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Turkey: a photographer’s guide

written by Intrepid Travel October 1, 2014

Have you ever landed in a country and thought, ‘shucks, I wish I knew more about how I can get the best photographs while I’m here’? Well we have. And we decided we didn’t want you to suffer the same fate.

So we got in touch with our expert Intrepid photographer, Drew Dunlop, who recently returned from a trip to Turkey, and asked him how travellers can best prepare themselves for capturing Turkey through the lens. After all, we reckon Turkey is one of the most photogenic countries in the world. It seemed like a good place to start.

Arriving in Istanbul, what were your first impressions from a photography perspective?

I knew there would be a lot of photo opportunities in Turkey but that I’d need to pick my times. The first few hours of the day has less tourists, more locals and good light so I knew that was my best bet. I also find it takes me a few days to get a feel for a country so I often don’t take that many shots at the start and just look around myself and take it all in.


It’s hard to get a bad shot at the ‘cotton castles’ of Pamukkale

Were you surprised by how photogenic Turkey was?

I had done my research and heard good things but was still surprised how great the light was everywhere and how much there was to shoot.

Where was your favourite location to shoot?

Probably on the boat which we boarded near Kas. I love the sun and the water and everyone is just so relaxed when they are in that environment. It makes for great moments.

What kind of gear did you take with you?

I travelled very light this trip and just took my Canon 5D MK3 with a Canon 24-105 f4 Zoom lens, Canon 50mm 1.2 prime, a Tokina 11-16mm wide angle and a 128GB card.


Istanbul’s good-looks have to be seen to be believed

How much editing and filing do you do along the way? 

I had my laptop with me so each night I would backup all my shots onto an external hard drive that would stay in the room or the front desk safe. I would also keep the photos on the camera as well which meant I always had two copies in two different spots. I like to catalogue and edit my shots in Adobe Lightroom and I would do selects of my favourite shots each night so that I knew for certain what I was getting and what I still needed.

What kind of things do you have to keep in mind when shooting in a foreign location? 

I always ask the guide at the start of the trip how the locals react to photos and that gives me a good starting point. Regardless of that, I’ll always ask permission before taking a portrait of someone just to be courteous.


The art of capturing a sunset

In terms of natural landscape – where in Turkey did you find the best place to shoot?

Cappadocia has a pretty incredible landscape. From the penis-shaped rocks to caves etched into huge mountains and underground cities – it really had it all.

It’s pretty common for travellers to end up with photographs that look very similar to other people’s – how do you go about achieving a point of difference with your photography?

If something catches my eye I’ll take the shot and then evaluate what I can do to make it better. I’ll quickly think about what I want the image to portray and then ask myself if there’s a better way to take it. Is there a better angle that gives a nicer composition or can I get the shot again where the subject is more natural?

In all the excitement its easy to snap away and think you got a great shot but when you look back at it you might notice a load of rubbish that could have been cropped out, or you could have waited for some birds to fly through the frame to add another interesting element.


A different perspective of ballooning in Cappadocia

What’s the best advice you could give travellers who want to get the most out of their photos in Turkey? 

Start by studying other traveller’s shots and work out what you do and don’t like about them and then try and develop your own style. If you love architecture or landscapes decide when the best time of the day will be to visit them and shoot as many angles as you can until you find what you like.

If you prefer portraits of locals don’t be afraid to ask someone nicely if you can take their shot. Show interest in what they are doing and try and have a chat. You’re much more likely to get a great shot if you are warm and friendly to them!

Drew travelled through Turkey with Intrepid. His photographs of Turkey can be found all over the Intrepid website and throughout our 2015 Europe and Middle East brochure.

All photos c/o Drew Dunlop


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Deepika August 15, 2017 - 12:16 am

Great Pictures!! What time of the year were they taken??

photo booth hire essex January 8, 2016 - 8:22 pm

I’m not one of those readers that comments on articles often, but yours really compelled me. There’s a lot of interesting content in this article that is interesting and bold.

Natalie October 4, 2014 - 6:16 pm

Do you run photography tours?

Thomas Oliver October 9, 2014 - 4:55 pm

Hi Natalie. Unfortunately we don’t run specific photography tours. We’ve done a few one-offs in the past, but nothing regular. Is a dedicated photography itinerary something you’d like to see? Let us know, and we’ll pass the information on to our product managers!

Glen October 4, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Thank you for the info, it’s the dream place we want to go:)


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