Venice at Carnival

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Venice—opulent, romantic and picturesquely decaying—is a compelling magnet for your camera. For two weeks during late winter, the city has but one focus—Carnevale. At Carnival time, resident and visitor alike are drawn into an old-world fantasy of color, pageantry and revelry. At Venice's medieval core is Piazza San Marco, the city's largest square—two football fields in length—and the most magnificent. Lined by some of Venice's renowned landmarks—the Basilica di San Marco, the Palazzo Ducale, the towering Campanile—the Piazza lies at the heart of the Carnevale tradition. Here, the living theater of Carnevale plays out. Day and night, revelers promenade bedecked from head to foot in gloriously-feathered and festooned hats, and richly-hued, lavish Photographing at Venice Carnivalcostumes that beg to be photographed. But it is the mask that is the icon of Carnevale. Steeped in the history of Venice, hand-painted, gilded with gold leaf, the masks are true works of art and what makes Carnevale unique and sets it apart from all other Carnival celebrations worldwide. Masks are disguise and possibility, cutting across social class and individual identity. From the striking monochromatic traditional designs of the commedia dell'arte and the ghost-like bauta, to intricate and colorful fantasies of gems and feathers, the masks attract the eye and the lens for striking "portraits."
"Venice at Carnival time is a photographer's delight. When people say 'WOW—AWESOME!!' when they look at my images of the more than 50 models dressed in vividly colorful costumes and masks with Venetian scenery as the background, you know you've struck gold."
- D. Wisler

In the quieter morning hours, as the sun appears over the mist-veiled waters of the Bacino de San Marco, costumed figures already begin to stroll the square—and numerous impromptu shooting opportunities present themselves. Throughout the daytime, the non-stop parade of revelers in theatrical guise expands and excitement grows. The world of the masquerade reaches the height of revelry in the evening with masked balls, renaissance-style processions, street artists, music and non-stop action.

Bring your most comfortable walking shoes! With a convenient, centrally-located 4-star hotel as our base, we are only short minutes from the Piazza—but, with no cars allowed in the city we travel by foot and water taxi.

Away from the midst of the bustle of the square, we also have time to discover quieter hidden corners of Venice and explore the network of winding narrow calli, the serpentine waterways of smaller canals, and some of the 400 graceful bridges that lace this medieval city. We capture the winter light that falls on rich architectural details, on elegant but often photogenically-decaying facades of palaces lining historic waterways, on churches and on sleek gondolas. In the evening, streetlamp reflections shimmer in the waters of the lagoon and canals.

In addition to photographing the throng of masked revelers, we have scheduled two special model shoots for our group. A 3-hour session with our models posing in gondolas on the canals and amidst secluded alleyways highlights one afternoon. During a private 2-hour interior session we photograph our models posing in one of the magnificent Venetian palazzos.Masks riding a gondola in Venice, Italy

Leaving the city behind, we travel to the photogenic island of Burano, a quiet island of winding streets and tranquil canals, offering a refreshing counterpoint to the whirlwind of the city. Burano is an explosion of color, justly famous for its brightly-hued houses and fishing boats, as well as for the handmade lace seen hanging almost everywhere. We photograph lavishly embellished masks and costumes against deeply-pigmented backdrops—here, rich color, design and pattern all vie for our focus.

Keep your camera ready. The colorfully-gloved and bejeweled hand of Carnevale beckons. An extravagantly-costumed couple strikes a pose against a backdrop of Gothic architecture. Cloaked figures in fantastical hand-painted masks stroll the Piazza and emerge from half-hidden lanes. Join us and revel at what was once described as "folly and madness"—Carnevale in timeless Venice.


Check out Kevin McNeal's trip report from our 2016 Venice photo tour

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Depart on flights from the US.

Day 2 (Feb 24)

Arrive in Venice in time for an afternoon orientation walk followed by dinner in the Castello District. (D)

Day 3

At sunrise—today and on most mornings during our week—we are in the center of the action, in Piazza San Marco, to photograph elaborately costumed and masked models. Later, we photograph around the historic Venice Arsenale and, in the late afternoon, we walk to the Rialto, stopping en route to photograph palaces, churches, canals, bridges and other architectural delights of Venice. (BLD)

Canals of Venice ItalyDay 4

Following sunrise photography in the piazza and breakfast, we depart by boat for a full-day shoot to the island of Burano, known for its houses suffused in vivid colors. Burano's winding streets and its canals lined with fishing boats colorfully reflected in the water provide a short respite from the revelry in the city. In this quieter setting we concentrate on photographing fanciful masks and costumes against the saturated-color backdrop of Burano's buildings. (BLD)

Day 5

Sunrise finds us back in the hub of activity in Piazza San Marco and just off the square to shoot at the main gondola staging area of the city—where rows of the photogenic city boats park along the canal. Midmorning we depart by vaporetto, the water bus, to the bustling, colorful centuries-old Rialto vegetable and fish market. (BLD)

Venice Italy at CarnivalDay 6

Along with a local guide, we photograph palaces, churches, the opera house and the hidden corners of Venice. We have scheduled a 3-hour afternoon shoot with our models posing in gondolas along one of the smaller, less busy canals followed by sunset photography before dinner in Formosa Square. (BLD)

Day 7

Early this morning, we are in Piazza San Marco for our final sunrise shoot. As a highlight to our week at Carnival we have scheduled an exclusive 2-hour interior photo shoot with our models posing in one of Venice's elegant historic palazzos. In the late afternoon a vaporetto brings us to the Academia area, by the high-arched wooden Ponte dell'Academia spanning the Grand Canal for our last sunset shoot. (BLD)

Day 8 (Mar 2)

Group transfer to the airport and depart for home. (B)


By the end of the tour I didn't want to leave; I wish we could have extended it! Our tour leader was wonderful and always willing to help and answer questions. Our Venice guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a great history of the places we visited. With the Venice at Carnival tour Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris has allowed me to experience an event that I will remember for the rest of my life.
—A. Gershin

This tour is a visual and sensory delight for photographers. It is a wonderfully intense photographic trip. 
—C. Mazansky

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Venice at Carnival

Feb 23, 2019 - Mar 02, 2019

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of entire trip fee
100% of entire trip fee

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Venice at Carnival
  • Five full days of photography amidst the revelry and artistry of Carnevale
  • An exclusive photo shoot in a Venetian palazzo with models in full regalia
  • Photograph Venice's off-the-beaten-path alleyways and footbridges with a local guide
  • Excursion to the outlying island of Burano
Feb 23 - Mar 02, 2019
Fee: $5,995 from Venice, Italy
Deposit: $800
Limit: 10
Tour Leaders
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