Top 10 Destinations for Travel Photos
"What's the favorite city or country that you've visited?" This is the single most often asked question put to me by people I meet after learning what I do for a living – immediately followed by "Do you need anyone to carry your tripod?!!" Yellowstone National Park, Norris Geyser Basin, Whirligig geyser goes off in the Porcelain Basin
But, to tell you the truth, I loath answering this question because in all of its simplicity, it really requires a complex answer. You see, the world is so vast, so fascinating and so varied that the pithy answer they're looking for simply does not exist. So invariably, I must ask them to be more specific - "Do you actually mean what is my favorite city to live? The best place to visit in the winter? The most interesting location for culture? Where is the best epicurean destination?" Everyone brings their own definition of what "favorite" or "Best" means based upon what they enjoy doing or seeing whilst abroad. And while these are all great ideas for future blog entries – I'm finally going to have my say...
As a professional photographer who has travelled to nearly 60 countries, I want to provide you with my favorite top 10 destinations for travel photos - no one is asking you to be a DSLR master to get the most out of these locations - there are some places in the world where it's almost impossible to take a bad photo. Places that are so stunningly beautiful, or colorful, or interesting, that automatic mode and a willingness to press the button are all you need.
These are 10 of those places:
The Sacred Valley, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru Peru itself it the most surprising place I've ever been. The three worlds of Peru are the Costa, the Sierra and the Selva (Coast, Mountains and Rain Forrest). On their own each region is magnificent, but it is in the Sierra where one of the true wonders of the world is nestled - Machu Picchu. If ever there was a place to set up a civilization (along with a tripod), the Sacred Valley would be it. The views and hikes are breathtaking (quite literally being located at 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level) and the people are even more so. Of course being in South America, everyone speaks Spanish - but did you know they all also speak the ancient Incan dialect of their ancestors? No? Well, there's a lot more to surprise you once you visit.
Wachau Valley, Austria
Austria, Wachau Valley, Schonbuhel Castle What's the only thing more impressive than seeing a medieval castle rise above on a cliff as you sail down one of the world's most famous rivers? How about seeing at least twenty in two days along the deep Blue Danube? The castles and abbeys on display along this stretch of the continental river are the finest example of medieval and baroque fortress architecture in the world. Structures like the Melk Abbey – the location of the movie "The Name of the Rose" or the Castles of the Two Brothers locked in an eternal feud over a woman, give inspiration to lovers and photographers.
Rome, Italy, Roman Colosseum at sunset. A country so vibrant, so historic and so bellissimo that you can't just choose to visit one place – you have to divide it into many long and languid stays. How could you only visit Rome without also going to see Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast? How could you possibly go to Florence without also visiting Pisa and the Tuscan countryside? How could you shop the boutiques of Milan without making a trip up to the Dolomites and Lake Como? You can't, and don't even try. Another thing you won't even have to try at is taking a great picture...that comes as easy as uno, due, tre.
4 million people check out the world's first National Park every year and there's a good reason why - Yellowstone has it all. Aptly called the Serengeti Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River of North America, you won't find more bountiful or diverse wildlife outside of Africa. Throw in the fact that 2/3 of the world's geysers reside in the park, along with the largest lake over a mile high anywhere in the western hemisphere, coupled with a canyon and waterfall to rival any on the planet, and you have a photographer's dream. Go in the autumn after the kids are back in school and have the spectacular park, which is nearly the size of Delaware, nearly to yourself.
=Egypt, Great Pyramids of Giza Arguably the most storied and historically alive city on earth. No traveller's itinerary can ever be complete without a visit to the Great Pyramids of Egypt and that includes photographers as well. Whilst the city is ever encroaching upon the historical sites of Giza and Saqqara as to be seen in the distance, once you're at the base of Great Pyramid of Khufu, Djoser's Step Pyramid or trying to figure out the riddle of the Sphinx – you are there – completely and utterly immersed the weighty history of it all. Even with their ubiquitous images seen everywhere, you stand in awe at these feats of engineering from one of the world's greatest civilizations.
Paris, France, Notre Dame Whilst you can't go wrong with either Rome or London, if there should be only one major city on this list, what better than Paris, full as it is with recognizable monuments, public artworks, beautiful buildings, parks, cafes filled with smart Parisian folk, and the Seine running through it all? But how do you shoot one of the most photographed cites in the world and make it your own? With so much to admire, try breaking the rules and put more than one iconic structure in a shot at once using depth of field, or go when Paris is not in season, like in the autumn, and show it's true beauty when the masses are nowhere to be found. And keep an eye out for the world-class street art that adorns some of the city's walls.
Icebergs, Paradise Harbor, Antarctica Penguins, penguins, penguins. They quickly become an obsession: getting the perfect close-up nesting shot, the perfect waddling group shot, the perfect breaching shot or the perfect penguins-jumping-out-of-the-water-to-escape-a-sea-lion shot. Despite being so seemingly barren, Antarctica is actually teaming with wildlife (not too bad considering it literally means "without any bears"). But even without the wildlife, Antarctica would be a photographer's playground, with soft light playing on icebergs, crystal-clear water and snowy peaks.
Lithuania, Vlinius, Trakai castle You want quaint and classical? Lithuania's capital has it all. With a history to rival nearly any place in Europe, the southern-most Baltic country charms like no other thanks to its olde world charm, with a cold river encasing colorful old classical and Bohemian buildings with narrow, winding streets. It has more Roman Catholic churches per block than anywhere outside of Rome – not too shabby from the last country to officially give up Paganism. Make a side trip to Trakai and see the most magical castle surrounded by eleven ice-blue lakes. After exploring by foot, make sure to catch a ride in a hot air balloon for an amazing aerial view – a clicker's dream.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Plains Zebra Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania There's not an aspiring or perspiring photographer alive that doesn't fancy having one of those clichéd animal shots on their wall, maybe of a zebra, or a lion, or an elephant, maybe with the silhouette of a flat-topped acacia tree in the background, maybe around sunset, with the light turning golden on the grassy plains. Or maybe that's just me. But the thickly populated wildlife conservation area located inside an ancient extinct volcano is the perfect setting for true wildlife photography.
Great Wall of China at Badaling Here's the trick: go when you've got a good chance for rain. If you haven't heard by now, China is seriously polluted. Brown smog polluted. But it has some of the most striking scenery and architecture of any place on earth. So go in November when it rains every few days and be ready to pounce on the Forbidden City, the Emperor's Palace or the restored section of the Great Wall at Badaling or Mutianyu. Because for a few short hours after the quick downpours of the season, the smog is washed away and brilliant blue skies and sunshine will be your reward. The tourists will have run for cover, and the entire place will be candy for your camera.
Great suggestions and amazing images. You really are quite talented. Really love the Great Wall of China sunset image. The only place I would recommend is New York or San Francisco - living in Australia, these place are "exotic" to us and capture our collective imaginations as must see destinations, and there is so much to take photos of. I like your humour!
Oh gosh, yes - Trakai Island Castle is one of my favourite places in the world. Love the middle-age-y breath as well as its surroundings. :)
Cannot say much about the other places since unfortunately I haven't had the pleasure of going there, but the photos are breath-taking. Thank you for sharing.
By the way, your London photos are amazing. :)
I would also add Patagonia, Chile (Cuernos del Paine).
What great pics. My favourite city is berlin
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