Your Photo Tour Planning Made Easy

You’ve spent hours browsing through old photography archives, reminiscing about past trips. Overcome with a sense of nostalgia and longing, you start to daydream about your next big jaunt. Next thing you know, you find yourself on Amazon, investing some of your hard-earned cash on brand spanking new camera equipment. It is, after all, your passion; your one true love.

Thrilled by the prospect of exploring new pastures, finding fresh places and faces to capture, you glance at a world map. Suddenly, you’re baffled. Where do you start with planning your next big trip? With a travel bucket list the size of your arm, the task of choosing where instantly becomes more of a tiresome chore.

Well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together our five top tips for knowing how to choose the best destination for your travel photography trip. Following these five simple tips means that you’re ahead of the game when it comes to picking the place, so you can spend more time getting excited about going!

-Text by Lucy Davis, images by Emil von Maltitz

#1 – Getting those wow snaps for the portfolio 

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
— Karl Lagerfeld

The first tip may sound obvious, but that’s because it’s a big one! Ultimately you want to come away from your photography trip with a bursting-at-the-seams-portfolio of stunning, unique images. As a photographer, it’s key to try and make your work stand out, so knowing where to find those rare photographic opportunities should navigate your choice. Whether it’s photographing a crash (yes, that really is the collective noun!) of rhinos sipping from an oasis in the African savannah, or a surfer set against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks under an Aurora Borealis night sky, photographic opportunity is everything. Ask yourself where you’re likely to encounter specific magical moments, and suddenly your long list will start to narrow!

#2 – Environment

Our second tip is all about environmental factors. By this, we mean the characteristics of a particular location. The kinds of environmental factors to consider are things like:

  • How much sunlight or shadow does the area get? For instance, would you prefer blue skies and radiant sunshine, or darker, moodier backdrops in your shots?
  • Is it a natural setting or cityscape that you prefer to photograph?
  • Do you want lots of foliage or wide, open spaces?
  • Would you like to shoot urban, populated areas, or prefer to photograph fauna and flora?

These types of questions are important to ask yourself before deciding on the best photography travel destination for you. What is the purpose of your photography and how will you style your images to evoke a desired meaning? It’s always useful to find out about the country’s or area’s climate, weather patterns and hours of daylight, so you can plan accordingly.

#3 – More than just photography

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
— Don McCullin

Tip number three is to choose a country or place you’ve always dreamed of visiting – in spite of its photographic potential. We believe that it’s really important (or at least very handy!) to feel a connection to the location. Think about the country and ask yourself if you’re excited by the culture, for example the people, food or music. Would you like to experience this place as a tourist, and not just through the lens of a camera? Ask yourself why.

This way you’ll allow for deeper connections to be made with your destination. If you fall in love with the very essence of a place, it will shine through your photography and allow your unique perspective to resonate. In turn, the viewer will experience that interconnectedness and seek out deeper, evocative nuances in your work.

#4 – Practicality

This next tip considers the knitty-gritty details (i.e. the not so fun bits) for choosing the best photography travel destination. These come under the categories of:

  • Budget – sorry, someone had to mention it! It’s all very well choosing your fantasy photography destination, but it’s important to consider your budget. Whilst we wholeheartedly encourage dreaming big, it (unfortunately!) has to be within your realm of spending. Important things to contemplate are travel and accommodation costs, as well as costs of living whilst in the country. There are always areas you can save on, so don’t let a seemingly-expensive destination deter you!
  • Climate – This may play a part in your decision process. If you have your heart set on a country or region, make sure you check out what the weather will be like prior to booking! Some countries experience monsoon seasons, sweltering heats or are susceptible to unpredictable weather patterns. Do your research first!
  • Safety – Again, this is an important factor and one to check before signing up to a trip. Make sure the country or region you’re planning on visiting is safe to go as a tourist, e.g. it’s a war-free zone/ politically-stable and there aren’t any natural disasters there at the time of booking.
  • Remoteness – How easy is it to get to your ideal destination? Check that travel there is feasible and won’t leave you attempting to hitch-hike on a mountainside in the depths of nowhere! Remote locations can be awesome for off the beaten track photography spots, but again do a bit of pre-planning to check if it’s actually possible (and safe!) to get there!

#5 – Variety 

“I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.”
— Annie Leibovitz

Our final tip for choosing the best photography travel destination is to ask yourself: will the location allow for richness and variety in my photography? What makes photography exciting and fresh, both in the images themselves and the artistic process, is diversity. For example, if you want to go to a coastal destination, will you be able to capture images of diverse species, or will you be limited? The main goal is to use the setting and scenery to its full potential and expose different sides to it. If the destination is rich in variety, your job will be made a lot easier!

With all of this in mind, you’re set to start planning your next big photography trip! As Wayne Miller once said, “I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.” Having an inspiring vision for where and what you want to photograph will elevate your photography experience and make your images sing!

If you need a bit of inspiration to get started, at Penda we offer a fabulous selection of unique photo tours that you can check out. Your journey starts here!

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