Travel Photography: The World Through A Lens

San Pancho, Mexico

"There are no rules for good photographs - only good photographs." - Ansel Adams

I’m sure everyone reading this got their first look at a deserted beach, Victoria Falls, Machu Picchu or any other iconic site by flipping through the pages of a dog-eared magazine when they were young. Travel photographs do something very special for their audience: they leave an imprint on our minds and inspire us to get off the couch. We want to see those places in real-life and make a collection of personal pictures to hold up against the ones that got us going in the first place. This month we’re very lucky to be featuring the work and words of several travel photographers who specialise in the kind of photos Ansel Adams was talking about. Hailing from Canada, the UK, South Africa and the USA, each one brings a unique perspective and methodology to the art of photography.

On top of the amazing photos in this feature, we’re also giving one lucky reader a Diana Sahara Camera in our Lomography Giveaway. To win this fine piece of photographic machinery, we want you to answer a riddle: “A part of being a good photographer is…” To find the answer we’re looking for, scroll down to our section on Cityscapes.

Scenic Photography

The last 30 years have seen scenic photography transform from point-and-shoot photos to images amplified by creative risks and technological advancements. As the Earth's landscape evolves, so does the world of photography. With the introduction of digital cameras and photo editing software the quest to - dare we say it - the perfect photograph is ever illuminated. But a fair amount of talent is required to produce true photographic gems. Luckily for you, we’ve found it.

Never Ending Voyage

Simon Fairbairn and Erin McNeaney are a couple who decided to sell everything and travel the world - as of yet, they have no return date. When they jetted off to India, Southeast Asia, Australia, the South Pacific and the US in 2008, they realised that they learnt more in one year through travelling than they did in the past 10 years. And that was just the beginning.

Koh LantaSunset in Koh Lanta, Thailand by Erin McNeaney

"One of our favourite things about the Thai island of Koh Lanta, and that we miss the most, is the spectacular sunsets. Every day is different when the sky lights up with colour."

Koh HaaDiving spot in Koh Haa, Thailand by Erin McNeaney

"One of the highlights of the Freedom Adventures boat trip we took from Koh Lanta was kayaking through the crystal clear green waters at Koh Ngai with the small limestone islands in the distance. We loved having the freedom to find our own quiet section of beach."

Nomadic Samuel

Samuel has spent much of his early adult life travelling. He initially started off as an English expat teacher before delving into the world of modelling, photography and writing. His blog is an eclectic mix of guests posts from all over the world, his own writing, videos and colourful photography, which manages to capture the other side of the bustling cities frequented by tourists.

Angkor WatAngor Wat, Cambodia by Samuel Jeffrey.

"Travel is filled with moments of splendor and moments of woe and I hope to capture both sides of the coin – at times not afraid to touch upon subjects that are off limits to others."

Beers and Beans

In 2010 Beth and Randy boarded the first of many Round The World Flights and hopped off in Iceland.The professional photographer and journalist duo made the perfect match for a blog that is both visually appealing and informative. Their stories of Paris, London and Tuscany are what travel dreams are made of.

Tulum, River MayaIceland countryside by Bethany Salvon

"My ultimate goal is that each photograph embraces a very specific and unique one-of-a-kind moment. The kind of moment that makes you feel something and maybe even remember a certain feeling - even if it’s something vague that you can’t quite put your finger on."

Across and Abroad

David Webb is a Swiss Army Knife in the world of travel, casting his net wide with projects based in writing, screen-writing, editing, photography, fishing, surfing and motorcycling. The Vancouver-based travel ninja got his foot in the door of travel photography in 2003, doing photography projects for a number of small publications. Grabbing the opportunity to expand his skills, he started taking outdoor pictures for small magazines, although at the time most of the photos were of people fishing. It was this chance that launched his multifaceted career in the travel industry. Today, in between his editorial duties at Explore Magazine, running his adventure travel blog and writing award-winning screenplays, he finds the time to travel extensively and take some impressive pictures.

BaliBali by David Webb

Here David puts some thinning afternoon light surrounding Tanah Lot, the incredible rock structure and temple in Bali, to good effect.

"My favourite aspect of the craft is capturing a special, candid moment to enjoy and share forever. That's what it's all about for me - I'm not a "studio" photographer (although I have a ton of respect for studio photographers too)."

Greg Ewing

Greg Ewing has spent the better part of seventeen years developing his career as a surf and travel photographer, putting in serious hours behind the lens at destinations like South Africa (his home), Reunion, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Mozambique, Portugal and Mauritius - to name a few of his more recent business trips.

Kids playing soccerKids playing soccer in Mauritius by Greg Ewing.

"There is a certain amount of visualising the image before I do research for upcoming trips and have ideas in my head, but it really comes down to being in the moment and nailing the image in front of you."

    ReunionReunion by Greg Ewing

“I really just enjoy shooting outdoors with natural light, that’s my thing."

Tanveer Badal

Tanveer has always been interested in travelling and his point and shoot Canon G9 was his faithful companion on all his trips. It was only about four years ago, when his friends and family showed immense support for his photography, that he decided to take it seriously. Today he's an avid wedding and travel photographer.

Laos by Tanveer BadalLaos by Tanveer Badal

"I decided I didn't like the idea of sitting alone in a room for the next 50 years. So I bought a nice camera and went to see the world."

101 days of travel101 Days of Travel by Tanveer Badal

"My wife and I travelled through mainland Southeast Asia and then took a detour via Southern Africa before returning home. It ended up being exactly 101 Days of Travel."

Ralph Velasco

Ralph Velasco is one of those lucky people who are able to live their dream. He always wanted to be a traveller and along with his parents support, he jetted off to study in Spain at just 15. He spent the next three summers volunteering in Peru, Venezuela and Mexico City, which only managed to convince him more that travelling and photography is what he loved doing.

Copper Canyon, MexicoTrain rounding the bend, Copper Canyon, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

"As much as I wanted to make a living from travel and photography, I went the traditional route and got an undergraduate degree in business and then masters in international business (I found myself back in Mexico City to get that degree)."

Hotel Le Belle

Annie Fitzsimmons - writer, photographer and founder of Hotel Le Belle - believes that travelling well is an art, and her main aim is to make people aware of the best places to stay at while you're travelling. But amidst the fancy hotels and reasonable inns, there are a few photographic must-sees courtesy of Annie's quick hand and keen eye.

Isle of ScillyIsle of Scilly by Annie Fitzsimmons

"What I do now, took nearly ten years of struggle, challenge, wrong turns and missteps. It wasn't a straight path. And I'm still not where I want to be."

By Clayton Truscott and Caelyn Woolward

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Cityscape Photography

In photography, cityscapes are considered to be one of the toughest, but most rewarding picture-capturing challenges. The dramatic night time views of a bustling town can leave you in awe, while images of the sun setting over a quaint village might tickle the imagination of anyone longing for adventure. Either way, if a photo can affect your emotions, the photographer has managed to successfully bring new life to a moment that would otherwise have faded away.

Never Ending Voyage

When Erin and Simon returned to their normal lives after travelling, they found it hard to deal with simple things like paying bills, having a nine to five job and getting back to a daily routine. After seeing the vastness of the world, all they wanted to do was go back and keep exploring.

Hong KongHong Kong at night by Erin McNeaney

"We loved the vibrant, manic city. It’s the meeting point of East and West, old and new. We found shiny skyscrapers, a super modern transport system, and oddly, Marks and Spencers. Hong Kong Island is a playground for the rich."

Yangon, BurmaInle Lake, Burma by Erin McNeaney

"As magnificent as the scenery is, what we loved most was seeing how life is lived on and around the water. The lake and mountains were beautiful, but it was the one-legged fishermen, the colourful tribal markets, the stilted wooden houses, and the impressive floating gardens that kept us at Inle Lake longer than we planned."

Beers and Beans

For Beth and Randy, one of the most important reasons for starting Beers and Beans was to help others. By filling it with reliable information and great connections, they were able to set up a network of people who share similar interests. Their stories about people from different cultures and countries, who work hard everyday for life's simple necessities, have aided in making readers of the blog a lot more aware of the vastness of the world.

ItalyThe Dwelling - Venice, Italy by Beth Salvon

"When we crossed from France to Italy I could tell almost immediately. The landscape changed and it was beautiful. It instantaneously reminded me of Mexico. I felt completely at home and at ease."

Tanveer Badal

Tanveer’s photography catches that special moment when nobody thinks there’s a camera around. He manages to effortlessly blend family dynamics and nature to produce stunning pictures. His picture of Laos below gets the light at just the right time, so while you see a flourishing city in development, the element of struggles and hardships continue to resonate.

LaosCityscape of Laos by Tanveer Badal

”Laos was just supposed to be “that thing” between Thailand and Vietnam, which was where we were really trying to get to. And of course, I had already bought a flight leaving Luang Prabang for Hanoi in a couple of days, so it was too late to delay such things.Which is probably all the more better because you gotta leave a few things for next time.”

Hotel Le Belle

Annie’s photography is a bit unusual. Instead of focussing on destinations, she photographs hotels and hotel rooms. It’s been an obsession since she was young and now, thanks to some great writing and photography, she’s able to turn her passion into a job.

Providence, Rhode IslandProvidence, Rhode Island by Annie Fitzsimmons

“Providence is one of the coolest city gems of New England, with its quaint sense-of-place architecture, great pubs and walks. Much of it feels like a mini Boston without the traffic.”

Across and Abroad

According to David, part of being a good photographer is having good luck. But even good luck comes with preparation and putting yourself in situations and locations where interesting things are happening.

Edmonton, CandaEdmonton, Canada David Webb

“I'm a big believer that it's not the camera that makes the photographer - even entry-level DSLRs can produce great shots (I'm proof of that). Good lenses make more of a difference.

New York, USANew York, Times Square by David Webb

"Anything with people in the scene is good - putting people in your shot makes all the difference. I have a lot of respect for landscape photographers, because shooting compelling landscapes is very difficult."

By Clayton Truscott and Caelyn Woolward

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Extreme Photography

Extreme photography isn’t as easy to categorise as the other genres. Even when putting this piece together, we debated about what qualified as “extreme”. Was it extreme sports? Breathtaking pictures of animals? Dramatic pictures of different colours? In the end we realised that extreme photos are those pictures that make you want to look at it a little longer, just to understand all the small details that have contributed to turning a single shot into a wildly alive photograph.

Beers and Beans

Through their travels, Beth and Randy are able to volunteer all over the world. The proof is in the blog content, with some of it containing advice and experiences about volunteering while travelling. If you do visit the site, look out for the photo essay on WWOOFing, it’s a truly heartwarming recollection of what it’s like to make friends all over the world and share a common cause. The photo below, however, details striking colour contrasts and was deemed a travel photography gem.

Navajo TrailNavajo Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park by Beth Salvon

“The minute you drive in you are smacked in the face with the beauty of the land. Part arid, hot desert land, part grass-blowing prairie land, the magic of this park will capture you quickly and it won’t let go.”

Balands National ParkBadlands National Park by Beth Salvon

"There’s an awakening that occurs when you venture from the highway into the empty spaces of the Wild West for the first time. A normally silent wind can sound like a freight train swirling around your head as you look out from a vista towards the horizon. With no noise from the highway, city or even your neighbours, you’re free to be wild again."

Capoadocia, TurkeyHot air balloon flight in Cappadocia, Turkeyby Beth Salvon

"The 90 minute balloon ride was perfect in every conceivable way. Desperately I tried to etch every moment of it in my brain and place it in a folder reserved for curious wonder and wild imaginings. In the folder where upon entrance I hear the swing and sleaze of Paris cabaret songs circa 1930. A folder where the impossible doesn't exist. A folder filed under three simple words - 'Anything Is Possible'."

Greg Ewing

Good water photography is an art in itself. This beautiful shot of Brandon Jackson getting barrelled in Mauritius has so much going on: the iconic Le Morne Mountain in the background, Brandon’s composure in the moment, the texture and colour of the water... what you don’t always notice is how far out the waves are breaking and the fact that Greg swam out there to put himself in the right position to get this keeper.

SurfingBrandon Jackson surfing in Mauritius by Greg Ewing

“I shoot with a custom made water housing from Delmar Housing Projects in California. I would never claim to be a crazy hell man in the ocean, and it can definitely be challenging dealing with a lot of water moving around and looming set waves. So for me it’s being confident in you ability, but also knowing your limitations.”

SurfingRicky Basnett surfing in Portugal by Greg Ewing

"I wouldn't say there is ‘luck’, as I believe we make our own and I believe what separates a good photographer from a great one is one that finds and puts himself in those right moments.

Tanveer Badal

Tanveer’s 101 days of travel with his wife went through many countries, including Namibia. There aren't many destinations that offer you the opportunity to photograph a lion up close. And no, this lion isn’t in the zoo - this is extreme travel and a rare photo opportunity.

NamibiaA lion in Namibia by Tanveer Badal

“We were staying at a lion rehabilitation camp in Namibia and we got to watch from a shelter when it was feeding time.”

Never Ending Voyage

Erin McNeaney is one of those rare photographs who is good in every genre. A simple picture of two people grinding sugar cane is amplified once you see the soft colours against the harsh machinery, or the photo of hundreds of little lanterns in a pitch black sky looking like stars can make you realise how small we are compared to the rest of the universe. Erin's photos of Costa Rica and Thailand are especially captivating.

Costa RicaGrinding sugar cane in a Trapiche, Costa Rica by Erin McNeaney

"Despite leaving with aching teeth and a pounding headache, it was worth it for an insight into the traditional process of making sugar that has changed little in centuries."

Yee Peng FestivalYee Peng Festival, Chiang Mai by Erin McNeaney

"When we look back at our five months in Chiang Mai, the Yee Peng and Loy Krathong Festivals stand out as the highlights. The city was decorated with lights and lanterns.

By Clayton Truscott and Caelyn Woolward

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Travel Stories

Every picture means something different to each of us, but more often than not it's the human element in pictures that brings the viewer closer to the photographer and the captured true-life moment. For that millisecond you are transported into the world of someone different - and you’re free to journey there whenever you want. All you have to do is look.

Beers and Beans

Travelling to Italy was an enlightening, but emotional journey for both Bethany and Randy. It was the birthplace of Beth's grandparents, and through sheer will and determination she managed to track down her family. Her research lead her to a town called Lacedonia.

Lacedonia, ItalyLacedonia, Itay by Bethany Salvon

“This was really the journey of a lifetime for me, and one I had fantasised doing since I was a little girl because Lacedonia is the tiny, little hilltop village where my grandparents were born.”

MedinaMonkey in the Middle, Medina, by Bethany Salvon

”This is one of my favorite photos from Morocco. It was taken in Djemaa el-Fna Square, one of the most chaotic places I’ve ever been in my life. It was our first night in the Marrakech Medina when I saw this unlikely duo. Across the square I spotted these two who seemed very content in their little world. I watched them laugh and talk with each other for a while before the little monkey jumped on his lap and cuddled up to him.”

Greg Ewing

As relaxing as Greg's career sounds, he’s earned a big reputation for his committed work ethic, dedication to the craft of photography and ability to combine the elements of light, movement, land and water to make artful images that tell a story and allow you to lose yourself in his captured moment. Today you’ll find his work in the pages of all leading surf, travel, lifestyle and action sports publications around the world.

IndonesiaHorse and carriage in Indonesia by Greg Ewing

"I think a good travel photograph would make you want to go there and experience that destination or situation. A great one on the other hand would hopefully not just make you want to go there, but take it one step further and let your senses imagine what it would physically feel like being there."

Tanveer Badal

Tanveer recalls his most memorable travel story; a hike up Mount Sinai in Egypt. The group started walking in the dead of night. Their goal was to get to the top by sunrise. They managed to make it, but they were hit with freezing temperatures. Shivering from shock, they rented multiple layers of camel blankets and lay in wait as the sun slowly started to rise. As the light started hitting the mountain, people started singing songs, crying in ecstasy while chanting verses from the bible, the quran and the torah. As Tanveer says, "If God was going to talk to a prophet some place on Earth, this would definitely have to be it."

Mount SinaiMount Sinai at sunrise by Tanveer Badal

"I don't stop shooting if someone notices me taking photos of them. I'll keep going until they get back to whatever they were doing and that's when I usually get the right shot."

Never Ending Voyage

The digital nomad couple can work from virtually anywhere in the world - as long as there's some form of internet access. These days, they're visiting paradise-like beaches in Mexico and soaking up the sun.

Woman in BurmaWoman at Burmese market by Erin McNeaney

"The villages of Inle Lake, Myanmar, are wonderfully picturesque. Stilted houses of teak and bamboo line the banks of the lake and the narrow canals that feed into it. Some villages are even built on the water and access is by boat only. At the markets, women sat on the floor with their produce laid out before them - colourful piles of onions, tomatoes, chillies, dried fish, blocks of soft Shan tofu and huge stacks of Shan poppadoms."

Nomadic Samuel

Samuel recalls his journey to Lake Titicaca in Peru, with its crystal clear blue waters that match the intensity of the sky, clouds and islands - it certainly lives up to its fairytale reputation. His love for cultures and traditions meant that he was truly able to appreciate the simple acts in the Peruvian way of life. It is this appreciation which shines through in his photographs.

Woman in Lake TiticacaA local woman at Lake Titicaca, Peru by Samuel Jeffrey

"Even now, I can transport back to moments when I was breathing in the crisp, cool, high-altitude air from one of the world’s highest navigable lakes. The Bolivian side was more about exploration on islands and checking out ancient Inca ruins. From the Peruvian side I was about to encounter the Uros people who are famously known for their unique totora reed floating islands. The colourful people (who wear the brightest of attire) were a delight to encounter."

Ralph Velasco

Even though Ralph wanted to make a living doing travel and photography, he decided to get an education first. His undergraduate degree in business and subsequent masters in international business took him back to one of his favourite places, Mexico City. With the introduction of digital photography, the spark that was lit years ago ignited once again and Ralph found himself saying goodbye to his full time job to make travel photography his career.

Woman in CambodiaYoda's Mother, Cambodia, by Ralph Velasco

"On my first trip to Cambodia, where I was scouting a future photo tour I’d be leading there, I had an opportunity to meet a wonderful woman along the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh, the capital. She was sitting down with whom I assume were several other family members, selling bananas, incense and candles to passersby. Normally I would try to buy something from a vendor like this who has allowed me the wonderful opportunity to photograph her, but she wouldn't let me buy any of her products, and instead insisted on giving me a bunch of bananas she was selling. Needless to say, this was yet another great travel moment that will stay with me for a lifetime."

Havanna, CubaA local in Cambodia by Ralph Velasco

"When doing portraits of people, I think it’s really important to try to isolate the subject by avoiding distracting or busy backgrounds, but at the same time trying to provide a bit of context so that you can provide a sense of place in the image."

By Clayton Truscott and Caelyn Woolward

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Lomography Photo Tips

Lomography isn't just giving away a state of the art camera, they've also provided all the photographers-that-be with ten golden rules for photography. If you thought you couldn't do it, think again. These will inspire and drive the photographer inside of you.

Always Have A Camera With You

If you're thinking of leaving your camera at home because you're "just going to the store", think again. Your camera should become part of your body - no less important than your mobile phone. That simple walk you take every evening or the trip to the grocery store in the early morning could provide the setting for that elusive perfect picture.

Rule 1Always have your camera. Photo courtesy of

Use It Anytime - Day Or Night

Many photographers have a favourite time of day to shoot - often in the early morning or as the sun begins to set. While this is great, don't let it limit you. Your camera will function just as well in the middle of the afternoon, and the best pictures don't wait for the right light - they just happen.

Rule 2Take pictures at any time. Photo courtesy of

Lomography Should Be Part Of Your Life

If you want to be a good photographer, don't make it a hobby that you squeeze in on Saturday mornings. Taking photos is one of those things that you can incorporate into your daily life and routine - whether you work in a corporate high-rise or someone's backyard, whether you're dropping the kids off at soccer practice or joining your yoga class. Lomography can be a part of it all.

Rule 3Integrate lomography into your life. Photo courtesy of

Try The Shot From The Hip

Just because we see everything at eye level, doesn't mean that's where all the best shots will come from. Instead of always going for that face shot of someone's genuine smile, try shooting from the hip. You are hereby given permission to break conventional photography laws - don't always look through the viewfinder. Break free and let your photography express what the eyes don't always see.

Rule 4Try different shots. Photo courtesy of

Get As Close As Possible To Your Subject

Somewhere out there, someone made some silly unwritten rule that people in photographs have to be pretty. And so you step further away hoping to blend the blemishes and imperfections of a subject's facial expression. Once you do this, you can miss out on a truly great photo moment. Getting as close to your subjects as possible allows your camera to catch the emotion - that moment when an emotion is etched across someone's face. If they start getting uncomfortable, don't stop snapping. Great pictures aren't always about the brightest smiles.

Rule 5Get close to your subjects. Photo courtesy of

Don't Think

Here's something that hits close to him. One of my friends is a great photographer, but he hesitates, hoping to catch the perfect shot. And by the time he thinks he has it, the moment has passed - someone has noticed him and everything has changed. You won't get a moment like that again. The solution is simple: don't think. Thoughts restrict, actions open doors. Keep that shutter going.

Rule 6Don't think, just shoot. Photo courtesy of

Be Fast

While you're NOT thinking, here's something else to consider: speed. Not the speed of your camera, but your own usually slow, dragged-out movements. You have just milliseconds to get that picture and if you're too slow, you'll miss it. The real world is constantly moving, and nobody is posing for your photos - they all have their own lives to get back to you. In fact, once they're aware of what you're up to, they'll probably stop what they doing. You have to do it all before they even notice that you're there.

Rule 7Be fast with your camera. Photo courtesy of

You Don't Have To Know Beforehand What You Captured On Film

In the world of digital cameras, it's quite easy to take a picture, look at it and delete it if you don't like it. But what if you can't see the picture before it's developed? What if you can't just delete it? That's the mentality you should have as a photographer. You have one chance to take that picture - so you can't rely on the screen shot to tell you what it's going to look like; you have to trust your other senses. The more you're able to depend on your own eye, the better your pictures will be.

Rule 8Rely on your instincts. Photo courtesy of

You Won't Always Understand Your Pictures

If you're a lomographer, then you'll probably wait at the door until your photos get delivered in the lab. You'll no doubt open it in anticipation, and as you go through your photos, you'll find yourself asking where it was taken, whose foot that is or whose jumping in the background. That's okay. Photography is an amalgamation of the simple, the confusing, the ugly and the beautiful - much like life.

Rule 9Know that you won't always understand your photos. Photo courtesy of

Ignore The Rules

I remember walking into court one day with my point and shoot Mickey Mouse camera in my pocket. I had no idea that all cameras had to be given to security - so that was a totally innocent illegal activity. When I got inside the court, I realised that nobody had cameras as taking photos weren't allowed. But I did have a camera and thought it would be such a waste not to get a picture. So I ignored the rules. Sure, I got kicked out, but I also got some great pictures. Sometimes, it's worth the risk. And that's not the only rule that can be broken. Who says you have to take colourful landscape shots? Who says a picture can't be upside down, or sideways? Nobody, that's who. It's your camera. Take whatever shot you want.

Rule 10Ignore the rules. Photo courtesy of

By Clayton Truscott and Caelyn Woolward

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Last Updated: June 2013