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Every travel photographer has his or her bucket list of locations they lust after – the ones they dream of photographing one day. For some, the list is five places long; for others, there are hundreds of places they hope to shoot.
Whether you’re after the landscape, animals, or culture, from New Zealand to Nepal, here are 24 of the best places to photograph worldwide.
Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Lindsay and Tom of Great Island Photography serve the greater New England area with their still and motion photography services. In the summer of 2011 the traveled to Ireland and shot at the Dingle Peninsula, known for its spectacular rolling green hills.
“The Dingle Pennisula in County Kerry, Ireland can very reasonably be considered one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. A finger of land reaching west, it features the cloud covered Slieve Mish mountain range that forms its spine, falling sharply down to rolling green hills, farms and quaint villages, down steep sea cliffs at last to the Atlantic, and the Dingle, Tralee, and Brandon Bays. The remote wild beauty of Dingle has been a compelling feature in such Hollywood films as Ryan’s Daughter and Far and Away.”
Cuban culture and daily life are the main focus of Robin Thom‘s photography, who also shot extensively throughout Europe in the 1960’s.
“Cuba is a special place to photograph because of the rich variety of light and patinas, and the juxtaposition of disparate cultures from different centuries. It is a complicated country that is both sophisticated and ingenuous. The more I go, the less I ‘know’ – there is always something to re-evaluate, or new to discover.”
The Wave, Arizona
Robert Shreve works full-time as a CEO of a software company, but his real passion lies in photography. He now sells fine art prints and spends his time exploring the American Southwest.
“The Wave is a very interesting place in that they only allows 20 permits a day for individuals to access the area. In addition, it is about a 2.5 mile hike each way and much of it is sand. Many people believe The Wave was carved from water but it was actually carved from sand. If you go to The Wave on a windy day you will first hand experience the speed at which the sand blows through the wave. The Wave itself is about the size of a basketball court, although there are other interesting places to photograph within walking distance of The Wave. It is a mystical place that captivates one from the moment you walk into it. Best time to photograph without shadows is midday.”
Southern Alps, New Zealand
Petr Hlavacek of NZICESCAPES IMAGES specializes in shooting glacier and ice imagery, and spends much of his time in the Souther Alps in the South Island of New Zealand.
“This place is truly special. It is part of the Westland ‘Tai Poutin'” National Park, which along with other parts of the South Westland and Fiordland have a status of UNESCO World Heritage Area. You can see 2 of the highest peaks of New Zealand’s mountains from here – Mount Cook (3,754m) on the right and Mount Tasman (3,497m) on the left, and there are only a handful of spots from where you can photograph these two gorgeous peaks so nicely next to each other. The whole location is just spectacular whichever way you turn your head – it’s very remote, wild and pristine with a seal colony nearby.”
Nature and travel photographer Jean Robert is based in Paris, but has traveled to more than 100 countries in the last ten years. The image below is also the cover of his book, 25 Stunning Journeys in Nature, published by Glenat in 2010.
“Socotra is remote island nested at the entrance of the Indian Ocean. It’s now part of Yemen, but during the Cold War it was a forbidden land. At this time, south of Yemen was communist and the island was used as a military Russian base until 1990. The Socotri people are completely different from Yemen. They have their own language (socotri) and their own customs. The island is on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2003 for its biodiversity. Scientists count more than 300 endemic plants in the island. And the nickname of Socotra is ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’.
“To take this picture, I climbed the cliff dominating the Qalansiyah Lagoon the northwest side of the island. I was looking for an endemic plant and saw this bottle tree. My guide didn’t want to come with me because the cliff was too dangerous. So I went alone and climbed down to take this shot.”
Richard McGibbon is an adventure sports photographer, with a lot of ski and snowboard work, who’s shot for a number of editorial clients over the years.
“Although there is activity all day, it is in the evening that the Djemaa El-Fna market in Marrakesh comes alive. It’s a delight for food photographers and travel photographers alike. As the day cools into the evening people come from all around to dine at one of the many food stalls, watch the buskers or just wander among the stalls perusing the wares. Around the square some cafes also offer great vantage from which to capture all the activities below.”
Mirjam Evers is a New York City based photographer who specializes in international environmental portraiture, landscape photography and adventure images. She’s also the founder of Photo Quest Adventures, which offers global photo workshops taught by pros like herself.
“Easter Island is particularly special because it is not overly touristy. Traveling to Easter Island during the Rapa Nui Festival is remarkable because visitors can bear witness to incredible traditions and competitions between the locals. The festival includes banana races, a triathlon, dancing and singing contests, a beauty pageant and nightly concerts. Moreover, there are Moai statues all over Easter Island, and they are great to photograph – especially in the open breaths of the morning when the stars are still visible in the sky.”
Yanuca Island, Fiji
Lucia Griggi started out as a surf photographer before expanding her horizons to capture environments worldwide.
“Captain Cook called Fiji ‘The Savage Islands’ because the natives weren’t too welcoming when he sailed through in 1774. Two hundred and fifty years later, the Fiji Islands might be a good place to get a savage tan, but the natives are friendlier, and welcoming to a chain of tropical islands ringed with warm, tropical waters, and bathed in equatorial sunlight. The land is savagely green and the islands feel like the lungs of the earth – all that greenery breathing in carbon dioxide and expelling clean oxygen. Fiji is a special place to photography, this photo was taken on the Island of Yanuca. From the ocean looking back towards the shore, a different perspective.”
Originally from England, Gavin Gough is a freelance editorial and travel photographer now based in Bangkok, Thailand where he travels extensively photographing, writing, and teaching.
“One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a photographer has been to slow down. Engaging images often evolve from a mindful awareness rather than an adrenalin-fueled frenzy. Bhutan has many magical qualities to make a photographer drool: a culture steeped in tradition, a look of Shangri-la, vibrant colors, and an abundance of gorgeous light. But perhaps it’s a combination of the high-altitude and the deliberate pace of life which encourages photographers to pause, to look, to appreciate, and to think before pressing the shutter release. Whatever the cause, Bhutan really is deserving of that overused superlative: it’s magical.”
Moscow-based photographer Kira Hagen shots fine art, fashion, and travel photographer. She’s well versed in traveling the world – growing up she moved with her father between the U.S., Burkina Faso, and Madagascar.
“Istanbul is one of the world’s most vibrant living antiquities. The textures, colors, people, and depth of history and sheer human experience embodied in ‘The City’ mean there’s always something to experience and photograph, and it’s generally quite safe and friendly for travelers. Go in winter to see the city’s Byzantine moodiness, or spring to see her young and vibrant. ‘Lutfen’, pronounced ‘loot-fen’, means ‘please’, and most people won’t mind being photographed if you hold up your camera and ask.”
Geysir National Park, Iceland
An Iceland native, Völundur Jónsson used play in Geysir National Park as a kid, walking between the springs and waiting for the water to shower down on him.
“This is the Geysir Area in south of Iceland. It’s a natural geo thermal area, which features one of the biggest blowholes in the world, called Geysir. Unfortunately Geysir has been inactive for almost twenty years, due to it’s surface area growing bigger caused by the build up of minerals around the pool. Today, a smaller geyser has taken the role of main attraction – it’s called Strokkur and it blows every 5-10 minutes in the summer time.
“If you are going there, please try to get to be alone and spend time watching, listening, and smelling. Don’t rush in to take the perfect photo while the other tourists are trying to. The best times are the June nights, after 10 the traffic disappears. You could also try the middle of a winters day with its crazy contrasts and the sun hanging low in the sky.”
Anuar Patjane was born in Mexico and considers himself a visual storyteller. His portfolio includes images from Morocco, Lebanon, Bhutan, and more.
“Exploring and photographing cavernous systems inside sinkholes in southern Mexico, especially the ones where the halocline effect can be formed by the interaction of fresh and salt water, is a truly unique and surreal experience. After experiencing this unique visual effect it is easy to understand why in the Mayan cosmology these are the places considered to be a door to the underworld. Beauty, inevitable introspection, and mystery are the flavors of this magic places.”
Sander van der Borch is a sailor and photographer. He’s crewed in the Admirals Cup, and started photographing sailboats and races professional in 2008.
“These islands have a remarkably multicultural society with an abundance of natural settings, wildlife, and the most beautiful beaches you will ever see. Seychelles is also home to two U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Sites. Because of all the small islands – which you can only visit by boat – mass tourism is virtually non existing. The light in the morning and evening is amazing to photograph.”
Victoria Falls, Zambia
Michael Cook runs Altai World Photography with his partner Emily Jones. Michael is based in Sydney and has honed his craft across nine African nations, continental Europe, and Malaysian Borneo.
“Victoria Falls is one of those ‘must photograph’ locations which can be a double-edged sword. Obviously the Falls are astoundingly photogenic, but this also means they have been photographed to death. I wanted to capture not just the Falls themselves, but also the unique gorge, carved out by the water, the bridge forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the beautiful islands along the river, which elephants frequently swim to. I had heard about people paragliding over the Falls, offering unrestricted aerial views, but after some research I found personal cameras were banned on such flights for safety reasons. Not wanting to miss out on this airborne view I booked a helicopter flight to capture this shot.”
Ethan Welty is currently studying tidewater glacier dynamics in the Artice with time-lapse photography for his PhD. But when he’s not up north, he’s traveling the world, climbing mountains, and photographing.
“Of course I’d seen the images of the Hellenistic-style temple facades carved into desert rock cliffs, but nothing had prepared me for the vastness and ruggedness of the surrounding landscape. If you visit Petra, behold the great facades, the go climb a mountain! Villages in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, built from local stone and clay, emerge beautifully from the mountain sides, but nowhere but in Petra have I witnessed such a deliberate marriage of human and natural rockwork. My respect to the Nabataeans!”
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Paul Souders have lived in 26 different places in his 33 years of life. He now resides in Seattle, Washington and shots under the name WorldFoto.
“I fell in love with Botswana the first time I visited, more than 15 years ago. I was fresh off a 24 hour plane flight, driving an altogether unsuitable rental car and I knew nothing about African wildlife that I hadn’t seen on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. But Botswana was an incredible introduction to a new world for me. It was a lot like the car camping that I grew up with, but all of it in four-wheel-drive in second gear, with lions and hippos and elephants wandering around. Sitting at the edge of Botswana’s vast Okavango Delta, Moremi offers a series of rustic campgrounds and a wide network of dirt tracks to explore for the independent traveler, or as part of an organized safari.”
German photographer André Distel travels worldwide and sells limited edition prints of his work. One of his images made it to the cover of National Geographic.
“This photo was taken on the remote Isabela Island and the village Puerto Villamil, which is a 2-3 hour speedboat ride from the main island of Santa Cruz. Only a few hundred people live here. The island is mostly completely inaccessible and can only be explored by a certified natural guide from Galapagos. The rocks in the foreground are volcanic rocks, where Marina Iguanas are often seen sunbathing. What makes it most special is that not many people have the opportunity to visit and photograph the Galapagos Islands, and even more so the more remote islands, such as Isabela Island, especially in a fantastic light like this.”
Aurora Borealis, Montana
Montana-based photographer Ben Pierce specializes n outdoor photography, and has been published in numerous publications. He captured Aurora Borealis near his hometown of Bozeman, Montana.
“The Rocky Mountain Front Range rises just outside Helena, Montana, and runs north to the high country of Glacier National Park. It’s a land of staggering contrasts, a place full of mystery and wonder. The country rests on the divide between mountains and prairie, ranch lands and timbered hillsides, trout streams and wetlands. From Bean Lake you can watch the sun set over the towering reefs of the Bob Marshall Wilderness while the moon rises from the endless grasslands to the east. And if you stay up late on a midsummer’s night, the vibrant lights of the Aurora Borealis may grace the evening sky.”
Annapurna Circuit Trekking, Nepal
Years ago, Craig Ferguson took a trip to Taipei and never looked back. Now based in the southeast Asia city, Craig shoots for global editorial clients.
“Few places take your breath away like the Himalayas do. The highest mountain range in the world and one that is easily accessible to everyone, there’s a stunning view around every corner. When I first traveled there in 1997 and 2001, my only regret was that my film budget wasn’t big enough. You can literally shoot all day, every day, as I found out when I returned in the digital era. Stunning scenery, vibrant culture, friendly people and a timelessness all make it a great place for photography.”
Namib Desert, Namibia
Blaine Harrington is a travel/location photographer, based in Denver, Colorado. His archive contains hundreds of thousands of images from over seventy countries.
“Sossusvlei Dunes are among the highest in the world. Shooting in Namibia is unusual, for a number of reasons, one of which is that aside from the stunning scenery, Namibia is the second least densely populated place in the world (after Mongolia), so you are truly alone with the natural world.”
Christian Heeb has spent the last 25 years traveling the globe, including all five continents. He’s published over 130 coffee table books, calendars, and magazine articles. His latest endeavor is the Cascade Center of Photography, a portrait studio and workshop center in Bend, Oregon.
“This image of the Lake Palace in the city of Jaipur, India was shot with the Singh Ray Blue and Gold Polarizer due to the boring light that night. I love shooting in Rajasthan because it is such an exotic place for us Westerners. It’s less the light than the people there. The sounds and smells, the lifestyle. Everything begs you to be photographed.”
Angkor Ruins, Cambodia
In addition to photographing, Canadian photographer Deddeda White loves to paraglide, rock climb, scuba dive, kayak, hike, bike, camp and surf. She shoots for the national news wire services, Canadian Press, and Associated Press, as well as corporate clients.
“The ancient kingdom of Angkor is a travel photographer’s dream location to shoot. Located in Cambodia’s northern province of Siem Reap, Angkor is one of the most impressive and important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia where Khmer kings established their capitals in the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century.
“The Khmer Kingdom, now a UNESCO World Heritage site which encompasses 400 square kilometres, showcases the artistic and cultural details of Khmer architecture, canals, water reservoirs, ornate monuments and a plethora of temples including the famous Temple of Angkor Wat (shown in image). If you wish to take sunset or sunrise photos of the Temple of Angkor Wat, expect massive crowds of tourists and be prepared to stake out your ideal photo location early, as it is the most photographed site in Angkor.”
Cinque Terre, Italy
Inge Johnsson was originally born in Sweden, but has lived in the U.S. for the last two decades. He’s drawn to nature and travel photography, and has been published in numerous books, calendars, and magazines.
“Cinque Terre is such an inspiring place to both visit and photograph. It’s the perfect marriage of landscape and architecture with its dramatic cliffs hugging the ocean, and the buildings in turn hugging the cliffs. And then there is the unbelievable palette of colors on the buildings, the Mediterranean waters, and even the foods. No matter which of the five towns you find yourself in, Manarola in this case, there are always photographic subjects wherever you look and whatever the time of the day.”
Australian photographer Stellar Fraser captures everything from landscapes to special events to sports photography, whose travel portfolio focuses mainly on her journeys to Antarctica.
“Antarctica is simply like another world. The vast silence, immense beauty, amazing wilderness and wild landscape makes it the ultimate experience and land for one to photograph. The creative opportunities are wide and vast with the unbelievable visions and amazing light that surrounds you; completely inexpiable in words really. A place everyone should visit once in this lifetime to take in Antarctica’s awe inspiring beauty.”