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We had a lot of time to think about travel photography destinations during our lockdown. Now that things are starting to open up again, we wanted to share some of our ideas of where to go and why they appeal to us as travel photography destinations.
Our List of Favorite Travel Photography Destinations
Lee noticed something interesting about the difference between her choices and mine. She chose places she’s visited before, but never with her DSLR. I chose places I’ve never visited before.
There are pros and cons to both ways of choosing your travel photography destination. If you know an area well, then you know which parts of the destination to visit and where to avoid. Lee’s method makes a lot of sense to me.
My own method of choosing a travel photography destination is to continue adding to my fridge magnet collection. I already have plenty of fridge magnets from Las Vegas and other places, so I need some new souvenirs.
Actually, I just like photos I’ve seen from some of my destinations and want to try my own hand on something different.
Lee’s List of Travel Photography Destinations
Lee’s style of photography includes a lot of detail photos, and most of these destinations have plenty of opportunity for that.
However, she has a reason for each of these travel photography destinations.
More than once, Lee visited New Orleans to run a marathon. Specifically, I think it was the Run Rock ‘n Roll marathon and she really enjoys it.
When Lee travels for her endurance runs, she meets nice people, has some good food, and then gets home as quickly as possible. She really wanted to take her DSLR the last time, but she also insisted on getting on a flight right after the race.
I really didn’t want her to leave her camera in unattended baggage because she had to check out of her hotel room.
Trying to put two purposes into the same trip creates problems, which is why we thought specifically of photography trips.
Lee and I have a few trips to Las Vegas between us, and I’ve gone there for photography and conferences many times.
For Lee, the attraction is lights on the Strip at sunset and night time. There are plenty of detail photography opportunities, but we never had much time on out trips to enjoy Las Vegas as a travel photography destination together.
At best, she got some interesting iPhone photos. It’s be nice to go back with her DSLR.
Lee lived in London for a while and she’s visited many times, but never with her DSLR. As with Las Vegas, she wished she had her DSLR with her for some of the locations in London.
She also has a bit of a warning that Britain isn’t as tolerant of DSLR photographers as they are about iPhone photographers.
William’s List of Travel Photography Destinations
I used to have a list of European destinations that I wanted to visit, but those ideas waned over the years. Cities like Prague and Paris were on my mind, mostly as portrait destinations.
Since this list was about travel photography destinations, it changed my perspective a bit and that’s how I came up with this list.
Iceland seems like a weird place to me, which is why I find it visually appealing. Black sand beaches, glaciers, waterfalls and just ice debris in some places.
I’m also intrigued by the large fields and vistas that I’ve seen in photos of Iceland, so that’s why it’s on my list of favorite travel photography destinations.
In Central Florida, you don’t really get anything like that. Either trees, buildings or power lines block your view. That’s one of the key reasons I want to visit Iceland. Having a nice, unspoiled view in a photo is something I’ve never experienced.
Some years ago, a local doctor hired me to teach him how to use Apple’s Aperture. He had photos of Venice during Carnevale from a recent trip that were absolutely stunning.
It wasn’t just the characters in costume and mask, but also the city itself. Venice, like other travel destinations, has a look all of its own. Somehow, everything works together with unified architecture, colors and the canals.
Visiting a city with a unified look is something that I’d like to use in a theme for my travel photography.
The only part of Nashville I’ve ever seen is the airport. It’s not an impressive airport, but at least I got a fridge magnet.
My purpose for visiting Nashville is because it’s Music City. I’d love to use the theme of music for a travel series, and Nashville seems like the right place to do it.
As an outsider, I’m not sure if I can get access to do some concert photography, but at least I have some local friends I could ask for their advice.
Also, Nashville is home to some great guitar stores. I’d love to see if they’d allow me to take some photos of classic guitars and amps. You never know what can happen until you ask.
Our Ideas for Travel Photography
Choosing travel photography destinations is one thing, but how are you going to approach your subject and take your photos?
As usual, Lee and I have differing opinions on most of these issues.
Plan Ahead or Wing it?
I prefer going into something with a plan. Lee likes to jump out of the airplane and build her parachute on the way down.
My way is to do your research. Figure out a theme for your photography. Know where to get the shots on your list. Then take advantage of the opportunities that you never knew existed, because they’ll just appear.
Lee doesn’t want anyone to tell her what to photograph, and apparently that includes herself. She likes to feel her way, discover things she didn’t know about, and that’s part of her experience.
Neither method is wrong.
We’ll both get photos that the other one missed, but that’s OK.
Go Alone or with a Photo Group?
There are a few times when I’ve traveled with an international destination with a group. Domestically, I typically like to travel alone. Internationally, I want a guide and I’m fine going with a group.
My trip to Cuba was with Santa Fe Workshops and I’m happy to recommend them.
Of course, those trips were before I was married. If Lee and I traveled to London to get photos on her list, she’d be my guide. If we went to Venice, I’d really prefer to have a group or guide to help me make the most of my time.
Some of the people I met on previous trips are still friends online, so there’s an opportunity to meet and get different perspectives from around the world.
From Lee’s perspective, I understand why she wants to go alone (or with me). Lee has her own take on things and does not like to work within the confines or structure of anyone else.
Those are just a couple of things to consider for your travel photography planning.
What We Do With Our Photos
It’s fairly common to share travel photos on social media. However, I’ve taken a step back and now like to be my own client for my own photos.
Creating a travel photo book is something Lee and I both enjoy. It’s a storytelling piece and also a way to collect our memories.
Some of the best travel photography advice I ever received was to “think like a coffee table book.” Shoot things from big to small, tell the story in all its aspects.
So that’s what we do, and the only problem is that we don’t have a coffee table.
This is coming out in June, 2021. I haven't been anywhere in a very long time, except for a trip to what was it? Welatka, Palatka, Florida. Palatka. Cause we've got so many Latkas in Florida, it's hard to tell which one is which. Palatka, Florida. And I got to tell you, as far as travel destinations go, you can skip Palatka, Florida.
And if you live in Palatka, Florida, I would apologize. But you kind of know what I mean. Anyways, on this episode we've been craving a little bit of travel. So this is our ultimate travel photography destination episode. I'm William Beem. Welcome to I Like Your Picture. The show that helps you improve your photography with visual storytelling. What is visual
storytelling? It's a method of approaching your photography with a knowledge of who you're trying to serve with your photos and what emotion you want to make them feel. Can we encourage you to concentrate on your subject, light and background to create a photo your audience loves. I'm glad you found us. Hi, my name is William Beem and I've done a lot of travel photography in the past.
And most of that travel photography, I didn't have to travel because people come to where I live in order to take photos. All right, look, there's a couple of things we want to take away with us. First off, we've waited a very long time to travel. This is like I said, this is coming out in June, 2021. It's been a year and a half really?
Since we've had any travel and Palatka, Florida, just really. I don't even want to count Palatka, Florida. Tell them why we went to Palatka, Florida. I went there to run, like, I don't know, it was 50 miles, 50 miles. It was like a 100K? No, I didn't do a 100K. okay. Either way.
She went to run a long time in the woods and I had to wait at a Days Inn hotel, which let's just say there's nothing to do in Palatka, Florida. It was boring. And to make it worse, I was working at a company and I was on call that weekend. So if they had any problems, I was the person they were going to call and they had problems.
Of course they did. Every time I'm on call, they had problems, but I don't have that job anymore. So I just remember Your mom calling and saying, what do you guys doing? And he said, we're in Palatka, I took Lee there and there was a silence. And she went "why the hell l would you do that?" So you can see why we're anxious and eager to go travel to interesting places.
But the second on our takeaway list is it's best to plan before you go. And I am someone who I don't plan everything I do. Lee can attest to that, but I do like to plan my travel photography, and I want to know what I'm going to do. And the third thing is, I think it's a really good idea to have a theme for your travel photos.
Yes. So with that, we've got six different locations, three for Lee, three for me. And because I'm a gentleman, I'm going to let Lee go first with her destinations and tell us where she wants to go and why she wants to go with there. Kind of like, show and tell in kindergarten. I Like show and tell. I never picked. So now I am.
The three places that I've chosen are not the only places. The interesting thing I noticed about my list versus William's is that I picked three places that I've been to actually numerous times. I even lived in one of them for, for a while. And the reason I chose them is because I have never actually taken my DSLR, even though I was into photography,
you know, over the course of many visits for all of them. I would just like to go in there and take some photos. So my first one is New Orleans of being there a couple of times. Detail photographers and food photographers. I think this is great street photography is it's something that's fun. You either love it or hate it. I would never get into it as a genre that I'm drawn to,
but I certainly kind of have some fun with it. So I think it covers that. I think the bright colors, the liveliness, and just how the, the place, you know, the city completely transforms between daylight and sunset. And there's like, it takes on a completely different characteristic. It's all this like transitioning into a different world and you can stand there and watch it happen,
which I did one evening as the sun was going down. And the other thing is that, like, if you're in the, in the modern sort of business district, it looks like you're really clean normal modern city and you only have to walk five minutes and you kind of back a couple of centuries. And it, to me, that was absolutely fascinating.
So, you know, if you're into textures, if you're into food photos and detail photography, if you're into, you know, music and concerts, I guess that would also be a pretty cool thing to do. I, I would say that that is something certainly to consider. I think with New Orleans, because I've been there, like with the others,
I have an idea of what I'd like to do to present it, and I'm a photo book person, so I like to print or use albums for my things. And I think that kind of how you get to what you're going to do with your photos really effects how you plan to take your photos. Unlike William, I'm not a planner at all with my photography.
I like to wing it because I don't know what I'm going to see. And what's going to grab my eye when I see it. But in terms of how you're going to present it, it doesn't have, you don't have to take photos in the order you're going to present them. But I think it's a good thing to keep in mind. And I'd love to do you kind of spend a week there and do basically a photo book that presents a picture storybook of a walkthrough of the different aspects of New Orleans.
So, you know, views of the streets, views of the modern areas, and then kind of going in for the details and like little bits of the character in there. I could probably print a hundred page book from something like that. I think you could do it a lot with New Orleans. As a matter of fact, that was one of the ones I was considering,
but I thought it didn't make sense for both of us to have the same city on our list. If I were able to go to New Orleans and I haven't there other than, you know, traveling through the airport, once I am interested in the food, I'm interested in the people. And I'm also interested in the architecture. In other words, what do these old buildings look like?
Like you said, it's kind of being transported back into another century and the things I've seen of New Orleans on some of the YouTube videos that we watched were on Bourbon street. And I thought I have no interest in that. It looks run down dirty and smelly to me, but there are other parts where I think that are very interesting. It's like,
I would love to go to the Preservation Hall, Jazz Band and see a show there. I'd love to photograph that if I could. I'd love to be able to go in there and just do portraits of the musicians in there. And I don't think that's likely to happen because I don't have any special access for that. But the food, I love me,
some red beans and rice, and I love some jambalaya and a few other things it's like, and you don't like donuts, but I wonder if you'd like to Beignet. I hate beignets. You didn't like the beignets. I've taken One bite and I spit it right out. More beignet for me. Yeah. But that, and even just the trees. One of the things that we see here in Orlando,
we used to go to Walt Disney World a lot and they try to make different things look like different places. And one of the things that really stands out is that it doesn't work if you don't have the right trees. If you don't have the right trees and bushes and shrubs, whatever, you can build whatever you want. But as soon as you put an Oak Oak tree in,
and a Florida shrub next to it, it doesn't belong where you're trying to make us think that it belongs. So there's only so much you can do to fake it. If you want genuine photos, you have to go to the genuine location. And I think new Orleans really is one of those kinds of iconic places with a genuine location for whatever you want to do.
Yep. All right. Now your next one really surprised me. I didn't think this would be on your list. Yeah. I've got Las Vegas. Now. I am into food photography and detail photography. And there is a lot of that in Las Vegas, but like anybody, I don't only do one thing to the exclusion of everything else. It's just that I kind of don't prioritize other things.
I am not a landscape person, but I do enjoy cityscapes. And I specifically enjoy cityscapes at night. I like low light photography. I like long exposure photography. And I think the nightlights in Las Vegas make being outside and taking photos interesting. So that gives me something that I typically don't do and something, I just don't see the photo in it,
doing it locally. And in a lot of other places, I guess you could do the same kind of thing in New York city, but that's just, I have no desire to go and take the camera to New York, but Las Vegas again, because I've been there several times, I've gotten to see what's there and have an idea of what I would do if I took a camera with me.
So yeah, I think that's kind of appealing to my alternate hidden side of things. That's maybe my main passion, but something that I'm interested in. And I know I would enjoy, And I wouldn't mind going back to Las Vegas cause there's a couple of restaurants that I really like, and I'd like to get a nice room. For the money. I think you can get a really nice room in Las Vegas for a lot less than you do.
In other places. We were looking around at some travel, you know, just go to maybe Clearwater or St. Pete here and the hotel rooms for a reasonably nice room, like two to three times as much as what we've paid for a small suite in Las Vegas. Yeah. It's just like, okay, I want to be at the beach. But you know,
you know, if I'm paying $700 a night for a room, there better be something else that comes with it, you know, like there's a nice little gourmet buffet or something comes up every night. That wasn't the case. All right. Your last one also surprised me a little bit, but I understand why you haven't had a chance to take photos there.
Okay, London, now there are I say this because this is on a wishlist of places I'd love to go. There was a practicality issue that people in the U.S. probably don't have. Britain is you're more likely to get a lot more flack about walking around with a big camera. People kind of accept phones as they don't think about it as being a photographer.
But even as recently as what, six, seven years ago, it, it was still pretty kind of prevalent that you can expect somebody to call you out or get upset because you walking around with a camera taking photos. Now, the reason I chose London is first of all, because I lived there for awhile. I've been there many times. So this is,
you can hear I'm the only one without an accent. So I, I've got an idea of what London's like in the day and at night. Again, it's kind of, it's a different world. It, especially in the older parts, because I've never taken my camera there. When I'm taking photos with a phone, I'm always thinking this would have been so cool with a camera.
Now, the practicality in executing that I think is going to come with some challenges, but it is just a completely different world. The older parts of central London has a character that is unique to London. I would love to get some detail photos there, you know, and if you just think tourists, so think of the red phone boxes, they're the phone booths.
They are still there and you do still have working payphones there, the red mailboxes. That is what mailboxes look like in Britain. That's how, you know, you've got a mailbox. You just kind of slide your mail in and drop it in. You don't have to pull or push anything. American mailboxes confused me. It's like what a lot of hassle to put a letter in.
So yeah, London, London's on my list because of that, just because it's almost embarrassing that I've never taken a camera there. And I kind of feel like I have an obligation to myself to at least have it on the list. I was kind of surprised that she had London on there, not because of London, but because of international travel. And the reason I say that is Lee has done a lot of international travel in her life.
And there's a lot of America she still wants to see. Yeah. And I was almost expecting to have every one of your places, you know, within the continental United States, because like you said, there's so much to see here. And I agree with that. In my case, I have not done a lot of international travel. I mean, I've been to a couple of Caribbean islands and I've been to the Netherlands and that's it.
And the Netherlands was a work trip. So I didn't really even get to enjoy that. It was in February of 2000 and everything was gray and gloomy and foggy. And nobody smiles at that time of year. No, they told me come back into spring and they'll smile. You try and huddle up and keep warm. So my boss decided to go with the wrong time of the year,
but anyways, I still had a good time while I was there. I want to go to Iceland of all places. And I used to have this big list of all these European places I wanted to go to. And I've pretty much given up on that and not so much that I gave up, but I just don't want to go anymore. But Iceland is one of those places that I like it because it's weird.
And it's weird with interesting colors. You've got the black sand beaches. You've got these beautiful blue oceans, and then there are waterfalls and there are glaciers and ice. No, I don't know what else to call it. It's just a little ice. I was going to say ice cubes, but they're bigger than that. And I'm curious about that. And also even the weather,
the weather is nothing like I would experience in Florida. Yeah, it is. If you want something different, I guess. I think there are long vistas and long views and it's not a place I want to go and take portraits. It's a place where I want to go see the landscape and take some photos that way. But I would like to have someone who has a bright red coat to go stand in front of something.
So Lee will have to go along just to be my model from take a bright red coat and just go stand on a peak with your arms out so I can show how big it is compared to how small you are. And that's kind of a little bit of trick photography because Lee's already small. Oh, Save you some editing. That's true. Next on my list is Venice.
There's a few reasons I want to go to Venice. One was when I first got a chance to see someone else's photos of Venice, I was hoping a local doctor, and he's also into photography. He had just come back from Venice and he wanted to use Apple's Aperture. And I, he hired me to help him get set up and everything worked with that.
I was looking at the photos he took there. He went during Carnivale and I just really loved his photos. I love the portraits that he did with the characters and color, with a mask on, but also the city itself has kind of its own both architectural style and color palette. And I think that's the same with like Santorini in Greece. There are certain places you go where the architecture and the colors are just,
they work together. I don't know how they plan or how it came out this way. They can have different colors, but somehow there is a color palette that works throughout the entire city. It seems. And that combined with the canals and, you know, the gondoliers and the bridges, it just seems like such an interesting place to me. And I would really like to go to the Venice.
Now, one of the things I would say about these international travel destinations, I don't necessarily want to go on my own. I would like to go with either a tour group or someone as a guide who knows where the coolest spots are, because I don't want to waste my time going to the wrong places. I want to know someone who knows the right places to go.
I know before we had our lockdown, Scott Kelby had a tour group that he went to Venice. I think they also had another one to Rome. I'm not as interested in Rome, but, and you know, a group of people who all have a common interest and they're taking some photos that maybe for some of them may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
And Scott takes care of his people. He makes sure that you get, you know, a good place to say, there's good food. Everything's everything's really set up so you can be successful as a photographer. The same thing in Iceland, I don't know who I would go with to Iceland, but I'd want to have somebody who's familiar with the area who's been there before.
If someone to be a guide or go with a group and get some shots, group photography is interesting in a way you can still get some very individual and unique shots, even though you're all taking photos of the same thing. But the nice part is someone's helping you make sure that you find the interesting places or things to photograph. Yeah. I have never been interested in taking photos as a group.
Actually, I take that back. I think when I was always taking photos of my own, initially, I thought how fun it looked to be part of a group. And then I guess I realized that I like when I'm doing my, my creative stuff, I don't want anybody bugging me. I don't want to be told where I can and cannot go.
So maybe that is why I've chosen places very specifically that have been to before, because I've kind of gotten, I've got an idea of things, you know, places I'd like to go and shots I'd like to get. And I don't need to rely on people being around. I'd say for the United States, like my next one is Nashville. I'll get to that
in a moment. I don't want to go with a group to Nashville. I wouldn't want to go with a group to New Orleans or Las Vegas. I feel comfortable within the United States working my way around and finding the right spots. As soon as I set foot outside of the country, I'm not so comfortable. Yeah. And it's not that I feel like I'm at threat.
It's just that I out of my environment and I want to make the most of the limited time I have, I can go up to Nashville or New Orleans or even Las Vegas, kind of almost at a whim. I can't go to an international destination quite as easily because there's time, there's planning and there's expense. And maybe I can go back on occasion,
but it's not like you can just hop on a domestic flight and go where you want to in the United States. So that's why, if I'm going to go to an international location, there is an appeal of going with a group and it's gotta be the right group. I don't want to go with just any guy who's puts up a flag, says, Hey,
photographers, come here with me. You know, that's kind of like our cab driver we had on our honeymoon in Las Vegas said, Hey, you want candy? It's good stuff. Yeah. He had an open bag of hard candy without individual wrappers. He's sticking his hand in there and handing off some of that. That's all right. That's okay. I like chocolate.
They seemed quite surprised that we thanked them and declined. He was like, it was really good. And I think he was genuinely honest about offering it to us, but I just, I don't know where his hands had been. Not on camera. Anyways. My last destination is Nashville. And my theme that I have in mind for Nashville is music because I,
and I was just talking to the lady who cut my hair the other day. She was just got back from Nashville. She said, there's music everywhere. And I love live bands. I grew up, my older brother is a musician. I grew up listening to live music. That beats a record player any day of the week. I don't care. Even if the live band isn't really all that great.
There's something about not only hearing, but feeling live music. And I like to do a little bit of concert photography. I'm not the best in the world at it, but I think it offers some unique and dynamic opportunities for photographers, but also there's some cool guitar stores there. And they'll, if they would let me go in and take some pictures,
I'd love to go in and take some pictures of that. And just maybe even street performers, you know, give them a few bucks for their playing and I'm taking photos. But the whole idea of going to Nashville is to go there, to listen to, and photograph things that kind of wrap around the theme of music. And that is my list.
Now I had some honorable mentions. There are places I was thinking of that I didn't put on here. One was to go up to like Vermont or New Hampshire someplace in new England for fall color. That's the kind of thing that actually an exception that I would go to with a guide, probably like Moose Peterson, I think does some workshops for fall color. Because there's almost like a,
about a two week span and you kind of want to know, all right, where are the trees that have the nice colors? Yeah. So Moose would know that I would trust Moose, you know, to be a good guide. Most places in the US I wouldn't go for a guide, but for something like that, I think I would probably would go for it.
What else was on your list that didn't quite make the final cut? Well, Nashville was also on my list. I wasn't sure if you were going to pick, because we didn't tell each other what we'd picked until we sat down and just put them down before the podcast. Nashville was on my list for similar reasons to what you have.
We have different ideas of great photos. Actually, my big pull was not really a specific town or city. It's like a, not a town or city. I'd love to go into some really rural areas that haven't moved with the times in the US and get some kind of close up views of things. And I don't really know how to explain it,
which is why it was pointless and putting in here. The type of places that people would say, why in the world would you bother wasting your time driving out there? There's like nothing to do. And that to me is, is more like, that's interesting, you know, where they've still kept their old wood buildings and they've got like,
you know, they, they haven't really updated their little villages and Towns. Like Amish country in Pennsylvania? Yeah. I would do things like that. So I'm kind of looking at kind of, you know, place. These are not wealthy places. These are kind of hard working places. I'm expecting most people to be missing some teeth. But that is,
to me, is the character like the real, I feel that that brings character into my photos because my photos is all about and experience. Well, if you want missing teeth, we can talk to some of our relatives in West Virginia. We can go see them as well. I think the Amish half their teeth. No, but I was trying to give an example of it.
So I'm kind of looking at stuff that's really understated. And this is really a personal thing. This is not photos that's I necessarily care if I share them with anyone, probably wouldn't bother to share them. These are purely for me. Well, that's the nice thing about photography. Sometimes you can share them sometimes you can say, this is just what I wanted to do for myself.
And in the past few years, that's really what I've done is I'm keeping my photographs to myself. I'm my own client. Yeah. All right. That is our list of our ultimate travel photography destinations. I'm sure that you probably have some ideas of where you would like to go and why. If you do, please let us know in the comments.
I would love to hear about it, and we can share that with other people too. Thank you so much for listening to I Like Your Picture. If you want to leave a note in the comments to tell us about your favorite travel photography destination, go to Williambeem.com/episode263 and we'll be happy to hear from you. And please let us know where you've been,
where you'd like to go and tell us why. Let us know if you have a theme or if it's just because I want to go there. Thank you so much. By the way, if you have not yet subscribed, please do. You'll find some links on the show notes for going to iTunes or for Google. And if you click on the player there,
there's a little circle with three dots and click that, and it'll bring down some places where you can subscribe. Thanks so much. We'll see you again in the next episode.