Trip Leaders: Gareth McCormack & Ron Modra
Locations: Counties Kerry, Cork and Waterford
Start & Finish: Dublin
Maximum Group Size: 9
Exertion: Low to moderate
Cost: US $ 7,500, including 10 nights accommodation
Booking: A booking deposit of $2,000 per person secures your place on the tour. Remaining balance due 60 days prior to departure. Price includes single-occupancy rooms. Discount of $800 per person for clients sharing a room.
Availability: Limited places
Explore the finest photo spots of Ireland’s south west corner. Shoot dramatic Atlantic headlands and beaches, iconic lighthouses, historic castles and colourful villages. Gareth has spent his career shooting the best locations in this region, and will share his intimate knowledge of the area’s landscape and coastline with you.
This photography holiday includes ten nights of accommodation. We stay in a range of four-star hotels and guesthouses, each carefully selected for its character and location. We also endeavor to provide superior or sea-view rooms wherever possible.
Trip price is based on single occupancy – a discount is available per person sharing.
Breakfast is included as part of the tour, but no other meals are provided. We’ll stop as appropriate each day to eat together in local cafés and restaurants, with each participant covering the cost of their own meals.
South west Ireland is a region of superlatives, its magnificent scenery attracting more visitors than any other part of the county. Its appeal is obvious: the coastline is splintered into a succession of five Atlantic peninsulas, each with a character all of its own. Between the craggy headlands lie colourful villages, ancient castles and sandy coves. Beyond the shoreline, shapely mountains rise skyward, and the summits here are the highest in Ireland.
Though it’s a region that can be busy with tourism in peak summer, by October the crowds are gone. The hills and trees exude autumn colour, while classic viewpoints have become wild and atmospheric once more. The first winter swells add drama to the Atlantic coast, and dawn and dusk fall at hospitable times – a boon for photographers who love the enchantment of magic hour light.
Throughout the tour, you’ll be guided by two professional mentors. As well as Gareth, the renowned American photographer Ronald Modra will be co-leading this tour. A Sports Illustrated photographer for 25 years, Ron has a host of professional accolades to his name, and is an experienced photo tour guide.
The aim of this tour is to explore the best landscape photography locations south west Ireland can offer, following the rugged Atlantic coastline from the Dingle Peninsula right through to Hook Head Lighthouse in County Waterford.
Traveling together in two 9-seater minivans, we’ll experiment with different compositions and shooting techniques as we explore each area along the way. Two guides ensures a maximum client ratio of 1:5, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity to learn from Gareth and Ron’s expertise as you develop your own camera skills and capture striking images of each location.
October 7th: The tour begins in Dublin, with accommodation at a four-star airport hotel. Spare time can be spent in Dublin city, and then we’ll welcome everyone to the tour with a pre-departure dinner on the evening of Monday 7th. This dinner is an opportunity to meet Gareth, Ron and your fellow photographers, and learn more about the itinerary.
October 8th: We begin our adventure by driving to the beautiful Dingle Peninsula, formed by a spine of mountains reaching out into the Atlantic. Our base for two nights is Pax House, a luxury guesthouse located just outside Dingle town, where incredible sea views come as standard. Dingle itself is a vibrant and picturesque Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) town, with a wide variety of bistros, pubs and traditional music to keep us entertained in the evening. After checking in we’ll head out for an evening shoot along Dingle’s wild and rugged Atlantic coastline.
October 9th: We’ll enjoy a full day of shooting on the Dingle Peninsula. Photo locations include spots like Minard Castle and Connor Pass, though much of our focus is likely to be around the tip of the peninsula, the most westerly point in Ireland. This is a stunning coastline, from the jagged rock fins of Slea Head, past the sandy coves of Coomeenoole and Clogher, to the twisted descent to Dunquin Harbour. Offshore, the windswept Blasket Islands provide an incredibly scenic backdrop.
October 10th & 11th: We leave Dingle and head southeast across the heart of Kerry. Our next two nights are spent in the four-star Lake Hotel, on the shore of Killarney’s Lough Leane. The superlative location of this historic 1820s hotel means we can shoot classic compositions of the Killarney Lakes from right beside our accommodation.
From Killarney, we’re also well placed to reach the best photo locations on the Iveragh Peninsula. Highlights include the beautiful lakes, woodlands and waterfalls of Killarney National Park. Just as dramatic is the secluded Black Valley, which nestles deep beneath the wild peaks of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains. If conditions are favorable we’ll also head out along the Ring of Kerry to shoot coastal locations like Valentia Lighthouse and St Finian’s Bay.
October 12nd & 13th: We leave Killarney and cross the mountains into County Cork and the Beara Peninsula. Our base here is the little village of Glengarriff and the Eccles Hotel, which dates back to the 18th century. Nestled into the densely wooded hills at the back of Bantry Bay, the immediate area affords photo opportunities of quiet charm – whether on the sea shore or among the waterfalls of Glengarriff Forest Park.
We’ll also make field trips out along the Beara Peninsula, with its patchwork fields and rugged coastline interspersed by colourful villages such as Eyeries and Allihies. There are prehistoric standing stones here too, the curving rock formation known as the Beara Bowl, and high mountain passes from which to shoot down across the valleys and lakes.
October 14th & 15th: Heading east from Glengarriff we traverse County Cork, passing through Cork City. We stop in the historic and picturesque town of Cobh before continuing into County Waterford and our hotel for two nights – the luxurious Faithlegg Country House, set on a 200-acre estate.
From this base we’re well situated to shoot Hook Head lighthouse, the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the world, and one of Ireland’s most photogenic coastal beacons. We’ll also explore the nearby Copper Coast, with its fascinating array of beaches, cliffs and rock pinnacles.
October 16th & 17th: Today we begin to make our way back to Dublin, but the fun is not over yet. We’ll travel via the Rock of Cashel – an imposing hill-top castle that is one of Ireland’s most dramatic and important historical monuments. On arrival in Dublin we return to our hotel near Dublin airport, perfectly situated for flights departing on 17th October.
Payment: The price of this tour is US $7,500 per person, based on single-occupancy rooms. A discount of US $800 per person applies to clients sharing a room. An initial booking deposit of $2,000 per person is required to secure your place on the tour, with the remaining balance due 60 days prior to departure.
Cancellation: We understand that sometimes plans change, and you may have to cancel a tour. In that case, the following cancellation policy applies:
Over 120 days before departure – Free cancellation
120-90 days before departure – We keep the booking deposit only
90-60 days before departure – You forfeit 50% of the total tour cost
59-31 days before departure – You forfeit 75% of the total tour cost
30 days or less before departure – You forfeit 100% of the total tour cost
COVID-19: We take care to adhere to all government guidelines in terms of Covid-19. In the event of government restrictions around Covid-19 meaning your tour is no longer possible, we’ll let you know as soon as we can. We’ll endeavor to reschedule the trip for a later date. If that isn’t possible, full refunds will be given.
Insurance: Please note that it’s the responsibility of the customer to ensure you have adequate cover in terms of personal, travel and equipment insurance for this trip.
Camera Equipment: Bring all your camera equipment, including any lenses, tripods and filters. Remember cables for downloading images, and if you use a laptop for processing, bring that too. Some off-road walking may be required to reach photo locations, so we recommend that you pack your equipment in a small rucksack to facilitate moving around. Make sure your camera bag offers enough protection in the event of being caught in rain.
Clothing: Ireland’s climate can be notoriously changeable. Bring good, waterproof footwear, and warm, waterproof and windproof clothing to protect yourself in all weather conditions. Bring sunscreen too, because you never know! We discourage the use of plastic wherever possible, so also recommend bringing a resuable water bottle.
We keep our group sizes small so the exact format of each tour can be tailored to the needs of individuals. You may be quite happy with your photography level, and see Gareth simply as your personal guide to Ireland’s best locations. Alternatively you may want to extend your skills, and in this case there’ll be plenty of opportunity to ask technical questions and further your understanding of camera operation. Gareth can help you get out of auto settings for the first time, or provide constructive critique on composition and aesthetic decisions that might expand your creative repertoire. Topics that often come up include:
Q: I’m a complete beginner – will your workshop be suitable for me?
A: Yes. Our workshops and tours have small group sizes, so much of the tuition is on a one-to-one basis. We encourage a friendly and collegiate atmosphere, and more experienced photographers generally help by offering their own advice and encouragement. After all, we were all beginners at one point ourselves, and can empathise with how mystifying the technicalities of photography can appear. A key point for beginners is to relax – with a few pointers, taking great images is often much easier than you realise.
Q: I don’t have a tripod / expensive camera / any filters. Is this a problem?
A: Tripods are essential for good landscape photography and long exposure techniques. Having said that you can come on a weekend workshop without one, as Gareth normally carries a spare tripod you can try out. However this isn’t encouraged for longer tours. If you’re unsure about buying one, we’d encourage you to at least borrow or rent one if you can. Please don’t buy a cheap plastic or lightweight ‘traveller’ tripod. They’re too flimsy for serious work and will cause you enormous frustration. Investing in a good tripod is one of the most overlooked aspects of purchasing photography equipment.
Most of our workshop clients use digital DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, but these range from Hasselblads to basic starter cameras. We also have people who still shoot film or black and white only. You could come on a workshop with just your phone and still benefit – in fact we had one weekend where the best images came from somebody doing just that. If you don’t have any filters but are interested in learning to use them, Gareth will have some on hand to try out. You’ll then be a better position to decide what you want to invest in afterwards.
Q: How physically demanding are the locations to reach?
A: Most of our photo locations are easy to reach, and accessible within a couple of minutes walk from the car. However the ground underfoot may be uneven, slippery or wet. We avoid long or arduous hikes, but to reach more adventurous shooting positions – which are entirely optional – you may need to cross loose rocks or steep slopes. If you have any concerns about your fitness for this trip, please get in touch and Gareth will be happy to discuss the individual locations with you.
Q: Workshop or tour – what’s the difference?
A: Our workshops are short, typically two or three days long, and based within a defined area. The emphasis is on education and assistance from Gareth, but we also visit plenty of good photo locations, hopefully in good light. We’ll also have at least one formal seminar on post processing during the weekend. Tours are longer trips that visit several geographical areas, with the emphasis on exploring the best locations in the best light. Of course instruction and assistance from Gareth is still part of the package, but the theory and processing sessions are less formal. Instead we use bad weather as an opportunity for image review, with one-to-one or small group sessions on post processing workflow happening in a more organic way.
Q: How long is a typical day?
A: There’s no schedule set in advance for any of our workshops or tours. In order to match our locations with the best light, we stay as flexible as possible. Typically we’ll shoot at sunrise if conditions allow, returning to the hotel afterwards for breakfast. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of early starts – sunrise shoots are always optional. We’ll certainly shoot during the day, prioritising locations that best suit the weather conditions. Even if it’s a travel day, we’ll stop at one or two interesting places along the way. Evening and sunset shoots are also a staple whenever conditions allow.
Poor weather can be useful too. On weekend workshops, we’ll take the opportunity to look at post processing. On longer tours we generally use poor weather to relax and recover, review our images, and perhaps think about post processing if people are keen. When conditions are favorable for several days in a row, regular dawn and dusk shoots can quickly become exhausting, so we do factor in the need for downtime during the day. Nothing kills creativity quicker than fatigue! If at any time you need to slow down and skip a shoot, that’s fine too.
Q: Can I bring my spouse/partner even if they’re not interested in photography?
A: Yes, absolutely. We visit beautiful and interesting locations, so there’s much to enjoy even if you aren’t interested in taking more than snapshots. We often stay in the same hotel for two or more nights, so non-photographers are free to take time out from the field trips and do their own thing. There’s often plenty to see and do within walking distance of our accommodation, and sometimes leisure facilities at the hotel too. Just ask if you want more details about this particular trip.
South West Ireland Photography Tour: US $ 7,500
Deposit to secure your place: US $ 2,000