Travel Photography Courses

There are university-level programs that will prepare you to be a professional photographer, whether you want to work in the studio producing portrait and family photos or if you want to preserve wedding memories for clients. You can study to become a professional in the world of science or industrial photography.

But can you specialize in travel photography, beginning with courses designed specifically for this enticing field of work?

The answer, without a doubt, is yes!!

Experienced travel photographers offer courses that teach you how to look for great images, how to capture them in the right light, how to find exciting festivals and cultural events and much, much more.

Some of the key elements of good travel photography courses are capturing a feeling or mood of the place you visit, landscape images, action photography, working with people in another country and creating the essay or text that should accompany good travel photography.

As travel pro Brenda Tharp states, it is extremely important to find the "sense of place" and to be able to capture the essence of life with individual portraits.

Photo collection from vacation

A Complete Example

A program called MatadorU provides an example of what should be in a complete travel photography course. In addition to the sense of place mentioned above, and the skill required to successfully photograph people, travel courses should help you become comfortable with telling a story in photographs!

This particular school offers a 12-week program that will put you where you want to be as a travel professional.

Instructors at MatadorU and similar schools help you put together such puzzle pieces as:

  • basic photography skills

  • advanced skills

  • finding the right equipment

  • “building an Internet presence”

  • and “expanding your network of colleagues and markets”


If you are energetic and are a self-starter, programs like this can be just what you need to get started on the road to professional travel photography.

Course modules include the history of travel photography, equipment as well as basics like aperture, film speed, exposure and shutter speed.

Students also study composition, lighting and color in detail, along with spending plenty of time learning about different types of travel photography. These distinct styles include:

  • outdoor/landscape

  • people/portraits

  • nature/wildlife

  • night images

  • and documentary photography

Business Thoughts

Even if you believe that being able to capture great images while travelling is reward enough, travel photography courses also teach you how to process and edit your images. In addition, you should learn how to get paid for your assignments.

Successful travel pros prepare well before an assignment and know how to sell themselves to prospective clients.

Some workshops and programs are designed for the amateur or semi-professional photographer. These might be a good place to start if you are considering a career as a travel photographer but aren't ready to commit to a university-level program or an advanced (expensive) course.

Basics of photography are covered in these workshop settings, of course. But the professionals leading the classes can also help you choose destinations, find places to publish or display your photos etc.

The best thing about these basic/beginning workshops is that the participant learns by doing.

After all...

Skills won't develop unless you take your camera into the field.

Here are some of the key elements you will need to incorporate into good travel photographs:

  • Light levels and position

  • Use of light in nature/wildlife photos

  • Landscape as a type of travel photography

  • Seasonal photography

  • Portrait/people

  • Night photos/long exposure

  • How to make money with travel photography (often neglected, but soooo important!)

For the more advanced photographer who is ready to commit to travel photos as a specialty, it would probably be best to find a professional like Tharp or invest in a complete course of study.

This might be available in a university setting but you will most likely find that the best travel photography courses have a minimum of classroom time and a maximum of in-the-field time.