Date: 04th - 10th February 2017
This photographically undiscovered country lies between Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo, where mountains sweep gracefully down to the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
Whatever genre of photography you enjoy, Albania will shower you with subjects, from beautiful snow capped mountains to stunning lakes, ancient villages, and the character-filled faces of farmers. You will get to explore a country that is as yet largely free of photographers and as a result, the images that you create here will inspire a legion of others to follow in your footsteps.
This country of contrast bears the diversity of its struggle throughout history for an identity of its own. The Romans, Ottomans, Nazis and Communists have all left their marks on this jewel of South Eastern Europe.
Albania was once declared an atheist state; the practice of any religion was outlawed which makes it incredible that churches and mosques dating back thousands of years have survived. It is now mostly Muslim and the call to prayer echoes across the cities and villages. Muslims, Christians and Jews all live harmoniously together.
Enver Hoxha, led the country as a dictator from 1944-1985, his paranoia about a global attack on Albania led to the creation of some 700,000 bunkers, the remains of which can been seen littered around the countryside and in cities. There are secret submarine bases, army checkpoints that can now be seen and now lie abandoned - some used for drying herbs and covered in graffiti which make for interesting subject matter.
From the lakes of Butrint and The Blue Eye, to the cobbled streets of Gjirokasta, through the deep river gorge of Lengarica and scaling the heights of the ancient villages of Qeparo and Benje. Albania will give you plenty of opportunity to shoot a wide variety of subjects.
There is even an opportunity to visit a factory staffed by women only who make fruit sweets - the menfolk are considered too lazy to do the job properly! These women make everything by hand, cleaning the fruits and marinating them in sugar, cleaning and labeling the jars and delivering the produce, it is like stepping back in time 50 years.
We will travel around the country mainly by minibus, with our guide and translator and driver visiting villages that time appears to have forgotten. We will take tea with farmers and travel across a lake on a ferry that has been converted from a bus into a boat.
The variety of faces is a street photographer’s dream. The contrast between the modern city worker in his 4 x4 and the traditional villager taking their wares to market by horse and cart, gives the most exciting visual feast.
Speaking of feasts, you won’t go hungry during our tour either, the portions are big and the quality of food is stunning, sweet lamb, goat and tender beef followed by desserts and local wines give an understanding to Albania’s culinary influences from the years of occupation by different cultures.
Paul Sanders will lead this tour; he will guide you towards your own visual story of vivid and vibrant Albania. His experience as Picture Editor of The Times will help give you a narrative to your pictures, he will push you to explore the locations and get the maximum out of this exciting trip.