Frequently Asked Questions

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Photo: © 2008 Steven Mermelstein – All rights reserved

Workshop/Tour FAQs

Yes, but ALL additional guests are required to be booked and paid for even if they don’t plan on photographing or receiving instruction.

We do not have any age restrictions however we recommend you leave your family at the hotel or on another activity unless they’re into photography as much as you. As you know, children get bored pretty quickly and may distract you from making all the images you want to make. VTPhotoTours cannot be held responsible for this.

You’ll need to use an approved child restraint for children under 8 years of age; please see Vermont Child Restraint Laws.

We’re also unable to perform as a babysitter during the Workshop/Tour. You are solely responsible for the supervision and care of your children throughout the entire Workshop/Tour.

We stop for meals at the appropriate times at a local favorite restaurant or sandwich shop. Before your Workshop/Tour we’ll ask for dietary restrictions, budget, and your food preferences and then plan accordingly.

You’re also welcome to eat and drink in our vehicles if you agree to clean up after yourself and leave everything in the condition it was in at the start of the Workshop/Tour. However, alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the vehicles at all times. If we have to clean up spills or stains you’ll be charged a cleaning fee.

Our Workshops/Tours include transportation during the Workshops/Tours and we do all the driving (unless the Workshops/Tours description specifically states otherwise).

If you wish, you may take (and drive) your own vehicle or rental but it is fully at your own risk. Please also keep in mind that our insurance policy forbids us from driving anything but our own vehicles. So we can’t get behind your wheel for any reason.

Be it a Superstar to someone with 15 minutes of fame, or someone completely unknown; it doesn’t matter to us. We respect our client’s privacy.

Steve has worked with actors, politicians, professional models, singers, and bands. He understands how important privacy is to celebrities and every individual. Especially when they’re on vacation!

Discretion and confidentiality is assured!

COVID-19 Warning

We have taken enhanced health and safety measures—for you, our other Guests, and Staff. You must follow all health and safety instructions while participating in any VTPhotoTours Workshops/Tours.

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists any place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and Guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.

By Participating you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

Information on Coronavirus Disease 2019 continues to evolve quickly and we are closely following guidance from health officials and other authorities.

We are currently offering Private Workshops ONLY ONLINE (or by phone) most weekdays, weekends, and holidays.

All our in-person workshops/tours and classes have resumed with social distancing and other safety measures (this date is subject to change per government restrictions/guidance).

Please make sure that you have reviewed any advisories or restrictions that may be in place for travel to Vermont. Visit https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/coronavirus-covid-19/traveling-vermont for information.

The health and safety of our Guests, as well as that of our team, is our primary focus. We are taking precautionary steps and have implemented the following guidelines, which will likely continue to evolve as more information becomes available:

  • All Participants must bring and wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times, except when actively eating or drinking.

    All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:

    • Be made with at least two layers of breathable material
    • Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free

    At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings.

    The use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing. A minimum of 6-foot (2 meter) space must be maintained from others at all times.

  • Hand sanitizer will be available in our vehicles. It is also recommended that all Guests bring and wear disposable or reusable gloves.
  • Following CDC and VOSHA guidelines and recommended procedures, we will clean/sanitize all surfaces, door handles, vests, gear, etc between each workshop. An additional 5% Covid-19 fee will be added to all services to help recover the additional time and costs associated with this.
  • If you have access to a vehicle, it is preferred you use it and follow us to each of the stops. We will lend you a clean/sanitized two-way radio so you won’t miss out on any of our commentary, instructions, tips, etc. You may also use it to ask questions between stops. If you don’t have access to a vehicle, you may ride in ours, but all the windows must be left open regardless of the weather conditions.
  • Until further notice, anyone who has traveled to, from, or through, high risk areas within the US or outside the US within 24 days is not permitted.
  • Until further notice, anyone who has been in contact with someone from high risk areas within 14 days, including Guests with connecting flights in these locations, is not permitted, nor will anyone who has helped care for someone suspected of having or diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19), or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure.
  • By participating in any workshop/class, you are confirming that you and all persons in your party (and anyone you or they have been in contact within 14 days):
    • have not experienced any of the following symptoms of COVID-19 identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at CDC.gov, including but not limited to:
      • Fever or chills
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Fatigue
      • Muscle or body aches
      • Headache
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Sore throat
      • Congestion or runny nose
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Diarrhea
    • have not been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms without completing a 14-day quarantine
    • are not under any self-quarantine orders
  • Anyone who feels unwell, or has exhibited any of above symptoms within 14 days will not be permitted.
  • Everyone will have their temperature checked with a no touch thermometer prior to starting, regardless if they are symptomatic or feel unwell.

    Based on guidance from health authorities, anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.

    Before you leave home, be sure to check the temperatures of everyone in your party—including yourself—as an extra layer of precaution.

Additional changes for all our Group (non-private) Workshops:

  • Due to CDC recommendations for COVID-19 we are limiting workshops to two individuals or one family at a time.

We’ll be fair as long as you agree to be fair too!

Participants are welcome to use cameras with built-in GPS or use GPS devices which record where an image was taken.

However, Participants may not damage our business by using a GPS device to log or record VTPhotoTour’s trade secret and proprietary routes and stop locations. Participants agree to not share, distribute, post or publish a log, record, listing, description or any account of our stop locations and routes or use them for any commercial purpose.

During the Workshops/Tours, participants will have shared access to the following items:

  • Various sizes of Reflectors and a few other light modifiers, and plamps/extra hands;
  • Tarps (Stay clean while shooting from the ground.);
  • Tissues (In case anyone has a runny nose.);
  • Hand sanitizer (Kill those germs!);
  • Baby wipes (You don’t want to have mud on your hands all day.);
  • Bug repellant (Who likes mosquitos?);
  • Toilet paper (Just in case.);
  • Towels (Sometimes brooks are too irresistible.);
  • Garbage bags (Carry out everything you brought in.);
  • A doghouse wildlife blind (Upon prior request – For those patient enough to wait for birds and other wildlife);
  • First-aid kit (As the scouts say, “Be Prepared!”);

Note: Products may vary.

We only take guests to locations that fit the current conditions, so “bad” weather has never been an issue on any of our Workshops/Tours.

Luckily most of the rain that falls in Vermont is light and only last minutes. Actually, changes in weather often bring awesome photo opportunities with stratus clouds, possibly rainbows, rain cascades, and rainfall and snowfall. So a little rain/snow is something to hope for!

In the unlikely event that the weather should become too severe to continue a Workshop/Tour we always have several contingency plans ready to ensure all our guests get their money’s worth.

Each Workshop is unique as we’re very flexible to our clients’ desires and customize it specifically to its participants. Here’s what most of our Workshops/Tours share in common:

A typical Full-day Workshop/Tour begins with the departure from the previously agreed on location at the agreed time in the morning. Some photographers opt to leave very early, even before dawn or may leave later in the morning to have time left to photograph the sunset or during dusk. We suggest leaving later and shooting the sunset.

Depending on the departure location, the travel time to the first stop and from location to location will vary but the routes are customized by us to maximize the time available for stops at beautiful and picturesque locations.

We’ll also plan the primary stops and alternative stops with the light and sun’s position in mind. For example, during the midday, if it should be sunny, we’ll take you to locations that are not affected by harsh light.

Breaks for breakfast, lunch, and/or supper are taken at the appropriate times at a local favorite restaurant. Before your Workshop/Tour we’ll ask for dietary restrictions, budget, and your food preferences and then plan accordingly.

If the client desires, photography instruction and/or assistance with composition and field techniques will be offered throughout the Workshop/Tour. Time may also be allocated for critique of photos or assistance with Workflow (Lightroom, Photoshop, Apple Photos, etc). Most Workshops/Tours include dedicated time for all of the aforesaid.

We begin traveling back to the departure location once the time for the half-day or full-day Workshop/Tour has been fully used (unless the clients’ would like to start back earlier.)

At the very least, you should bring:

  • A working camera.
    Any make and model will do! As long as it works we won’t judge. We’re happy to show you how to make great photos with even a ‘point and shoot’, cell phone, or tablet camera!

  • Memory cards with free space or unexposed film.
    We recommend you bring enough to shoot at least 100-300 photographs.

  • Fully charged rechargeable batteries or fresh disposable batteries.

  • Multiple layers of clothing and a jacket.
    The weather changes pretty rapidly in Vermont and you should be prepared for temperature drops and rain or snow.

  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes.
    We don’t go too far on foot anywhere but you’ll want to have a good pair of comfortable shoes that won’t make you cringe each time we stop.

  • Snacks, water, and/or non-alcoholic drinks.
    Unless specifically stated, food and drinks are not included. We will also stop for meals at the appropriate times at a local favorite sandwich shop or restaurant. We’ll “stop the meter” during the meal time if you pay for your Instructors’ meals.

  • Cash
    It’s a good idea to bring some cash as a few of the general stores and restaurants we might want to stop at still don’t accept credit cards.

  • Like the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared.”
    If you have any allergies or medical issues please bring along prescriptions and anything else you might need in an emergency.

We also recommend the following items, if you own them. However they’re not required so don’t feel like you need to run out and buy them. In fact, we strongly encourage you not to buy new equipment just for the Workshop/Tour as you’re better off bringing gear you know works, are more familiar with and have practiced using.

  • A DSLR and multiple lenses.
    Bring it all! From wide-angle to telephoto zoom and extenders. We’ll show you how to get the most out of what you do decide to bring. ND filters are not required but a good idea!

  • A backpack or shoulder bag for your gear.
    Even in the backcountry of Vermont it’s a bad idea to leave any equipment unintended so you should be able to bring your expensive gear with you if you decide to stop and go into any stores or restaurants.

  • A sturdy tripod, ball head, and a remote/cable release.
    Besides the camera itself, a good tripod is easily the 2nd most important thing to have and will improve your pictures more than any other upgrade, even more than a camera upgrade!

  • Again, be prepared.
    It’s not a bad idea to bring sunglasses, bug repellent (in spring, summer and fall), sunscreen lotion, and a change of socks.

Perhaps the most frequently asked question we receive is, “Which lenses should I bring?” or “Which lenses do you recommend?” Some even ask if they should buy a new camera or lenses for the Workshop/Tour.

We know photographers can sometimes feel insecure about their gear. But don’t worry. We don’t make any judgements!

Every type of camera has been used successfully! Many of our clients just use kit lenses, point and shoot cameras, or iPhones/Android Phones. No matter what someone brings, as long as it’s fully functional, everyone always has just as much fun. We will design the Workshop/Tour to the gear you already own and feel like bringing.

In fact, we don’t recommend you buy new equipment just for your trip.
You should only travel with equipment you have owned for a while and had a chance to test, use frequently and have gotten familiar with. There’s nothing worse than going on a trip and coming back without any decent photographs because you used untested gear or used incorrect settings due to unfamiliarity with it.

“Ok, ok. I get it. My equipment doesn’t matter but I’m stubborn and still want to know what’s ideal so I can get new stuff for my trip…”
Well, if you have cash to blow or already have a good selection of gear then we recommend bringing a couple zoom lenses which cover all focal lengths from 14 or 24mm and up to 200mm. If you would like to photograph birds or wildlife we suggest you also bring more high-powered telephotos and teleconverters.

It wouldn’t hurt to bring the following, if you already have it:

  • Super Zoom Lens like 80-400mm, 200-400mm, 100-500mm, etc.

  • 300mm or 400mm Super Telephoto

  • Teleconverters

  • Macro lens

  • ND Filters

  • Tripod

  • Remote cable release

Every few months someone asks if we could take them out fishing or hunting too. But, it’s just not our thing.

There are many professional fishing and hunting guides for hire throughout the state but we’re not familiar enough with any to feel comfortable recommending one.

If you can’t find an answer to your question, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.