A growing number of shutterbugs are discovering there’s only one thing better than a picturesque guided tour through Arizona’s most scenic spots. It’s a photography tour that combines a great travel destination with in-the-field camera lessons.

After all, no one wants to miss their next great “Kodak moment” on a precipice overlooking the Grand Canyon as they fumble with their fancy new digital camera. With the expert hands-on instruction provided during a photography tour, you can be transformed into a budding Ansel Adams – even if you’re a basic point-and-shooter.

Here’s a look at Arizona photography adventures that can get your imagination – along with your Nikon or Canon –clicking.

Picture-Postcard Perfect

What’s your favorite Arizona picture postcard moment? It may be sunrise at the Grand Canyon, the spectacular red rock formations of Sedona, the mysterious ghost towns of Route 66, southwestern slot canyons or Arizona’s iconic saguaros against the backdrop of a spectacular sunset.

Odds are in your favor that you can book a photography tour to match your interests – whether you choose one based on location or the expertise of the photographer leading the group.

Let’s begin with Arizona’s top destination for scenic panoramas: one of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. This gorge of breathtaking proportions, with vast cliffs, buttes and temples that take on ever-shifting colors with the changing sky, demands more than autofocus to capture its true splendor.

By signing up for a Grand Canyon Association Field Institute photography workshop, you can enjoy an awe-inspiring experience at the canyon while learning new tips and techniques that will make it possible to capture your experience to share with friends and family.

In Sedona, an arts enclave internationally known for its stunning red rock formations and first-class resorts and spas, you can tap into the genius of local photographers by signing up for a photography workshop during the Sedona Arts Center’s PhotoFest 2013 (June 4–9) or through the Lou DeSerio Gallery.

In neighboring Jerome, a colorful historic mining town clinging to the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Mingus Mountains, snap-happy visitors can receive expert help through Jerome Photos.

Antelope Canyon- with frames.jpgIf you’ve been mesmerized by photographs of Arizona’s slot canyons – with beams of sunlight piercing the darkness and hues of salmon pink, violet, gold and deep indigo blue dancing off corkscrew walls of swirling sandstone – you know capturing their beauty is no ordinary photographic feat. But you don’t have to go it alone if you sign up with an Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tour.

Granted, Arizona also has photogenic destinations that don’t necessarily test a photographer’s mettle. Take, for example, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – a zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden – which features interpretive exhibits of living animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert in Tucson’s Saguaro National Park or Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden with nature trails that wend past sun-baked desert cliffs, a forest of eucalyptus trees, exotic plants from the world’s deserts, and panoramic vistas. Still, the photography classes offered at both of these destinations provide camaraderie and a chance to talk shop and receive instant feedback on your work.

Tips from the Pros

Some camera buffs pour over the pages of magazines known for breathtaking photography like Arizona Highways and sigh, “I want to do that!” If you long to walk in the footsteps of some of your favorite photographers, you can do that, too.

Arizona Highways Photo Workshops offer both major photo workshops and shorter two- or three-day excursions led by the magazine’s freelance photographers at a variety of cultural, historical and scenic wonders throughout the state.

If you’re a long-time fan of Arizona Highways, you may want to book a trip with Photo Tours Unlimited, run by Peter Ensenberger, who served 25 years as the director of photography for the award-winning nature and travel magazine before devoting his full-time attention to his own photography business.

Another option is custom one-on-one photo instruction on location through Kerrick James Photography. James’ photography regularly appears in Arizona Highways, and has been featured on more than 200 magazine and book covers.

With no film to waste or Fotomats to visit, digital photography opens our eyes to brand-new ways to travel. So it’s time to schedule your next picture-perfect day with a group of fellow shutterbugs.