Travel Photography Subjects: Water

Travel Photography Subjects: Water

Travel photography opens up a whole realm of photographic possibilities but I’ve often heard from others that it’s easy to get ‘lost’ while on a trip.  Often when returning from a trip, I feel like I’ve missed out on capturing a part of the location or culture I was visiting.  When reviewing photos in my computer I have, in the past, wished for a more rounded representation of what I experienced while abroad.

Like everyone here, I love learning about photography and often attend workshops and seminars to gain all I can from other insightful minds.  During one such workshop there was a list of subjects to capture on a trip presented.  The speaker was Catherine Karnow and I wrote as fast as I could to capture her suggestions.  I have since modified the original list (I didn’t catch every single item and maybe got half), adding to it to come up with 21 different subjects I now strive to capture while traveling.  I’m not always perfect with hitting every item on the list, but it does help me focus (pun intended) and return with ample material to better tell the tale for those back home.  I feel less ‘lost’ with the list with me to get my sense of direction.

Over the following weeks and months I will present each of the subjects along with helpful hints.  Each post will then contain ample examples to help stimulate ideas when you are on your next trip across town or across the world.

The first Travel Photography Subject is Water.

You’ve all heard it said that water is the sustaining element of life.  Indeed, water can be found in almost every corner of the world, and surly those corners most of us care to travel.  And it can be found in many forms.  It fills the oceans and it helps cook our food.  Its scarcity causes wars in some areas and its over abundance is flaunted in others.

How an area uses and treats water is a big reflection of how the area treats life.  Is it precious or wasted?  Is it clean or dirty?  Is it cared about or taken for granted?  When you travel, look for ways in which water is used, abused, ignored or savored.  Look for how it is transported and the work it does for the people who use it.  How far do people have to travel to gain access to it?  How are peoples live shaped around water?

Whether in a bottle, a lake or falling from the sky, water is likely everywhere you plan to travel.  Tell the the unique story of how it fits into the life of those you are visiting.

Scarcity In Kathmandu, Nepal

Scarcity In Kathmandu, Nepal

Fountain In Mosque, Morocco

Fountain In Mosque, Morocco

Hippo At His Pool, Tanzania

Hippo At His Pool, Tanzania

Yellowstone Falls, USA

Yellowstone Falls, USA

Gliding On An Oxbow Lake, Peru

Gliding On An Oxbow Lake, Peru

St. Patrick Needs More Water, Ireland

St. Patrick Needs More Water, Ireland

Rain On The Grand Tetons, USA

Rain On The Grand Tetons, USA

Where The Hot Water Comes From, Nepal

Where The Hot Water Comes From, Nepal

Please feel free to share any shots you have of Water that you feel capture a sense of place during your travels.   Either link or embed your photo in the comments section below.

Read more from our category

Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • Diana Mikaels December 5, 2010 02:56 am

  • Diana Mikaels December 5, 2010 02:51 am

    Jökulsárlón (Glacial Lagoon) in Iceland. It was pouring rain, really a lot !!

    Sea swimming in the North Atlantic cold winter evening. Crazy people. Iceland (swimmers were French)

    In the canyon of Dettifoss (Iceland), the 2nd most powerful waterfall of Europe. This picture is of the STEAM that becomes water and leaks down the canyon, the opposite wall to the fall.

    Hot water ponds here and there. Reykjavík - Iceland

  • andy brannan September 24, 2010 10:51 am

    [eimg link='' title='Great Plains Moon Nebraska' url='']


  • Melody Mainville July 28, 2010 05:27 am

    [eimg link='' title='crashing waves' url='']

  • Nadav July 17, 2010 08:26 pm

    Argentina - 7 Lakes
    [eimg url='' title='n768273915_1151872_2833.jpg']
    FB page:

    Iguazu Falls
    [eimg url='' title='n768273915_1152092_3579.jpg']
    FB page:

  • Aramalia July 8, 2010 04:37 pm

    Kawah Putih

    [eimg link='' title='Dry at water supply' url='']

  • kamal July 8, 2010 11:22 am

    [eimg link='' title='ganga' url=''] river bank of Kalna

  • kamal July 8, 2010 10:56 am

    [eimg link='' title='DSC014900' url=''] help me with your valued tips & comments

  • kamal July 7, 2010 06:15 am My recent trip to Sikkim[eimg link='' title='DSC017811' url='']

  • kamal July 7, 2010 05:55 am

    This is my turn. If liked do confirm. Your valed tips are very much prsious to me .....[eimg link='' title='DSC016677' url='']

  • Priyanka July 2, 2010 06:48 pm

    Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, CA

    [eimg url='' title='DSC_0523copy.jpg']

  • Rajiv July 1, 2010 01:55 am

    few water shots

    [eimg link='' title='Ladakh 2010' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='Ladakh 2010' url='']

  • Biswarup Biswas June 30, 2010 08:19 pm

    Teesta near Gangtok, Sikkim, India

    [eimg link='' title='6' url='']

  • john cm June 30, 2010 04:00 pm

    This was taken in northern Thailand, near the Burmese border.

  • john cm June 30, 2010 02:53 pm

    [eimg link='' title='near burmese border' url='']

  • Emilian June 30, 2010 01:00 pm

    Rhode Island

  • Amlan June 30, 2010 01:09 am

    Fishing at EEchhamoti river --- West Bengal --

    India.[eimg link='' title='Fishing' url='']

  • Amlan June 29, 2010 05:00 am

    These are two of my novice snaps....

    [eimg link='' title='The Dal Lake.' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='River Sindh' url='']

  • Marife Escueta June 29, 2010 12:57 am

    I love everyone's's that just i missed to joined this week's task...hopefully next time i will join..

  • Matthew June 28, 2010 09:28 pm

    [eimg url='' title='P1071773.ORF.jpg?disposition=download']

  • Oscar June 28, 2010 02:19 pm

    I've been reading the phototips you post here since I came across this website and I think they're great! I just wish I had more time to travel around and take pictures with your tips in mind.

  • K. Chunn June 28, 2010 02:50 am

    [eimg link='' title='Where'd she go?' url='']

  • Lori June 28, 2010 01:09 am

    Taken in Hague, NY (northern area of Lake George)

    [eimg link='' title='IMG_2749' url='']

  • Rikki June 28, 2010 12:58 am

    Ooops, sorry for the double post! :-(

  • Sulagna Basu June 27, 2010 08:48 pm

    Bheemeshwari, India [eimg link='' title='IMG_0120' url='']

  • Ross June 27, 2010 07:22 am

    raindrops on the windscreen early in the morning

    [eimg link='' title='raindrops on the windscreen' url='']

  • shridharm June 27, 2010 03:31 am

  • gamaree June 26, 2010 12:39 pm

    [eimg link='' title='Reflections in black and white' url='']

  • Cindy Railey June 26, 2010 11:43 am

    This is my grandson who loves the water on Lake Martin. He enjoys watching it while we ride in our pontoon boat.[eimg url='' title='?saved=1']

  • Rikki June 26, 2010 11:41 am

    [eimg link='' title='Tonight in Vancouver: A Coal Harbour Sunset' url='']

  • Chance June 26, 2010 08:20 am

    I am very much an amateur and I've been reading here for a while. I thought I'd post a recent photo taken from a lake near my home.

  • Lori June 26, 2010 06:25 am

    [eimg link='' title='' url='']

  • malchon kao June 26, 2010 12:10 am

    I enjoyed & learned each weekly sections.
    I also shared your website with the photolovers around me.
    Really really happy to read & see the photos every week.
    I don't have website yet.

  • GerryS June 25, 2010 09:30 pm

    [eimg link='' title='dolphin pod' url='']

  • meisin June 25, 2010 08:11 pm

    Bali, Indonesia.

    [eimg url='' title='P1170068.JPG'][eimg url='' title='P1170016.JPG']

  • Amir Paz June 25, 2010 07:10 pm

    reflection in the water

    chantily, france:

    tranquility in black and white (tel aviv, Israel):


  • Steve Wedgwood June 25, 2010 04:39 pm

  • Nikki Harris June 25, 2010 04:26 pm

    I took that photo a long time ago in Brazil at Chapada Diamantina.
    So close but yet so far.
    [eimg link='' title='Wolken' url='']

  • Jayesh June 25, 2010 01:49 pm

    [eimg link='' title='Alone ...' url='']

  • John June 25, 2010 01:20 pm

    Here some pictures that I took at Kenreed Conservation Park in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. These pictures I took between June 14- 20, 2010. I have just started my photography hobby and any pointers would be gladly appreciated. The first 4 are duplicates only I cleaned up the second view this is I believe to be a large mouth bass on guard of her fry (babies) and two more pictures of Osprey which is a type of hawk. All these pictures are on mouth of Sturgeon lake.

    Here are my URL #

  • Steve Wedgwood June 25, 2010 12:25 pm

    [eimg link='' title='Hilo, 2010' url='']

  • John R. Sauers June 25, 2010 12:07 pm

    These photos do tell the story of water,as water does take many forms. All subjects have many forms. That is what makes photography so interesting and exploratory. Johnny S.

  • Sam Rosales June 25, 2010 11:40 am

    The stillness of Hunongan Cove is accentuated by a sun ray over the surface of the water.

    [eimg url='' title='35870085.jpg']

    More here:

  • Axel June 25, 2010 11:31 am

    Like all the photos, great shots.
    I must say or better write that on a planet where the surface makes up more than
    80% water, including it's often wett weather, it would be very hard to miss water on camera.[eimg url='' title='DropBox?authkey=Gv1sRgCO7C4OXq8YuGpwE&pli=1&gsessionid=9BwmYIDJGaG28bhZDNX-jg#']

  • Michelle Armour June 25, 2010 10:32 am

    Can't wait to see all the other must shoots!

  • shibu jacob June 25, 2010 08:56 am

    Lovely! Next time try India and you will find forms of water and relevant shots unlike anywhere in the world.You will find the disparity between those who have water and dont,very wide here.Cheers[eimg link='' title='DSC_0007' url='']

    shibu(sam) jacob

  • Joshua O'Neil June 25, 2010 07:53 am

    The Caribbean from Honduras' north coast.

    [eimg link='' title='Sunset' url='']

    [eimg url='' title='4731359056']

    [eimg url='' title='4730719159']

  • Victor June 25, 2010 07:10 am

    [eimg url='' title='Hemisferic_Cidade+das+Artes+e+das+Ci%C3%AAncias.jpg']

    [eimg url='' title='Arts+Reina+Sof%C3%ADa-Hemisferic-Umbracle-panoramica.jpg']

    These pictures were taken in Valencia, Spain

    Victor (from Portugal)

  • Pierrick Blons June 25, 2010 07:05 am

    A little river going through the Forbidden City. It's my favorite part of it.

  • Parikshit Gohil June 25, 2010 07:03 am

    [eimg link='' title='On the Way to Half Moon Bay' url='']

  • Pierrick Blons June 25, 2010 06:59 am

    Here is the small river going through the forbidden city. One of my favorite part of it.

    [eimg link='' title='China - Forbidden City' url='']

  • Sue June 25, 2010 05:26 am

    Can i post pics if i dont have them on any website??If, Thnx

  • sylvain June 25, 2010 05:15 am

    A picture taken in Rameswaram, India, last fall.

  • dvan June 25, 2010 05:10 am

    Here's a second try on photos taken at the pier in Naples, Florida, and on the Greek island of Santorini

    [eimg link='' title='Sunset with Blue-tips' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='Blue Bay-tips' url='']

  • Kumar J June 25, 2010 04:52 am

    Links to the above comment, for some reason it didn't work



  • Kumar J June 25, 2010 04:49 am

    Caught this image on my trip to Bhandardara in Maharashtra, India

    And this, not the same as water bodies, but since I was travelling in a car and it was raining outside, I decided to play with the DoF...was in Singapore for this shot :)

    And I totally agree that water in any form is something that is a must capture :)

  • Alex June 25, 2010 04:49 am

    When I try to photograph a water with a slow shutter speed - to get that dreamy effect - i found that carrying a neutral density filter can help to not throw your image highlights

    I also like photos that show water reflections like the ones from the chinese gardens I visited before which can be seen in my movis photography gallery here (

  • dvan June 25, 2010 04:46 am

    Naples, Florida and the Greek island of Santorini
    [eimg link='' title='' url='']

  • becca June 24, 2010 12:00 pm

    Hmm, lets try this instead.

  • Rob June 24, 2010 04:34 am

    my water shot

    [eimg link='' title='Flying over Novgorod' url='']

  • Muffin57 June 24, 2010 03:53 am

    As I read the above article I noticed two of the photos were from Nepal. I sent them to our daughter who lives in Kathmandu and she recognized the rooftop barrels because that is how they get their water. She was actually able to identify that area because she lives near it and sees the people pass by daily and said it definitely tells the story of what daily life is like in Nepal!

  • GerryS June 24, 2010 01:11 am

    [eimg link='' title='White Ibis group' url='']
    More at my flickr page...

  • Daniel*1977 June 23, 2010 10:39 pm

    [eimg link='' title='the drop' url='']

  • Karen Stuebing June 23, 2010 10:00 pm

    These are some great photos from all. I think we all love shooting water. I especially like the ones with context.

    I live close the the highest waterfall in southern WV. I go there a lot and take photos.

    In fact, last week I was sitting on top of the falls and shooting and I had laid my lens cap on the rock which I never do. I always throw it in my camera bag.

    Well, I knocked it into a rock crevice. I freaked because there are no stores here to buy a replacement. I have to order from B & H online.

    So without thinking I shoved my arm into the crevice. When I got to my upper arm, I started thinking about two things. Copperheads who love to get in crevices to escape the sun. And what if my arm got stuck? Or both.

    I know. A long pointless ramble that has nothing to do with shooting water. Maybe I need another mocha latte. Ya think? :)

    I am going to attempt to link to some water photos from Brush Falls though. If it doesn't work, and I hate this but you can't go back and edit the post, you have to copy and paste.

    Spring Storms

    Brush Creek


    On top of Brush Falls

  • Gshappell June 23, 2010 09:38 pm

    [eimg link='' title='White Ibis' url='']

  • Irinna June 23, 2010 07:49 pm

  • Irinna June 23, 2010 07:46 pm

    This photo I took 2 years ago in Gorokhovetz - a small town in Central Russia.[eimg url='' title='IMG_0001_1-web.jpg']

  • Federico Presti June 23, 2010 07:25 pm

    [eimg link='' title='IMG_1694' url='']

  • fajar June 23, 2010 07:18 pm

    I like my water blue :)
    [eimg link='' title='Almost There' url='']

  • Sourav June 23, 2010 01:06 pm

    Waterfall at Longwood Gardens, PA.

  • Stunner June 23, 2010 11:17 am

    [eimg link='' title='Port Antonio Pier' url='']

    The Neville Antonio Pier in Port Antonio Jamaica

  • Anh Vo June 23, 2010 10:13 am

    Sunset, Half Moon Bay, CA

    [eimg link='' title='Brighter' url='']

    -- Anh Vo

  • Pedro Beltran June 23, 2010 07:39 am

    Veracruz Mexico Mandinga lake

  • Pedro Beltran June 23, 2010 07:38 am

    Veracruz Mexico Mandinga

    [eimg link='' title='IMG_0210_Veracruz playas y mandiga y puerto 28-jul-09' url='']

  • Brandon June 23, 2010 06:21 am

    [eimg link='' title='Lake Onaping 2010 - Narrows II' url='']

    Lake Onaping (NE of Sudbury, Ontario Canada)

  • lemonboyz June 23, 2010 05:33 am
    below the horizon ~

  • Arnab Pal June 23, 2010 05:29 am

    [eimg link='' title='IMG_4242' url='']

    Location: Hannover, Germany
    Camera: Canon SX20 IS
    Shutter Speed: 1/500sec
    Aperture: f/5
    ISO: 80
    Exposure Comp: 0
    Lens Expansion: 560mm (equivalent)

  • Bryan June 23, 2010 04:23 am

    Water and recreation.

    [eimg link='' title='Kayak and Lighthouse' url='']

  • Shokinen June 23, 2010 03:36 am

    Alright, one last time..

    [eimg link='' title='Antigua beach' url='']

  • Jason Collin Photography June 23, 2010 01:38 am

    [eimg link='' title='water monitor lizard' url='']

    Water Monitor Lizard in Malaysian Borneo, near Uncle Tam's camp

  • Jim Rowson June 23, 2010 01:13 am

    [eimg link='' title='Canal in Venice' url='']

  • Jim Rowson June 23, 2010 01:10 am

    From a recent trip to Venice.

  • Shokinen June 23, 2010 12:44 am

    Ok one last try...

    [eimg link='' title='Antigua beach' url='']

  • Shokinen June 23, 2010 12:39 am

    Since my previous link seems to be broken...

  • Pedro Beltran June 22, 2010 11:06 pm

    Hierve el agua Oaxaca Mexico

  • PrincessKessie June 22, 2010 10:47 pm

    4 very different water views

    Dancing fountains at the Bellagio, Las Vegas
    Canals at the Venetian, Las Vegas
    Whale Home, Seaworld, San Diego
    Sunset, Rockingham Beach, Western Australia

  • Peter Lanctot June 22, 2010 10:31 pm

    [eimg link='' title='Foggy Lake Geneva' url='']

  • Elisabeth June 22, 2010 09:37 pm

    [eimg link='' title='Venetian Green' url='']

    Canal in Mazzorbo, Italy

  • Andrei Stirb June 22, 2010 09:25 pm

    a lake in Retezat Mountains, Romania

  • David June 22, 2010 08:47 pm

    I had the same problem adding pics, so here's a link to it:

  • David June 22, 2010 08:46 pm

    Sunset seen from Jimbaren Beach, Bali

    [eimg link='' title='Bali Sunset' url='']

    Original here:

  • mai June 22, 2010 07:54 pm!/photo.php?pid=4815218&id=579530447

  • Maik-T. Šebenik June 22, 2010 05:48 pm

    Water is always a theme on my travels. Here are some examples:
    River So?a (Slovenia):
    A typical gondola (Venice):
    Djurgården ferry (Stockholm):
    Hamburger Hafen (Germany):
    Swimming Pool in Barcelona (Spain):

    And some from Hawaii:
    Honokohau Shore (Maui):
    A perfect West Maui Sunset:
    Makaha beach (Oahu):
    Golden waves on DT Fleming Beach Park (Maui):

    With kind regards from Germany,

  • dimman June 22, 2010 05:36 pm

    Skra Waterfalls (Kilkis Greece)

  • Yvonne Kirk June 22, 2010 03:11 pm


    I hope this works.. the embed didn't work

  • varada June 22, 2010 02:47 pm

    Dear Sir,

    I want your advice on what aperture/shutter speed setting should I use when photographing people in a conference hall either closed or open?

    Please revert with your replies.



  • Stefan June 22, 2010 12:53 pm

    Some old pics I took at Yellowstone in 1992 with a P&S. I think they still turned out pretty well.

    Flickr photo set:

    (I tried adding the actual pics a couple times. No error message. The page merely refreshed and gave me a blank form again.)

  • Stefan June 22, 2010 12:45 pm

    Some old pics I took at Yellowstone in 1992 with a point&shoot.

    Flickr photo set:

    [eimg link='' title='199209_12_004' url='']
    [eimg link='' title='199209_13_031' url='']
    [eimg link='' title='199209_13_033' url='']
    [eimg link='' title='199209_13_037 Framed' url='']
    [eimg link='' title='199209_16_013' url='']

  • Dev Wijewardane June 22, 2010 12:38 pm

    I've got two shots to share

    [eimg link='' title='North Narrabeen Tidal Pool' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='Empress Falls' url='']

  • Peter Lanctot June 22, 2010 11:40 am

    With the lake being foggy, the water is visible under the dock, but where it meets the sky is unknown.

  • Ashley June 22, 2010 11:13 am

    It's the rainy season in Japan right now, which is great for all the rice!

    [eimg url='' title='DSC_0116-1.jpg']

  • Mei Teng June 22, 2010 11:06 am

    My fav is the Oxbow Lake. I will be travelling in a couple of days. Will remind myself to shoot water subjects. Thanks! :)

  • Shelly M June 22, 2010 10:47 am

    This is The American Falls

    This one is Niagra Falls


  • Tim09 June 22, 2010 10:20 am

  • Federico Presti June 22, 2010 10:19 am

  • James Milstid June 22, 2010 08:54 am

    If you spend any time in Seattle, you'll realize that water is a major player! Whether it be in the form of rain or Elliot Bay, Seattle is known for the wet stuff!

  • Jamie Cook June 22, 2010 08:13 am

    Before a visit to New Zealand earlier this year I was told to look out for the colour of the lakes in the South Island. This is Lake Tekapo.

    [eimg link='' title='Lake Tekapo' url='']

  • Don Davison June 22, 2010 08:01 am

    Lake reflection.

  • Shokinen June 22, 2010 07:56 am

    Very true. We take for granted to most simple things sometimes. Water is very powerfull when you want to "tell a story".

    This was taken in Antigua. One of the most beautiful beach I have seen so far.

    [eimg link='' title='Antigua beach' url='']

  • Taryn June 22, 2010 06:55 am

    Just took a lot of water shots a couple weekends ago on a long weekend vacation

    I just made links rather embedding, hope you enjoy them!

  • Liviu June 22, 2010 06:48 am

    Liquid, solid (ice) and gas (steam)

  • Jeff Brint June 22, 2010 06:43 am

    [eimg link='' title='DSC_0083' url='']

  • AdkFlip June 22, 2010 06:33 am

    Just tried to add the link as a URL- not sure if that was right- I don't see it- Here is the link:

    Lake George, NY- last October, as I was putting the boat away for the season.

  • Flip B June 22, 2010 06:30 am

    This is a shot I took on Lake George, NY last October- last trip on the boat before putting it away for the winter.

    [eimg link='' title='"Follow in my Wake"' url='']

  • Natalie Duran June 22, 2010 06:16 am

    [eimg link='' title='PND_090609-8650-2-2' url='']

    Lake Worth, Texas at Sunset

  • Andy Beal June 22, 2010 06:14 am

    Well, embedding doesn't work. :-(

    Let's try again!

    Three types of water: salt, fresh, and distilled! ;-)

  • Crystal Rose June 22, 2010 06:05 am

    Your water pictures overflow with emotion. Excellent. :-) Thank you 4 sharing info.