No matter what kind of photography you like, no matter what your skill level, there are some subjects and some locations that absolutely need to be at the other end of your lens sometime before you die. It’s far too difficult to narrow the field to just a few locations, which is why many of us don’t manage to make it to all that many must-see locations. The choices are just too many, the time often too short.
But making a photography bucket list might serve as the impetus for taking that leap and finally grabbing your camera and seeing how many iconic locations and subjects you can mark off the list. We’ve created a few lists, each with 10 ideas for your next photography adventure. This installment covers some of the best bucket list ideas in the United States.
The Stormy Plains
There aren’t many natural phenomena that are as impressive as a thunderstorm rolling across the plains. The flat, desolate terrain is a perfect pairing with a violent sky, creating visual tension and helping maintain the focus on the textures and colors of the storm.
New York City Skyline
It doesn’t get much more iconic than this. Day or night, the Big Apple puts on a spectacular show. Visit one of the city’s many high-up perches for a bird’s eye view or head across the Hudson or East Rivers for some slow shutter water drama with one of the city’s many bridges serving as an anchor for the shot.
Landscape photographers salivate at the many photographic opportunities in Arizona. From cactus-filled deserts to sand storms and monsoons to iconic places like Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon, there is no lack of bucket list items in the southwest. Even better, there is something to photograph day and night, and all seasons of the year, making Arizona an ideal choice.
Grand Teton National Park
All national parks have plenty of photo opportunities, but Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming offers a unique blend of terrain, natural wonders, wildlife, and old west charm. Schwabacher’s Landing affords perfect views of the Tetons reflected in the Snake River, and is just a short car ride from Mormon Row and the Moulton Barn (shown above), one of the most photographed barns in the world.
For you history buffs, Washington, D.C. is ripe for the picking. Iconic monuments are everywhere, and the neo-classical architecture of many government buildings offers opportunities for impressive architectural shots. Take your camera to the Smithsonian and photograph some of the most influential pieces of American history as well.
The Golden Gate Bridge
Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge isn’t just a bucket list item for photographers interested in architecture. Instead, the bridge and its surrounding environment make for an interesting play on the interaction between nature and man-made objects. Shots of the bridge are a dime a dozen, though, so try to find new perspectives to make your photo stand out from the crowd.
Volcano at Night in Hawaii
There are plenty of gorgeous landscapes to photograph in Hawaii, but an erupting volcano at night is something worthy of a photography bucket list both because of the unique subject matter and the added complication of shooting at night. It’s a technical endeavor that will stretch your photography muscles and a breathtaking event that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
The People of Los Angeles
The greater Los Angeles area is one of the most highly populated and diverse areas in the United States. That makes it a prime location for street photography. From Venice Beach to Santa Monica Pier to Rodeo Drive to Hollywood Boulevard, there’s no shortage of opportunities to capture the unique Southern California way of life.
Autumn Leaves in New England
New England is a gorgeous region to begin with, but its real claim to fame is in the fall when trees explode into an array of colors. Find an old barn, covered bridge, or small country church to include in your shot for additional punch, or head up into the mountains and find an overlook that gives you an endless view of mountaintop after mountaintop of fall colors.
Ways of Life
The people living in the U.S. come from all walks of life, have all sorts of religious and political beliefs, and participate in countless social, athletic, and community activities. Photographing regular people going about the business of their daily lives may not have the glitz and the glam of New York’s skyline or the breathtaking beauty of the nation’s landscapes, but simple portraits are nonetheless a powerful way to capture how things were at a particular time, in a particular place.
While certainly not a comprehensive list, these ten suggestions should get you going towards satisfying your photography bucket list. Go for all ten, pick and choose a few, or simply use it as inspiration for creating your own list of must-see places to photograph in the U.S. Stay tuned for a future installment of bucket list places to photograph from around the world.