Plenty of travellers bring a camera on holiday and snap photos to record their trip, but fewer people use their cameras to discover new neighbourhoods or see a destination differently.

Foto Ruta, a new, photo-based city exploration event in Buenos Aires, takes place in a different neighbourhood every Saturday (100 pesos). It starts with a group meeting in a local cafe, where the company’s co-founders give some quick creative and technical photography tips, and then participants are given two hours to explore the neighbourhood on their own, equipped with a map, local insights and clues.

Participants are encouraged to snap photographs to illustrate each clue, based on what they find in their surroundings. For example, I joined Foto Ruta for one of their excursions on Halloween weekend, so all the clues had to do with Halloween. By following a clue called “haunted and holy”, I recognized the decaying and eerie characteristics of some of the older buildings in Monserrat (the chosen neighbourhood for this Foto Ruta event) and concentrated on capturing their “haunted” essence. For another clue, “travelling ghost”, I focused on using the city lights to create motion, which resulted in some very interesting shots.

After the photo session is over, the group meets back at the cafe to discuss their photo findings over good wine and snacks. Participants are free to use whatever camera they like, whether it be an iPhone or a high-end digital SLR camera.  

Foto Ruta’s excursions give travellers an alternative option to the typical city tours that only scratch the surface of what is possible to see in Buenos Aires. Both locals and expats will find that exploring the city with a camera in hand will open them up to things they never knew existed.     

Tim Fitzgerald is the Buenos Aires Localite for BBC Travel. He also writes