Whether you are into nature photography, architecture, art, people, places or sports, this world has a special gem somewhere waiting for you to capture it on film. There are some locations in this world filled with beauty, magic, drama and amazing landmarks. In truth, there are hundreds of places on Earth that give quite a performance in front of the camera and each photography artist probably already polished his own “photography bucket list.” If you think you saw them all or if you are looking for some inspiration on where to go next, we have put up a list consisting of fifteen iconic places to photograph around the world. Famous or strayed away from the beaten path, these places make the Holy Grail for all those looking for the perfect shoot.
1. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
One of the most amazing and breathtaking places on Earth, the salt desert in Bolivia (above) is the Mecca of landscape photography. The sky reflects into the flat salt surface creating a mind-blowing effect: the one stepping silently on the salty crust covered in a thin layer of water cannot stop the feeling that he reached an alternative dimension. It feels like there is no space and time here, no beginning and no end, no life and no death. You don’t know if you walk the earth or the sky anymore. No matter the time of day, Salar de Uyuni will perform incredibly well in front of the camera keeping you fascinated and hypnotized for the rest of your life.
2. Aerial Photography of the Great Pyramid, Egypt
A close-up shot of the Great Pyramid is the poster for exotic vacations and exploring legendary territories. But an aerial overview over the pyramids complex, the desert and the urban landscape pushing towards the iconic landmarks can completely change one’s perspective on the world itself. When zoomed out to their surroundings, the Pyramids of Giza make us question our true place in the large universal scheme.
3. The Aurora Borealis, (Fairbanks) Alaska
If you are into astral photography, and you are looking for rare and majestic phenomena, then a trip to Norway in the right place at the right time can offer you the experience and the photographs of a lifetime. The Aurora can also be seen from Sweden, Iceland, and Norway, among others, but the Alaskan sky during the time of the Aurora is definitely a bucket list item for photographers and adventurers alike. You can follow the Aurora forecast in real time to know when you should get ready to pack.
4. Pripyat, (Chernobyl) Ukraine
This is the place where time stood still. There are some who adventure to Pripyat for touristic purposes, but seasoned photographers travel to this remote location to capture the drama and the darkness that still surround this place. Not for the faint of heart, the deafening silence of this abandoned city makes one of the most powerful visual statements of human tragedy.
5. The Antelope Canyon, (Arizona) United States
This intricate canyon, known as an ancient Navajo sanctuary, is a place where expert photographers can test their skills and creativity. The canyon is dark, and the feeling of being trapped in a maze can be overwhelming, but if you get your tripod, your patience, and your original perspective, you can capture a ray of light piercing through, like a divine message.
Whenever the world sees crystal clear skies, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, crimson-red sunsets and small cottages suspended above the water, they feel like they have to go on vacation on an exotic island. The poster-child of such offers is Tahiti, a wondrous place for all landscape photographers. But if you want to take things up a notch and capture what Tahiti really is, then a traditional Polynesian wedding photo shoot is an experience that is worth the effort.
7. Havana, Cuba
This is a small patch of heaven for all photographers interested in life more than in nature or landmarks. Roam the old and the new Havana, capturing the vintage 57’ Chevys, people dancing in the street, cigar smoking, crumbling building facades, colors, movement, facial expressions, fabulous nightclubs next to a different kind of poverty, contrasts and extremes, peace and violence – they are all here, waiting.
8. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
Culturally speaking, the Angkor Wat site in Cambodia needs little to no presentation. But the largest religious monument in the world is often deceiving. The abundance of photographs showing the structures’ front in a perfect frame leaves out the scenery and the surroundings – which are surprising, to say the least. The seasoned photographer is indeed left in awe at the sight of the majestic mystery rising before his eyes, but he will not remain blind to its surroundings either. One of the most exotic lost places to explore and discover, Angkor Wat needs your full time and attention to detail.
9. Derweze, Turkmenistan
A famous natural site in a rather remote part of the world, “The Door to Hell” sparks up everybody’s imagination. The panorama, the intoxicating smell of sulfur and the light seemingly coming from another world (of the deep down under type) are reasons enough to travel there and capture the dramatic and strange scenery.
10. The Taj Mahal, India
You don’t have to be a passionate photographer to deeply wish to see the Taj Mahal, but it is more to this monument that tourism photography lets us believe. Usually, the mausoleum is very well framed in between the minarets, the sky is clear, the scenery majestic and the background sunset speaks about eternal love. But photographers who want to see more than famous wallpapers should explore the surroundings and the life coming together with one of the most iconic structures on Earth.
11. The Ice Hotel, Sweden
Valli Schafer & Barra Cassidy
This is the place where artists get to carve their dreams in ice. The first hotel entirely built of ice in the world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the photographer wanting to play with light, texture, macro, wide angles, depth, and surreal architecture. If you want to step up your game, then try to shoot some wedding ceremonies in the ice chapel for a truly legendary work of art.
12. Machu Picchu, Peru
The ruins of Machu Picchu, Maya trail, the legends, myths, archaeological discoveries, the legends and the scenery of this iconic place cannot be overlooked. This trip back on history lane will fill your heart with joy as the ancient temples and monuments have always been surrounded by controversy, speculation, and superstitions. The site is oftentimes crowded, so you might feel discouraged at first to take good photos among dozens of tourists trying the same thing, but with a little bit of patience and the right gear you can capture the majestic beauty of this all-time favorite mysterious place.
13. Venice, Italy
“See Venice and die” is not just an idiom, for some people may be a life’s goal. This is one of the most romantic places on Earth, one of the most intriguing, filled with history, architecture, culture, and people. Venice is one of those holy lands all professional and amateur photographers should set foot on at least once in a lifetime. But Venice is more than feeding the doves in the San Marco Square or visiting the Murano glass factory. Venice is all about bridges, gondolas, eerie sunsets reflected in the canals, narrow cobblestone streets and… the carnival. Venice can be photographed and explored from all possible angles: architecture, history, landmarks, the beaten and unbeaten paths, street life and events. There are dozens of photography-worthy places in Venice, so you’d better book a longer trip.
14. Moscow Square, (Saint Petersburg) Russia
A trip to Saint Petersburg will clearly make you understand that everything in Russia is oversize, from squares to palaces and monuments. But there is no photographer to set foot in this intriguing and beautiful country to miss the Moscow Square, an icon of culture, history, and architecture. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is a legendary monument that shows up in amateur and awarded professional photography and a symbol of the sumptuous royal atmosphere that you will still feel while roaming the streets.
15. Stonehenge, United Kingdom
Last but not least, Stonehenge is an icon for many fields of study and interest: history, culture, ancient religious studies, mythology, tourism, and photography, among others. The simple stone pillars and boulders have fascinated everybody since the dawn of time. For the passionate photographer, the monument can be easily transformed into a piece of art. Just wait for the sun to come down and shine through the monolithic structure in a ritual still hidden to our knowledge. Photographing Stonehenge at sunset is a pride and a privilege for all mortals holding a camera, as time itself seems to stand still. This is a place of wonder and meditation, an endless amazement in the face of cosmic forces we don’t understand.
Have you seen these places and photographed them? Do you wish to just pack your bags, grab your gear and go exploring the world and its iconic mysteries which have yet to unravel?