Berlin photography tour

8 things you need to know for a successful Berlin photography tour

890 500 Eric

A few lessons learned from my Berlin photography tour with Scott

Early March is when Scott calls me for a Berlin photography tour. This was sometime in the afternoon (probably early morning for him on the other side of the Atlantic…) I was not on a tour at that time, so I pick-up the phone…

Berlin photography tour

He tells me he will be in Berlin in the coming week. He has to shoot for a project for a travel magazine. He is looking for a tour guide and somehow bumped on berlinlikealocal on the internet. After looking into our agendas, we convene on meeting a Friday afternoon plus the following morning to explore various parts of town.

What you need to know about Berlin is that the city is huge, with many different faces. You definitely need some time to explore and get a good understanding of its diversity. Anyhow, street art and architecture will be our main focus of attention for these two half-days of Berlin photography tour.

Here are the key things I could learn during this Berlin photography tour

At this point, I need to mention, that I like to take pictures. However apart from taking them with my smartphone when I am on a holiday, I do not have a clue about professional photography! I made this clear to Scott. Apparently this was not a problem. He tells me my job as a tour guide is to bring him to the right locations, he will take care of the rest. Fine for me…

1

Never undermine the equipment

I was very impressed by the quality of the trousers you need as a professional photographer!

A photographer needs some solid pair of trousers

Berlin photo tour

I have seen Scott bend on his knees so many times during the day, sometimes as low as a good gymnast would achieve, all of this to find what appears to be the right angle to take the shot.

2

You need some acrobatic skills

As a photographer, you definitely have your own focus of attention. Even while walking, the attention of a photographer can be trapped in looking above the horizon, at some buildings or other points of interest that might turn into a good picture…

Be ready to take some risks

thus, I had to warn Scott several times to be careful avoiding a step or not to bump into some street pillars, so that we do not end up at the hospital.

3

A photo tour is definitely for early birds

You want to shoot some famous monuments with nobody on your pictures? Well, first of all with a density of population 4 to 5 times less than for example London or Paris, be sure that apart from the very touristy areas of the city, you’ll be impressed by the feel of emptiness of the streets of the German capital.

Go as early as possible in the morning for your Berlin photography tour

Go for a walking tour on week-ends in the historical city center just after sunrise.

You’ll be almost certain that the streets will be empty.

Most Berliners are still at home, probably still in bed. Some others might still be dancing in a club, but surely not in the historical city center. Tourists are most probably doing the same. Worth case, they are already awake and starting to consider going down for breakfast at their hotel.

I am rarely asked for a Berlin private tour starting before 10am, obviously not counting Scott that day.

4

Be ready for a short night of sleep

If you work with a photographer, be ready to go to bed late at night and wake-up early in the morning. For a Berlin photography tour in March that is okay. We finished off around 6:30pm on the Friday afternoon. I was invited for dinner that night and had to contain myself on staying out too late as we met up again at 6:00 the next day, starting with two large cups of coffee.

You are looking for some nice pictures… Take them at some dramatic time of the day!

Luckily in Berlin, even that early on a week-end, you will find a few opened Späti’s (convenient shops open all night long in Berlin) to serve you, before the Bäckerei (bakery) start opening. Just don’t be too fussy about the quality of the coffee there. What you are looking for is the caffeine that’s in it, after all.

Well for sure this means both sunset and sunrise.

Now, the good news is that Scott wants to come back next June to get some pictures. The lesser good news is that I know already that there will be little sleeping time on the program…

June is probably one of the best time to visit the city of Berlin, having the longest days of the year. The sun rises at quarter to five and sets down around 9.30pm, and on top of that you will get about an hour more light before and after.

5

A successful Berlin photography tour has little to do with the quantity of sites

Time is always a constraint for this type of project.

Preparation is the key for a good photo tour

So that was the tricky part I was struggling with, when designing the route for my Berlin photography tour with Scott. I knew he wanted to visit as many locations as possible. At the same time I did not know, how much time we would spend at each spot for him to shoot the different angles?

It is all about finding the right spots and defining the best route.

So I had to think about a way to combine the most important sites I had in mind with an order of priority; and also to make sure we are at the desired spots for sunset and sunrise.

I decided to see fewer places and spend more time at each location which worked out pretty well to get to the best Berlin locations: well know monuments as well as other unusual locations that are off the tourist path.

6

Sun is power

However stunning the sites you have chosen are, there is a need for some light to make some decent photography. No need to be a professional to know that though!

It’s always better with a bit of sun for a successful Berlin photography tour…

I am often asked how the weather will be in Berlin. Well, to tell you the truth, my experience is that the weather forecast is quiet good on the exact same day, sometimes the day before. For the rest, you can just forget about it, most of the time it’s going to be something different than what expected.

and for sure the photographer will be happy!

My advice is, if you are looking to book a Berlin bike tour, just ask if it’s possible to decide last minute and to be able to switch to a walking tour if the conditions are not good enough to ride on that day. You’ll be surprised how many times the forecast was announcing rain and you get very decent day.

7

Never forget what you really like

For example, Scott likes taking pictures of bikes. Berlin is flat and Berliner’s love biking. Some of them even during winter time with snow on the ground… So you can imagine how many bikes there are all around the city, they are just everywhere. You can find every type of them along the street, from the fanciest ones to the most rotten pieces of metal you hardly know how they can still being used.

A photographer has his own little things he likes to shoot wherever he goes

We could well have been focusing just on this for the entire day! Somehow we managed to get to shoot what we were looking for: the Berlin street art and architecture.

8

Watch out for reflections

Because we like pictures with a beautiful site or monument reflected on a river or on a lake.

A photographer likes water!

It is worth a detour to the sector to enjoy a Berlin photography tour

I had an excellent time touring Berlin with Scott. He loves what he is doing and I love taking people along the different districts of Berlin to show them the diversity of the city, its history, its culture and its evolution. Whether you like a Berlin photography tour or any other type of tour, I look forward to be meeting with you soon.

Thanks to Scott @ Scott Baker Photography

Eric @ Berlin like a local

Eric

Tour guide and founder @ Berlin like a local

All stories by: Eric

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