Getting to know your host: Vanessa Dewson

When did you catch the travel bug?

When I was 13, I did three big trips in one year: Christmas in Mexico with all of my family on my Dad’s side, an organized tour of Turkey with my grandmother and a 3-week exchange in France that summer. While I didn’t go on another big trip until I was 16 (and lived for 3 months in Mauritius with my Dad) – I was completely hooked! This is also when I caught the photography bug so I couldn’t be more thrilled to combine these two passions!

Where was the last trip you took?

I just got back from South Africa where I lived 15 years ago so it was a treat to finally go back and have my husband see a place that left such a mark on me. I’m planning to host a tour there in 2017!

What’s your favourite photo from a trip?

The image on the front page of this site is from a trip to Alaska in July 2015. It’s a view of Mt. Denali (formally Mt. McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain) that not many get to see due to the weather it can create. So much so that they sell t-shirts and stickers for the “30% club” that actually get to see the whole mountain. We were told we were really part of the 10% club because it was such a perfect view. The next day, it was completely clouded over. But since you’ve already seen that photo, I’ll share one from my latest trip to South Africa – this is from a rehabilitation centre for cheetahs about 3 hours north east of Cape Town. This cheetah and its litter mates were destined to be sold as pets in Dubai but are now learning to chase for food so they can be released into a private game reserve.

Running Cheetah

Canon or Nikon?

My Dad sold me his Nikon FE when I was a teenager and since newer Nikons could still take older lenses, it just made sense to stick with that brand. I am very intrigued by some of the newer mirrorless cameras by Fuji and Sony though. Ultimately, it is simply a tool and each brand has enough quality bodies and lenses that it’s honing your vision that is key.

What’s your favorite travel lens?

I’m still figuring this one out but I do love my 35mm lens since it’s light and can be used for landscapes and street photography easily. For wildlife, I have travelled with a Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VRII and a 2x tele-converter and also with a Tamron 150-600mm but both are heavy so I recently purchased an all-purpose travel zoom (Nikkkor VR 28-300mm) to lighten my load. While I do sacrifice a bit, so far I have been very pleased with the quality! My back (and husband when he travels with me and gets to carry my gear a lot) will also thank me, I’m sure.

What else is in your camera bag?

One thing I make sure to always have is a rain cover. It’s great not just for wet conditions but dusty ones too like in the desert in India or on safari in Africa. I also love to bring my Nikkor 105mm (Micro) lens since it can easily double as a nice portrait lens but I also love to shoot macro in most places. It’s all about noticing the little things… An extra fully charged battery and memory cards are also a must as is a cleaning kit to wipe always smudges and dust on the front of the lens.

Do you bring a tripod when you travel?

I have a small carbon-fiber tripod that is great for travelling. It’s small and light but can still hold my camera well. I usually only pull it out for night shots or long-exposures of waterfalls, etc…

What are your best tips for travelling with photography equipment?

Use a backpack that can be your carry-on. Don’t bring too much or you will just get frustrated by the weight. Make sure your lens or lenses can cover both wide angles and telephoto ranges.

Other than your passport and camera, what won’t you leave home without when you travel?

Earplugs! Some airplanes hand them out but it’s always good to have a pair, whether to try and sleep on a plane or in a hotel that’s next to a busy road. An eye mask is also a good idea if you have trouble sleeping when the lights are on in the plane or if you are in Iceland or Alaska during the summer and it’s almost 24 hours of daylight! Finally, having the bare essentials in your carry-on in case you get stuck in an airport with delayed or cancelled flight or your luggage decides to go on a trip without you and it take a while to get reconnected. Toothbrush, a change of underwear/sock and shirt as well as any medication you might need is good to have with you.

What’s the best part about hosting a photo tour?

Honestly, it’s making new friends and sharing a unique experience with others who share a similar passion. I love teaching photography and watching people get excited about a moment they’ve captured or mastering a new technique.

Where can we see more of your work?

You can see my work on my personal website:

and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, 500px and Google+

What’s your next tour?

I’m excited about hosting my next tour in January 2017 to Sri Lanka and then South Africa in September 2017. Check back soon for details on both those tours or sign up to get an email as soon as information is available.

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