who we are...

Barbara lying down on the jobbarbara van zanten
Working hard on the job (left) is Barbara van Zanten, owner and tour leader of Europa Photogenica Photography Tours. Born and brought up in England, based in Southern California for the last 31 years. Before that lived in France for eight years. Speaks French fluently, although perhaps not always entirely grammatically correctly. Graduated from the London University of the Arts Central School of Art and Design with a degree in Theater, TV and 3-Dimensional Design. Earned a Royal Society of the Arts post-graduate diploma in Adult Education in Paris. Involved in photography and adult education in England, France and the United States for over 30 years, lived and traveled extensively in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. As well as shooting florals, still-lives and landscapes for greeting card, calendar and tourist brochure companies in the US and Europe, supplies travel images to Getty Images. Also teaches adult classes in Creative Photography and Hand-Tinting. Currently has greetings card collections published by Images and Editions (UK), Northern Exposure US, and Marion Greetings Cards US. Also has hand-tinted landscapes hanging on walls from California to New York to London to Paris to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. In her spare time she designs and builds web sites for local small businesses.

 

 

what we do....

Barbara during the ultimate thatched cottage, roses round the door tour - 2004 Since 1990 we have been searching out destinations that other photography tour  companies do not go to. We concentrate on European destinations, places such as  France, Italy, Spain, England, Wales, and Scotland. In 2003 we added Tuscany, the Cinque  Terre and Florence to our list of destinations. In 2004 we added Dorset and Devon and  went in search of the "ultimate roses round the door" shot. (See if we found it, click here  for photo galleries). In 2005 we added Greece and the Greek Isles - for client images  from Greece click here, and in 2006 Umbria the Veneto and Venice - for client images  from Umbria and Venice click here. Also in 2006 we returned to Paris, this time with a  new theme for Paris photography aficionados. We hunted down images of Retro Paris -  the old corners, streets, cafes and vistas that will provide us with images of a "Paris Gone By" (but that is actually still here). For client image galleries and Barbara's images of Paris click here.

Included in the spring 2007 collection of photo tours were tours to Athens and the Greek Islands with the addition of a new destination for us...Crete. After an absence of seven years we returned to the stunning landscapes and sparkling white villages of Andalucia, starting our tour this time in Seville. Also, back by popular demand, was a tour to one of our all time favorite areas of south west France: the Dordogne and the Lot Valley. We never tire of photographing the cluster of villages classified as among the "Most Beautiful Villages of France" (MBVF) in the Dordogne and Lot Valleys. Our first X-TREME photo tour was to the Beaujolais, Rhone Alps and the city of Lyon, all "famous unknown" destinations that people have heard of but never visit. Perfect fodder for photo tours. For client images from these tours go to the galleries page. For photos of group members go to our archives page.

For 2008, a difficult year for tours what with the devalued dollar, the election, the economy and general universal doom and gloom, we decided to go one of the sunniest, most cheerful and delightful places in the world...PROVENCE! We had a wonderful time even though there were no sunflowers - farmers were then growing wheat to feed the world - and the lavender was late blooming owing to a colder than usual spring. However the villages were glorious with window boxes full of flowers, the markets full of ripe fruit and friendly people and the cafes ever welcoming with cold drinks and delicious food. For images from this tour click here and scroll down to the section on France

In 2009 we returned to the history and charms of Normandy and Monet's Garden and the excitement of Paris. Normandy was beautiful in June and we were very moved by the American War Cemetery in Coleville, which we visited soon after the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In the fall we went go to photograph the golden vineyards of the Beaujolais region along with our first visit to the Jura mountains. We again had very sunny weather if a bit colder than expected! To see photos from these tours vist our galleries page here

2010 saw the beginning of a new decade - certainly the last one for Europa Photogenica! Just a few more years left in us but every one will be spectacular! We are starting the year in the middle of a deep recession with new terrorist threats rattling our nerves but our thirst to visit new places and photograph the beauties of Europe has not diminished. After a tour for a private group to London and Paris in June we traveled "The Pilgrims' Way in Southwest France" with a three day extension to the Cathar Country in the fall. Once again we were blessed with sunny weather with just a day of misty rain. We traveled along the ancient route, now a World Heritage Site, which took Christian pilgrims to St Jacques de Compostella 1,000 years ago, and visited the remote mountain top ruins of the Cathar religious sect. Photos from these tours can be found on our galleries page here.

2011 saw the start of the forth year of economic stress and business sluggishness. Is there light at the end of the tunnel or has it been switched off? For this year we took advantage of the drop in value of the pound sterling and planned two tours to England, one in the early summer to Devon and Cornwall and one in the fall to the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales, N. York Moors and East Coast with a two day visit to the medieval city of York. Unfortunately family tragedy overtook Barbara and she did no tours that year.

2012 was a difficult year for me personally as my brother died. However we did manage to fit in a tour to Brittany, the Ile de Re and the Loire Valley entitled "The Best of Western France". We had good weather for the most part and again managed to find outstanding locations. To see a galleries of work from that tour click here and here for part 2

In 2013 we successfully completed a tour to a new destination for us "Kent and East Sussex" in southern England. Once again we had good weather karma and lots of wonderful photo ops. Visit our galleries page for photos from this tour. Then in the fall we visited Alsace and Champage, as well as a tour to Eastern France with a private client. Photo galleries from these tours coming soon.

In the spring of this year, 2014 we completed two tours, one called "The Medieval Treasures Of Northern Burgundy" in France, and one to The Cotswolds and Oxford in england. Both tours were blessed with great weather and perfect decorative cumulii in perfect blue skies. This fall once again we are touring with a private client, this time to the French Riviera and St. Tropez.

Our spring tour for 2015 to Provence in May is already planned. Click here to see full details.

 

 
 

Before it became politically incorrect our main destination was France. We believe that France has every element for the perfect photo tour, ancient villages, medieval architecture, stunning scenery, interesting people (who are, by the way, also extremely charming), unique style, great food, great infrastructure, and that certain "je ne sais quoi..." It helps that I speak French fluently and can get us into places and situations (and out of them) that non-French speakers cannot.

We try to choose the more unfamiliar parts of France to visit, because these offer the "true" French experience. Even when we go to Paris and Provence we seek out places that are off the beaten track and that do not appear in the guide books. We have led photo tours to other, less well known, but no less photogenic regions such as Alsace, Burgundy, Normandy, Brittany, the Isle de Brehat, the Beaujolais, Bordeaux, the Briere, the Dordogne & the Lot Valley, the Tarn, the Aveyron, the Cognac region, the lovely port of La Rochelle, the offshore Atlantic island of Ile de Re, the Loire Valley, The Rhone Alps, the Sologne, the Pyrenees, the Drome, the Jura and the Riviera. We were the first photo tour company to take a group to Monet's Garden, a tour we have repeated several times.

France loves to award prizes and titles and stars to everything and its inventory of beautiful villages is no exception. The Most Beautiful Villages of France is an organization that has 148 pretty villages on its list at the moment. We have visited nearly all of these villages during our tours to France and intend to visit them all before we're through. During our photography tours to France in 2007 we visited no fewer than fifteen of them as well as other just as pretty villages that have been left off the list for reasons unknown. We could create our own list from among the countless beautiful and unknown villages we have discovered.

 
 

we are the experts for European photo tours...

For several years French destinations took a back seat to various destinations and I was lucky to have the expert services of photographer Di Mayfield to lead our tours to Italy, Greece and Spain while I concentrated on France and England. We liked to consider ourselves the experts in organizing photo tours to Europe. Between us Di and I covered every highway, back road, village street, country lane and narrow alley during our research trips, looking for the most photogenic villages, landscapes, houses, vista, sea ports etc. If it is photographable we will find it...! Since the financial decline we are back in France and England.... See the tours page for details.

Whatever the destination we take pride and spend months in planning unusual and interesting photo tours and giving our client-photographers a true taste of the region visited. Our destinations change each year and we rarely repeat a photography tour using exactly the same itinerary. This way we do not get stale. We never copy any other photo tour company's itinerary although others copy ours. (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I believe). We like to come up with photographic destinations that will challenge and excite our clients, and tempt them to visit places that are not famous or on the tourist trail. Each Europa Photogenica photography tour is unique and so are the photos we shoot. Click here for client and tour leader photo galleries of England, France, Italy, Greece and Spain.

 
 

who you are...

Photoshop guru getting a close up at a Loire chateauThe groups are small and friendly, (between 3 and 12) and are united by a common interest - photography. We have had clients from all over the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia, and of all levels of photographic skill. The age range has been from 30 - 89 with most clients falling into the middle range of the 40s and 50s to 60s. The majority of clients have been people traveling alone, but we have also had a good share of couples. Over 70% of our clients during the last eight years have been repeat clients, some of them for the fourth, fourth, fifth or sixth time (or even more..). Several of our clients enjoy professional photographer status and one of them Dr. Mark Wainer (pictured left getting close up and personal with an urn full of vegetables in a Loire Valley chateau courtyard), was awarded the coveted "Photoshop Guru" status at a Photoshop convention in San Francisco in 2005. Alumni include travel writer/photographer Billy Cone, Lonely Planet photographer Di Mayfield, fine art photographers Wally Parshall, Tom Schillaci, Robert Diehl, Evelyn Lief, Maxine Bolf & George Esquada, and Gale Perry, who was a relative beginner when she first came on tour with France Photogenique in 1996 and now leads her own photo tours. Visit our links page to see alumni websites.
Click here for our alumni photo galleries.