The art of photography allows others to see the world through your eyes – so if you want to take truly amazing pictures, perhaps you should start by seeing the world! Whether photography is a favorite new hobby or you’ve been capturing amazing shots for years, traveling to new places can inspire you to look through your lens in a whole new way.
If you’d like to combine your passions for photography and travel, you might consider zooming in on one of these photogenic destinations for your next vacation.
#1: Photogenic Journey through New York City
Whether your favorite photographic subject is architecture, history, art or people, the Big Apple has no shortage of material for you and your lens to explore.
Where to Stay
The Plaza Hotel: The luxury, history, location and architecture of this iconic hotel make it a photographer’s paradise. To get the full effect, ask the concierge if there are hotel tours available for you to join.
The New York Palace Hotel: While this exquisite example of historical architecture is breathtaking on the inside, the real story is what you can see when you look out through the windows. Down the street from Rockefeller Center and right next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, guests staying at the Palace wake up to singularly astounding, one-of-a-kind views of New York City from their bedroom windows.
Where to Eat:
In a place like NYC, the taste of the food is not enough to keep a restaurant afloat. Truly inspired fare must appeal to the diner’s visual appetite, as well.
Amelie Wine Bar (Greenwich Village): A red lacquered bar and starburst lighting create a brilliant backdrop for plates of beautifully presented, rustic French cuisine. Check out the Duck Confit with sautéed wild mushrooms or the Frisée salad with warm bacon shallot vinaigrette topped with brioche croutons and a poached egg. Be prepared to use your flash, as the dimly lit atmosphere lends itself more toward cozy romance than showy haute cuisine.
The Wright Restaurant: Located inside the Guggenheim, you can expect that art is on the menu at The Wright Restaurant. If the Frank Lloyd Wright décor doesn’t inspire you to start snapping, surely you won’t be able to resist documenting artfully plated options like the steamed halibut with potato chive sauce or the tuna sashimi with lime honey mustard, pickled red onions and asian pear.
What to Photograph
New York City is filled with frame-worthy wonders, including the following photographic jewels.
- Wave Hill (Bronx): This 28-acre public garden offers numerous breathtaking photo ops, like those in the Elliptical Garden or Pergola Overlook. Plan to visit in the fall to capture the magnificent spectrum of foliage colors, or stop by in the spring for a floral feast for the eyes.
- Grand Central Terminal (42nd Street between Lexington and Vanderbilt): Well, yes, there will probably be some other tourists at Grand Central Station. But a passionate photographer won’t want to miss the chance to photograph the 6-story high windows, the columns, the arches, the sculptures, and of course, the other tourists.
- Brooklyn Bridge: Unforgettable views of the city – including Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and the New York Harbor – make the pedestrian lane of the Brooklyn Bridge the perfect place to perch with your camera in hand. Don’t forget to point your camera up and around, as well, to capture the soaring arches and steel cables of this iconic bridge.
- New York City Photo Safari: If you’d prefer not to wander the streets of the big city on your own with your expensive camera, you can always join a “photo safari.” A safari is essentially a photographic walking tour, with options to fit your specific interests (i.e. architecture or nature) and your skill level. An experienced photographer leads each tour and assists students with proper composition and technique, in addition to offering general tour guide information. Private tours are available, but why would you want to miss out on the chance to experience the city with people who share your passions?
#2: Photogenic Journey through Yosemite National Park
This long-time haven for artists and photographers alike is “a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.” From giant sequoias and grand waterfalls to the more than 400 species of wildlife living in the park, there’s something to capture at every turn.
Where to Stay
Spend your days exploring the national park and your nights reflecting on equally inspiring scenery from the deck of one of these local bed and breakfasts.
High Sierra B&B: The views from the terrace at sunset are well worth the drive up the windy mountain road. Be sure to take advantage of the host’s wealth of Yosemite knowledge when planning your day trips.
Poppy Hill B&B: This restored farmhouse sits nestled among lush gardens filled with several varieties of wildflowers. Guests will enjoy the picturesque trellis that is, literally, dripping with roses. Your artistic sensibilities will be rewarded inside the farmhouse as well, as you are surrounded by a dramatic collection of antiques and fine art.
Where to Eat
While the in-park hotels are expensive and full of tourists, they do offer some worthwhile dining options.
The Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room: Artfully prepared plates are complemented by incredible views through the floor-to-ceiling windows in this cathedral like dining hall. Check out the braised Berkshire pork cheeks with eggplant beignets – a feast for the eyes and the palate. But don’t plan on coming here straight from the trail, as “dressy casual” attire is required to dine.
The Wawona Dining Room: For a slightly more intimate feel, this rustic Victorian dining room will have you feeling right at home. After enjoying local, seasonal cuisine like fresh trout or green chili soup, head out to the veranda for cocktails with your camera as you take in the splendor of the park around you.
What to Photograph
With so many awe-inspiring photo ops in Yosemite, you might want to start working out your shutter finger a couple of weeks ahead of time. Here are a few “not to be missed” spots to hit along the way.
- El Capitan from Cathedral Beach: Popular in the morning, when the sunrise illuminates only El Capitan, Cathedral Beach is the perfect place to capture the grandeur of the iconic monolith as it reflects on the Merced River in the foreground.
- Cook’s Meadow Path: You don’t have to be a hard-core hiker to walk this easy route, which takes you past photo ops like Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and Yosemite Falls – all in the span of a half hour.
- Glacier Point: About one and a half hours away from Yosemite, Glacier Point is definitely worth the drive for breathtaking bird’s eye views of the park. Just be sure to double check before you try to visit, as it is sometimes closed due to road conditions.
#3: Photogenic Journey through New Orleans
If an eclectic crowd and rich culture make you want to pull out your camera, then there is no better spot to inspire you than New Orleans, Louisiana.
Where to Stay
Sully Mansion B&B: Although many of the bed and breakfasts in NOLA feature similar 19th century architecture and period furnishings, the location of this bed and breakfast, in the heart of the famed Garden District, offers you the chance to capture frame after frame of antebellum homes and perfectly manicured gardens all from the comfort of your front porch rocking chair.
Hotel Monteleone: If you would rather picture yourself in the old world grandeur of the French Quarter, you might prefer the venerable white façade of the Hotel Monteleone. Be sure to bring your camera to cocktail hour at the one of a kind Carousel Bar.
Where to Eat
Court of Two Sisters: Grab a seat at the Jazz Brunch to treat your ears to the sounds that define the area. Of course you can also treat your taste buds with dishes like Creole Eggs Benedict in a quintessential New Orleans setting, complete with wisteria, wrought iron, and elaborate fountains.
Sucre: If ever there were a place where the treats were too beautiful to eat, it might be this pistachio-painted sweet spot, where the uniquely flavored macaroons will have you planning your next trip back to The Big Easy before you’ve finished the last bite.
What to Photograph
- Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral: This iconic New Orleans spot has inspired plein air artists for many decades. You’re sure to feel inspired, as well, when you view the grandeur of St. Louis Cathedral through the lens of your camera.
- Oak Alley Plantation: A short drive to this historic spot will lead you to a quarter-mile canopy of 300-year-old, giant live oak trees that lead to the plantation house. Visit early in the day, during the cooler months, to photograph one of America’s best pre-war examples of Greek-revival architecture shrouded in an eerie morning mist.
- St. Louis No. 1 and Metairie Cemeteries: For centuries, the wet ground in New Orleans has made it necessary to bury the local dead in above ground crypts throughout the city. While some have become unsafe for private perusal, the St. Louis No. 1 (the oldest cemetery in New Orleans) and Metairie cemeteries offer photographers the opportunity to capture fascinating snapshots of elaborate marble tombs and historic statues.
#4: Photogenic Journey through Northeastern Arizona
If grand and gorgeous landscape photographs are what you are after, bring your camera along to capture the unique natural landscapes of Northeastern Arizona.
Where to Stay
Osmer D. Heritage Inn: This 1890’s restored Victorian pioneer home in Snowflake, Arizona boasts a spa room, claw-foot soaking tubs, and a beautiful courtyard garden, complete with fountains and a hammock.
Heward House Bed and Breakfast: Art deco meets vibrant Southwest décor in this exquisite desert paradise in Holbrook, Arizona. Relax in the Jacuzzi garden or take in the panoramic views of the White Mountains from the comfortably appointed living room.
Where to Eat
Celebrations of Generations: Open only for lunch, this little eatery in Snowflake, Arizona has the feel of a boutique shop and serves up delectable mid-day fare like Panini sandwiches, soups, a variety of quiches, and an assortment of scones. Feel refreshed for your next round of photography with a sparkling Italian soda, made to order.
The Turquoise Room at La Posada: Stop in for locally grown ingredients, artfully prepared with an elegant Southwestern interpretation (think Colorado Elk Medallions in Huckleberry Sauce). Plan to spend at least a couple of hours meandering the grounds of the property and perusing La Posada’s impressive art galleries.
What to Photograph
- Meteor Crater: This impressively preserved crater is evidence of a meteoric collision that occurred around 500,000 years ago. As if the sheer age of the site was not extraordinary enough, you will be challenged to capture the breadth of the 2.4-mile circumference and 550 foot depth within the confines of your viewfinder.
- Petrified Forest: Another visual feast in this seemingly barren desert is the Petrified Forest. Capture the varied array of designs and colors preserved in this collection of gargantuan Triassic fossils. Or, take time to appreciate what it took to capture an image nearly 2,000 years ago, before the time of point-and-shoot cameras, when you view the petroglyphs carved into Newspaper Rock.
- Painted Desert National Park: The Painted Desert is one of America’s most breathtaking national treasures. To photograph it at its best, be sure to have your camera ready at dusk, when the reds, yellows and oranges of the rock blend seamlessly with the vibrant pallet of the Arizona sunset.
When you return home from your photogenic journey, you can print and frame your favorite shots for souvenirs that will be enjoyed for years to come.
Have you taken a vacation that inspired your passion for photography? Feel free to share your travel tales and recommendations with us by adding a comment below!