Borneo: Making the trek into the interior jungle is well worth the effort. Spending a few days staying with a tribe in their Sarawak longhouse provided me with a wealth of one-of-a-kind photos. Human skulls hung from the ceiling of the longhouse, a jarring relic from their former head-hunting days. Here, they still tattoo using the traditional hand tap method. Cock fighting is still a form of entertainment. And tribal elders still don loin clothes and feathered headdresses. Borneo won’t stay this way forever so visiting soon is a must.
Morocco: Morocco is a travel photographer’s dream. Moorish architecture abounds and elaborate mosaics gleam under the speckled light filtered into riad courtyards. Getting lost in a souk or meandering through the narrow pathways in a medina is the perfect way to capture the feel and unique beauty that Morocco has to offer, as is a visit to a night market as the sun goes down and the lights of vendor stations flicker on.
South Africa: You can’t beat South Africa for diversity. While there’s no debating that safaris are ideal for photographers, those who step off the plane and head straight for the game reserve are really missing out. If architecture is your thing, Cape Dutch-style wineries abound in the rolling hills of Franschoek and Stellenbosch, and the rugged coastline of the Cape of Good Hope and the Garden Route provide stunning vistas for landscape photography.
Seychelles: It’s no easy feat getting to the Seychelles, and that’s a good thing for us. Less than 200,000 tourists make the journey each year, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the five million that the Bahamas sees. Because of this, the Seychelles is a relatively unspoiled paradise. Ox carts and bicycles remain the standard form of transportation on the tiny atoll of La Digue and it’s not uncommon to find yourself alone wandering the famed beach of Anse Source d’Argent with its granite outcroppings, a natural wonder found nowhere else in the world.
India: India is one of the best places to focus on people. Apparently the feeling is mutual as I’ve been stopped on several occasions when locals asked to take my photo – a blond westerner can be an unusual sight in the more remote areas. This often provided an opportune way to connect with the people, which is always a bonus and can lead to some unique photo ops. The stark contrast between the monotone browns of the dusty landscape and architecture in most of India seem to enhance the brilliant colors of the elaborately painted sculptures and brightly colored saris worn by women, making it ideal for capturing vibrant images that really pop.
Bean Bag: When shooting in the field, especially in a remote location, lugging along a big tripod may not be an option. By setting your camera on a small bean bag atop any uneven surface, you can get the stability you need for longer exposures without the hassle of a tripod. Not to mention, it’s a lot more convenient to use on the fly for all those take-it-now-or-lose-it-forever shots.
Multiple Smaller Memory Cards: While depending on one or two large capacity memory cards seems like the obvious choice for traveling, this puts you at high risk of losing your photos if the card malfunctions. Using several, smaller capacity cards can offer protection against the technology gremlins that seem to know when you’ve just nailed that National Geographic cover shot.
Clear Shower Cap and Zip-lock Bags: Do not leave home without them! Shooting in, on, or around water is sure to increase any digital photographer’s level of anxiety. If you need to shoot in a (light) rain, wrapping a shower cap over your camera’s body can help protect the electronics, while stashing your camera in a Zip-lock bag is the perfect solution if you find yourself in an unexpected deluge.
White Rice: If the above items fail, a box of white rice may be all you need. Rice acts as a natural moisture absorber so placing your camera in an airtight container with rice will draw out the watery nemesis and possibly save the day.
The Un-camera Bag: Security is a big issue especially in poorer countries. Hopping off the plane with a traditional Lowepro bag is an advertisement for theft. Manufacturers have gotten wise to this and now offer a range of more discreet options which are well worth the upgrade. For added safety cover-up the bag’s logo with a patch or sticker.
As most of us know, photographers approach travel in a much different way than the average tourist. We see things that others overlook. We experience the culture more fully. We connect with the people.
When I first started out in the field I was kicking myself for not starting sooner - all those missed shots that now only exist in my memory! The experiences I could have had with the locals, gone. Now, even when traveling for pleasure, I like to give myself “assignments.” Finding a way to document the trip and tell a story through photos pushes me to dig deeper and discover opportunities that could otherwise have been missed.
Below are my suggestions for shutter-worthy destinations to suit any travel photographer.
When headed far from home, preparation is essential. Here are my top five tips to ensure you’ll be ready for the unexpected.
Photo copyright Jennifer L Reber