Travel photography is a skill. To really show a place, its culture and its people the photographer needs to capture the true essence of that place without making it look too stylised and contrived. But which photographers get it right? Who are the best travel photographers right now?
Conde Nast Traveller has searched Instagram for some of the best travel photographers around. And these are the people they are following right now—from food photographers and architecture lovers to magazine veterans—they break up our feeds with unexpected and wholly transportive doses of travel inspiration.
Pia Riverola, @piariverola
“Pia Riverola is someone I know little about, but based on her Instagram alone I think I’d like to swap lives with her. She splits her time between Mexico City and Los Angeles, and she’s always traveling (recently she’s shared photos from Hong Kong and Peru’s Sacred Valley). Whatever filter she uses makes it appear as though she’s seeing through rose-colored glasses, and, frankly, it’s that perspective and view of the world I’m most envious of. From the light in her photos to the colors of the subjects she choose, it feels as though she lives in the short window of time during golden hour and twilight, and it’s a place I loved being transported to.” —M.S.
Chris Kontos, @kennedymagazine
“As the editor, writer, photographer, and designer of Kennedy Magazine—a beloved bi-annual escape into artistic Greek living—it’s clear Chris Kontos has a good eye for things worth sharing. Thankfully, his Instagram followers don’t have to wait six months between issues to hear from him: Kontos generously shares the places he’s going and the people he’s meeting on his feed throughout the week. From just his last few posts, I’ve added a visit to Rowley’s in London to my travel list, along with a stop at this cozy Tokyo restaurant, and a road trip through Central Turkey. Plus, Kontos knows the islands the Greeks go to to escape us tourists, and sometimes reveals them.” —Louis Cheslaw, editorial coordinator
Eva Tsang, @thetrottergirl
“Eva manages to capture an alluring stillness in her travel photos, freezing moments in time and turning them into these light-soaked, spacious vignettes that make you sigh and go, ‘I want to be there.’ Her Instagram account exemplifies the art of slow living, where she takes time and care to frame every photograph, whether it’s a cafe interior in London or a shot of sunlit apricots in a French market.” —Sarah Ratner, associate social media manager
Adrian Gaut, @a_gaut
“Adrian’s images draw me in. He has an ability to capture spaces by seeing shapes and light in a way often missed by other photographers, and the sparseness of each image leaves room for me to imagine myself there.” —Meg Reinhardt, contributing photo editor
Yagazie Emezi, @yagazieemezi
“There’s an embarrassment of ways to describe Nigerian documentary photographer Yagazie Emezi’s work, which is often deeply focused on the narratives of African women: it’s vivid, pulsing with potential energy and personality. But, perhaps most importantly, there’s a palpable joy in the way Emezi engages with her subjects and their environments. You see it in photos of a sleeping couple and their infant in Accra, slats of early morning light across their bodies (part of a CNN commission on sex positivity); and, in the reverent face of a Maasai warrior, head tossed back against a bright blue sky. Always, the photographs are tenderly and thoughtfully done, almost living things in themselves, that make me want to go to wherever she is.” —Betsy Blumenthal, associate editor
Iwan Baan, @iwanbaan
“The Dutch architectural photographer Iwan Baan is known for his ability to humanize buildings by capturing the way actual people use them and the role they play in turning cities into living organisms. His Instagram feed, which he treats as a loose iPhone diary of his various travels, offers unexpected peeks into places both familiar and strange: a post office in Bahrain, the underside of a bridge in Moscow, a DeLorean on the streets of central L.A.”—Jesse Ashlock, editor, U.S.
Chelsea Kyle, @chelsealouisekyle
“Chelsea’s feed caught my eye because it’s so textural. She’s primarily known for her food photography, which has appeared in just about every food magazine you’ve read, and it’s a great way for me to get ideas about where I want to visit—and where I want to eat when I get there. Her travel photography stands out for the same reasons. From snaps of Portugal to Alaska, cinnamon buns to chocolate tortes, her photos makes you want to reach out and dive in.”—Corina Quinn, director, city guides
Lucy Laucht, @lucylaucht
“The soft quality of this Australian travel photographer’s work gives it a nostalgic, dream-like feel. The light is toned down, the backgrounds often fade out completely, and silhouettes complement the composition rather than dominate it. Her shots are pretty in the realest sense of the word, and glamorous without pretension. She makes destinations today feel classic.”—Erin Florio, travel news director
Jared Chambers, @jaredchambers
“The Los Angeles–based photographer does an idealized, slightly nostalgic take on the American West you can’t help wanting to live inside. It’s full of epic landscapes: tall forests, snowy mountains, rugged badlands, and plenty of open roads. There are sweet vintage rides and the odd Vanogan for driving those roads, some teepees and A-frames, and lots and lots of beautiful people in beautiful places. It’s an aesthetic that’s become quite popular on Instagram, but few do it better.”—J.A.
Charles Ryan Clarke, @matchbookdiaries
“Charles’ work is far from traditional travel photography, but it certainly inspires me to travel. I love seeing the typography and design of matchbooks from different institutions around the world, and the ways that restaurants and hotels have distilled their brand onto a tiny box. It’s one of the few accounts I still go to for a look at the Instagram grid as a whole because it’s just so visually appealing.”—Stephanie Wu, director, articles
Joe Greer, @ioegreer
“I have often found myself describing Joe’s photos as ‘delicious’, and honestly, I still can’t think of a better word. Joe’s photos are so beautifully layered you can almost feel them. They’re an invitation to the scene he’s spotted—he’s not just showing you something, he’s inviting you to experience it with him.”—Mercedes Bleth, senior social media manager
Frédéric Lagrange, @fredericlagrange
“As someone who spends far too much time indoors at a desk, I’m drawn to photographers who are outdoors, and in places far, far from the chaos of New York City. Frédéric’s feed always gives me daydream fodder for experiences I want to have. Dive into his Mongolia images, from his most recent book, which inevitably make me pause mid-breath, or his shots of Chilean Patagonia, Georgia, Afghanistan, and Chennai. I always look forward to what’s coming next.”—C.Q.
Stephanie Draime, @stephdraime
“Of all the shots in my feed—even totally unsubtle humblebrags posted from glamorous events—it’s the super-saturated photographs from the New York-based Stephanie Draime that inspire the most jealousy. Draime’s hazy photos evoke an intense desire to be wherever she is, whether that’s off the coast of Sicily on a late summer’s afternoon where palm trees hang suspended above sapphire water, or on a lush hilltop overrun with greenery in Jalisco, Mexico. Even her interior shots—stolen moments in a forgotten corner of someone’s house—are enough to get me to book a room somewhere.—B.B.
Sebastien Zanella, @sebzanella
“Sebastien Zanella is a French artist who documents surfer and skater culture on film. Whether he’s posted a sparkling, jewel-toned shot of someone wading into a wave, or a grainy black-and-white image of a blurred skateboarder, seeing his photos on my feed completely calms and transports me. The opposite effect my phone normally has on me, I’ll add.”—Alex Erdekian, assistant editor, city guides
Paola Ambrosi De Magistris and Murray Hall, @paolaandmurray
“What I like the most about this Aussie-Italian duo is the tone of their images. Working strictly in travel, itself an industry that is a combination of so many things, the pair easily jump from food to architecture to people to landscapes. Their constant, however, is a warmth and lightness in every shot. Sunlight floods a table of glassware and small plates. Locals smile, tall and proud, with their hometown in the background. Shots of a Verona church can feel dizzyingly, giddily high from their angles. The work seems happy and joyful, both emotional side effects of travel itself.”—E.F.
José Javier Serrano, @yosigo_yosigo
“José Javier Serrano, known by his Instagram name Yosigo, is a Barcelona-based photographer I’ve loved following for years. The way he sees lines and patterns is incredible—he manages to turn otherwise ordinary buildings and structures into something remarkable. He’ll catch a row of identical apartments that, in a different light, might feel completely uninspired. But instead I find myself zooming in on the image and wondering what my life would be like in La Manga, Spain, in one of those apartments.”—M.S.
Ryan Hague, @ryanhague
“I think it’s a lot easier to capture big moments, the ones that everyone seeks out: epic views, iconic monuments, your wonders of the world. What Ryan captures are the tiny moments—slices of life, as my photojournalism professor used to call them. They’re moments that we often miss while we’re on our phones. His photos make you want to pay attention more, to look up, and to not fear intimacy, even in the least intimate places.”—M.B.
John Bozinov, @johnbozinov
“John Bozinov’s Instagram is unlike any other account I follow, partially because he’s the only polar expedition photographer I follow. But every time his shots appear on my feed my endless scrolling comes to a full stop. It doesn’t hurt that he shares many photos of furry baby penguins. In addition to the sheer beauty that John so artfully captures, he’s also participating in a bigger conversation around global warming, and constantly reminds us of how drastically things are changing in what is already one of the world’s most extreme environments.”—S.R.
Andrea Frazzetta, @andrea_frazzetta
“There are places that your average travelers simply cannot visit, with stories that only certain people have the ability to tell. Andrea Frazzetta, an Italian photojournalist with a knack for capturing the human side to places that feel impossible to reach, is one of those people. His work crosses from portraits of mothers and their children on the shores of Bangladesh and hardened workers on the Danakil salt pans in Ethiopia, to the miners of a forgotten Indonesian mountain. The destination is a powerful and very intentional part of his shots, but it’s the people that he focuses on which dominate every frame.”—E.F.