The Fundamentals of Travel Photography

Answer the travel challenge, "Pics or it didn't happen," with more confidence. It's okay to brag, too.
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Learn how to record your travels just like the professionals, led by an acclaimed National Geographic photographer.


Bob Krist
Bob Krist

As storytellers sharing the visual tales of our travels, we can act as small points of light that help everyone see the beauty and the humanity of this very small world in which we live.


National Geographic Photographer

Bob Krist is an award-winning photographer whose regular assignments for magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Islands have taken him to all seven continents. Mr. Krist's work has won awards in the Pictures of the Year International, Communication Arts, and World Press Photo competitions. He was named Photographer of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers in 1994, 2007, and 2008.

Mr. Krist's books include the New York Times best seller, In Tuscany, a collaboration with author Frances Mayes that features 270 pages of his photographs. He is also the author of Spirit of Place: The Art of the Traveling Photographer, and he provided photography for the books Caribbean; Portrait of the Caribbean; Lowcountry: From Charleston to Savannah; A Photo Tour of New York; and Impressions of Bucks County.

Mr. Krist is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and an avid filmmaker who shoots and produces short travel films for a variety of clients, including National Geographic. His movie about Iceland, A Thousand Autumns, won awards at the Johns Hopkins Film Festival, the Reykjavik International Film Festival, and the Trento Film Festival.

By This Expert

The Fundamentals of Travel Photography
The Art of Video Storytelling
The Fundamentals of Travel Photography


The Travel Photographer's Mission

01: The Travel Photographer's Mission

A sightseeing photographer stands apart from the culture. A travel photographer immerses herself or himself in it. In this introductory lecture, discover why an important part of good travel photography involves "being there." Your case study: Mr. Krist's assignment for a story on the French Quarter of New Orleans....

26 min
Photographing for Story

02: Photographing for Story

Start thinking of yourself as a visual storyteller-not just a photographer. Here, learn what every travel photographer needs to cover to tell a complete story, including geography, people, culture, wildlife, food and lodging, and history. Then, see how it all applies to a National Geographic assignment in French Polynesia....

24 min
Three Keys: Light, Composition, Moment

03: Three Keys: Light, Composition, Moment

Every good travel photograph is built around three ingredients: light, composition, and movement. Study a number of travel photographs in terms of these ingredients to see if they have what it takes to be considered "good." Also, ponder what happens when you only have two (or even just one) of these keys....

25 min
Natural Light on Landscapes

04: Natural Light on Landscapes

What makes light "beautiful"? What makes it "ugly"? In this lecture, Mr. Krist takes you on an in-depth exploration of the many facets of natural light and how to use them in your own landscape photographs-just like the pros. You'll cover side lighting, back lighting, twilight, and more....

24 min
Natural Light on People

05: Natural Light on People

Explore great lighting options for photographing the people you meet while traveling. There's backlight, which you find in fashion photographs. There's open shade (the quality of light on the shadow side of buildings on a sunny day). You can even take good shots lighting your subject from the front....

25 min
Composition and the Power of Lenses

06: Composition and the Power of Lenses

Study composition through wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Learn why 28mm-300mm is such a popular focal length and an ideal travel lens. Explore some of the useful properties of a wide-angle lens. See why the telephoto lens' compression of perspective is a useful property once you learn how to use it....

26 min
On Location in San Miguel de Allende

07: On Location in San Miguel de Allende

Go out in the field and join Mr. Krist on assignment in Central Mexico to see how he puts some of the techniques you've learned into practice. By witnessing a travel photographer at work, you'll discover why a proactive approach to travel photography yields much better pictures than mere inspiration....

24 min
Gear, Packing, and Security

08: Gear, Packing, and Security

A hot topic in travel photography is what you bring with you and what you leave behind. From gear to clothes to preconceptions, learn how to find the coveted middle ground between preparedness and mobility so you can focus on what matters most: telling a visual story of your travels....

27 min
Five Obstacles to a Great Photo

09: Five Obstacles to a Great Photo

Bad weather. Language and logistics. Money and time limitations. Access. Overfamiliarity. Get a stronger sense of the most common barriers to getting great travel photographs. Along the way, you'll look at some photo assignments-many of which feature more than one obstacle-to see how you might handle them....

26 min
Capturing the Spirit of People

10: Capturing the Spirit of People

Explore pointed techniques for capturing the spirit in the people you meet. First, learn how to make breaking the ice (the hardest part of the whole process) a little less painful. Then, take a look at several methods for photographing people, including the candid approach and the up-close-and-personal approach....

23 min
People in Performance

11: People in Performance

One of the richest opportunities for photographing the people you encounter in your travels: during a planned or impromptu performance. Mr. Krist offers important pointers for photographing people in situations like tango dances, blues clubs, ballet performances, and more. Plus: consider the somewhat sticky problem of tipping for pictures....

23 min
Using Flash on the Road

12: Using Flash on the Road

The electronic flash is perhaps the most misunderstood-and badly misused-piece of gear in a photographer's arsenal. Discover how a shoe-mounted flash can open up new worlds for you as a travel photographer and can be your best friend in situations that would be un-photographable otherwise....

26 min
Capturing the Spirit of Landscapes

13: Capturing the Spirit of Landscapes

A good landscape shot not only shows what a place looks like but what it feels like. Join Mr. Krist for a deeper dive into shooting landscapes to capture what one travel writer called the "spirit of place." Strategies include altering your horizon line and suggesting a sense of scale....

24 min
Special Techniques for Creative Photos

14: Special Techniques for Creative Photos

Get creative in this lecture on special techniques to employ when you're feeling a little "out of the box." Some are subtle (shooting in black and white). Some are controversial (high dynamic range, or HDR, photography). All can, when applied judiciously, give your travel photography a boost....

26 min
Capturing the Spirit of Wildlife

15: Capturing the Spirit of Wildlife

Start creating more interesting wildlife photographs with these tips and techniques to use whether you're at the zoo or on safari. You'll gain insights into getting a great animal portrait without having to spend all day in a blind in the jungle-as well as the best gear to pack....

21 min
Animals in Action

16: Animals in Action

Turn the hardest and most prized photos for even seasoned travel photographers: animals in action. First, learn the pros of using fast and slow shutter speeds. Then, get tips on telling a story involving people and wildlife. Finally, go underwater to practice animal photography in aquatic environments....

25 min
Architecture and Skylines

17: Architecture and Skylines

How can you make a city skyline, many of which have already been photographed to death, original? From varying your point of view to waiting for unusual lighting conditions, Mr. Krist offers a variety of ways to take photos of architecture and cityscapes that aren't stiff, formal, and cold....

26 min
Festivals, Parades, and Special Events

18: Festivals, Parades, and Special Events

Every traveler loves festivals and parades, and the same is true of travel photographers. Here, be more proactive about how you approach celebrations of cultural heritage, whether it's arriving early for unique shots, searching for new angles, or exploring the perimeter of a special event....

26 min
Street Scenes and Neighborhoods

19: Street Scenes and Neighborhoods

No travel story is complete without shots of what a neighborhood-and the life on it-looks like. How can you make day-to-day life look as interesting as a massive spectacle? How can you give viewers a real feel for what life is like on the streets you travel through?...

25 min
Workflow on the Road

20: Workflow on the Road

A critical component of travel photography involves mundane work: securing and organizing your photographs. Join Mr. Krist for an exploration of the nitty-gritty details of workflow on the road. Remember: the more organized you are in the field, the easier it will be to share your images at home....

23 min
Photographing a City: Philadelphia

21: Photographing a City: Philadelphia

Go on another case study to see how the techniques of travel photography look in real life. Your destination in this lecture: the City of Brotherly Love. From City Hall to cheesesteaks to Rittenhouse Square, discover ways to capture these and other Philadelphia icons in exciting new ways....

28 min
Photographing a Region: Tuscany

22: Photographing a Region: Tuscany

Go behind the scenes to learn how Mr. Krist set about capturing photos for the New York Times best seller, In Tuscany. It's a beautiful Tuscan adventure that demonstrates how a great travel photographer tells the story of a region-and the many lives within it....

27 min
Working with Video

23: Working with Video

Get a taste of what it takes to make the transition from stills to video. Topics include the five shots for creating a visual story with depth; how to shoot for a sequence; how to build a simple story structure; and what you need to start shooting short video stories....

26 min
Sharing Your Stories

24: Sharing Your Stories

You've taken the best photographs you can possibly take. Now it's time to share your visual stories with friends and family. In this final lecture, consider ways to share and publish your unique stories on both print and digital platforms, from coffee table books to online magazines....

25 min