In a city brimming with U.S. history, there is no shortage of Instagram-worthy photo ops. The key to capturing that envy-inducing, perfect shot is getting the inside scoop from a professional. Enter Saba Alhadi, PhotoWalks Founder and Creative Director. Meander through iconic neighborhoods with the PhotoWalks Beacon Hill Tour and PhotoWalks Back Bay Tour. Savor the sights and smells of Boston’s North End with the Little Italy Photography Tour. Discover how 300 years of history can be packed into just 2.5 picturesque miles when you take the PhotoWalks Freedom Trail Tour.
Whichever PhotoWalks tour you opt for, Saba’s 17 years of experience will leave you with a newfound love of Boston, and a camera full of beautiful memories. Hear from Saba herself – where she draws her passion from, and what she loves most about Boston.
How did you get into photography, and photo walking tours?
My father gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera when I was about nine years old. With a simple click of the shutter button, I was fascinated by how this little box captured what I saw on a roll of film. The realization that pictures document life’s fleeting moments and preserve them forever had a profound effect on me. A camera has been by my side ever since.
Photography and travel are my greatest passions. Many moons ago, I worked as a travel agent. I had a faulous time traveling around the world and capturing pictures of many amazing adventures. Eight years later, my globetrotting days came to an end. I quit my job. It was time to pursue my lifelong dream of owning my own business. I had no clue what I wanted to do next until…a serendipitous walk in Boston Common in December 2001 changed my life.
As I walked along the park’s meandering pathways with my camera, I saw photo opportunities everywhere I looked. I wondered, do locals and visitors take the time to really observe the details of our historic city? Or, do they just keep walking and overlook their immediate surroundings? Suddenly, a burst of inspiration struck. I’m going to start a walking tour business! I’ll teach people how to take beautiful pictures of Boston using their own camera!
Long hours of research, marketing strategies, building content for a website, and mapping out itineraries followed. Five months after my serendipitous walk, PhotoWalks opened as Boston’s first photo walking tour business on May 1, 2002. It all began with an idea, a passion for photography and love for the city of Boston. What an amazing journey it’s been!
What do you want people to know about your tours?
A PhotoWalks tour is an eye-opening experience that empowers people of all ages to confidently take their photography skills to the next level. On each walking tour of Boston, I provide creative photography tips of the city sights to inspire participants to learn how to see creatively using their own camera or smartphone. As a result, they take home memorable pictures of their visit to Boston, develop lifelong observation skills and gain a renewed appreciation for observing details in our surroundings.
I also provide fascinating commentary on Boston’s historical sites, iconic landmarks and hidden gems. Locals and visitors from all over the world enjoy that part of the tour too.
What excites you about going to work each day?
One of my greatest joys is meeting many wonderful people from all over the world. I have learned about them and learned from them. We meet as strangers and end up as friends after exploring Boston on a 90- minute or 2-hour PhotoWalks tour. It’s very rewarding for me to be a part of my clients’ quest to become better photographers.
What is the one thing you never leave home without?
My iPhone XS. I can’t imagine life without it. Seriously. Not only is it a “mini-computer”, but it has a camera that’s absolutely amazing. Sometimes my mirrorless full-frame camera cannot capture the color or light the same way the iPhone XS does quickly and easily. It’s pure magic for some scenes during the day, not so much at night, though. I tell my clients that developing a photographer’s eye for creative compositions is what makes a great shot, regardless of the type of camera you have
Has anything truly serendipitous ever happened while you were leading a tour?
There have been a few times when my clients and I start chatting with residents in Beacon Hill. Next thing we know, we’re invited to an unexpected house tour! That’s always a special treat!
What do you hope your customers get out of your tours?
As a tour guide and photographer, my goal is to inspire people of all ages to take their interest in photography to the next level. They learn how to see and think creatively in ways that they may not have considered before. Over the years, some of my clients have said that I have changed the way they see things. That’s very empowering.
#1 travel photography pro tip?
Seek new adventures and be curious about life’s endless photo opportunities. Curiosity is like a never- ending treasure hunt for photographers who look for creative ways to capture something simple and mundane or a scene they’ve visited many times.
When shooting something that strikes your interest, ask yourself, How can I take a picture of this creatively? This allows you to explore various angles before pressing the shutter button impulsively. A stunning image just may be a click away!
Why should somebody visit Boston?
Boston is a great destination for travelers who enjoy a very walkable, scenic, historic and modern city. Visitors can explore different areas on a variety of tours: history, photography, architecture, biking, food and so much more. Boston has amazing museums, vibrant and distinct neighborhoods, gorgeous panoramic views along several waterfronts, dynamic dining options, and accommodations for any budget.
Visitors can take a break from the city and venture off on a day trip to the beautiful island off Cape Cod —Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the beaches of Maine, the mountains of New Hampshire or visit the mansion in Newport, RI. So, planning an itinerary on your trip to Boston is key to make the most of your time in a city with so much to do.
Lastly, what’s the #1 thing a visitor should do while here in Boston?
That’s a tough question. Boston has so much to offer and that depends on a visitor’s interest. For a history buff, I would recommend walking along the Freedom Trail to see the sites from American history. For a visitor with limited time for a museum, I highly recommend visiting the fabulous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Or, take a PhotoWalks tour and explore Boston from a different angle!