Are you looking to improve your travel photography skills from the comfort of your own home? Fortunately, there is an array of excellent books – written by top travel shooters and photography professionals – that can help you level up your images. Some cover technical elements such as light and composition, while others offer breathtaking photos that will give you plenty of travel photo ideas.
In this article, I share 10 of the best travel photography books available, including a mix of instructional and inspirational options. So whether you’re a travel photography beginner looking for basic advice, a casual travel shooter in need of inspiration, or an advanced snapper looking to take your images to the next level, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s dive right in, starting with my first pick:
1. Travel Photography – Steve Davey
One of the absolute best books for beginners is Steve Davey’s Travel Photography. It’s highly comprehensive and includes tips on all the essentials; not only does it cover both the technical and creative aspects of travel photography, but it also serves as a comprehensive manual on creating – and selling – travel photos.
Travel Photography explores all aspects of the genre, from preparation and gear selection to camera settings and lighting. Davey has long been a leading photographer in the field, and he offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. The book even includes a section on image correction to help you improve your workflow and edit your travel images like a pro.
2. The Travel Photographer’s Way – Nori Jemil
Need a great book to take with you on the road? Then consider The Travel Photographer’s Way: Practical Steps to Taking Unforgettable Travel Photos, by Nori Jemil, which you can carry around in your bag and read as you go.
The book is suitable for enthusiasts and intermediate photographers as well as casual readers interested in the creative craft of travel photography. Jemil explores a bevy of travel subgenres, including people photography, architectural photography, and landscape photography, but rather than take a conventional teaching approach, she offers a mix of stories, technical advice, creative and ethical questions, and interviews.
More than just a technical book, The Travel Photographer’s Way focuses on how, when, and why we take photographs, and it even offers travel photo quotes from many other photographers on the art and practice of shooting. If you’re interested in an inspiring and educational book that blends technique, practical elements, and insight into the rationale for taking photos, then the Travel Photographer’s Way is for you.
3. Composition – Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman is one of the best photography educators in the world, and Composition: The Ultimate Photography Masterclass does more than live up to his reputation. For travel photographers – as well as pretty much any other shooter – composition is an essential tool, and in this book, Freeman discusses its ins and outs. Yet he doesn’t get bogged down in theory; instead, he offers practical advice that applies to highly realistic scenarios.
While the book isn’t specific to travel snappers, many of the examples do feature travel images – plus, Freeman’s compositional advice is pretty universal! Understanding the art of image arrangement is fundamental to capturing travel subjects, from architecture and cityscapes to wildlife and portraits, and this book will help you become a compositional master.
4. The Perfect Shot – Lonely Planet
The Perfect Shot isn’t designed as a travel photography manual. Instead, it’s an inspirational coffee-table book that will leave you wanting to book a ticket and jump on a plane. It’s the perfect title for serious travel shooters in need of inspiration, though beginners will undoubtedly appreciate the gorgeous photos, too.
Lonely Planet’s book showcases 200+ top-notch travel shots, so it’ll certainly last you a good long while. And for those of you who enjoy gaining behind-the-scenes insights, you’ll appreciate the accompanying text, which details the efforts that went into capturing each and every image. The Perfect Shot is on the pricier side, but given the array of truly breathtaking photos, it’s worth every penny.
5. Light and Shadow – Michael Freeman
Light and Shadow: The Ultimate Photography Masterclass is another book in Michael Freeman’s new series, and it’s one that I highly recommend. Freeman is a masterful photographer, and in this book, he explains the principles of light and shadow in terms that anyone can understand.
Of course, travel shooting is about more than just lighting, but once you’ve read this book, you’ll know how to work with light and shadow to craft breathtaking travel shots – no matter your subject of choice. Freeman shares everything you’ve ever wanted to know about this core component of photography, yet the discussion remains impressively practical and never strays into heavily theoretical territory. If you’re a travel shooter and you want to take your knowledge of lighting to the next level, Light and Shadow is a must-have.
6. A Life in Pictures – Steve McCurry
Steve McCurry, best known for his “Afghan Girl” image, is one of the best travel photographers of our time – and if you’ve ever wanted a window into the mind of a master, then A Life in Pictures is essential reading.
This book is a comprehensive visual biography of McCurry’s incredible career and takes travel enthusiasts through his entire oeuvre, including his early work in the US, his photos of Afghanistan, and his images of Southeast Asia. But A Life in Pictures is, surprisingly, more than just pictures. McCurry’s sister, Bonnie, provides insightful commentary on the images, and the reader is also given access to notes and telegrams from McCurry’s travels. The book is truly inspiring, and it’s the perfect purchase (or gift) for the budding travel shooter.
7. Understanding Exposure – Bryan Peterson
Understanding Exposure is a photography classic written by internationally acclaimed and best-selling author Bryan Peterson – and while it may not appeal to advanced shooters, for beginners and intermediate travel photographers, it’s an excellent buy.
The book is an effective guide to capturing breathtaking photos, whether you use a smartphone, a DSLR, or a mirrorless camera; to that end, Peterson discusses lighting, shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and so much more. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to handle your camera settings in nearly every travel scenario you can imagine, and never again will you need to worry about losing a shot to over- or underexposure. Plus, thanks to an array of stunning examples, you may even be feeling inspired to head out and capture some images of your own!
8. The Travel Book – Lonely Planet
In need of some inspiration? The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World is now in its fourth edition, and it comes with hundreds of breathtaking travel photos covering – as the title promises! – every country in the world.
The book is both an interesting read and a fascinating visual spectacle thanks to a mix of photos and informational text. You can learn about the world’s incredible diversity, and you can also start planning some trips of your own – because in addition to its amazing images, A Journey Through Every Country in the World includes travel advice! As you journey through the alphabet of nations, you’ll think about the places you’d like to photograph, and you’ll be able to explore and enjoy the world from the comfort of your armchair.
9. Bryan Peterson Photography School – Bryan Peterson
Yet another excellent title from Bryan Peterson, Bryan Peterson Photography School: A Master Class in Creating Outstanding Images is a perfect book for the beginner travel shooter. It offers readers the unique opportunity to gain knowledge that Peterson previously only taught in his workshops, including the kinds of insights that come from decades of photographic experience.
The book offers all sorts of instructional materials, including exercises for fine-tuning your camera skills, as well as tips and tricks for mastering camera settings, filters, post-processing, composition, and lots more. As you read, you’ll learn to hone your skills with the help of before-and-after images, and while the book isn’t travel-specific, each and every lesson is invaluable for the travel shooter.
10. Epic Journeys – National Geographic
Sometimes, you’re just looking to lay eyes on amazing images – and if that’s the case, then National Geographic’s coffee-table book, Epic Journeys: 225 Life-Changing Adventures, is an amazing companion.
It’s the perfect book to inspire your next adventure thanks to its set of awesome photos and its adventure itineraries. You’ll get to experience 200+ amazing locations for travel shooting, including destinations for wildlife photography, portraiture, adventure photography, and so much more. The book also includes tips for making the most of your travels; for instance, it explains the best time of year to visit each location, as well as key activities and sights to see. By the time you’ve finished browsing through Epic Journeys, you’ll have added dozens of locations to your bucket list of travel destinations, and you’re practically guaranteed to feel inspired!
The best travel photography books: final words
Hopefully, you’ve now identified some travel photography books to purchase (or check out at your local library). Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned travel photographer, you’re bound to enjoy some of these titles; they offer technical tips, travel advice, and a wealth of inspiration.
If you’re in need of a comprehensive book on the subject, I recommend Steve Davey’s Travel Photography or Nori Jemil’s The Travel Photographer’s Way. However, Michael Freeman’s Composition and Bryan Peterson’s Bryan Peterson Photography School are great as more specific instructional books.
Finally, for the ultimate travel photography inspiration, don’t hesitate to buy The Travel Book by Lonely Planet or National Geographic’s Epic Journeys: 225 Life-Changing Adventures.
Now over to you:
Which of these travel photography books do you plan to buy? Do you have any additional recommendations that we missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!