As photographers, we’re always looking for a place that is more beautiful, more dynamic, more captivating. Here is a list of places that are just that…some you may have seen and some are less well-known, but all are equally photo-worthy in their own unique ways.
Iceland is every photographer’s new favorite destination to photograph, and for good reason. With its combination of glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls, Iceland’s raw and wild terrain makes for some of the most stunning landscape photography in the world. A drive around the country’s 800-mile ring road offers a different rugged landscape at every turn, from towering mountains to hidden ice caves to the legendary northern lights. Stop to photograph the small, colorful fishing towns along the coast or the picturesque farmhouses in the countryside. With all of Iceland’s beautiful vistas, you’ll want to bring a wide lens, like the Nikon 14-24mm at f/2.8 or the Canon EF 16-35mm at f/2.8L II. To make the most of the northern lights and beautiful nighttime scenery, be sure to bring a stable tripod for long exposures.
2. Joshua Tree National Park
For a destination warmer and a bit closer to home, Joshua Tree National Parker offers undeniable wonder. Spanning over 800,000 acres of rugged California desert, Joshua Tree provides the perfect opportunity for shooting sunrises, sunsets and star trails. The misshapen trees and yellow and orange rock structures will have you feeling like you’re on the moon, rather than a mere two and a half hours outside of Los Angeles. With elevations of over 5,000 feet, and the sweeping, barren landscape, there’s no end of great spots to shoot from. The joshua trees themselves make for interesting silhouettes against a setting sun or a bright foreground when lit with a flash. Bring a wide lens, like the Nikon 14-24mm at f/2.8 or the Canon EF 16-35mm at f/2.8L II and a flash, like the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash or the Nikon SB-910 Speedlight.
Nicknamed the Eternal City, Rome is full of picturesque ruins dating back thousands of years, colorful scooters flying down narrow streets and local artists selling their watercolor paintings on every corner. There’s no end to photographic opportunities in Rome. From the most well-known sites — like the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel — to the lesser known attractions, you could spend weeks or even months photographing the city without getting bored. Because of the huge number of sights to see, you’ll want a range of wide angle and zoom lenses.
It’s not the first American city you think of when considering places to photograph, but it should be. Detroit recently made Business Insider’s list of Hottest Cities of the Future, which predicted that the city is poised for a major renaissance. This turnaround is thanks to the help of young, creative professionals moving into the often-forgotten Michigan city, who are founding small, eco-friendly businesses. Detroit is quickly becoming the place where the American Dream – an idea we all thought was lost – can once again be realized. The combination of fresh, new energy and old, forgotten buildings will keep you shooting until your hands cramp. You’re bound to spend long days wandering the streets of this up-and-coming city, so pack smart with a messenger bag and a range Canon lenses, or kick it old school with a classic Nikon FE2.
Melbourne is Australia’s hippest city, and its street art puts San Francisco’s to shame. In the 1970s and 1980s, young people living in Melbourne were influenced by the boom of street art in New York City. Young artists in Melbourne began to take to the streets of their own town, with their own creative expression, and since then, public art has taken off on a whole new level. This colorful and vibrant city is every photographer’s dream shooting location. Take this opportunity to get the most out of these bright colors by shooting with a mirrorless camera, like the Leica SL (Typ 601).
6. Glacier National Park
One of the few remaining places where you can still see natural glaciers (although they’re melting at an alarming pace), Glacier National Park is home to incredible mountain ranges set against sweeping valleys and pristine lakes. Located in the Northwest corner of Montana, you can drive 6,600 feet up the Going to the Sun Road for panoramic views of the towering peaks, or kayak against a mountainous backdrop on Lake McDonald. It’s also a great place to see wildlife in some of their most natural habitats. In order to capture images of all the bears, moose and birds without disturbing these wild animals, bring a strong telephoto lens, like the Canon EF 600mm at f/4L or the Tamron SP 150-600mm at f/5-6.3 for Nikon.
7. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan is one of the last Philippine islands that has yet to feel the effects of commercialization. Get lost in the island paradise, where you can kayak through crystal clear waters, swim with hundreds of pink jellyfish and have your breakfast stolen by a wild monkey. Stay in a seaside cabana and watch the sun rise over the pristine water, or take a midnight kayaking trip between the islands to see thousands of lightning bugs fill the sky. This is bound to be an adventure-filled trip, so bring along a GoPro and plenty of mounts to ensure you’ll catch all of the action – even the action that happens underwater.