The Camargue, South of France
The Camargue is a wonderfully unspoiled wetland area in the South of France, situated less than two hours from Marseilles Airport. It is famed for its world renowned White Horses. They are an absolute joy to photograph, especially when in groups of ten or more. The area is also home to a wide array of wetland birdlife of which the Pink Flamingos and Grey Herons are the most accessible. March has been selected as we wish to avoid the severe heat and extremely bright and very busy conditions normally associated with the South of France. The weather should be similar to that of a typical British summer. This trip has now run successfully for no less than ten years and has now been honed to virtual perfection. The horses demonstrate that they love their freedom and the guardians (the riders of the saddled horses) have become expert at creating stunning opportunities for us.
Photograph White Horses in the Sea
We will have two, approximately two-hour-long sessions photographing a group ten or so Camargue White Horses, both trotting and sometimes galloping through a large shallow lake adjoining the sea. They are skilfully driven towards our waiting cameras by riders on horseback. These riders are extremely adept at keeping to the side of the horses and therefore not appearing in your photographs. They will continue the sessions until the horses begin to tire. They are given a good rest between each run and you will see that they absolutely love their freedom from their regular enclosure. Their energy levels and their efforts to be the fastest through the water are wonderful to observe. They are a very competitive animal. There will be several drives with the horses coming directly towards you, and also several drives with the horses running across your field of view. You will regularly be only a few metres away from your elegant subjects. They look absolutely fabulous with the water splashing all around them. We plan to photograph early morning and late afternoon, in order to take pictures when the light is at it’s best.
Photograph White Horses in the Marshes
We will have another five sessions along the same lines as those used when photographing in the sea. This time, however, we will photograph the horses running through the water in the marshes, sometimes with some beautiful golden reeds as a background. Some photographers prefer taking photos in the sea, while some prefer in the marsh. Personally, I much prefer the marshes. The water is deeper and the horses have to work harder. There is a lot more spray and the shots are much more dramatic. The water in the marshes is quite peaty and after a while the horses become a “browny-white”. I think this adds to the spectacle although some may disagree. One of the participants of the 2009 trip won a national competition with one of his pictures taken on this trip. Our hearty congratulations go out to him.
Photograph Mares & Foals
In addition to the four sessions in the water we will have one further session with mares and foals. Our subjects are often initially quite nervous upon our arrival. Quite amazingly, after a short while, they will often approach you, and you will maybe even receive a sniff or lick from both mares and foals. Patience is well rewarded. All the foals are brown in colour, which makes a pleasing contrast to their all-white mothers. The arrival of the new foals cannot be guaranteed by the date we visit. If there are no foals we will instead have an extra session in the bird park or visit a breeding herd for the Black Bulls that the Camargue is equally famous for. On only one occasion (out of ten trips) have we not found new-born foals to photograph. in this case an alternative session will be offered.
Photograph Sparring Stallions
Our agent in France has just discovered a new location where two beautiful stallions can be released in a small, shallow lake. At first, this may sound a barbaric thing to do. Rest assured that we would always have the welfare of the animals as our foremost priority. We actually use an older Stallion and one of his offspring for our photography session. The pictures taken infer that they behave quite aggressively towards each other. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The youngster does all sorts of posturing around his elder, but there is never any malicious contact whatsoever. You will see open mouths and bared teeth but they do not bite each other at all, merely wrap their neck around their “opponent” as if to show what they could be capable of. There is no physical aggression whatsoever between the horses, but you will witness some really dramatic poses as they “play fight”. The father tolerates his offspring’s antics most of the time and only occasionally reprimands him when his ambitions exceed his status. Stallions only fight, in the true sense of the word, when they have a similarly matched opponent and when females are also present. This will not be the case for our photography purposes. This event will take place in a shallow pool and should provide some really stunning photo opportunities.
Two Extra Days and Three New Locations added
Photographers on Safari are always trying to keep ahead of the competition. A number of companies have copied this tour with varying degrees of success since I began running trips to the Camargue seven years ago. Not all tours to the Camargue are the same. No other company is using as many different ranches and different horses as myself, and I can assure you that Photographers on Safari will not be running horses across grassy fields. Each of our sessions is carefully designed to offer very different photographic opportunities and, apart from the baby foals, they will always involve the horses being in water. It is the fact that on each session (with exception of the baby foals) our animals will always be splashing through water that makes the photographs that much better. Carefully compare each company’s photo gallery before making your decision.
Photograph the Black Bulls of the Camargue Running in Water
We have added a session photographing the Black Bulls of the Camargue in addition to the White Horses. These animals will certainly add to your stunning collection of horses taken during your five days in the Camargue. They will create some unique images while thundering through the huge shallow lakes a few miles from our hotel. Photographers are always wanting to try a new subject, and the Black Bulls will definitely provide a spectacle that very few people have witnessed. In 2018 we found a beautiful new setting for the Black Bulls. this provided some absolutely outstanding photography. This new venue will be part of each future tour from now on.
White Horses in the Camargue: This was a wonderful trip – even better than it promised to be from the description! John used several ranches so we saw different horses on the various shoots and it made for a lovely variety of very photogenic horses in a variety of environments. No two events were even similar – different locations and backgrounds, different lighting and times of day and all in all we all came away with a fantastic array of photographs and memories. The pace was great – with time to relax, look at photographs, go back to the nearby bird park (which was excellent) or shop in town. John gave fantastic feedback on the photography which was brilliant and it prepared us all to get the best from the trip. In addition, the hotel was great with wonderful food and wonderful staff. I would love to repeat the experience. Five days would definitely not have been long enough!! CW’
John, Thank you for a wonderful trip to the Carmargue. Some very entertaining action by the horses. I have come home with a superb collection of photos. Everyone was great and it was a fantastic time. I loved the horses in action, especially galloping out of the lagoons and marshes, and I managed to slow the shutter speed for a few arty shots. Having looked through your collections, Kenya and Carmargue are still my favourites and if I get the chance to do either of them again I will. I may even master panning this summer. Thanks again. Ruth B.
Good Morning John, Thank you very much for the excellent Camargue trip …. VERY MUCH Appreciated. Take great care of yourself. Paul K.
The Camargue is almost as well known for it’s Pink Flamingos as it is for it’s White Horses. They can be seen dotted around almost anywhere in this area. There is however a huge concentration of these fascinating birds in a 150 acre park within the Camargue area. It is called the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau. The birds are fed in the morning (before the park opens) and also early evening. Late afternoon and the evening is a really special time. The light is usually quite amazing. There are a number of lakes where the birds are fed. As feeding time approaches the birds continually fly from lake to lake. It is as if they cannot decide where they will get the most food. Opportunities for superb flying shots present themselves on a regular basis. Even more spectacular is when they “run along the surface of the water” just prior to take-off. Hundreds of these birds will be on view from no more than a few metres away at feeding time. The park remains open, and does not close until the sun has set. Both our sessions with the birds will be in the afternoons/evenings in order to maximize your in-flight photo opportunities.
There is a heronry in the middle of one of the small lakes. The afternoon provides superb opportunities to take shots of the herons on their nests and as they come in to land. There is an excellent vantage point from where to “shoot” the herons from about 30 metres away. The sun is behind your back which also helps. As well as photographing the birds in flight, it is great to also catch the “sentry” that guides the incoming birds into the heronry. This bird will spot an incoming heron long before it is visible to the human eye. It will extend its neck and point it’s beak skywards before letting out a loud call. A great photo.
Other Birding Opportunities
The park contains a number of rescued birds in large enclosures as well as numerous other wild birds. There is a pair of Short Toed Eagles. These birds have not been rung, and some great shots can be taken. There is a pair of breeding Eagle Owls in another enclosure, and various other wild birds on the lakes. Probably the most abundant birds not yet mentioned are the beautifully coloured Shelduck, the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret, which also nests in the main heronry. It has two very striking, long feathers trailing from the back of it’s head when in flight. To date, a pair Storks has nested within the park every year that i have run this workshop. The Beaver-like Coypu is also a resident of the park.
Photographic Advice & Tuition
A computer will be taken to France, enabling each participant to have the opportunity to review a sample of their photographs on a daily basis. One to one advice will be continually on offer in addition to an initial group tuition session. Both constructive criticism, and praise where it is due, will be offered to each participant as applicable. Photographers on Safari will do their utmost to ensure that you make the best of your photographic opportunities. We will have a minibus at our disposal throughout the holiday. We will sometimes be standing in water so waders are necessary in order that you gain the best possible angles from which to shoot the horses.
Typical Itinerary – April 2020
The itinerary will be left somewhat fluid. The content will remain the same and all sessions will be included, but not necessarily in the same order. This is so that we make the best of the given lighting conditions.
Day One – Wednesday 1st April 2020
Arrive Marseilles. Transfer by minibus to our hotel in Les Saintes Maries De La Mer. Afternoon session photographing Flamingos in the Bird Park. B + Dinner.
Day Two – Thursday 2nd April 2020
Morning and afternoon sessions photographing Camargue White Horses in lakes near the sea. B & B + Dinner.
Day Three – Friday 3rd April 2020
Morning photographing Camargue White Horses on the beach and in the sea. Afternoon photographing Camargue White Horses in the marsh. B & B + Dinner.
Day Four – Saturday 4th April 2020
Morning photographing the Black Bulls in lakes. Afternoon photographing Flamingos in the Bird Park. B & B + Dinner.
Day Five – Sunday 5th April 2020
Morning session with the Camargue Mares & Foals. Afternoon session photographing Camargue White Horses in new location in the marshes. B & B + Dinner.
Day Six – Monday 6th April 2020
Morning Photographing male & female riders in traditional dress on sand dunes and the beach at sunrise. Also horses running on the beach and in the sea. Afternoon session with Camargue White Horses in the lakes. B & B + Dinner.
Day Seven – Tuesday 7th April 2020
Morning Photographing Camargue Stallions in water. Transfer to Marseilles Airport for return flight to London. Breakfast
We will be staying at the Hotel La Palunette. It is located about 1km from the centre of town. Rooms are simple but very clean and comfortable, each with a private shower & bathroom. There is also a television, a kettle and a fridge in each bedroom. The food is excellent and we will have a late “brunch” after our morning photo sessions. Dinner will be taken in the hotel after our evening shoot. The dinner will be a 3 (or 4) course “set-menu” with options for vegetarians and those with food allergies. We are able buy snacks from a nearby supermarket in town if anyone needs more food than that. Rooms are on a twin share basis, but customers will have the option to upgrade to a single room. Free Wifi is available in the restaurant/lounge area. The hotel has a bar and its website is http://palunette.fr/hotel/
Optional 3 Day Extension immediately following the Main Tour
In 2009 we ran a shorter new format as a trial extension to the main tour. It was an incredible success and provided pictures of the horses, the types of which I had not seen before. There were 5 shoots that produced some rare opportunities to return home with something completely different. There will be a new webpage to promote these 3 extra days in due course, and you will then also find a link here to take you to it. Please be patient. Expected before the end of July. The first session will be on the afternoon of March 31st. There will be two sessions on April 1st and two sessions on April 2nd. You will be taken to Marseille Airport on April 3rd.
Dates & Cost
April 1st to April 7th 2020 £2999.00
Price excludes International airfare. We recommend British Airways flying from London to Marseilles.