Tourists have long been flocking to Brugge (flemish spelling – also known as Bruges) to encounter the cities’ impossibly quaint charm and architectural beauty. Despite the cities’ compactness and smaller size geographically, it can often be difficult to know where to go unless you have a local to guide you.
Luckily, photography and world traveler Andy McSweeney has decided to call Brugge home, and with that he has created the Brugge Photography Tour. The tour enables tourists to get the best possible take on the city as he guides small groups through the best photographic locations and shares his local secrets along the way. On top of that, Andy is on hand to provide expert advice for photographers of any level – which was perfect for me given that despite my love of photography I have never had any expert advice or help to assist me in taking better photos.
I met Andy outside the Church of the Holy Blood at precisely 10.00am to take part on his photographic tour of Brugge, and luckily for me I was the only one on the tour today as this so happens to be low season for Brugge. However you wouldn’t know it if you were going by the amount of tourists with Digital SLR’s scaling the historic city, each trying to snap their best shots of the city in all it’s medieval glory. The tour started with a brief introduction, where Andy explained his roots in photography and why he ended up calling Brugge his home, despite being a Canadian native (and subsequently quite a long way from home). He has been living in Brugge for years now and still believes he is in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a recognition I would have to agree is most certainly true.
Andy’s tours begin with a few simple tips as he fires up his android tablet to show his one and only rule for the day – “You must do it with love”. We first begin by looking into a nearby shop window at a chocolate display and Andy shows me a few different ways to produce the perfect photo that displays what Belgium is perhaps most famous for – chocolate. There’s the standard ‘look in the window’ shot, and then there’s an alternative take – capturing the mirror reflection of the photographer taking the photo of chocolates, which Andy explains shifts the focus from the chocolate to the story of the photographer themselves. From there we continue to photograph the various architectural delights that change with almost every step you take and in each direction you look. But then it’s time to move toward the canals, undoubtedly my favourite aspect of Brugge. As we make our way along the canals away from the tourist hotspots, Andy begins to point out various alleyways and explains much of Brugge’ history. By the time we reach our final destination, the cold winter’s air is settling in and given that it is just myself on the tour, I convince Andy that we should take a break from photography and spend the last hour at a nearby café sipping hot cocoa by the fire. Andy takes me to his favourite café, which is also the oldest in Brugge. The owner’s dog lies lazily by the fire and the history of just this café alone is quite astounding and certainly humbling.
Overall, it was the perfect way to experience a different side of Brugge beyond the Grote Markt and grow a stronger appreciation for one of the world’s most charming cities. I can’t speak highly enough of Andy’s tours and Andy’s passion for not only photography, but also the city of Brugge itself. If you’re short on time and want to experience Brugge with a local, this is the perfect way to do so and all the while ensure you have the most incredibly photos to show for your trip to Brugge when you return home.
Tours depart daily and are priced at €40 per person, with one accompanying ‘non-photo taking guest’ free of charge.
World of Wanderlust was a guest to Flanders with Visit Flanders and a guest on Andy’s Photo Tour Brugge. However my opinion is as always, my own!