Travel Photography Series Part 1 - Travel Means Food - Carla Coulson
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Travel Photography Series Part 1 – Travel Means Food

travel photography tips greece carla coulson market

Dried beans for sale in the central market Athens copyright Carla Coulson

I spent the first 10 years of my photography career taking travel pics and loved every minute of it.

I know many of you adore travel photography and it truly is a wonderful path to choose. You get to travel to amazing places, meet people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with and you get to EAT incredible food! And you all know how I lurve to eat…

Travel photography encompasses so many aspects of photography  including landscape, still life, portraiture, food and there is never a dull moment.

Travel images need to tell a story, this is vital. I thought in this series of posts I would pass on some tips I have learnt working in the magazine industry, one tip at a time and today’s tips is the importance of food images in your story.

carla coulson feast puglia travel photography tips

Copyright Carla Coulson for Feast Magazine


I have heard this over and over again from art directors that any travel story you plan on shooting must have food content.

When shooting a travel story you are trying to tell a story of a culture and one of the essential parts of any culture is their food. How they sell it, buy it, make it, present it, prepare it, conserve it, where and how they eat it.

You can consider including all sorts of images around food including the following:

St Honore Laduree

St Honore at Laduree Paris Copyright Carla Coulson

Details:  Include details shots of food like this St Honore from Laduree in Paris and images from markets, in restaurants, being prepared, on a plate, almost eaten, in shops. For example in the second image from the top for Feast magazine I shot this story in Puglia and it was important to include images of home bottled olives and the taralli biscuits which are typical of the area.

feast puglia carla coulson travel tips

Local Produce and Typical dishes: Each country, region or village have dishes or local produce that is particular to that place. The local produce and dishes are an essential part of telling the story. In the above story of Puglia a photo of the soft white Burrata cheese was essential.

carla coulson food travel photography tips

Food Preparation and where and how it is eaten– Shoot all types of images in all stages of food preparation, in someone’s home, in a restaurant, outside like the pic below where the guy is drying octopus in the sun and try and include people eating.

Paros Carla Coulson travel photography tips

Drying Octopus in the sun Paros Greece Copyright Carla Coulson

How Food is Sold: Every country has a different way of selling food, some countries have organised markets, others have spontaneous small stalls or sell goods off the back of trucks and many in supermarkets. Try and capture the atmosphere and the way food is sold.

Fruit-and-vegetables-carla coulson photography travel tips

 Sidewalk market Puglia Italy Copyright Carla Coulson

Labels: I love labels, signs and food packaging and this is another great way to include food images in your stories. Concentrate on products that are part of the culture like honey in the picture below in a market in Athens. Greece is a huge producer of honey and being the nostaligic girl I am I adored the old Greek portraits hanging next to the stacked honey. Oh and I go wild for the the Greek tavern signs.

carla coulson greece athens markets small

carla coulson travel story photography tips

Iconic Bars and Drinks: Often countries like Italy are distinguished as much by their coffee and their Bellini’s as they are by their food. I shot the picture below of the barman at Harry’s Bar in Venice for Gourmet Traveller making Bellini’s,  a Venetian invention that was an essential part of that story. Think about what drinks are part of a culture like Ouzo in Greece or beer in Australia!

Carla-coulson-venice-2 harry's bar photography travel tips

I hope this gives you some inspiration for your travel pics and in the coming weeks I will discuss the importance of people in your shots, architecture, interiors, exteriors and a whole lot more.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Cesar Chavez



PS: If you know any photographer starting out who this may help please feel free to share the love.. xx

Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets.

  • Carla, this post couldn’t be more timely for me! My family is traveling to London and Paris (!) this summer, and as someone who often shoots food in the studio, I find the speed and immediacy of travel photography somewhat daunting. I feel like practicing in my hometown!

    And I love your advice to pass it on… Even before I read your whole post, I had someone in mind and I already had! Hope you’re well!

    April 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm
  • Carla!!
    I am absolutely LOVING your blog!!!
    Thanks for all the fantastic Inspirations!

    April 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm
  • Beverly Genevish

    Perfect timing! I’m sitting at the gate waiting on my flight to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico! I love travel photography and so want to improve my own travel pics so as to really be able to convey the flavor and vibe of my adventure spots. Thank so much for the lesson!

    April 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm
  • Thank you so much for this info. I do post a lot of travel entries on my two blogs so this is helpful to know!

    April 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm
  • I LOVE your helpful travel photo tips. Tell me, how do you handle photographing people when you’re “just taking pictures? I still feel a bit uneasy pointing my camera at a stranger on the street.

    The old portrait of Paris’s Grande Dame certainly caught my eye…:)

    x Katie

    April 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm
  • Wonderful post Carla…thanks so much or sharing!! 🙂

    April 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm
    • Love that you enjoyed it Jeanne x

      April 11, 2013 at 9:26 am
  • Love all these shots, Carla. The spaghetti shot makes me ravenous, and what a great bean shop! xxxxxxxx

    April 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm
  • Such great advice like always! I look forward to the next posts in this series. My husband and I are traveling to Positano again this summer and I can’t wait to put your tips to use!

    April 10, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    • That is great you enjoyed it Andi keep tuned and get the most out of the series for your Positano pics when you are there… love love Positano x

      April 11, 2013 at 9:28 am
  • Very inspiring! I am forever in awe of your talent, Carla.
    And I absolutely love that photo of the man with the octopus!

    April 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm
    • Isn’t he fabulous I loved this guy he was so animated and easy to take snaps of too gorgeous!
      Thanks for the kind words x

      April 11, 2013 at 9:29 am
  • Carla your tips are great! you always inspire me x

    April 11, 2013 at 1:15 am
    • Makes me so happy to read your lovely comments Sarah hope you get some useful tips for your photography from this series…..xx

      April 11, 2013 at 9:31 am
  • Fantastic post Carla, inspired me to sort through my archives and write a travel story! I love the pic of honey pots in Greece. xx Corina Tough.

    April 11, 2013 at 3:54 am
    • Corrina start writing you never know what can happen! Carla x

      April 11, 2013 at 9:31 am
  • Once again fabulous and needless to say – I too lurve the Greek honey and taverna shots! have a lovely day F xx

    April 11, 2013 at 5:32 am
    • I know Francesca how cool are the Greek taverna signs….love Greece xx Carla

      April 11, 2013 at 9:32 am
  • Carla – you are just the best and kindest sharing your brilliant advice with us. Thanks again – I adore coming here, I never leave empty handed 🙂
    Happy day to you,

    April 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm
  • ok, first the eclairs. now travel photography.


    April 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm
  • Although I usually refrain from photographing my meals I agree that food is a favorite travel idea. Now you’ve made me hungry for Italy, Greece and Paris!

    April 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm
  • jeanette

    Hi Carla , Loved the comments on the food . How I could come and share one of those St Honore at Laduree with you over a coffee. mumx

    April 12, 2013 at 12:32 am

    April 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm
  • Hi Carla!

    Brilliant post! Fabulous tips and gorgeous photos. You’re so generous to share.

    Have a great weekend!


    April 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm
  • I’m a little behind in reading my blogs and emails, but I wanted to tell you how much I love this post. As a very amateur photographer, I’ve been learning so much from you and others, and I also started photographing special meals I’ve either made or eaten out. But when I posted a story on my new blog about a walking food tour I attended, I had forgotten to take any photos of the food! I made sure to capture the restaurant fronts and quaint town, but the post would have been much more interesting with shots of the delicious food we sampled. Your advice is invaluable! Thanks!

    April 15, 2013 at 1:26 am
  • Fabulous post, Carla – thankyou. Once more you are so generous with your advice and oh those wonderful photographs.

    April 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm
  • Nurlina

    Hi Carla,

    I am interrested in photography. I took two courses for beginner. However, I feel that my skills has not yet being developed i mean the sense to pick up the beautiful spot. That spot for a non photoghapher may not be special but a photoghapher can make it special.

    Do you have any suggestion how to develope that kind of sense?

    Many thanks in advance.

    Kind regards,


    October 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm