The 10 countries for photographers
Everyone's a photographer.
It used to be that you had to be really into it, had to be passionate enough to spend money on equipment and film and developing. You went to classes and learned about composition. You figured out darkroom techniques.
Now, you just need your phone. And maybe Instagram.
Everyone, when they travel, is a photographer. Everyone's snapping pictures of the sights, of the monuments, of the skylines, of the sunsets, and of their food. They're clicking like crazy people, capturing every moment.
Some countries, however, are far better for photography than others. There are some destinations where you can't fail to take good photos, even without the Instagram treatment. These are my favourites.
It's all about colour in Morocco, from the towers of spices in ancient souks and the red-clay bricks of desert towns to the rich blue of a Bedouin headscarf. The medina in Fes is a riot of colour, of strange things being sold in markets, of painted tiles on sand-coloured walls. And you can't fail to get a good shot in Essaouira, where scenes from Game of Thrones were shot.
Sunset in Esfahan, as the arches on Siosepol Bridge begin to glow orange, an endless stretch of light reflected in the water below. Just try to take a bad photo. And then there are the mosques, places like the Iman Mosque in Esfahan, or the pink-tinged Nasir al-Mulk mosque in Shiraz. Oh and there's Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan, which is equally spectacular.
Chile is all about natural beauty, from the glaciers and mountains of Patagonia in the south to the high-plain desert of the Atacama in the far north. In between you've got the Lakes District around Pucon, and volcanoes and Andean mountains strung throughout. For photographers of the natural world, this is a great place to be.
Most of the photos I've ended up framing seem to be from Myanmar - some from Inlay Lake, where fishermen row boats with a bizarre leg technique; some from Bagan, where temples and pagodas stretch out to the horizon; even some from Mandalay, where the Irrawaddy River oozes slowly by a bustling city.
Photos of Russia are so instantly recognisable, whether they're shots of people in furry hats, or the colourful onion domes of local churches, or austere statues, or gold-spired churches in St Petersburg, or rows of babushka dolls in markets. This huge country provides ample opportunity for interesting, beautiful pics, particularly once the snow starts falling.
Like Russia, the sheer size of China means there are bound to be at least some photographic opportunities. And, of course, there is. Like natural beauty? Try the rapeseed fields of Luoping in early spring. Like strange sights? Head to Wangfujing Snack Street at night. Like portraiture? Travel out to the countryside and check out all of the amazing faces you'll find.
Like Morocco, India is all about colour. It's rich sunsets on the backwaters of Kerala. It's bright saris on the streets of Rajasthan. It's blue cities, and pink cities, and orange cities. It's the Holi festival; it's Diwali. India can be beautiful and it can be ugly, and each extreme provides plenty of opportunity for budding snappers.
You can't possibly hike the mountains around Cusco and not get some spectacular photos. The Machu Picchu shots are pretty clichéd, but still beautiful. The mountain scenery is incredible. Outside of Cusco, there are macaws to be snapped in the Amazon, volcanoes around Arequipa, and all of the bustle and colour of the big city in Lima.
I took one of my favourite photos in Wells Gray Provincial Park, of a rich blue sky reflected perfectly in one of the huge freshwater lakes. Canada is packed with photographic opportunities like that, from the Icefields Parkway in Alberta to the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, from the polar bears in northern Manitoba to the waterways of the Yukon. Fans of natural beauty can't go wrong.
Switzerland is ridiculous. It's a postcard - or an endless series of postcards. It's fairytale towns set among soaring snow-capped mountains. It's spired churches, black-and-white cows, shimmering lakes and green grass. It's all so neat, and clean, and perfect, and beautiful, that all you need to do is point a camera just about anywhere... and click.
Which countries do you think are the best for photographers? Leave a comment.