Tim Baskerville Interview: Photo Tours of Western Ireland

Burrishoole Friary, Newport, County Mayo, Ireland

Tim Baskerville is the founder of The Nocturnes, and has been teaching photography for 25 years. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a variety of night photography workshops with Tim, and highly recommend him as an instructor. 
Tim will be leading a Photo Tour of Western Ireland this year from October 10-20, 2016. Photographing Ireland, both day and night, is the subject of our interview below.

Joe: How long have you been leading photography trips to Ireland?

Tim: This will be my ninth or tenth journey to Ireland - mostly to my home base of Westport, in County Mayo - tho' I've travelled all over Ireland, on occasion. Amazing changes in the "Celtic Tiger" over the last decade or two - and yet, many things, especially in the West, remain much the same. Truly a magical place, where the landscape and history are deeply intertwined. The past is never far away, in Ireland.

Joe: I understand that you have a special connection with Ireland, and were granted dual citizenship a couple of years ago?

Tim: Ireland is a very special place for me - the home of my ancestors. My maternal grandfather was born in Ireland. Through a process known as Foreign Birth Registration, I applied for and was granted Irish Citizenship in 2014, and I now travel with an Irish Passport. 

Timescape, Newport House, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: Do you currently have family in Ireland? When did you first visit?

Tim: I have cousins in Northern County Mayo. I’ve traveled many times to the area, starting in the 1980s - first as a participant in Workshops offered by Ron Rosenstock, the very photographer whose Hillcrest House we will be staying at during our fall 2016 workshop.

Joe: You and Ron Rosenstock have been friends a long time, right? Tell me more about his Hillcrest House.

Tim: Ron is an East Coast photographer who purchased Hillcrest House to host photography groups visiting Ireland. Ron and I go back almost 30 years - to workshops I took with him in the 1980s! Hillcrest House is a former bed & breakfast, registered with the Irish Tourist Board. Ron purchased Hillcrest House exclusively to accommodate photo groups, and its homelike quality adds to the relaxed atmosphere of the trip. 

My favorite feature of the house is the view from the sun-room and library (as well as a few of the bedrooms). You have a view of Croagh Patrick, which is Ireland's sacred mountain that’s named for St. Patrick, and the surrounding hills of Westport.

Joe: I really appreciate the style of travel where I’m integrated with the locals instead of staying in a generic hotel. Hillcrest House sounds fantastic. How is the food?

Tim: Hillcrest's wonderful cook Emmajane is a bit of a foodie, and fixes breakfast every morning. She also cooks a delicious hot dinner each evening. We'll have lunch at local restaurants and pubs along the way, or perhaps stop for a picnic.

The Aughagower Three, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: Sounds fun. Are the Irish generally receptive to small photography tour groups?

Tim: The Irish are very friendly, welcoming people, and our group always enjoys visits to local artists’ studios, galleries, concerts, and the like. My thought on this “integration with the locals” is “to tour like you live there!”

Joe: Perfect. And there’s the pubs. I’m guessing you’ll spend a bit of time there.

Tim: Of course, the pubs! They serve as very efficient, local community centers, known to all. The fact that we enlist local musicians as guides/drivers, guarantees our group front row seats at traditional Irish music sessions. There is a great video on YouTube of Olcan Masterson on flute, and Cormac (Connie) Cullen on guitar. Two of the best Musicians/Drivers/Tour Guides in all of Ireland.

Joe: The scenery, music, food, and pubs all sound wonderful. How much formal photography instruction do you do on this trip?

Tim: This Photo Tour appeals to a broad base of photographers. I've come to the conclusion that the trip is not so much about teaching, tho' I'm certainly there to help in any way I can. These trips are more about experiencing the Irish countryside, history, people, and culture, with a group of like-minded photographers.

BVM sighting on the N59, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: That sounds like a good approach. Focus on the landscape and culture first, and get help with your photos if you need it.

Tim: Yeah, this is a Photo Tour, rather than a Workshop, where my role is more like a tour guide, or interpreter, in a way. And of course, our Irish Guide/Driver is a great asset on the trip. It is really a cultural tour, which just happens to include a LOT of photography. We’ll even do some night photography, for those brave souls who are so inclined!

Joe: What are the logistics of getting to Western Ireland?

Tim: You would fly in to Shannon Airport, which is LOTS better than Dublin – a very civilized, nice pace. There, our Irish guide and I will meet up with the group, load everyone and their gear into our rather large 'Coach' that seats 12! We’ll go for a nice ride thru the countryside of the West of Ireland and up into Westport, County Mayo. We may even take a few "unscheduled f-stops", and have some photographic opportunities on the way!. The first day is largely a decompression day to get over jetlag, adjust to the new pace, note the exquisite light, etc. From then on, we're off and running!

Ballintubber Abbey, door, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: Are there photos online from previous workshops?

Tim: Sure, for a taste of what awaits you, visually:

•    Work done on a previous trips, The Nocturnes in Ireland 2013 – 2014.
•    Participant Mike Quinn's testimonial and images from an earlier trip.
•    Some additional thoughts on Ireland.

Moher Lough, County Mayo, Ireland, Study 1

Joe: Where do interested photographers get more information about the Ireland tour? Who should they contact about signing up?

Tim: For detailed information about The Light of Ireland – October 10- 20, 2016 - visit Strabo Tours.

Joe: I understand you have a special print offer for early sign ups.

Tim: As an incentive, and a glimpse into the kind of imagery that awaits you in Ireland, we have a print offer. A free 10" x 15" Crystal Archive color print of Moher Lough, County Mayo, Study I (shown above). The print will be signed and window-matted to 16x20, and is a $300 value. Just submit your deposit before June 1, 2016.