When I heard that Larry Anderson wrote an eBook Lead your Own Photo Safari, I had to download it right away. Larry is offering this eBook free for you. I was blown away with the amount of work and collaboration that was put into this endeavor. I’ve known Larry for years and am so impressed with the research and information that he shares with the world. I asked Larry if I could interview him to find out a little more of the whys and hows that went into the development of this eBook. He graciously shared with me his answers to my questions (in bold text) below so I could share them with you:
1. What is a Photo Safari?
From page 25 of the book:
The dictionary definition of “safari” includes these phrases:
a journey or expedition, for hunting, exploration, or investigation
any long or adventurous journey or expedition
So, we can say that a Photo Safari is an adventurous journey or expedition during which people hunt for, explore, or investigate opportunities to write with light. To this, we can add the notion of creativity. That is, as people engage in this expeditionary activity, they apply their unique, individual creative traits so that the images they capture express accurately how they see the world to which they are exposed during the Photo Safari.
In short, my idea of a Photo Safari is an excursion, during which a collection of friends make photographs of locations, objects, or subjects that appeal to the photographer’s eye.
2. Why did you write this eBook?
I have had such success and enjoyment during the Photo Safaris of which I have been a part, so it seemed important to share my stories with others, in hopes that they, too, could participate in the joy I have experienced. Also, I figured that, if I told my story, someone with more experience might read the book and share some secrets with me and my future Photo Safari outings would be even more enjoyable.
3. How did you get hooked on the Photo Safari bug?
I have loved photography for many years. I enjoy being with other people who enjoy photography. So, when I organized and led my first Photo Safari in Washington, DC, I found out, first-hand, just how fulfilling this could be. So, I have continued to expand my planning efforts with each safari. I was “hooked” upon completion of the first actual photo safari in which I participated (Monterey, CA with Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, Vincent Laforet, and a team of Apple Distinguished Educators).
4. When and how did you start your first Photo Safari?
The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC–now known as ISTE) was held in Washington, DC in June 2009. Since I have traveled to DC many times and know the National Mall area quite well, I thought this would be a natural time to conduct my first Photo Safari. Another Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), Craig Nansen, and I collaborated on leading this safari. We had help from John Maschak (Apple Canada) and Gordon Worley (ADE from Florida).
So, we just announced the Photo Safari within the ADE Community and the registration limit was reached quickly. Then, we had a few other people beg to join us, so we accommodated them. When this safari was completed, we knew we had a winning idea. Of course, being in DC on the National Mall all day didn’t hurt!
5. Why is it important to have a leadership team?
While it’s true that a person can conduct a Photo Safari alone, it is just so much more fun when you can share the excitement with others who have amazing talents to bring to the experience. As the organizer of a Photo Safari, it makes the job much easier when I can engage in “division of labor” and ensure that the safari will be much more effective. A good leadership team is made up of smart people with significant talents and time that they give willingly to the event. So, why would I not use them? The end result is that the participants in the safari gain a much more meaningful experience when a strong leadership team is in place.
6. I know planning is essential but you emphasized pre-planning. Why does most of the work occur before the Photo Safari begins?
Any worthwhile activity necessitates good pre-planning. Examples abound of how we plan for significant events before they happen. Therefore, it’s essential that we, the organizer and the leadership team, spend a great deal of time in delineating the details and working to make sure everything comes to fruition by the time the Photo Safari kicks off.
7. How do you choose the best site for a Photo Safari?
Reasons for selecting an ideal venue vary remarkably. The “best” site can be a local venue, as a group of townspeople embark on a Photo Safari to learn more about their hometown. Thus, the “best” site could be a variety of historical, cultural, or neighborhood locations around your town. Or, you may be conducting a Photo Safari in a major metropolitan area. The choices are many….will you choose a site that focuses upon architecture, history, gardening, civic locations, military settings, or any one of a host of other considerations?
Thus, the actual site is selected depending upon the type of safari with which I’m involved. Most of the ones in which I’ve engaged so far have been dictated by a particular location (Washington, DC; Monterey, CA; Denver, CO; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ). So, my leadership team and I selected particular locations because we felt that participants would be fascinated with a venue. And, we’ve had 100% success. We intend to continue this at ISTE 2012 in San Diego. We are already engaged in selecting from a “laundry list” of possible sites for an enjoyable, informative Photo Safari.
8. What are some of the technology tools that you include in a Photo Safari?
My response to this depends upon how one defines “technology tools.” But, as I’ve engaged in Photo Safaris so far, I have used:
- Skype and iChat (for audio and video conferencing)
- Group texting (to inform participants before and during the actual safari, as necessary)
- Flickr and other photo hosting sites (as a “holding pen” for the select photos made by participants)
- Google Apps (for planning tools by the leadership team, for registration by participants, for organizing transportation)
- Google Earth (to plot safari tour paths)
- Wikis (as sites to host safari information and resources)
It’s possible that there are more, but these are the ones that come to my mind right now.
9. I have a Nikon D40. Is it important to have separate filters and lenses for the Photo Safari?
As mentioned in the book, “Leading Your Own Photo Safari,” it is not necessary to have “fancy” equipment. Yes, there are situations in which your having special filters and lenses will be of great value. In those cases, we will attempt to notify participants that they can bring these accessories along with them.
For example, in the Rocky Mountain National Park Photo Safari, we encountered several mountain streams. The waterfalls and river flow were natural spots for using neutral density filters in order to help slow down shutter speed so the water would take on that “silky” look during long exposures. Also, at Bear Lake, it was helpful to have that neutral density filter to keep the details of the water on the lake while keeping the bright blue sky from getting blown out due to excessive exposure. In each situation, we used these situations as teaching moments. Even people who did not own these filters were able to use the filters on their lenses, provided that their lenses were of the proper size to accept the filters that screw on.
In some cases, it is helpful to have UV filters to help block out glare. We try to educate safari participants. Even if they come to the safari without such a filter, we will have the opportunity to talk about the filters and show them to all interested participants. Again, we leverage this into an educational opportunity. That makes the participant become a smarter consumer, should the time come when s/he wants to purchase a filter for this purpose.
In the case of lenses, we try to use our pre-safari communications to discuss the use of various lenses. Again, if participants arrive with a DSLR (either Canon or Nikon, since these are the most common), it’s possible to share lenses and let participants try a variety of lenses. So, if the people come with two or three lenses, that simply makes the whole experience more valuable to everybody.
But, the basic answer is that it’s not necessary to have a variety of lenses and/or filters. If you do, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine, too. Your D40 will be a valuable tool on our Photo Safari. We’ll make sure of it! (Even if all you have is a point-and-shoot camera…or even just an iPhone or iPad, we’ll still ensure you a successful venture.)
10. Why is communication so important during a Photo Safari? What are some of the tools you recommend?
It is absolutely crucial to plan for a mechanism that allows the safari leader to communicate instantly with everyone. You never know what kind(s) of situations may arise.
In Philadelphia, our large group of photographers divided into four teams. Each team went to one of four specified quadrants of Olde Town Philadelphia. After approximately one hour, each team would rotate to a new quadrant. So, as the safari leader, I sent out a group text to everyone, letting them know that it is time to rotate. Also, I needed to inform everybody when the time arrived for us to gather at the end of the Photo Safari for our debriefing session and to award the “giveaway” prizes. Again, Group Text (an iPhone app) came to the rescue.
I used a free app, Group Text, that worked like magic. It works beautifully with my Macintosh app, Address Book. I merely established a group in Address Book that included all members of the Photo Safari. During registration, I had asked them to indicate the cell phone number they would be using during the safari…and asked them to indicate if they can get text messages at that number. Then, the Group Text app just takes that Address Book group and allows me to send a text blast. Worked like a charm!
11. Is there anything you would like to add about Photo Safaris and your eBook for our readers?
Oh, there are a million things I would like to add. First, I want everybody to know that this activity is more fun than words can express! The advantages of conducting a Photo Safari are innumerable. Teachers can use this in amazing ways with classes of students, but also with parents and other community members. I hope many readers will strive to join us in San Diego at ISTE 2012 for our Photo Safari. Our plan is to conduct it on Sunday prior to the opening keynote….probably an all-day safari, as is our routine. Of course, since this whole idea came from the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) family, we will offer first registration rights to ADEs. But, we will take as many others as possible. I suspect our registration limit will again be held to approximately 50 people, due simply to logistical reasons.
I really want to encourage any readers of the book to please let me know of your successes as you conduct your own Photo Safari.
- How did you get the idea?
- How was your planning process different than what I have used?
- What tips could you use to share with others?
- What successes did you have?
- How did you share your photos?
- Who was involved?
- What did you learn?
- Would you want to hold another Photo Safari as a result of your experience on your first one?
- How can you imagine that a Photo Safari could be used in schools?
- Did you have any “Aha!” moments? If so, what were they? What problems did you encounter? How did you handle them?
- Did you experience any discouragements? If so, how did you handle those?
- What aids, resources, tutorials would you like to see developed to help you in the future?
- Should I build a web site, wiki, or anything else that would give you and your colleagues a place to share ideas, experiences, resources, etc.?
And, one more note….there will definitely be an update to the book. Version 2.0 will have many more features. So, stay tuned.
Also, the book will be a central core to a “collection” that will appear in the new, soon-to-be-announced Apple Distinguished Educator channel of iTunes U, so we’ll have more resources to go along with the book…and will give you a broader view of what it takes to plan and conduct a successful Photo Safari.
You can download the free eBook, “Leading Your Own Photo Safari” by going to files.me.com/adelarry/5rre64
Thank you Larry for being so generous and sharing your passion with the world! Here is Larry’s contact information if you have any questions. Please share any comments for Larry below:
Dr. Larry S. Anderson, Founder/CEO
National Center for Technology Planning
P. O. Box 2393 — Tupelo, MS 38803
662.844.9630 (Voice & FAX) — 662.321.0677 (Cell)
**APPLE DISTINGUISHED EDUCATOR * CLASS OF 2000 **
Assoc. Prof. (Ret.), Mississippi State University
Web Site — http://www.nctp.com
Blog — http://nctpcast(dot)blogspot(dot)com
Podcasts — Think Like A Leader