I’m a voracious reader…besides photography and visiting National Parks, it’s one of my most favorite hobbies. A few years ago when I started getting serious about travel and nature photography, I started reading everything I could get my hands on that would help me improve my photography skills. In this post I’ll tell you about what I consider the best travel photography books I’ve ever read. These travel photography books have inspired and educated me, and I’d love to share them with you. In no particular order, I present to you my five favorite travel photography books.
Photographing National Parks – Chris Nicholson
When I planned my first solo camping trip to the Badlands and Yellowstone National Parks, I knew that photography was going to be an important part of it. I love the National Parks in the US, and wanted to learn how to take the best possible photos on the trip. I found a lot of inspiration and good practical advice in this book…and I think you will also.
The author covers techniques and tips for taking great travel photos. He gives very detailed advice on the best travel photography equipment to have with you, along with providing technical advice on what settings to use for the wide variety of conditions you’ll find in National Parks.
Nicholson’s photos are also stunningly beautiful. His work inspired me and gave me the skills to take some of my favorite photos of all time in The Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
One final note on this book: even if you’re not planning on visiting National Parks in the US, this book is still full of great advice that can be applied anywhere you’re doing landscape or nature photography. I still use the tips and techniques I learned, regardless of where I’m shooting.
Within The Frame – David DuChemin
If you’re getting into travel photography, you should read everything you can get your hands on from David DuChemin. He is far and away my favorite author on the artistic and creative side of photography. He has poured his entire heart and soul into becoming one of the world’s top mentors on the creative, story-telling side of travel photography. This book is at the top of my list of favorite travel photography books.
The Amazon.com page for this book describes it this way:
“…[A] masterful and balanced emphasis on both the head and the heart—craft and technique on the one hand, passion and vision on the other—mirror the process of creating compelling, meaningful photographs that convey one’s vision.
The book begins with a section on vision as part of the photographic journey – understanding it, and chasing it. This chapter was foundational in my thinking about telling stories through photography. It’s gotten me into the habit of thinking about why I’m taking a photo, and the story I want to convey with it. Indeed, it’s even convinced me that at times it’s better to leave the camera at my side and to not take a photo in some circumstances.
Lonely Planet Guide To Travel Photography – Richard L’Anson
If you’re just getting started in travel photography, this is the first book I’d recommend. L’Anson starts with the basics of digital photography: explaining what an image sensor is, providing information on resolution and image size, and giving an overview of the features found on a typical mid-range digital camera. He also spends quite a bit of time explaining other gear you’ll need – lenses, accessories, a camera bag, and the like.
After providing a basic but thorough education on the technical side of travel photography, he moves on to the artistic side. A variety of different travel photography subjects are discussed – people, landscapes, entertainment, and wildlife just to name a few of the chapters. Each of these topics is broken down further into multiple topics – as an example, the chapter on landscapes includes discussions on mountains, rain forests, flowers, etc. The advice contained in these sections is easily digested and can be quickly applied in the field. I refer back to it often as a refresher, or when I need inspiration while tackling a new subject.
Rick Sammon’s Travel and Nature Photography – Rick Sammon
Rick Sammon could easily – with good reason – be called the hardest-working man in the business of photography. He’s the author of 31 books on photography on topics ranging from travel photography to artistic inspiration to the technical side of digital camera to post-processing of your photos. He also writes for a number of photography and nature-related magazines and publications, and is a prolific public speaker. He’s also the host of the Picturing Success podcast. WHEW…just reading that resume makes me tired!
In his book Travel and Nature Photography, Sammon draws on his extensive background in leading travel photography expeditions and teaching travel photography techniques to audiences the world over. He walks the reader through a variety of different scenarios – dark and bright lighting, cityscapes and landscapes, people, buildings, and nature…just to name a few. His advice is easily digestible and he backs them up with lots of examples, beautiful photos of his own, and practical “to do” guides. His books are easy reads, and I’ve found many “aha!” moments while browsing through his works, time and again.
This is an excellent work that, like many of the others in my list of favorite travel photography books, I refer back to quite often.
The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography – Glenn Randall
Right out of the gate, this book gives budding landscape photographers a bit of a reality check. In the first chapter, entitled “Landscape Photography Looks So Easy,” he explains why it’s not always easy to capture with the camera what your eye sees. But as we see in subsequent chapters, this isn’t the only difficulty that landscape photographers face.
It’s also not as easy as showing up at a random location, pointing your camera towards a landscape, and clicking the shutter. Randall spends considerable time in this volume educating photographers on how to scout out the best locations, how to find the right time to photograph a great landscape, and how to do effective research before ever taking a trip.
As with many of my other favorite travel photography books, Randall delves into both the art and the science of landscape photography. His advice is timeless: even though the capabilities of digital cameras are evolving rapidly, Randall focuses in on timeless tips and advice that are suitable to anyone shooting with any kind of digital camera – and even those who still shoot with film.
So, What Are Your Favorite Travel Photography Books?
Well, there you have it. My list of my top five favorite travel photography books of all time (or at least for right now). I’m always looking for new books to read and things to learn. Do you have some favorite travel photography books that I haven’t covered in this list? Please let everyone know in the comments section!
I encourage you to browse through any or all of the works listed above…even if you draw out just one piece of education or inspiration, the time you spend reading will be well worth it!