Travel to CUBA 2020

Cuba Travel Photography Trip 2020

Travel Photography with Purpose

Sometimes I don’t talk enough about our photography trips being purpose-driven.. When I became a photojournalist I wasn’t prepared. I never called myself a photojournalist even after a year of publishing in magazines. My focus was on helping these people that I was surrounded by who were suffering significance injustice. Working as a photojournalist has always been driving by this undercurrent that I hope to be doing something that makes life better short-term or long-term.
With Laughing Planet Journeys and Photography the purpose hasn’t changed. I find that happiness comes from giving to others and there are a 1001 ways to give. So here I share a photo of Jan who on our last trip continued to find ways to give to all we met. It is awesome to see others photographing and finding their unique ways to spread kindness. I hope you will join us on our next trip and experience the happiness of photography and purpose.

Travel photography

2019 Make this Year Your Best Photography

photo copyright@SherrlynBorkgren2019

photo copyright@SherrlynBorkgren2019

We’re going to photograph All Saints’ Day in Guatemala this November 1, 2019. We’ll pick you up at the airport on the afternoon of October 30 and have a group dinner together. We’ll discuss our cameras, our photography agenda and plan our upcoming agenda.
Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead but Guatemalan celebrates the dead with a different artistic flavor. Kites are made by hand with small pieces of cutout crepe paper beginning six months before the ceremonies.They call the kites in Guatemala, Messengers of the Wind.
The first two days we’ll stay in the UNESCO Heritage town, Antigua. This town is amazing in itself and truly we could happily spend all of our time here. You can try their traditional drinks and you’ll enjoy a yummy homemade dinner at the home of a Guatemalan family.
There are processions, food, colorful people, animals, and landscapes.We’ll engage, give, and make photos to tell the story of Guatemala and her people.
If you are just learning photography or you are an advanced photography who is still curious come with us for a unusual journey.

Do Something Amazing

Next Photography Trip April 10, 2019

We never know the personalities that we will spend ten days with on trips. Everyone was so much fun this trip. Some of our team climbed up a mountain overlooking Lake Atitlan and got some gorgeous sunrise photos of the sun breaking through clouds over the lake.

We all hopped in this pickup truck to go to a neighboring village where the town has been painting houses in the patterns of their backstrap weavings.
The village is hoping to get more houses painted in the coming year. It’s something that we are thinking about putting into the 2019 Guatemala agenda .We are always looking for unique ways to give back to the communities we visit. What do you think?

Would you enjoy spending a half day helping Guatemalans paint a house?

September Planning and Gifts

So excited as the time nears for our trip in October.

I already have begun packing. Well, I leave my suitcase in the corner of my room and when I think of something I might want to take or could be a great gift for a child, or an adult I drop it in there.

One of the things that I like to bring are eyeglasses for seeing close up. They are easy to get at any dollar store and the women love them for weaving and arts. 

The hardest kids for me to buy for are the boys. I'm always puzzled as to what to bring them. If you have ideas let me know. Someone said socks but that seems so unfun. 

The picture of the two boys who survived the volcano and are living in a camp. I love their homemade new shirts!

Wind Messengers of Guatemala

photography by Sherrlyn Borkgren

photography by Sherrlyn Borkgren

Guatemala Photography Workshop, October 30 to November 8, 2018.

Think of all the brilliant colors that you know, then imagine these colors delicately glued together as tissue paper onto giant bamboo frames. These are the giant kites of Guatemala.
Then imagine these kites so huge that 5 to 10 Mayan teenagers have to hold them down. 
These are the messengers in the wind.

We are going on October 30, 2018, to witness, photograph, and hear the stories of these wind messengers. Our workshop size is open to only 8 in order to be flexible, learn more, and move around easily. 

The traditional aim of the kite is to provide a passageway for the spirits to communicate and remind the deceased that they are not forgotten. At daybreak, Mayan families arrive at the graveyards to paint, place flowers, and eat with the deceased as they renew family and friendships.

They leave food on the graves for the dead (although dogs usually find and eat the food when everyone is sleeping). It is a wonderful time of festivities and fun. There is a lot of planning and history of the festival, beginning with the collecting of the kite frames a year earlier. In the weeks before, everything must come together for the big day. 

There are the delicious aromas of roasting corn, elote drinks, chilacayote (sweet squash), and hundreds of scrumptiously grilled foods to enjoy along the pathways to the graveyard. 

We kickstart our trip in October with this photographic trip to the Giant Kite Festival in Guatemala. There is much more on the trip. This is just in the beginning.

We go as travelers, photographers, story seekers but not as tourists. Come with us. Send me a note at

Focus, Shoot, Move

They say that a basketball player knows if he has made the shot the moment the ball leaves his hand. The same is true in making a good photography shot. We know the moment we hit the shutter–it's either great, mediocre, or an edit out.

Is there a reason to shoot again? If not, move. More than likely, the moment that attracted you in the first place has disappeared within seconds. Spending time repeatedly reshooting the same image means you might be missing out on something happening right beside or behind you. It could simply be a completely different angle, space, or emotion.

Moments are like music. Be aware of the changing tempo, and be ready to move your body to the beat around you.

The next photography workshop to Guatemala is gaining momentum. If you are interested in the October workshop, photographing All Saints' Day and the gigantic kites in Guatemala, contact me at There will be the option to add on Tikal at the end of the workshop.

New Guatemala Travel Photography Workshop October 30

October 30 to November 7 is planned to include a day photographing the Giant Kite Festival on All Saints' Day in Guatemala. Graves are decorated with marigolds and the deceased's favorite foods. Mariachi bands arrive with songs. Tamales represent the earth, and the paper of the kites represents air and wind when flown across the graves. Colorful and fun, you'll need extra camera cards. After a full day at the graveyards, the next day we'll travel by van to the Lake Region. 

Guatemala Tip on Money Belt

Safety. It's pretty safe these days. But like any place, there are pickpockets. So we hide our valuables. The best method that I have experienced for keeping important valuables safe is in an additional pocket that hangs down your pant leg. A friend of mine made her own. It's simple to sew two sides of fabric together just wide enough to hold your passport, an ATM card, and a little cash. Then take a big diaper pin and pin it to the inside of your pants or skirt. It's always there, and you can settle your nerves as it's easy to check it with your hand.

I prefer this to a neck strap because, as a photographer, I don't need anything extra around my neck. It is also preferred over a waist belt which can be uncomfortable as it bunches and is not as easy to check. 

These pocket passport bags can also be purchased online for about $20.

If you have a Travel Photography Tip, please share it here.

National Geographic Photographer Lynn Johnson joins

Lynn Johnson and I became buddies during our time at Ohio University in 2000. She came to the college on a Knight Fellowship and I came as a scholarship student. Our friendship has continued over the last 16 years. So when she expressed that she'd like to teach this Photography Workshop with me in Guatemala, it was a no brainer.

You will return a traveler, not a tourist, 
with new eyes to see the world.

We have almost always seen eye-to-eye on the world. Her compassion to make the world just a little better has taken her around the globe for magazines and human rights groups. She's a great addition to this workshop, and I am making plans for future photography workshops where I hope Lynn and Sharon Levy–plus other great and amazing photographers and video experts–will also join me.

These trips will be the perfect way to combine travel, getting off the beaten path, making friendships with like-minded people, and creating photography at all levels. I always say it is the person who makes the photos not the camera. The machine is just a clicker. As of today, we have a few spots open for the Travel Trip to Guatemala. It is a March 25, 2017, trip for ten days. Write if you want more information.

Packing Light for Travel Photography

Packing light for your photography trip will make your journey much more fun and flexible.


  • You can buy many of your needs in-country, but it's always nice to have your personal brands to make you feel comfortable.
  • Buy razors, shampoo, repellant, soap, deodorant, and toothpaste after you arrive. What you don't use you can give away.
  • A 20-lb. bag is just about perfect for travel. You can take it anywhere, and it makes every aspect of travel easier.
  • Buy a smaller bag than what you think you need. We tend to fill up whatever size we have.
  • Put smaller items (medicine, underwear, etc.) inside other things, such as shoes.
  • I often strip out the unnecessary foam and accessories in my camera bag and use my clothes as padding.
  • There are lots of beautiful weavings and handcrafted items to buy in Guatemala so leave room in your bag.
  • You can wear some of the clothing you buy.
  • When packing your bag, lay everything out on the floor and think about what you can live without. You will be surprised.
  • Bring clothes that are comfortable but nice enough for casual dinner.
  • If you buy items in-country you want to bring home, it's easy to buy a great bag in Guatemala just before you return home!

What to Pack for Guatemala

  • Sunscreen, if you have a special brand. (You can buy it there, too.)
  • Bring your mosquito repellent (just in case).
  • Your medicine and vitamins.
  • If you run out of anything—razors (one at a time), shampoo, conditioner, mosquito repellent (rarely needed), sunscreen, cold medicine, batteries—you can buy there. Prices are lower and you can buy small quantities.
  • Light clothing for 80F weather by day and 60F at night. (March and April are dry months.)
  • Long-sleeved shirts to keep off evening bugs and to protect from sunburn.
  • Light sweater for the evening.
  • Comfortable walking sandals or shoes. (Try to avoid bright white tennis shoes.)
  • Earplugs and eye mask for sleeping. There may be some loud celebrations!
  • Leave fancy jewelry at home. Wear your wedding ring but leave the engagement ring at home.

Camera Equipment

If you shoot with a variety of photography lenses, bring them if you are comfortable carrying them. You may also choose to photograph the entire trip on your iPhone. Storage for photos is essential. Once you register, we'll send you information about memory cards and more. 

We encourage the use of a light laptop to download images. The best way to share photos is on a computer rather than a phone or camera.

What I Take

I travel with an EOS Canon DSLR. My lens is usually a Canon 17-35 and a 50 mm. I also carry an iPhone. I might be adding a new small camera to my gear soon. I have a 70-200 L Canon lens, but it'll stay home because it's big and I don't want to carry it. I also bring an Apple laptop, a mic for recording sound, and a light tripod. Bring what you can pack and feel comfortable carrying. Some hotels will have a security lock up, but in smaller villages they may not.

Clothing for Guatemala

I take one pair of shorts, a bathing suit, several thin long-sleeved tops (I burn easily), two pairs of pants (one for getting dirty and one for dinner). I can wash and dry them in the sink in one day. I take probiotics tablets and my normal vitamins, but I put them all in the same container for convenience. I take little bottles of shampoo and conditioner because I have a special hard-to-find one. I bring zinc oxide for sun screen. (I'm going to check in November to see if it is easily available at pharmacies in-country.)

Travel Photography Shooting from the Roof

Traveling as a photographer, you never know where you might end up. Today. I sat on top of a roof and watched the clouds blowing around in Guatemala. I didn't plan on staying long in Antigua. But it's something magical here for a photographer.

I didn't have a wide angle lens with me so shot with what I had. I was kicking myself a little, but then it was as if the clouds arranged themselves for me to take the shot. Landscape photography has never been my forté but sometimes a landscape scene just slaps you right in the face. Come with me in March to Guatemala and we'll explore together. There will be two photography workshop leaders and plenty of opportunities to get landscape photos and people shots.

Travel Photography Hotels in Guatemala City

I spent today going from hotel to hotel. Well, that's not exactly how it happened as there were lots of restaurants, visiting friends and visiting 6th Avenue in between. There are the corporate hotels which always smell like bug spray to me. It's like nothing can survive in those environments except for humans (for a short period anyway). The other Guatemalan hotels may be old but it's worth the ambience of the architecture, the smells of tortillas cooking nearby, and the solidarity of people who stay there. The patio and garden helped make the final decision when choosing the best hotel for a group of photographers. Also, there is a restaurant at the hotel making snack time easier. 

Travel Photography Workshops

The first blogpost on Travel Photography Workshops is really about why I decided on for a name. It all came from inspiration and rebellion.

Laughing is the name. You know how easy it is to hassle and worry about something like a name. I spent days doing that. First, I went through lists of names that included travel photography, photography tours, just photography, or photography workshops, camera, lens. Every time I was sure of one, I ran it by friends and peers. I'm sure they are checking their message ID's now to make sure it's not me again asking: "Which one? How does this sound?"

So the photography workshop name may seem that it has nothing to do with photography and travel. Even if no one ever reads this first post on Travel Photography, I will have this to look back on years from now to remember this feeling of "will it work?" These days, I often think backwards and now plan on what to look back on from the future. In ten years, the world will be so different than it is today. What will we have left? I hope the photos that I shoot today will be part of the collection of this memory. Travel and photograph engage and know. 

Wait and think a moment.

It has everything to do with travel. I'll be back later. 

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