The 3 Most Inspiring Places for Travel Photography
I’ve spent one year of non-stop traveling and photographing the world. During that time, I’ve visited nine different countries on three continents—India, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, the United States and Dominican Republic. I loved spending time in all countries and took my camera everywhere I went. I experienced a lot of different cultures and in every country, I adapted my style of photography. In this post, I’ll tell you which are—for me—the most inspiring places for travel photography in 2018.
I don’t think about travel photography as a separate genre. While being a travel photographer, you can be a street photographer, a landscape photographer, or even a portrait photographer. I’ve noticed that, depending on the country, I like to mix it up. It keeps the inspiration alive. I love doing street and documentary photography but in Indonesia for example, I was more intrigued by the landscapes so I focused more on those.
Is not that I suddenly became a landscape photographer, no. I was a documentary photographer shooting landscapes and yes, it matters because the results are probably totally different from photos taken by a landscape photographer.
Zero inspiration countries
I also discovered that there’s something like a zero inspiration country. Or at least, countries where I find it a lot more difficult to get inspired and take out my camera. It doesn’t mean that those countries aren’t beautiful or interesting. They’re just not my cup of tea. Australia, for example, is an amazing country but I found the East Coast hard to photograph. It didn’t trigger my photographer instinct. I did take a lot of photos and good ones but it was just a lot harder.
It’s something a lot of travel photographers suffer from. Usually, when you’re traveling a lot, you come across inspiration in some places but the next place might just not do it for you. It’s just the differences in cultures and people that makes it difficult or ‘less interesting’ sometimes.
The hard part is to not let it affect your photography. It may be harder in some countries but there’s always scenes to capture. You just have to force yourself to see them.
Now I want to show you my favourite places for travel photography. The most fascinating places I’ve visited in the past year.
3. California, United States.
The United States will always have a top spot in my travel photography list. A road trip in America is always one of my favorite things to do. I always get a lot of inspiration during a good ol’ American road trip. There’s just something magical about photographing and documenting roadside America. Motels, diners, weird roadside attractions, and endless roads.
But there’s more. If you like landscape photography, the United States is the perfect destination. The landscapes are not only beautiful but you can see two totally different landscapes by just driving for an hour. It’s amazing how many different landscapes you’ll encounter on a three week road trip. I went from rocky deserts to the Grand Canyon and Highway One along the west coast. But even if you just stay in the desert, the landscapes change constantly.
One of the coolest trips to do is from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, and then back through Death Valley and over Highway One.
2. Java, Indonesia.
Here’s another landscape treat for travel photographers. If you don’t get any inspiration here, you won’t get it anywhere. I spent around a month traveling Indonesia, and the volcanic landscapes on Java are some of the coolest in the world. My favorite, by far, was Mount Bromo. We try to never buy tours or guided trips to visit things and our hike from the town of Cemoro Lawang to the volcano felt surreal. Almost no one around, clouds creeping over the rim of the ancient caldera and a few locals passing by on a horse or motorcycle.
It was like arriving on another planet and I’m glad we did the hike ourselves. Walking alone trying to find the right path to the volcano is something that just makes the experience even better.
Again, I’m not a landscape photographer but landscapes do inspire me a lot. Often, I go for less typical landscapes and in Indonesia there are a lot of those. I’d recommend Indonesia to any travel photographer, even if you normally don’t shoot landscapes. You’ll be amazed.
1. Varanasi, India.
Number one on the list just has to be Varanasi (or Benares). It’s the perfect place for my style of travel photography. This place makes me so inspired, not only because there are so many interesting things to photograph, but because there’s so much to see and discover.
The rich history and culture combined with bustling streets and interesting people is what I’m always looking for. Another important thing for me, is that the light in India is amongst the most beautiful light in the world for photography. Sadly, it’s mostly the dust and smog that creates the beautiful golden light. But it’s something you have to see in real life.
In Varanasi, I went out to photograph the ghats along the river Ganga every evening. Locals gather there for rituals and cremations but also to play and talk after a hot day. You’ll see people playing cricket, washing buffalo, meditating, and performing rituals and cremations. If you don’t get inspired there, then you won’t find inspiration anywhere.
Until today, it’s the most inspiring place for travel photography I’ve ever visited. If you’re looking for the ultimate travel photography destination, then India it is. You can find anything from bustling cities for street photography, beautiful mountain views for landscape photography, and interesting people for amazing portraits.