Last updated: 25th May 2022
In this post we’ll review a photography tour we booked and paid for in Goa, India. Seriously it’s one of the best day tours we’ve ever experienced. Such a happy day meeting so many locals and photographing India’s vibrant colours whilst being expertly guided by Francisco – a professional photographer.
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North Goa Photography Tour
We booked professional photographer, Francisco De Souza’s full-day North Goa Photography Tour. It’s seriously one of the best tours we’ve ever taken. From the moment we started to the end of the day Francisco constantly gave great advice on how to improve our technical photography skills with lots of practical tips. We loved the street portrait photography aspect of the day, Francisco taught us how to approach people for their photos and how best to photograph them in their surroundings. We didn’t want a sugar-coated tour of Goa we wanted to see real life. The tour around the markets gave us just that. It’s a very well organised day with amazing photography opportunities throughout North Goa. Even if you’re not into photography, this tour of Goa would make a great day out.
Getting to North Goa
We were staying in Cavelossim in South Goa so it meant an early start to get to North Goa (1h 30min away) to meet Francisco at Mapusa market at 8am so we would have the best light for photography. Our taxi ride was entertaining, our driver was driving so so fast! Constantly tooting his horn and jostling for position, narrowly avoiding dogs and cows on the road, it was quite a relief to arrive!
North Goa Photography Tour Itinerary
Street Portrait Photography in Mapusa’s Markets
Francisco met us promptly and we both said it was like we knew each other already because we had chatted lots over emails. He asked us both what we wanted to gain from our photography tour and soon grasped our capabilities with Garth on his DSLR and Phil on his iPhone. Our North Goa photography tour started straight away in Mapusa’s bus station where Francisco taught us the basics of asking people permission to take their photograph. Like calling older people ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’ as a sign of respect.
Fruit & Veg Market
From the bus station, we went into the various bustling markets and spent around 3 hours photographing. Some of the locals knew Francisco and were more than happy for us to photograph them. It can be daunting to approach people for their photo, but Garth has gained more confidence over the years travelling in asking people. Even if you can’t speak the language, you can gesture what you want to do. From our experience people do say no, but not that many. Be polite and always show back to the people you have photographed the pictures you’ve taken – another tip from Francisco.
Time for a break and Francisco took us to a small backstreet cafe where Phil tried his first glass of chai, India’s version of tea which is really really sweet! Garth tried a ‘Thumbs Up’ – India’s version of Coke.
The markets are an immersive experience from the sounds of people chatting, the smells of the all spices, and the distant sounds of constant car horns, this was exotic India. Just brilliant people-watching too, as fruit and veg vendors perform their daily tasks and folks go about their shopping. Now we’re starting to look for diversity in faces – young, old and characterful people we could photograph.
Francisco has a very kind heart, he bought breakfast for a little girl on the street and bananas for a homeless family living on some scrubland. These sights are heartbreaking and can be quite a culture shock for some people. Sadly all over India, not just in Goa, there’s a visible contrast between rich and poor.
Next up was a visual treat inside Mapusa’s flower market. So much colour around every corner, especially yellow, it’s really hard not to take a bad photo here. We watched ladies make various flower garlands using their hands and toes in some cases. The place is filled with tons of marigold flowers which are used for making garlands used as offerings in churches, temples and homes.
Garth started to approach more ladies for permission. A lady wobbled her head from side to side, so we thought it was a no, but actually, a wobble and a smile means she was interested – it was a yes! She very kindly spent a few minutes rearranging her bright yellow sari and her posture for the best photograph. She was delighted with the result and gave us a huge smile back.
The last market we visited was inside the fish market. We saw lots of big tubs containing all sorts of fish including crabs and baby sharks for sale. Just outside are a series of gutting tables where you can take your bought fish to be cleaned up to take home.
From Mapusa, our North Goa photography tour continued as Francisco drove us to our next stop. A small traditional community fishing village called Siolim where fishermen bring in their catch for their wives to sell during the day. We captured some more amazing portraits, including some extreme close-ups.
As we walked around Siolim village we bumped into a family who ran their own bicycle shop. Francisco taught us not to take sneaky shots of people and to go approach and engage with locals instead. He’s right it makes such a difference.
After taking some more photos, Francisco took us to a local bar where the fishermen hang out. The interior was simple and small, we had 3 very welcome glasses of fizzy water. The 2 guys having a beer and were up having their photograph taken.
Lunch at Mandrem Beach
After a packed morning, it was time for a lovely beachfront lunch at The Lazy Dog in Mandrem. Phil went swimming to escape the midday sun and Garth talked to Francisco about photography. The beach is beautiful here too.
Chapora Fort & Vagator Beach
It was back on the road, next on the itinerary of our North Goa photography tour was to learn about silhouette photography. We arrived at Chapora Fort and walked up to the top via the steps, quite tiring in the Goan heat! Shooting directly into the light to create dramatic silhouettes is something we’ve never thought about doing before! The results are great.
Chapora Fish Market & Harbour
Finally, it was onto Chapora Fish Market and harbour – the last stop on our North Goa photography tour. This was another visually fascinating place, with so much happening – perfect for photography.
This was a lesson in taking candid shots of people at work and learning to look and predict their actions. What struck us about the fishermen was just how old some of the men were. They carry huge buckets of fish on their backs, it’s achingly hard work just watching everyone.
What An Amazing Day!
Francisco is so inspiring. We saw and learnt so much about Goa and photography and Garth was delighted with his pictures. We also loved all the bits in between like driving through the countryside and asking lots of questions, like what it’s like to live in Goa? Thanks to Francisco for all the extra recommendations for eating out and the best beaches 🙂 Even if you don’t have a camera, just take a tour with Francisco as you’ll have the best time in Goa!
Phil and Garth’s Top 5 Goa Photography Tour Tips
- Tip #1: Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing lots of walking.
- Tip #2: Take a small mix of cash with you – so you can easily buy things you see at the market.
- Tip #3: Carry some bottles of water and a bottle of sunscreen in a backpack.
- Tip #4: Pack your swimming shorts in case you get time for a swim.
- Tip #5: June to September is monsoon season. December to January is dry and peak season. (We went in early November)
How we did it:
- We booked and paid a few months in advance for our full day North Goa Photography Tour directly on Francisco’s website.
- The 10 hour full day photography tour cost £252 for the both of us. Check Francisco’s website for the latest price.
- Taxi from Cavelossim to Mapusa cost 2,000 INR each way.
- We booked a package holiday to Goa with TUI and stayed in Cavelossim, South Goa.