Where to take your camera next? We asked more than two dozen professional travel photographers to tell us their favorite places in the world to shoot and why. Their top 20 picks, listed on page 3, include some you’ll find on any traveler’s list, plus a lot of surprises.
Our globetrotting pros cited a handful of factors that make a destination perfect for photographers: colorful and dramatic scenery, unique cultural details (dress, market goods, architecture), friendly people who aren't camera-shy, predictable weather with good natural light, and relatively easy access to transportation.
Here are their specific shooting strategies accompanied by photos submitted by our readers.
"Adoor Bull Races held in August 2007 in Kerala. Held every year around the time of Onam it is a celebration of agrarian existence and is carried on without any grants or aid from the Government. This is a spectacular fiesta of rural Kerala. There are 2-3 other such events that are held in Kerala." Reader Photo by Anoop Negi (Flickr Stream).
India: Kerala and Rajasthan
Four pros described their amazement during travels in India, especially in two states on opposite ends of the subcontinent: Kerala in the south and Rajasthan (the largest in area of India’s 28 states) in the north.
Says Jonathan Kingston, “South India has color and light, welcoming people, wonderful architecture and landscapes, and many interesting festivals,” he says. “You could spend a lifetime trying to capture South India and barely scratch the surface.”
He suggests booking a houseboat cruise on the Malabar coast along Kerala (www.keralahouseboat.co.in) to “tour the rivers, lakes and canals of the region. You’ll find places few Westerners ever see.”
Up north, Charles Harris says, “Rajasthan gets you well away from the masses of Mumbai and Delhi. Jodhpur’s buildings are bathed in blue; Jaipur, the state capital, is known as the Pink City.”
He adds, “India can be life-changing. It’s visually overwhelming, so you have to narrow your focus if you want to maintain sanity. It’s practically an alternate reality.”
• Must-get shots: Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in the world. Kerala’s 10-day Onam harvest festival, held in August or September each year.
• For info: www.incredibleindia.org.
"Hvitserkur is the last remains of a central volcano, about 15 m high. Legend has it that this is a troll turned into stone when he was surprised by the sun while attacking a nearby abbey with rocks." Reader Photo by Sigfus Sigmundsson (Flickr Stream).
“Of all the places in the world I regularly travel to, Iceland has the most unusual land- and seascapes,” says Ron Rosenstock. “Working there is like photographing when Earth was just being formed. It’s known for its rainbows and waterfalls, as well as lava fields and black sand beaches.”
The light along the coast makes for fantastic images, and its changeability means you must always be ready to grab a camera.
Susan Delgado agrees that Iceland is a distinctive photo destination. “We circled the entire island by car in one week and experienced a wide range of natural beauty: glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes,” she says.
• Must-get shots: Coastal sunrise and sunsets.
• For info: www.icelandtouristboard.com.
Reader Photo by Ron Strathdee (Flickr Stream).
Isle of Man
“A small island in the Irish Sea, it is also an island in time, intensely reminiscent of an Ireland from years ago,” says Gail Mooney. “While not overly exotic to the eye, the place pulled me in with its subtle magic from the moment I arrived. Its heyday was the Victorian era, which left behind quaint seaside villages that seem untouched by the modern era. The villages are connected by a steam-powered train that traverses the island, leaving wonderfully picturesque puffs of smoke across stunning landscapes.”
She suggests walking around the circumference to get a feeling for its diversity. “Ride the steam train for different views, and try to arrange your stay to include the Tourist Trophy, or TT —Europe’s major motorcycle race, which transforms the island into an action-packed spectacle.”
• Must-get shot: Rocky seascapes silhouetted against a rising or setting sun.
• For info: www.isleofman.com.