The Many Genres of Travel Photography

Travel photography is one of those catch-all genres in the creative world. Unlike wedding, portrait, or fashion photographers, the travel photographer captures many different subjects. I can think of 5 travel photographers off the top of my head that all specialize in photographing completely different subjects, yet would all be considered travel photographers. Let’s explore what some common references of travel photography include:
Cultural portraits and general documentary-type portraits fall under this type of work. This is not the family portraits or engagement shots. This is photographing a farmer in Cuba or a waitress at a lone diner on a long stretch of highway in the US. Travel portraits position the subject – people – in their natural elements, by choosing to capture the people, the photographer also says something about the place in the picture.


This one is fairly straightforward. Waterfalls, canyons, mountains, and the sea at the magic hour – landscape photographers capture the natural scenery of a place. ZhangJiaJie National Park China Landscape

While I’ve never been much of an interior photographer, there are tons of photographers who shoots the layout and interior design of indoor locations. The perfect example of this would be commercial photographers who capture different hotel rooms. Another popular series include photographers who capture creatives in their homes.


I envy food photographers – they photograph delicious meals, sugary desserts, and fresh produce. They travel to different parts of the world to document cuisines from all sorts of cultures.  They make my mouth, and probably yours, water with their images.


Street photography is similar to travel photography in that, depending on who you ask, people will give you different definitions of this genre of work. I’m taking a page out of street photographer Eric Kim’s blog: street photography is capturing people candidly in their urban elements. Street photography is not posed, but takes seemingly everyday subjects like pedestrians and shopkeepers and composes them in such a way that produces an expected image.


Very early on in my photography career, I thought about being a photojournalist and doing documentary work for media outlets. This type of work would take put me in the middle of the news, perhaps to capture an earthquake in Asia or to document the disputes of the middle east. Whereas portraits, interiors and food are sometimes posed, documentary photography is meant to capture the world unstaged.Cuba photography

A lot of the photographers I currently follow do this type of work. They travel the world, producing images for different NGOs and charities. David duChemin, for example, is working for the BOMA project – an organization that supports women entrepreneurship in Africa. The images are meant to reflect the work of the organization and are put to commercial use by the NGOs. 

Travel photography is a broad topic. Even as I come to the end of this blog post, I’m realizing that I haven’t included Architecture or Lifestyle photography. And how could I have forgotten Adventure Sports! Some of the most successful photographers specialize in one or two of these areas, finding that their niche focus gives them a heads up in a specific area. In 2013, I personally hope to hone my skills in Portrait work. And that’s the beauty of this genre; it provides opportunities to explore a myriad of subjects and styles. 

Norway Glacier Hike


8 responses to “The Many Genres of Travel Photography

  1. These genres (and then some) are precisely why travel photography is my favourite. The possibilities are endless, really. I just wish travel were easier for me so I could join in the fun!

  2. Mainly a lack of funds and having to be available for work. I travel to
    Calgary/Banff on occasion and sometimes go camping here in Saskatchewan,
    but sadly that's about it! I really want to see (and ideally live in)
    Japan someday, so I'm also trying to save for that.

  3. I feel your pain too, but it's great that you're saving up for it. I find it best to set some realistic/practical goals, like “I will save $3000 in 4 months for the trip”. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s