There was a time when I used to be really awkward about taking photographs while travelling. Matt would ask me to stand in front of a landmark, busy street or beautiful view and I’d clam up, start sweating and be too embarrassed to stand there long enough to get a decent photo. Why? Because both Matt and I are awkward introverts. Not only are we awkward and easily thrown off in social situations, but for the period where we did the most travelling we’ve ever done…. we only used our iPhones and a really crappy digital camera to take photos.
You have no idea how many times we look back at the places we’ve been and wish we knew then what we know now about photography. Slowly but surely I’ve managed to conquer my photography stage fright. I realised that it doesn’t matter what anybody around me thinks of me, all that matters is I have an idea in my mind for a beautiful photo or I’ve seen something I have to capture and I’m damn well gon’ do it! For some reason saying it with a little bit of Dr Dre attitude makes it sound better.
Today I wanted to share with you 10 of my favourite travel photographs. They may not be the most technically perfect photos, but they are images that remind me of something special or important. They are images Matt and I have taken and absolutely love and that transport us back in time whenever we see them. They inspire us to get back out there and keep travelling.
Skógafoss, Iceland, 2012
We spent a little over a week exploring Iceland, one of the most naturally beautiful places we had ever visited. Somehow Matt managed to capture this photo using the world’s dodgiest digital camera… I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to take an incredible shot that really captures the beauty of Iceland and how it felt. The sheer size of the waterfalls is mind-blowing and the bright, lush green grass around them makes them look almost unreal.
Ramlia, Morocco – 2011
We were desperate to take a break from the cold in London so we booked flights and a guided tour in Morocco. The whole trip was a dream, unlike anything else we had ever experienced. On our way out to the Sahara desert our guide stopped to buy scarves from a roadside vendor. He wrapped them around our heads to create turbans then told us to jump on the roof of the 4WD. We clinged to the roof, sitting on top of 2 spare tyres and netting, while he whizzed along a completely deserted road at 100km. It was really dangerous, but it was also one of those moments you just have to give in to. It’s one of my all-time favourite memories and I’m so glad Matt got this photo of it. Moments like those are why I travel.
Tokyo, Japan – 2014
When we stepped onto the streets of Tokyo for the first time I was overwhelmed by how perfect it was. The streets, the signs, the bright colours and the people… it was like we had stepped onto the set of a movie. Everything was so surreal and so perfectly beautiful that it was nearly impossible to fathom it was real and were actually standing there, in the streets of Tokyo. We took a walk from our hotel down to Golden Gai, the labyrinth of tiny bars and streets where Quentin Tarantino drew inspiration for Kill Bill. I took this photo and it perfectly captured how it felt to be standing there.
Hoi An, Vietnam – 2013
We took off to Vietnam on our honeymoon, deciding it would the perfect spot because we love the Vietnamese culture, the weather is beautiful and it is really affordable. This meant we could spend a few weeks slowly working our way through the country. Unfortunately for the lovely Vietnamese people, disaster struck and Typhoon Nari hit the coast. We were due to fly to Hoi An the day it hit, but after spending the day in the airport our flight was cancelled and we headed back to our hotel in Hanoi. The next day our flight took off and we landed in Hoi An. The streets were a mess and the town had been absolutely hammered, but that didn’t bother the locals one bit. With big smiles on their faces, they all pitched in to clean up. Matt took this photo of me walking along one of the streets, the night after the typhoon hit and the full moon appeared.
Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2014
Toward the end of last year I flew with my little sister over to Singapore. Together with my dad, we took a few days to go to Koh Lanta in Thailand. It took us a really long time to get there and it was low-season, so the weather was really windy and overcast. The power kept going out and because it was low-season there weren’t many places open, not to mention we were staying in the middle of nowhere. We were really hungry and walked down the street, about 100 metres from where we were staying we found this incredible restaurant and bar hanging off a cliff-face. We spent pretty much every day there, looking at the view, eating delicious food and drinking fruit cocktails. This photo reminds me of that trip and sums it up perfectly.
Tokyo, Japan, 2014
Lost in Translation is one of my all time favourite movies and it was Matt who introduced it to me. We couldn’t believe our luck when our Tokyo hotel room had a window big enough for me to sit on and recreate the famous Lost in Translation scene where Scarlett Johansson sits in the same position. I opted to be fully clothed for mine and not just in undies.
In June last year I left my job to focus on my writing full time. The Monday after I finished, we flew out to Singapore to take part in a press trip with MeGuideU and Far East Hospitality. It was a trip that really signified to me the start of my new career and gave me a lot of confidence in what I was doing. While we were there we visited one of the local wet markets and I got this photo of a vendor selling fresh fish. I love it because it really captures what Singapore means to me, the history and tradition of the locals and the way they buy their food fresh from the markets each day.
Sumbawa, Indonesia, 2014
In August last year Matt and I took off to Sumbawa with three of our closest friends. We found ourselves falling in love with this beautiful, remote island where the days are long, the beaches are deserted and nobody minds what you do. It was a holiday where we all just blissed out and completely disconnected! On the day of my birthday we went to a local shop and bought a LOT of fireworks. That night, after a very delicious dinner, we went down to the beach and had an amateur fireworks display. I took loads of photos, but this is one of my favourites. My friends look like wizards! Every time I see it, it reminds me how wild and free we felt.
I went out to Marina Barrage in Singapore one afternoon to take photos but it turned out to be a total bust. The weather was really bad that day as really thick smog had covered the city. Dejected, I took a few photos then left. When I got home and downloaded them I saw this photo and loved it. The straight lines and distance draw you into the photo and the one man in his bright red shirt strolling along make you wonder where he’s going. I love this photo because it was so unexpected.
The Scenic Rim Trail, Queensland, 2014
Last year we were invited to take part in the Scenic Rim Trail by Spicers. On the second morning I woke up at really early to watch the sunrise and take some photos. It was one of the first times in my life I’ve ever taken a photo, looked at it on the camera and been shocked that I had taken it. I’d gotten the settings right and perfectly captured exactly how beautiful it was standing there. It made me feel really proud to know I had finally learned how to work my camera properly and be able to capture moments like this.
Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.