We asked travel photographers about the destinations they’re dreaming of and their thoughts took us around the world.
Over the past several weeks—that are blending into months—travel plans have consisted of the small journeys from bedrooms, to living rooms, to kitchens, and back again. We’ve embraced neighborhood walks with the enthusiasm of a cross-continental backpacker and tackled local bike rides with the energy of an Alpine hiker. Collectively, we’ve come to realize that nothing inspires the yearning for travel quite like being forced to stay home.
In this new era absent of travel plans—whether they be near, far, present, or future—we’re thinking of the places we’ve gone and wanted to go. But more than anything, we’re remembering the place we promised we would return to, the one we can’t stop thinking about no matter where else we go.
We asked seven travel photographers to tell us what image from their adventures they can’t stop thinking about. Their answers brought us around the world, from hikes in the Catskill Mountains, to the hutongs of Beijing, to train rides chugging across Morocco. Their shots capture the intangible allure of travel and have us dreaming of a time when we’ll all be back in world.
1. Peter Crosby: The Catskills, New York
“Normally springtime in the Catskills would be spent outdoors, going out fishing, hiking favorite trails, and soaking in some warmer weather. I moved here four years ago and even though the Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower isn’t far from my cabin, it is a popular hike and I’ve been staying away from it for the last month because of the pandemic. In the next week or so the first buds will be emerging and the color absent for so long during winter will start to spread through the valleys. It’s hard to think about missing that, but I look forward to returning in better times.”
2. Retts Wood: Marrakesh Express, Morocco
“I shot this picture from a train window somewhere between Casablanca and Marrakesh as the sun set over the dusty golden landscape. I miss the sensory delights of Morocco: the smoky air and delicately seasoned food, brutal abrasions from the semi-naked old woman who scrubbed us clean in the hammam and the salve of argan oil, the elegance of everyone and everything in the clear desert light.
What I pine for, though, as I look at this picture in the eerie London silence, is travel itself—the unknown waiting to be learned, new scents, sights, and flavors, and the feeling of pulling into a new town, ecstatic with freedom and possibility.”
3. Michael Sheridan: Beijing, China
“In this time of restricted travel, my mind is constantly drawn to my favorite places. The idea of going somewhere you know and love feels very reassuring right now, and China will forever be near the top of my places to revisit. The country offers so much in terms of landscapes, culture, history, and adventure travel, but one of the early reasons I fell in love with the place was Beijing’s hutongs (narrow alleyways). By day they are teeming with local life, yet by night they are empty except the dim glow of the occasional neon sign. This image takes me back to those late night strolls in an atmosphere I suspect has barely changed in centuries as this global superpower has developed. Along with stuffing my face on Peking duck, wandering the hutongs will be top of my to do list upon a return to some sense of normality.”
4. Jessica Nash: Milos, Greece (pictured at the top)
The place I am longing to visit again is Milos, Greece. As a photographer I am most inspired by travel and nature so Milos—which aesthetically ticks all the boxes—really did it for me. The crystal clear water doesn’t look real; it’s like silk. My boyfriend and I went together last summer in a time when we didn’t have a care in the world. We ate an unspeakable amount of Greek salad and discovered a new beach every day. The pace was slow and the whole time we were there we talked about living there—we still do.
5. Anthony Russo: Laikipia, Kenya
I often find myself swept back to Laikipia in Kenya. It’s known as the “Wild North” of the country and for good reason. The landscape—with its peaks and valleys, diverse flora and fauna and rich history rooted in cultural tribalism—captured me from the moment I stepped off the plane.
When I took this photo, we had just returned from a walking safari through the valley where we climbed to a cave and learned about the last tribal man to live in solitude and how he built fires, hunted, and survived. Returning to the top of the plateau and looking over the vast landscape with Blood Mountain in the distance and families of rock hyrax chatting about, there was a serenity, a peacefulness that came over me. I return to that over and over again.
6. Brooke Saias: Chikatsuyu, Japan
While sheltering in place in my city apartment, I find myself craving motion and space. This longing brings me back to my trip to Japan this past November while hiking the Kumono Kodo Trail. The Kumono Kodo is an ancient network of Buddhist pilgrimage trails throughout the southern Kansai region. Villages were built up around these trails to feed and host travelers, which they still do today.
This photograph is from an early morning on the third day of our hike in the village of Chikatsuyu. We arrived the evening before, wet and heavy from a long day of walking, and the clouds hung low throughout the valley. When we emerged from our guesthouse the next morning, the clouds cleared and the valley was illuminated in morning light. As we walked through the village, I was stunned by the beauty and tranquility around me. Through this photograph, I am transported back to the rushing water, the mountain air, and the wide-open trails ahead of me. And for a short moment, I feel at peace again.
7. Kainoa Little: Tigris River, Turkey
“I find myself thinking of a Kurdish schoolteacher I photographed as part of a long-term project on the flooding of towns and cities along the Tigris River in Turkey. I met her last year, just as she and her village were preparing to escape the waters rising behind the Ilısu Dam. My Turkish is limited, but she seemed to have a quiet confidence and a strong pride in the students she taught at the small school she helped manage. Aesthetically, I liked how her sharp traditional attire and her pose reflected her professionalism and the seriousness with which she viewed her position, and how the darker tones and straight lines of the background contrasted with her white shirt and living curves of her face.
She must now be living in one of the new towns and cities built by the government, or may have moved to explore other opportunities farther abroad. In any case, I expect she is living a much different life than a few months ago. I often think of everyone affected by this dam project and am anxious to return soon.”