Coffee tables have collapsed under the weight of all the books written about bucket-list destinations for the intrepid traveller, so it’s not easy distilling all the must-visit places for travel photographers into a single blog.
Here’s a list of some great places to tick off your list, however, featuring some classic destinations alongside some less predictable choices…
The sheer scale and diversity of the Indian sub-continent means that every travel photographer should visit at least once. The gorgeous golden light is one thing, but there’s just so much variety, from the beaches of Kerala and Goa, through to the historic mega-cities, through to the northern regions bordering the awe-inspiring Himalayas. Everyone knows of the Taj Mahal but another very photogenic site is the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the spiritual centre of the Sikh religion. Head east and you reach Dharmsala and McLeod Ganji in the Himalayan foothills – the current headquarters of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan diaspora. Take a wide-angle lens and a fixed length ‘prime’ lens for some amazing portraits.
This is another diverse and massive ancient civilization, with plenty to fascinate the travel photographer. The “Golden Triangle,” which includes Beijing and Shanghai, is a must for fans of historic buildings, and a very photogenic part of the Great Wall is an easy coach ride from Beijing. These places can get packed with tour groups, however, so don’t forget the less visited southeastern provinces, particularly the other-worldly landscapes around Guilin. Again, a wide-angle lens is essential.
Iceland and Norway
The pristine lakes and mountains of Scandinavia are a perennial favourite with photographers, while the popularity of Game of Thrones has made Iceland, with its stark, surreal landscapes, even more popular. Don’t only visit in winter, however, as the midnight sun makes for some gorgeous summer-evening shots. Pack a variety of lenses for some stunning landscape images, and a tripod to keep your camera steady during long exposures – you may even be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights if you visit from September to mid-April.
While it’s easy to get despondent about the crisis facing endangered species and ongoing environmental destruction, there are still lots of amazing wildlife to photograph in Africa – particularly if you book with a reputable specialist. As well as maximising photo opportunities, this will ensure your visit has minimal impact on flora and fauna, while giving maximum benefit to the local economy. A great accessory is a bean bag, perfect for keeping your camera steady as you photograph wildlife from the back of a jeep or truck.
This is a big geographical area, encompassing Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and The Philippines, but it’s relatively easy to get around once you are there. Again, the diverse cultures and gorgeous light never fail to entrance, whether you are drawn to the ancient traditions and religions, or the dazzling modern cities. Take your full range of gear, but don’t weigh yourself down as the heat and humidity can be taxing – a lightweight travel tripod and a flexible superzoom lens (which goes from wide angle to telephoto) are ideal.
As well as being stuffed with historic buildings and equally striking modern architecture, London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and other great European cities are a street photographer’s dream. London in particular is a very tolerant and multi-cultural city, with lots of colourful neighbourhoods, and is very photographer friendly – it’s a perfect subject for a 24-hour project, as the metropolis never pauses for breath. A smaller, more discrete SLR or mirrorless camera is ideal for getting candid shots.
The Scottish Highlands
There are many amazing destinations for the landscape photographer, but some, such as Patagonia, can be expensive to get to. Scotland offers any photographer a lot of bang for their buck, particularly the outlying islands such as Skye and Mull. It’s easy to drive around and you can often find jaw-dropping scenery within a short walk of the car park. Check out the fascinating shapes of the An Teallach mountain, the Trotternish ridge on Skye or the haunting Glencoe. Waterproof boots and a sturdy tripod for damp ground are essential, as is a quality wide-angle lens.