool in that you don't know the neighborhood you'll be exploring until after you book the tour. Our tour focused on the El Born neighborhood, which is similar to Barcelona's well-known Barri Gotic in that it's got lots of narrow alleys and some cool architecture, but it has FAR less tourists milling about.
We started out with a drink and some tips on making the most out of our tour before hitting the streets. Our guide, Alejandro, did a great intro to creative photography — we talked about composition, lighting, and finer aspects of photography like ISO and aperture. Our tour group was just me and another girl, me shooting with my mirrorless camera and her shooting with an iPhone.
Once we were out on the streets, Alejandro did a great job of giving us personalized tips based not only on what we were shooting with, but also based on what sorts of things caught our eye (I discovered that I have a thing for lines and repeating patterns!).
We meandered around El Born, him suggesting streets and shots based on what he thought we would find interesting. I took a ton of photos — photos so different from the “typical” touristy shots you usually see from Barcelona.
After a couple hours of shooting, we headed to another bar for a drink and to look at some of our shots. We each chose about 5-7 of our favorite photos, uploaded them to Alejandro's laptop, and spent some time talking about/critiquing each one. This was really fun — and it was so interesting to see how someone else had interpreted the same places I'd just seen.
If you find yourself with some extra time in Barcelona and want to up your photography game in the city, I highly recommend a tour with FotoRuta. They also do iPhoneography tours, and even a photo scavenger hunt that will send you all around the city.
IF YOU GO…
- What: FotoRuta Streetscape Tour
- When: Monday-Thursday and the first Saturday of the month
- How much: 80 Euro per person
- How long: Our tour lasted about 4 hours
- Who is it for? Everyone from beginners to experienced photographers
Is this a type of tour YOU would consider in Barcelona?
*Note: I was offered a free spot on this tour by FotoRuta (set up by the folks at GoWithOh), however all opinions remain my own!