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How Do I Get My Travel Images!

I have been fortunate to photograph many beautiful places in many countries, but one of the questions I get asked is, "How did I get that image?" I would love to say that they present themselves to me when I walk around, but in reality, it takes a lot of planning, research, and patience to capture the image I want. Planning starts the day I decide on a location I will visit and who my traveling partners will be.

Once I know where I am going, I have a few trusted websites, people, and resources to start my search for iconic and different subjects to photograph. One of the first people I lookup is Rick Steves and his PBS travel series. His program gives me a good overview of the area and some hot spots I might put on my shoot list. YouTube is my next place to research and see what local people and travel bloggers show me about the area. These online resources help me get a feel for the culture, people, and geography before I step onto an airplane.

I will create two lists of places I want to photograph. The first list contains my most important locations, which contain many iconic places. I list them in importance to be photographed, and I usually have more than I can accomplish in one trip. The second list is a backup in case it is raining or, as happens in many places, is under repairs or construction. These two lists are necessary for me to capture the important images that tell the story of the location I’m photographing.

I have three websites I use to look for subjects to photograph. To get inspired and excited, I first visit to look at some images created by very talented photographers. The photos on this website are beautiful and give a good idea of what images you can expect to capture yourself. To get a good overview, I will start searching on Google Images to see what is available and view many different photos at different times. The last website I visit is This site is excellent as there is GPS location data and information from the photographer who took the photo. 

After I have completed my research and created my list, I now go to Google Maps and create a map of all the locations so they are on my phone and with me at all times. I also make a PDF of the map and import it into my phone in case I don't have cell service.

When I do my research, I discover places I may need special permission to access and capture the images I want. Getting permission takes time, and you must start weeks or months before your trip to gain the required access. I have had to write emails to multiple people numerous times to get a response. I even wrote to the mayor of a large European city to photograph the staircase inside the city hall and was given permission. I have also been denied access, but then I can take that off the list and save time for other locations.

With all this research and planning, I have discovered that patience, a smile, and getting someone to laugh can get you far. I was trying to photograph part of the London Natural History Museum without people in the shot and not having any luck. An announcement that the museum was closing in fifteen minutes brought the security guards up the stairs. One guard looked at me and said, "You are trying to get that photo without people, aren't you?" I started joking around with him, and he told everyone they had to start heading to the exit. He looked at me and said, "You have five minutes." I have found that being friendly, smiling, and laughing with people can give you more access to the places you want to photograph.

There are wonderful and beautiful places around the world to photograph. With a bit of time spent planning before you leave, you will come home with more memories and images that will last a lifetime.

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