Switching careers to become a photographer: Nigel's experience

12 January 2016

Changing direction after a long professional career is a challenge, but it’s one that Nigel Forster undertook seven years ago when he abandoned the world of landscape architecture, and his work as director of an environmental charity, in favour of photography



Admittedly some aspects of the work utilised his skills – a landscape architect must have a good eye, and a sense of vision – but it was a bold step.

Despite some experience as a freelance photographer in the 80s and 90s, Nigel was new to the world of digital photography and digital technology; nevertheless he quickly established a reputation as a landscape photographer of worth. Based in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, he is today recognised as one of Wales’ foremost landscape photographers and teachers. This makes him perfectly equipped to host Saga’s brand new special interest holiday Photography across the Andes, in November, 2016. This follows the same route as the main holiday through Peru, Chile and Bolivia, travelling by road, rail and air, but with a strong photographic focus. Guests will have the chance to hone their skills and to produce photographs that do full justice to their subject. “The commonest mistake people make in photography is to get hung up on the technicalities” Nigel comments. “The key to success is capturing the moment. I encourage people to really look at what is front of them”.

Nigel will be giving a series of talks, subjects include landscape photography, architecture and heritage, photographing people and wildlife, and post-production processing. He’ll be able to offer photographic tips during the day, and will arrange special excursions that include rising at dawn to capture the sunrise, and shooting the Milky Way far from any light pollution – the Atacama Desert has been named one of the ten best places in the world to observe the night sky.

And where better to go? The Andes, the longest continuous mountain chain in the world, stretches some 4,000 miles from Columbia through to the southern tip of Chile. This relatively young mountain range – a mere 50 to 60 million years old – has phenomenal landscapes on a grand scale and a rich and fascinating culture.

Though widely travelled, this will be Nigel’s first visit to South America and he’s researching locations carefully. He admits he’s is particularly looking forward to photographing the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia, where sky and earth appear to merge, and the dramatic desert scenery of Chile’s Valley of the Moon. He is also excited about shooting the panoramic cityscapes in Santiago and La Paz, and the architectural and human photo-opportunities the cities present. “Photography allows you to develop a better understanding of the country you’re visiting,” he explains. “You’re looking to see behind the main attraction, and to get a real feel for the area and the culture.”

To date this intrepid traveller’s favourite location has been Indonesia: “I liked the rice terraces, the intense green forms and the colours.” But he freely admits he has a passion for big expansive landscapes: “scenically I love New Zealand, but Scotland ranks highly too, it has such grandeur and scale, but I am really looking forward to the incredible photo opportunities the Andes presents.

Photography not your thing? Why not take a look at our other special interest holidays?

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.