February 24


The 3 Best Books for Learning Travel Photography

By Dan

February 24, 2011

Nothing excites my own photography mindset like a good book. I’ve always loved poring through the photo department in the book store or the local library, picking up tips and inspiration from the masters, especially from those titles that are geared towards travel photography.

Even today, I still get giddy with excitement when I find a good one that I haven’t yet seen. I literally devour it, usually two or three times, and take notes as I read, hoping to transfer some of that creative inspiration to my own shooting style.

Want to bring some of the magic to your own work? Here are 3 great books that can help you learn to become a better travel photographer. Any one of them is sure to light a spark in your creativity and make you want to venture out into the world with your camera and follow in the footsteps of those National Geographic legends that we all revere so much.

1. Within The Frame by David DuChemin

In his forward, legend Joe McNally writes, “This book is like a great photograph.” He’s right on. Travel and humanitarian photographer David DuChemin is indeed a master visual storyteller and anyone who’s read his books and eBooks knows that he has not only a wonderfully creative eye, he’s also an awesome teacher who does a great job helping you find and express your own photographic vision.

Full of beautiful and compelling imagery, Within the Frame explores the personal journey that’s involved in creating better photographs of the places and people that excite you. It not only shows you what goes into making a meaningful image, it inspires you to start telling your own visual stories with the camera. If you love travel photography, you simply can not go wrong with this book.

2. Travel Photography: Documenting the World’s People and Places by Bob Krist

One of the Digital Masters series titles, this book by award winning National Geographic photographer Bob Krist is a great comprehensive travel photography manual. With its beautiful aesthetic design and easily understood topics, it does a great job exploring the concepts of what makes a truly great photograph.

Then it goes into depth on how to create great images, from choosing the ideal photography equipment, to visualizing and composing your subjects, and all the way to executing an efficient digital photography workflow and backup once you’ve made them. It’s relevant, up to date with the current technology and filled with great advice. Overall, it’s a great starting point for someone who is relatively new to travel photography.

Advanced shooters may find it a little too basic, but you’re still sure to be inspired by Bob’s great imagery, especially since it’s a relatively low priced book.

3. Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

We all know that Galen Rowell is the undisputed father of the modern day adventure and participatory photographer, but let’s not forget how truly stunning his travel imagery is. Remember his Rainbow of the Potala Palace Image and his photos of the Dalai Lama?

Of course, Galen was also brilliant writer and teacher. I took one of his Mountain Light workshops back in 1993 and I’ve read just about every word that he ever put into print. He’s without a doubt my biggest influence, and I don’t know of anyone who can explain the craft and methodology of photography better and more intelligently than Galen could. (David DuChemin certainly comes to mind, though, as one of today’s top instructional visionaries.)

This book is a compilation of articles that he wrote for Outdoor Photographer magazine and it’s broken down into four sections that deal with cognition and the creative process, technique and practical advice, first person narratives that describe his own creative process, and the effects of photography and travel on the environment.

As with all of his books and essays, Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is incredibly well written and thought provoking. If you’re looking for a simple how-to manual, this may not be the book for you, but if you want a smartly composed exploration into the deeper aspects of travel photography, then you definitely want to put it on your list.

Honorable Mention: Adventure Travel Photography: How to Shoot Great Pictures Off The Beaten Track by Nevada Wier

I list this one as an honorable mention, not because it’s any less of a book than the other three, but because it’s out of print and somewhat hard to find. I remember reading this book when I first started out and I loved it! Nevada Wier is an incredible photographer, certainly one of my all time favorites, and I continue to find great inspiration from her work even today.

If you get your hands on a copy of this book, buy it. You will not be disappointed.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 25+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.

As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

  • Travel photography has to be my favourite venue for photography. Love books with big and glossy shots to inspire me. The Galen Rowell book looks inspiring! Will have to check it out.

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