“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”
– Composer & Lyricist Stephen Sondheim
It’s just as true with travel photography as it is with music. The subtle focus adjustment. The careful alignment and purposeful zoom. A steady hand, framing the scene. Taking a scenic photo requires precision. Order. It involves emotion. One must possess the ability to separate all surroundings – the chaos – from the magic inside the lens.
Travel photography, as it stands today, is a lost art. At least, on the surface. With the rise of smartphones, everyone suddenly thinks they’re a professional photographer. But it’s a complex craft, one that requires more skill than just adding a sepia filter or switching to HDR.
But there’s one thing working to your, and all of ours, advantage: travel photography is inherently beautiful. The world is meant to be captured through a lens. It is, without doubt, the universe’s most photogenic creation.
And thankfully there are still some saviors out there. Travel photographers sharing amazing shots, done the right way.
We’ve complied 14 sensational travel photos of 2015. And if it’s true that a picture can speak a thousand words, we’ll let the images do the talking.
“We heard from local expats living on Ometepe Island that the best place to see the sunset in Nicaragua was a small beach called Punta Jesus Maria. We rented bicycles late in the afternoon and set off on an arduous cycle ride down a long, cobbled road. A graffitied sign carved into a rock face pointed us down a muddy path shaded by trees that was more frequently used by cattle than people. We pressed on, our tires crunching over fallen twigs. Finally we came to a clearing where a small hook of sandy beach extended out into Lake Ometepe. To the side was a small shack where locals chatted and drank beers under the warmth of the sun. We stood on the sand watching as the island’s twin volcanoes were covered in the golden glow of the sunset. Local travel tips are always the best ones.”
Photo credit: Charlie Marchant of Charlie On Travel
“This was taken at the Palo Alto Market in Barcelona, a cool food and design market in the creative borough called Poble Nou. The atmosphere is superb! The market is held every first weekend of the month. “
Photo credit: Pauline Egge of Petite Passport
“I like images that are more than just a pretty picture — they need to tell a story. I feel this image, taken on Tarryall River Ranch in Colorado, USA, does just that. There is a lot in this image — two horses, a historic lodge, scenic mountains — but the definitive subject is ranch manager, Paula Gonzalez Del Real. It’s a candid shot of her relationship with the animals and the ranch and her daily life.”
“This was taken in Venice Beach, California after my fourth Burning Man experience. It was the best welcome back into the ‘default world’ and a lovely reminder of why, even though I love traveling, home is pretty great too!”
Photo credit: Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse
“Pammukale, literally meaning ‘cotton castle’, is a small town in western Turkey, known for its abundance of natural hot springs and for one hillside in the center of town, completely covered in a solid white layer of calcium deposits from the mineral-rich waters trickling down its side. The calcium has formed pools, or travertines, of warm, healing waters that you can bathe in as you walk up the hillside. At the top of the hill is the ancient Greek city of Heiropolis, where Greek physicians often sent patients or retirees to soak up the goodness of the healing waters.”
Photo credit: Kach & Jonathan Howe of Two Monkeys Travel
“Home to seals, turtles and blue-footed boobies, the Galapagos Islands mix sandy shores with windswept cliffs and black volcanic lava, frozen in molten swirls. Ecuador restricts tourist access for wildlife protection, which is great for ecology but tricky for photography. I stood with my feet in the sand and the waves around my ankles when this fellow scuttled close enough for me to quickly take this shot. I loved the contrast of scarlet against black and could have stood and watched these crabs all day.”
Photo credit: Abigail King of Inside The Travel Lab
“When I first stepped onto the shore of the lake I was speechless. I could only lay down a blanket, sit and gaze at the magnificent mountains reflected in a crystal clear lake. Honestly, I thought about abandoning my next month of travel plans and just staying right there at Lake Braies.”
Photo credit: Anna Vawser of The Legendary Adventures Of Anna
“This photo was taken as I walked along the coastal boulevard in Calella de Palafrugell, a picturesque seaside town in Costa Brava, Catalonia. I stopped to watch the artist at work and marveled at how the scenery gradually unfolded in such vivid colors on the canvas. This is one of my favorite photos from 2015 because of its bright colors and the absolutely gorgeous scenery both on the canvas and in the background.”
Photo credit: Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape
“Upon arriving in Petra, in the narrow, stone tunnel-ways that lead to the main city, I found a small boy. He was in awe of where he found himself, and what lay before him, and I was lucky enough to capture his small moment of wonder.”
Photo credit: Jeremy Scott Foster of Travel Freak
“This was taken on Redang Island in Malaysia during the Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival. I love it because it’s a candid moment of a local staring intently out to sea, and there’s something magical about the colours of those boats and the water.”
Photo credit: Raymond Walsh of Man On The Lam
“Every year, to commemorate the arrival of spring, giant wooden sculptures are burned throughout Valencia as part of a celebration known as Las Fallas. Churro stands line every street corner as people huddle together to watch the spectacle. For days afterward, the air smells of smoke and fried dough.”
Photo credit: Geraldine DeRuiter of The Everywherist
“I traveled to Marrakech to the first time and found myself surrounded by a stark contrast of highs and lows – highlighted by a visit to the Royal Mansour hotel. However if there is anything I learned it was just how generous, kind and welcoming the locals are, whether in the hotels or in the heart of the Souks.”
Photo credit: Lindsey Tramuta of Lost In Cheeseland
“This photograph of the Lyon cityscape seen from the red bridge on the Saône river in France is my favorite from the past year. It is a reminder of what sits across the way; dazzling architecture, quaint French bistros and tempting pastry shops with pastel colored meringue in the windows. It makes me want to take the scarlet colored walk one more time.”
Photo credit: Annette White of Bucket List Journey
“Few countries are as suited to our travel style as Myanmar, where we got to spend leisurely days discovering Mandalay’s tea-shops, exploring Bagan’s temples, and cruising around Inle Lake to obsessively devouring Shan noodles at local markets and immerse ourselves in cooking classes in village homes. But the place that really held our attention was Yangon with its lively streets lined with grand colonial buildings and mould-dappled shophouses. One of our most memorable evenings was at gleaming Shwedagon Pagoda (pictured) at dusk, where we followed local worshippers around the golden stupa, soaking up the atmosphere as we observed the array of rituals, from lighting incense and washing Budda statues to posing for family portraits in front of blown-up photos of the country’s significant sights. We loved Myanmar so much we’re heading back again next week. It’s a special place with special people and this really is Myanmar’s moment; go now!”
Photo credit: Lara Dunston of Grantourismo
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