Is there such a category as “travel photography” It makes no sense

Updated 5 days ago in Photography
5 on September 10, 2017

I frequently hear the term “travel photography” discussed as if it deserves to be a category on it’s own, such as “landscape photography” or “street photography” etc.  But what is travel photography?  If it’s simply photography while travelling, then that could mean anything.  One person’s home could be another person’s travel destination.  One person’s exotic location could be mundane everyday life for a local inhabitant.

For example, I could go to Paris with my camera and call this “travel photography”, whereas someone who lives in Paris could take an identical set of photographs and they would only be able to call it “photography”.  How far do you have to travel for it to be called “travel photography”?  If I travel 2 miles to my local shops and take pictures, is that “travel photography”?  If I go to the beach in Spain and take macro shots of my nose hair, is that “travel photography”?.

In my view, the term “travel photography” only has meaning to the person who took the photographs and should not be considered as a type of photography.  I’m interested to hear other peoples opinions on this, especially Eric’s. 

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0 on September 11, 2017

I can’t make sens of it either. While I travel, I then can do some street, landscape, night photography… 

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0 on September 12, 2017

In my view, the term “travel photography” only has meaning to the person who took the photographs and should not be considered as a type of photographyFrom KenVee

I agree with the first thing you say that only you can define traveling. So it is a personal term. For every single person traveling is different. 
For some, it is going to their neighbor town. For others, it means you need to go to Paris or the Ivory coast. 
As soon as it is “traveling” to you, travel photography will be the umbrella term for all the kinds of photography you do during this time. 
It can be street, food, landscape, portraits, whatever floats your boat. So it is a term that combines all types of photography while traveling. 
I do not agree with your last part of the quoted sentence.
if you ask yourself the question: What is street photography? 
You stumble upon a similar problem. This as well can be multiple types of photography and is hard to define. Again every person has a different view on what street photography is. 
But we all seem to accept this term, but cannot accept the term travel photography. Which to me seems funny.
Even the masters of photography have problems to really define street photography.
Bruce Gilden quote is a nice one to describe it but not define it. It goes: 

“If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph”

Something similar could be said about travel photography. 

So if you can accept that street photography is a type of photography, you should be able to accept the term travel photography as well.  At least in my humble opinion 🙂 

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1 on September 15, 2017

I agree with Steef_Jordans, it’s hard to put such a complex and nuanced idea such as street photography into words, it can be fun to try but ultimately I don’t think any amount of discussion can lead to a true understanding of the term. The only way to understand street photography and to understand how two people with such incredibly different styles like Andre Kertesz and Bruce Gilden can be put into the same category is to study the history of it. You understand photographs by looking at them, not by defining them. If you can put the feeling into words what would be the point of looking at photos? 

With regards to travel photography I feel as though there’s a certain look/feeling that you’re trying to give to the viewer, the feeling of experiencing something foreign, something new and exotic. Of course these photographs aren’t going to appear exotic to the locals that inhabit the place that you travel to. I’ve traveled to the other side of the continent and in no way would I ever call myself a travel photographer, I’m a street photographer working in a different location. My photographs aren’t trying to convey an exotic feel, they’re trying to show the beauty in the everyday, just like all of my other street photographs. If I was going to the Brazilian rain forest I think my photographs could only fall into the category of travel because I wouldn’t be able to help but feel a sense of wonder at how different that place is from the place that I’m from.

5 days ago

Well said @Jeremybrake!!!

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0 5 days ago

The popular definitions should not be even considered in your photography, free yourself of useless and unnecessary terminology that someone invented. 
Instead, it should be Ken Vee photo style, or steef jordans photographic style or Jeremy Brake photo style, YOU make your own style, don’t copy anybody elses style make your own. 

Look up at other photographers so you know what NOT TO DO.

Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.


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