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Travel Writers & Photographers Conference – Wrap Up

This year’s Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference has come to an end. The final day was shorter, especially for me as I had to duck out a bit early to catch my flight home.

I’m truly sorry to be missing the final words of Conference Chair Don George [2], the announcement of the winners of the writing and photography contests, and the closing ceremonies (with chocoloate!). Had I known how terrific (and fun) this conference would be, I would have booked a much later flight.

This morning’s session with Jim Benning [3] (the final class of “Travel Writing in the Digital Age“) was a fun excercise in creating an Audio Slideshow using his weapon of choice, SoundSlides [4] (simpler to use for beginners but also fewer options than iMovie (for Mac) or MovieMaker (for Windows) – there is a free trial period) and a discussion of why you should be incorporating audio slideshows on your travel blog. Jim’s final comments (and I’m paraphrasing here): You don’t need to be a Steven Spielberg. It’s about telling a story in the most authentic way, not necessarily the most polished way.

After lunch I was privileged to listen to author Craig Walzer share his powerful story of researching and writing his book “Out of Exile: Narratives of the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan [5]“.   His heartfel recount of the stories of the people he encountered and interviewed, along with a very thoughtful geopolitical lesson on Sudan, spilled forth in a way that leaves little doubt of the impact it had on him and hopefully will have on others. This is another book that you really must buy, and buy enough to share because you will want to once you read it.

I’d like to be able to say “in a nutshell,…” but that would do a huge disservice to the past four days, which just can’t be squeezed into a nutshell. It has been an amazing and illuminating four days. I’ve discovered more education, inspiration, support, encouragement, and warmth than I would have believed possible had I not come here to experience it for myself. And to think I almost missed it, having spent only two nights in my own bed before jumping on a plane again!

If you’ve followed along with my blog posts (and Tweets) over the last few days you’ll already have gained a feel for the caliber of instruction, so I have only two things left to say:

  1. If your time, budget, or other constraints limit you to only one Travel Writers Conference in a year, this is the one to go to. Whether you’re a freelance travel writer, travel blogger, travel photographer, or travel journalist, you will find enough here of great value to make it worth the cost and time.
  2. You really haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed (or better still, participated in) a stellar group of authors & photographers coming together for rousing rendition (complete with encore) of the classic “Mah Na Mah Na [6]” song, led by the clearly multi-talented Rolf Potts [7]………….Really [8].

I’ve already registered for next year and am looking forward to it, and to catching up with any of my new friends who may also return. I hope I get to meet some of you next year as well – you should definitely plan on going.


Have you been to travel writers conferences that inspired you? Share your experience!