Photography and travel go pretty well go hand in hand. Even if you are just traveling with a smartphone, you’ll find it pretty tough not to snap away when there’s a photo opportunity.
So between the three DPM photography tour leaders, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to photograph. Between us, we’ve been to a combined total of well over 100 countries and counting (our bucket lists are long!).
Check out these locations, you may want to add a few of them to your list as well.
Our Top 10 Travel Photography Destinations
Travel photography is not only a great way to improve your work but also to see more than you would do usually.
How often do you see the usual tourist turn up to a famous monument take a couple of quick snaps and be on their way?
Whereas if you are there to photograph it, you tend to spend a bit more time shooting and exploring the location (if you don’t, maybe you should).
There are so many places in the world to see and photograph that it’s almost impossible to pick out the best. In fact, you could argue the case for any country to be on a list like this. Even your own town or city could offer amazing photo opportunities.
So, think about what would be on your list for the best places for photography, and share with us in the comments below.
In the meantime, here are your DPM photo tour leader’s top places to visit to improve your photography.
Kav’s Top 4 Photography Destinations
#1. USA – Best Overall
When it comes to the best photography destination, for me nothing beats the USA.
This vast country offers every kind of photo opportunity possible.
What makes the US so special for photography is that each state is like a different country. With its own customs, traditions, food and even lingo.
Want to capture daily life, great cityscapes or a famous monument? Then visit New York, Chicago, San Francisco… the list is almost endless.
Or maybe coastal scenes are your thing? Well, there are over 12,000 miles of it to choose from.
From the pristine beaches of Florida or Texas to the striking coastline on the West Coast like in Oregon.
For wildlife photographers, there is everything from alligators, the elusive bald eagle to wolfs and grizzly bears to capture in the many stunning national parks.
You could spend a lifetime just photographing the USA and still not cover everything. That’s why for me, the United States of America is the ultimate photography destination.
#2. Scotland – Stunning Landscapes
This “wee” country in the northwest of Europe might be small, but everything in it screams grand and epic.
The amazing thing about Scotland is that it isn’t just about stunning landscapes. It’s the combination of the landscape and history that combines to produce amazing photos.
Castles perched on cliff tops over-looking deep lochs (lakes). Tiny cottages dwarfed by imposing mountains, and even the odd Scotsman with a kilt, all offer unique photo opportunities.
And when you have exhausted yourself of taking photos in the wilderness, you can practice taking photos in difficult lighting conditions in a world-class whiskey distillery or two.
This is why for me Scotland is one of the best places in the world to practice and improve your landscape photography.
Join Kav on an amazing 8-day landscape photography workshop in Scotland (coming for fall 2020) and see why he has it on his list of top photography destinations.
#3. Venice, Italy for Carnival – Perfect Portraits
One of the most common issues that amateur or newbie photographers face is building the courage and confidence to take portraits of strangers.
While you can be given all the advice in the world, until you get out there to overcome your fear, you simply won’t advance.
That is why the Venice Carnival is such a great place to go to if you want to improve your portrait photography.
Besides the fact that you are going to be in Venice, only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, during the carnival it becomes like a giant studio.
Not only do people not mind having their photo taken, but they also encourage it!
They will model for you, often for as long as you want.
The only thing they sometimes want in return is to be emailed one of the photos that you have taken. So, you can begin to overcome your shyness and really practice perfecting your portrait photography.
#4. Thailand – People, Markets and Temples Oh My!
When you think of Thailand, it likely conjures up images of paradise beaches with longtail boats sitting majestically on the shore.
It’s these post-card pictures that are often seen on the front cover of magazines and guidebooks.
While Thailand certainly offers these photo opportunities, there is also so much more to see and capture.
Take Bangkok, for example, where you can spend hours just wandering the many markets and streets.
There seems to be a photo ready to be taken at every turn. But then you can head up into the clouds where you can take a stunning sunset shot from one of the many sky bars, followed by a fancy cocktail.
There are also floating markets to capture and sacred temples to explore.
If you are adventurous enough to head out of the big cities into rural Thailand like the jungles of the north, you’ll have the opportunity to capture truly unique photos of local villages and tribes.
The sort of photos that you won’t see on postcards and magazine covers.
Throw in a few festivals and it’s not difficult to see why Thailand is on my list of the best photography destinations.
We (Kav and Darlene) will be running a photo tour of Northern Thailand in November 2019.
Registration is available now – head over to the info page for all the details, itinerary, and to sign up.
Dan’s Top 3 Photography Destinations
One of the things that inspire me to travel is experiencing different cultures and landscapes.
Photography is my ideal companion because I believe that, we, shutterbugs can see better. The journey for documenting people in their environment or stunning views in a distinctive way make us more alert of our surroundings.
I’ve been fortunate and have traveled to many places.
I still have a lot of places on my bucket list, but I always prefer or tend to favor regions where I can document old disappearing customs or where the landscape is unparalleled.
That said, it’s challenging for me to pick just three places, but that’s what this article is about, so here are my favorites in no particular order.
#5. Myanmar – Beautiful Land and People
Surely a fascinating land. From the ever and rapidly changing Yangon to the most remote mountain regions where you feel like the clock has turned back. There is always much to see and photograph there.
I traveled to Myanmar twice. When I was first there in 2013, the beauty of the raw land and its people hooked me immediately. Then I went back again in 2017, and I noticed a lot of changes, especially in the capital.
Still, Yangon is a place where you can encounter modern bank facilities next door to another financial institution where dozens of employees are recording deposits manually in huge ledger books. It’s as if computers or technology were something out of a fiction movie.
That’s pretty much Yangon, a place where modern collides with tradition and the past; a place where you can sink in the pool of a five-star resort just five minutes away from a traditional fish market where goods still trade in the same way they did decades ago. That alone is just captivating for me.
The rest of the country remains pretty much raw, yes in some areas tourism is developing, but I still find it authentic and rich in traditions. These are some of my favorite images from Myanmar.
#6. Iceland – Unique Landscapes
If you’re down for some landscape photography, Iceland is the place to be. Yes, it is true that in recent years its been almost overrun by tourists and photographers alike. But still, the place is remarkable.
When you go there, you expect to see greatness and amazing landscapes, but in all honesty, there are no words to describe its magical allure once you arrive. Imagine a place with a rugged coastline, active volcanoes, geothermal areas, many hot springs, epic waterfalls and charming towns that seems to be coming out of a storybook.
There is a reason why so many people go there. Indeed a playground for the landscape photographer.
Vietnam is photogenic! There is so much diversity and opportunities that if you visit you can expect to bring home many stunning images.
From the vibrant culture of Hanoi to the striking mountainscapes filled with endless rice paddies in the north. Vietnam is always a country that brings me good memories, and I can’t wait to go back.
These are some of my most coveted images from Vietnam.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to the upcoming Vietnam Photo Tour I’ll be co-leading with Darlene this upcoming March/April 2019. At the time of writing this, the 2019 tour has been closed off and we start in 8 days! But you can add your name to the waitlist and join me next year!
Darlene’s Top 3 Photography Destinations
We had much debate and discussion over what to pick as our favorite photography destinations and it is really hard to just pick three. I’ve listed a few of our runners up at the bottom if you want to see which spots narrowly missed the cut.
For my top three, I’ve chosen places that are all rich in color and culture and are drastically different than not only each other but likely where you hail from as well. Some people may call that culture shock, I call it exciting! But you do you.
#8. India – People and Street Photographer’s Paradise
The three of us actually argued over who would get to put India on their list. It was THAT amazing! Since it’s my website and my company, I won.
So why is India so amazing? The way I have described it to people after I returned from our recent photo tour of India (Dan is leading the 2019 tour) is that it is the most of everything. From the moment you arrive in Delhi you’re bombarded with visual and sensory input, a literal street photographer’s paradise.
But, it can be overwhelming at times too. It’s also not a destination I would suggest you go to unless you’ve been to a few other places and had some third world experience. If your travel experience consists of 5-star beach resorts and nothing else – do NOT go to India next.
Why it’s a street photographer’s heave, a dream come true – is that pretty much nobody minds if you take their photo. I can remember only once in almost three weeks in India that someone asked me not to photograph them. But she relented in the end and allowed me to take her photo and she loved smiled and loved it.
If you are shy but want to practice photography people, India is the place for you! Everyone there loves to have their photo taken, and if you are blond like me, you will likely end up in a lot of photos WITH some India families.
They all wanted selfies with me, I lost count how many photos I posed for with grandma, the kids, and all the aunties and uncles. But I figured if I want their photos it’s fair game for them to have mine too. Notice the photos below, one is of the family and then I’m in the photo with them (taken by one of our tour members).
#9. Cuba – Step Back in Time for Classic Cars and Music
Cuba fills me up in every way. I just love everything about it. The people, the cars, the music and yes even the food! Only the food at the resorts is bad – come with us to see the real Cuba and you’ll see!
The Cuban people are so friendly and warm it’s hard not to like them. They welcome you into their home (you can stay in a Casa Particular it’s like a B&B or eat in a Paladar which is a restaurant in their home), offer you tea and a dessert and it doesn’t matter if you speak the language or not.
It’s still a place where the village raises a child, and neighbors are friends who help each other out. The Internet is spotty at best and non-existent in some areas. Sometimes the shelves in the local shops are empty and they have a hard time getting basic supplies.
But Cubans soldier on, usually with a smile on their face. Then there is the music! Some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen and heard were on the street in Cuba. It’s infectious. It gets into my soul and makes me want to move.
I find it hard not to smile and enjoy myself when the music starts. In fact, Cuba salsa is my go-to happy music when I’m having a lousy day. I put some on and within minutes I’m tapping my toe or up dancing and my woes are all but forgotten.
Such as it is with Cuba. It gets under your skin. Comes home with you. Makes you want to go back before you’re even on the plane home.
#10. Peru – Inca Culture and Color
Peru is the place that actually started it all for me and my plan to create photography tours. In 2007, I went on a small group tour of eight amazing ladies. The woman who organized it asked me to go as her “helper and official tour photographer” so I went. Peru wasn’t even on my radar prior to that.
But that trip changed my life. We made meals and served them to needy kids and families. We took shoes to a small village and gave them to the kids. And we went off the tourist trail to little known places. So right then and there I decided that was what I wanted to do for photographers!
Fast forward 12 years and finally we have a photo tour to Peru. I feel like I’ve come full circle and want to bring you all the place that had the magic for me.
The thing about Peru that’s magic is the Inca culture that is so prevalent everywhere in the country, and the color! Oh, the color! I love black and white photos but Peru just screams to be photographed in color.
The faces of the children and people I met have stayed with me. Their eyes and wind-chapped cheeks emblazoned in my memory and forever captured with my camera.
I’ve even spoken to both my nephew and now my niece’s grade 3 classes about Peru. They study it in that grade here in Canada and I was even able to educate the teachers on some things they didn’t know too! The kids were fascinated and asked many questions and I encouraged them to travel there one day and to try the exotic foods, even guinea pig.
There were a few more places that didn’t quite make the top 10 but are really high on our lists as well. They include:
- New Zealand (both Kav and I can attest)
- Bhutan (Kav and Dan have both been)
- Turkey (not going there right now though)
- Nicaragua (I’ve been there 5 times, led 3 tours there, and spent over 6 months in the country cumulatively and it breaks my heart what’s going on there right now).
- Canada (of course – its diversity is unmatched – I have two workshops in Canada)
- France (Paris) but maybe not right now either
- Patagonia (Dan just got back and loved it)
- Morocco (we also have tours there!)
Ask me again after my upcoming trip to Asia, I may be adding Japan to my list!
Which places are on your top 10 list?
So do you agree with our top 10 travel photography destinations? Have you been to any of these places? Which others do you think are worthy of adding?
Please tell us – we’d love to add to our lists!