The Fundamentals of Travel Photography

In partnership with
Bob Krist,
National Geographic Photographer
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4.6 out of 5
60 Reviews
90% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 7951
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What Will You Learn?

  • Discover techniques for shots that capture the hidden spirit of a landscape or animal.
  • Explore different methods for getting unique shots of strangers, both alone and in crowds.
  • Get tips on what lenses and equipment to pack for different travel destinations and subjects.
  • Overcome common challenges that keep many travel photographs from becoming professional-level shots.
  • Learn how working travel photographers store, organize, and publish their photographs in print and online.

Course Overview

Great travel photographs—whether they’re of a trip to the local zoo or a mountain village halfway around the world—involve a good eye, a good camera, and a moment of inspiration. But above all, they require the ability to tell a captivating story.

Take a look through any recent issue of National Geographic Traveler, the gold standard for travel photography, and you will see much more than just a series of individual location shots. They’re stories, with an editorial thread that unites them and allows viewers to better appreciate places and people they might never encounter on their own.

The skills and techniques National Geographic photographers use to make exotic destinations familiar (and familiar destinations exotic) are ones anyone with a willingness to learn can master, whether you’re pursuing a career as a professional photographer or you just want to take more striking pictures of your everyday journeys. Transform the way you think about recording your travels by studying how travel photographers

  • overcome challenges and avoid photographic clichés;
  • capture the hidden spirit of people and architecture;
  • select the right equipment lenses for the right shots;
  • navigate the beauty and chaos of festivals and public events; and
  • uncover authentic images of native cultures and traditions.

Your own photographs will start to express not how everyone else sees the world—but how you see it.

In The Fundamentals of Travel Photography, National Geographic photographer Bob Krist shares his lessons, tips, tricks, techniques, and insights directly with you. These 24 comprehensive lectures are packed with some of the best photographs from Mr. Krist’s broad career as a photographer for numerous travel publications. In them, you’ll learn what it takes to get compelling, illuminating, storytelling pictures of the many places you go in life. You’ll also get intriguing insights into the mindset of a working travel photographer: both the artistry behind the craft and the practical skills required to take great pictures when you’re far from familiar territory. With Mr. Krist’s guidance, you’ll start to engage with your surroundings the same way National Geographic photographers do on their many assignments.

See the World like a Travel Photographer

Done right, traveling with a camera can open doors and intensify your experience of people and places rather than simply capture a static postcard image. Every lecture of The Fundamentals of Travel Photography covers the information you need to tell a complete story about your travels. (Mr. Krist suggests thinking of it as a list of ingredients every story recipe needs.) These include:

  • landscapes
  • people
  • architecture
  • public events
  • wildlife

You’ll also spend plenty of time learning how professional photographers innovate and work around common obstacles to great shots. Perhaps most surprising of all is that these obstacles aren’t necessarily confined to the most hard-to-get-to places on Earth. You can even encounter them while taking photographs of a neighborhood walk.

Mr. Krist also shares a wealth of practical knowledge a good travel photographer needs, including how to organize and publish your photographs, how to protect your gear from theft, and what lenses to bring for different types of travel. You’ll learn ways to tackle bad weather, language barriers, money and time limitations, and so much more.

Take Great Shots—Wherever You Are

Throughout The Fundamentals of Travel Photography, Mr. Krist shows you the intricate thought process behind how he gets great shots in places ranging from Philadelphia to Bora Bora.

Each lecture offers plenty of takeaways you can put to use on your next trip, such as:

  • How to Get Personal: When getting up close to an individual you want to photograph, make sure to keep a distance of three or so feet (what we in the West consider “personal space”). Any closer, and your subject might begin to feel a bit encroached upon, which could ruin your shot.
  • How to Get Animal Glamour Shots: To improve your portrait shots of animals, think in terms of taking a portrait of a human. You want to concentrate on your subject’s eyes. Also, many of the same conditions that make pleasing portraits of humans—soft light, a non-distracting background—do the same for wildlife portraiture.
  • How to Avoid Taking Someone Else’s Picture: Even a clichéd image can be rendered in creative ways. One example Mr. Krist uses involves Philadelphia’s “Rocky footprints.” He suggests using a wide-angle lens to put the prints in the foreground and the city in the background, rather than just a close up of the prints like everyone else usually takes.
  • How to Experiment with Video: More and more, travel photographers are experimenting with video stories. If you’re taking video, remember to keep a simple story structure in mind. Open with your best visual, introduce your main subject, show the subject going through a change, and wrap up with a visual reference to your opening.
  • How to Get Interesting Crowd Shots: Whether it’s a major parade or a neighborhood block party, arrive early. Find out when and where the participants will gather and organize. During this pre-event phase, you can usually move among the participants and discover unique portraits and magical moments of interaction you wouldn’t otherwise.
  • How to Work around Clouds: While it’s not the ideal lighting condition, you can still shoot landscape photographs when the weather is overcast. Mr. Krist recommends finding compositions that have no sky. (After all, a flat gray sky is boring.) With no sky in your composition, the soft light of cloud cover can really make the color in a shot pop.

A Lavishly Illustrated Teaching Tool

For over 35 years, Mr. Krist has traveled around the world taking photographs for prestigious publications including National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Islands. During that time, his assignments have taken him to over 140 countries on all seven continents.

The author of Spirit of Place: The Art of the Traveling Photographer, Mr. Krist has taken photographs for numerous books, including the New York Times best seller, In Tuscany (a journey he recounts in one lecture).

Lavishly illustrated with Mr. Krist’s photographs, the lectures in The Fundamentals of Travel Photography also serve as a visually exciting travelogue of some fascinating places, including:

  • the architectural wonders of Chicago,
  • the French Quarter of New Orleans,
  • the tropical marvels of the Caribbean, and
  • the buzzing city streets of Havana.

“In the end,” says Mr. Krist, “great travel photography is all about the storytelling. Now more than ever, we travelers need to share photos that help to improve our understanding of places and people all over the world. 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.”

For many of us, being a professional travel photographer is a dream job; you just grab your camera and explore. But as Mr. Krist shows, there’s more to it than that. There’s a knowledge you have to take with you, regardless of your destination.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 25 minutes each
  • 1
    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." x
  • 2
    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. x
  • 3
    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." x
  • 4
    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." x
  • 5
    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. x
  • 6
    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. x
  • 7
    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. x
  • 8
    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. x
  • 9
    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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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." x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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? x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos and illustrations
  • Exercises
  • Travel photography topic checklist

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Your professor

Bob Krist

About Your Professor

Bob Krist
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....
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The Fundamentals of Travel Photography is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 60.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite great! The teacher is about the best photographer there is, and he presents photography in an easy enough to learn format for practically anyone to learn.
Date published: 2019-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great preparation training Outstanding creative and technical advice, excellent format and topic coverage.
Date published: 2019-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! Title fits it well! This course is the most informative by far of all the travel courses I've purchased. The instructor is excellent and knows how to get his point across in a simple way. I would recommend this course. It is worth far more than the cost.
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good review and always enjoy his photo examples. Presently on lighting section—again, the examples really bring home his points. Worth the investment!
Date published: 2019-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Big Bang for my Buck! Bob is a superb teacher. Steeped in literature and arts he teaches the art, technique and wisdom of photography in places afar and unpredictable. Must see for those of us who are serious about bringing back stories and not just images from our travels.
Date published: 2019-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to follow along and learn I am completely new to photography, so it has been an invaluable asset to my learning so I can begin a new career journey
Date published: 2019-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb history to tell us the essentials Bob takes us into the essential of Travel Photography Composition, explaining and illustrating in depth the importance of "Light, Composition and the Momentum" the special thing required to go from a standard nice looking image to The Photo. Bob has a complementary way to present and give us many tips from his numerous travels over the years. He has a very joyful and livid way to present, I was always captivated. Even for me this extensive course is a good complements to Joel Sartore's courses, and I appreciate to get another view of Travel Photography. If you are a real beginner within photography, I would suggest that you take Joel's Fundamental of Photography 1 first, as his 12 first lessons gives you a good overview and knowledge of the essential. But if this is known for you, as it was for me, Bob's lecture did bring me a lot of complementary ideas and travel tips, easy to grasp, that I would never manage to get myself without spending 30 years on the travel. Great course which give me many inspiring ideas.
Date published: 2019-03-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I was expecting There is no doubt that Mr. Krist is a terrific, well traveled photographer. However, given the title of this course, I thought there might be a little more info on how the shots were taken. There is mention of things like "this shot was taken at the long end of my telephoto lens with a smaller f-stop". Not really helpful. I think as a "fundamental" course, an opportunity was really missed to help educate those of us who are not super experienced. With the several hundred photos shown, it would have been nice if things like shutter speed, f-stop, focal length and ISO were added as graphics to the pics. I would have learned so much more. I am also somewhat surprised that the product placement for Sony was interjected in just about every lesson. It made it seem like this was more of a commercial than an instructional course. I think you could have done much better.
Date published: 2019-01-22
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