Key Lessons-Travel Photos III

This is the final article in the series on Top Travel Spots. (Don’t neglect the list of Do’s and Don’ts at the end of this blog). When your location includes great diving spots like the warm waters of the Bay Islands of Honduras, consider shooting underwater. Shooting underwater takes more than having an underwater casing for your camera. Like with any photo, light is the biggest challenge. Colors disappear very quickly as you descend. Red goes first at about 15 feet. Orange is next at between 25-30 feet and yellow at 45 to 60 and so on. The horizontal distances also detract from the colors that your camera will record. It’s easy to see why so many underwater images are dull against a black background.

© Maszas
© Dsabo

If you are serious about capturing the underwater world, you might have to add some heavy-duty lighting equipment and spend some time practicing. (Obviously the clearer the water, the easier your task will be). At the most basic level a disposable underwater camera will get you started in shallow, bright waters. If you enjoy the experience, think about investing in the more expensive equipment needed for consistently great underwater images.

In Colombia the Tayrona National Park presents one of the richest areas of biodiversity on the planet. Within the park are trails to what has been reported to be one of the world’s top ten beautiful beaches. If your time is limited, concentrate on getting people experiencing the park and at the beach rather than the butterflies and birds. They are beautiful but are used only as colorful incidentals in travel ads, publications and online. Lesson from Columbia: record people as well as wildlife in wild areas.

TripAdvisor TravelCast has revealed that Jerba, Tunisia is at the top of the list of hot destinations for 2008. Dreamstime has some very nice shots of Tunisia but NONE keyworded Jerba. This is a destination for gorgeous beaches, wind surfing, and Roman and Phoenician historical sites. Searching on ‘Jerba, Tunisia travel destinations’ on Google produces 15 pages of listings. The TripAdvisor 2008 report has been reprinted all over the world. All that publicity will drive tourism and demand for photos.

© Thorr

For adventure travel National Geographic organizes their destinations by type of environment. The editors have selected Albania as the their hot spot for 2008 for ‘water”. Dreamstime coverage is very minimal of most of the popular Albanian locations such as the beaches and the ruins of ancient civilizations that prospered here from the 7th century BC onward.

On the other end of the lifestyle spectrum from eco-tourism is Dubai where luxury is everyday for the traveler. By all means capture the amazing skylines but also remember that those images could quickly date. This is a caution in any rapidly growing metropolitan areas. Images of people do not ‘expire’ nearly as quickly and should return downloads for a long time.

Presently Dreamstime has approximately 500 Dubai images. If I was going there, I’d head for the Mall of the Emeritus. Yes I like to shop and this city of gold has it all but this is the only shopping Mall in the world where you can ski down a snowy slope and immediately be outside in blazing heat. Opportunities for unique experiences set one destination apart from the others and should always be on your shooting list. Dubai has over 24 million visitors a year. That translates into lots of interest in images. (Since there are varying religious restrictions on photography especially of women in many cultures, including Arab nations, it is wise to learn about those in each country that you visit.)

KEY LESSONS from ‘Top Travel Photo Ops-2008

1. Keyword both for the specific locale as well as for the specific place. If the country is Columbia, use the keywords ‘Columbia’ and ‘Central America’ but don’t attach the names of ALL the countries in Central America to that image. (A custom that I found often and that frustrated me as I was trying to locate images of a specific country. The same images cropped up for four or five countries.) Some travel companies have a legal requirement that the places they show in their publications must be of that place. You may think that no one will recognize the specific country but you could be proven wrong.

2. If you want to create travel images in addition to landscapes: you have to get personal. Shooting people in travel destinations is key to successful travel photography for advertising and promotion. When shooting people, get in as close as you can and avoid shooting them from the back.

3. This may seem obvious but be certain to take both vertical (portrait) and horizontal (landscape) frames. It’s frustrating to find the perfect shot that can’t be cropped but its orientation is such that it can’t be used in a specific layout.

4. Don’t neglect night shots especially of landmark monuments as these are often dramatically lit.

5. Shooting tourist sports will be more successful if you are able to participate. Get in the water yourself but be aware that sports like surfing require some skill at the sport to capture the best shots.

6. Ensure that your images will read well at the thumbnail size. Keep the graphics simple and leave negative space in a lot of your images.

7. Shoot square if you can.

8. Travel images will generally do better if they are very colorful. Gives a festive feel to the destination.

Top travel destinations from New York Times

The best budget travel spots listed here.

Top adventure travel photo ops for 2008 from

National Geographic.

Underwater professional rig and tips here.

See a gallery of surf photographs by the legendary Warren Bolster here

National Geographic has pages useful for traveling photographers: Central America


Photo credits: Akhilesh Sharma, Adrian Lindley, Dennis Sabo, Marc Johnson, Marzanna Syncerz, Nasser Buhamad, Pailoolom, Karin Van Ijzendoorn, Nikolajs Strigins, Jean Bon.

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February 29, 2008


This is a truly great article. Since I like travel photos a lot, I found that rule 2, 3 & 8 are most useful for me, thank a lot!

January 18, 2008


Great article

January 11, 2008


January 11, 2008


Budget travel spots link seems to be broken :(

January 11, 2008


For those whose imagination is captured by underwater photos and videos of the ocean, here is a video that I just saw that will amaze you, I guess, as it did me.

January 09, 2008


This is extremely useful with lots of hints. For photographers who are able to cover these missing spots and fill a need in the database (present Jerba to 500,000 customers without any competition). And for photographers who can apply these advices to submissions that are not necesarrily answering this subject (travel). Shooting portrait/landscape/square would be on the top of my list and keywords tips are very useful. Especially for members who do that, lately we've seen so many accounts suspended for spam after being flagged many times.
A must read for everyone!

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