We’ve all been struck down with wanderlust at some point, usually after a stressful day stuck behind a desk. When the paperwork piles on and the boss is bullying you about dastardly deadlines, there’s a temptation to grab your passport and head out the door for good.
Most of the time we resist those moments of rashness and settle for another cup of coffee and an argument with the photocopier. But that doesn’t mean the urge leaves us.Every map becomes a daydream of planning the perfect trip and any meal turns into a fantasy of sipping cocktails in the Caribbean or eating pizza in Pisa.
And there’s no greater aphrodisiac for wanderlust than gorgeous photographs of stunning destinations. All the exotic daydreams in the world can’t match the reality of seeing them brought to life. Beautifully lit images freeze gorgeous moments in time to be enjoyed, and craved, by all.
Everyone takes pictures when they travel, but there are an elite breed of photographers that travel specifically to take pictures. These shutter-pushing geniuses explore the world, spot details most of us miss, and record them with perfect clarity, using techniques few of us understand.
We’ve scoured the globe, magazines and the internet to unearth the finest travel photographers and feature them in one globetrotting gallery.
© Nicole Franzen
Nicole Franzen is an accomplished all-rounder. Her portfolio is packed with work from around the world and covers a wide range of topics, all with her unique touch of cultural sensitivity.
Franzen spots details, moods and colours that recur in a setting and uses them for context. She’s also a maestro at working with light, creating subtle changes in highlights and shadow to make her subjects jump out of the page.
Brooklyn-based Franzen has captured the interiors of hotels in a way that makes them both luxuriously inviting and also a fascinating study on cultural differences. Her food photography is delicious, showing the ingredients, the cooking and the eating in her own distinct style.
Franzen’s commercial work pops up in magazines frequently and she draws on this work in her travelogues. A collection from Argentina and Uruguay includes haunting interiors alongside spellbinding landscapes. There are still life works, and portraits that really bring people to life, conversations almost jumping out of their animated faces.
A gallery from Scotland seamlessly slides from the busy cobbles of Edinburgh to the rugged serenity of the highlands, pausing only to study delicious artisan dishes.
This blog has won many awards and has even been used by Apple in keynote speeches. The work of double act David De Vleeschauwer and Debbie Pappyn, the site features fascinating articles and photography.
Pappyn is a freelance travel writer and De Vleeschauwer is a freelance photographer. Both of them work for international titles and the website is a double-diary of their adventures whilst working.
The couple’s amazing jet-set lifestyle means they have a glut of material with which to work, and De Vleeschauwer does a grand job. His eye for composition turns everyday scenes into spectacular landscapes or art-like studies of still life.
With a writer by his side, it is no surprise that the pictures have a powerful editorial feel, as though meant to sit alongside text. De Vleeschauwer’s images are not just travel pictures but a telling insight into locations and cultures.
If you like the look of this work, track down their book Remote Places to Stay for their guide to 22 out-of-the-way spots to take a break.
© Kate Ballis
Originally hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Kate Ballis’ portfolio makes it seem as if she hasn’t stopped moving since she left. Her work covers South America, Iceland and Europe; and surreal locations that could be anywhere in the world.
Ballis has a trick of looking at buildings, objects and scenes from a different angle. Sometimes from up close, other times from high above, this makes the familiar seem very alien and utterly intriguing. Even her portraits have a touch of the bizarre, with subjects donning clown masks or appearing as tiny figures far below the lens.
These fascinating shots are rendered in soft pastel colours and make everything worth a second, lingering look. Even Ballis’ series on Cuba, where crumbling buildings and classic cars seem to be almost an unavoidable cliché, have a timeless vibrancy about them.
Ballis manages to inject a little bounce into all of her images, making them both timeless and very upbeat. There’s an energy in her Iceland works that transforms dark, brooding hills devoid of trees and life to a living, breathing creature that moves before your eyes.
© Corey Arnold
Perhaps the most interesting combination of roles, Corey Arnold is both a photographer and captain of a salmon fishing business. But it make sense when you realise the sea is also the inspiration for much of his work.
Many photographers find a pretty view and snap it before moving on. Arnold has been living and breathing the life of a commercial fisherman all his life, something he documents fluently in his work.
That’s not to say his work is just boats and baited hooks. He captures the sea in all her moods, which make for beautiful images. He also takes time to explore the coastlines on which the commercial operations are based, showing Norway in a particularly rugged and beautiful light.
Arnold’s work is a beautiful depiction of tough lives in harsh conditions in a stunning part of the world.
© Gavin Gough
Based in Bangkok, Gavin Gough is a freelancer who works for commercial and charity clients. His work has been in newspapers and magazines, on billboards and in guidebooks, and even on postage stamps.
It’s hardly surprising then that Gough masters all types of photography, capturing the hustle and bustle of city life alongside the tranquillity of a Buddhist monastery. He makes sunlight dance on the calm waters of a Thai beach and then dives into darkness in a Chinese calligrapher’s studio.
Gough has the sensitivity to portray Asia’s diverse religious life with a keen eye and technical prowess, showing exactly what the rituals mean to those involved.
His series on Cambodia’s bamboo trains is a unique look at the business conducted on, and the lives lived next to, the tracks.
© Marie Takahashi
Based in Tokyo, Marie Takahashi has been shooting pictures since she was ten years old and now works as a freelancer specialising in food, travel and interiors.
It’s these last two that meet to create her personal style. Takahashi uses buildings to bring subjects to life, often by breaking photographic rules.
When shooting a skyline, she does so from inside, forcing the viewer to look through the bizarre abstract shapes created by the obstructions. Takahashi looks into a room, including the blurred edge of the doorway, giving an extra sense of depth. It also develops a childlike curiosity, compelling viewers to wonder what might be just out of shot.
Takahashi has a trick of de-animating people, freezing them to be part of a scene rather than moving within it. She also has a habit of cropping people partially out of the frame, as though escaping as the viewer chases after them.
The fun elements of Takahashi’s work are deepened by her incredible eye for detail, picking out pine needles poking out of the snow or the ordered chaos of a woodpile.
© Alecsandra Dragoi
This London-based, Romanian-born photographer has been winning awards and gaining attention for the last few years. She completed an MA in Documentary Photography whilst also working on assignments for Getty Images and The Guardian.
A rising star, Dragoi won 2015’s National Geographic Traveller Photography award with Ritual, a project shot in Romania. The project captures a village’s preparation for a New Year’s festival in which men dress up as bears. The project features some stunning portraits and is a fantastically timeless sequence.
Other projects have captured the lives of Mediterranean residents living in brightly coloured houses, giving a sneak peek into their lives as well as a view of the sleepy villages.
Dragoi knows how to line up a compelling, intimate picture but even more so, she knows how to negotiate access to people and get them to relax in front of a camera.
© Ken Kaminesky
A former commercial photographer who as worked with agencies, magazines and stock libraries, Ken Kaminesky now travels the world running photo tours.
It looks as though there isn’t anywhere on earth that has managed to avoid Kaminesky’s viewfinder; he has a portfolio that reads like a well-stamped passport. His people shots are lively, vibrant and compelling, but the landscapes are breathtaking.
Both in urban settings and in the wild, he manages to milk vivid detail out of even the darkest, dullest spaces. The spectacular results turn a New York traffic jam into a riot of colour and an empty Roman church into a detailed parade of frescoes. This magical ability to manipulate light even turns train stations in Milan into sci-fi spectaculars.
If one of his images inspires you, why not join Keminesky on his next trip?
© Moyan Brenn
Amazingly, Moyan Brenn has only been working with professional cameras for five years, and he’s entirely self-taught. This is all the more spectacular when you consider his work appears in Lonely Planet and on over 4,000 websites.
Publishing mostly online, Brenn is swimming in both acclaim and awards. But he seems to be more focussed on being part of an online community; he tends to reference Flickr members much more than the supposed masters of photography.
Brenn has worked in Japan, the USA, Turkey and all around Europe. He has an uncanny knack for adapting his style to suit the scene: he’ll go from anonymous street photography to quirky, lively portraits in one sequence. He’ll shoot high-speed nature shots and then do ultra-long exposures of the passing river. All with perfect technical skill.
His forest series shows the breadth of his expertise, capturing moody portraits alongside close up still lives, then turning a low-light landscape into a vivid watercolour-like riot.
Brenn is best known for is work in Iceland, managing to capture the slow-moving lights and the people hypnotised by their beauty. The series is stunning and has been praised by Icelandic musician Bjork.
© Jonas Bendiksen
Jonas Bendiksen is a true hot shot. Interning at a famed, invitation-only photo agency at the age of 19, he is now a full member of this exclusive club. It’s not difficult to see why Bendiksen was allowed in when you see his work
Bendiksen has a range of hard-hitting documentary projects, including one that follows the impact of AIDS in Haiti, yet tenderly captures the spirit of hope that many patients feel. His work in Turkey captures the historic city, its ambitions for the future and the tension between the two.
Most eye-opening is Far From Home, a project for National Geographic Magazine that explores the boom town of Dubai and hints at the human cost of development.
That’s not to say that Bendiksen’s work is all packing a socio-political punch. Wilderness explores the snowbound landscape of Europe and meets some wonderfully eccentric characters along the way. There are spectacular action shots of daring ski runs and a cellist who treks through the snow to play Bach in remote locations.
Bendiksen knows how to compose a frame for the ultimate eye-catching photo, yet he also knows how to tell a story, which makes it no surprise that he’s won a slew of awards and been published globally.
Who is your favourite photographer? Let us know in the comments!
Article by Andy Scofield, International Features Writer