Tuesday, April 30, 2013


When I visited Bruges last fall, the absolute best thing I did was take a photo tour with amazing guide, Andy McSweeny, the owner of Photo Tour Brugge.

I tend to shy away from photo tours. I hate to admit it, because I love the idea of them. But nevertheless I've RSVP'd and even paid to take part and then wimped out at the last minute more times than I care to admit. Strange, right? I'll go out on a limb and admit that I fake it really hard but, truthfully, I'm totally uncomfortable around people I don't know. I'm bad at making small talk, I inadvertently make horrible jokes, I drop things or spill coffee on myself... it's a trainwreck. Probably funny for the folks observing, but not so much for me. :) Add to that that I'm really self-conscious about being watched taking pictures, and it's all just a bit much so I end up bailing at the last minute.

I had run across a link to Andy's "Hidden Brugge" tour on a photography board somewhere and his reviews were fantastic. Everyone seemed to love him and kept going on and on about everything they learned, the sights and subjects they never would have known to look for on their own, and his generally uber-awesome personality. Well, I figured if I was going to venture across the ocean, by myself, for a month with nothing but a carry-on bag and my camera, I could suck it up and show up to the tour that everyone else was raving about.

So I did. And it turned out to be one of the absolute best things I did during my entire trip.

I got super lucky and happened to be the only person signed up for that particular tour and I got Andy all to myself. We walked half the city over the course of the afternoon and he shared the insider scoop on the sights you won't find in guidebooks, the details worth noticing, and all sorts of beautiful little private and hidden photo ops. It was beyond fantastic. Oh, and it was ridiculously affordable too. Score.

This was one of the many wonderful little locations we visited. Walking down one of many cobblestone residential streets, one side was lined with houses and the other was just a nice tall brick fence covered in ivy and flowers with a small private gated entrance midway down the block. Never in a million years would I have entered the gate -when I'm shooting alone I am gutsy, but it would have felt a little too invasive. Well, turns out it was one of the many wonderful locations that Andy seemed to have community blessing to visit at will so we headed on in.

Passing through the gate, we entered the courtyard of a lovely community of cottages that are built and managed by one of the city's churches. A decorative brick path ran through the center with little offshoots to each cottage lined by short, perfectly manicured bushes and flowers that added a perfect amount of color and delineated each cottage's yard. Here and there, though, there were doorways with no path that appeared to have been sealed off many centuries ago.

Click the picture to purchase a fine art print!

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