I love bucket lists. I could tinker with them all day. Unless you've been living in a desert, you know what a bucket list is. It's not about collecting buckets. It's a list of places to see before you kick the bucket.
If you're in Instagram, you'll often see comments like 'on my bucket list' under photos of Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat. We love to dream and we'll give anything to see these iconic places up close.
My bucket list is a Top 10 of exotic places - but with a twist. It's no surprise that they're awesome places for photography, but the twist is that some are off the beaten path. To save space here, I've cut my list down to Top 7.
Home to awesome coffee, hypnotic music and a rich Christian history that pre-dates Constantine. The churches look nothing like those in the West. I would love a humanitarian assignment with World Vision or Médecins Sans Frontières. After a busy day taking photos, chill out in an Addis cafe and meet the locals.
Africa meets 1920s Germany with sand dunes thrown in. Etosha National Park is the big drawcard, but check out Lüderitz, a bizarre coastal town that's slowly being swallowed by the desert. Finish the trip with a visit to Fish River Canyon before eyeing the road that heads south to the border and Cape Town.
Forget the stereotypes about this beautiful Islamic country. Iran has come a long way since the dark days shown in the movie 'Argo'. The wonders of Isfahan will have you dreaming that you work for National Geographic. It's a little-known fact that Iran has produced some world-class photographers - and the local film industry often wins awards.
You can't go past Rio. Personally I would go past Ipanema and head up the colorful backstreets. Some parts of Rio are not safe with a flashy DSLR, so a small mirrorless or micro 4/3 is a good choice. If you want 'authentic' photos in the favelas, you should seek a local guide. Based on my experience in similar cities, it's wise to dress simple and blend in.
Because it's there... But not for long. Tuvalu may be one of the first nations to vanish if global sea levels continue to rise. For a while Tuvalu held the record as the least reviewed nation in Tripadvisor. This alone is enough to tempt me. The reward? Unspoilt sandy beaches, crystal clear lagoons and genuine 'no fuss' hospitality.
6 The Deep South
Yes, it's been done to death, but there's room for more photos of gumbo & juke joints. My perfect road trip would be from Memphis to Louisiana and across to Arizona. Hire an old Chevy and play the soundtrack from 'Paris, Texas' as you cross over. You need a wide angle lens by the time you get to Phoenix.
7 Saint Helena Island
Surprised? Napoleon was banished to Saint Helena in 1815 and grudgingly observed that the coffee was something to write home about. Until recently the only way to reach this island was by boat. This may not change for a while, as the new airport is plagued by prevailing winds. I would happily sip English tea on the harbor before getting lost in the craggy volcanic hills, cloud-veiled forests and winding nature trails. Above all, there's the charm of visiting a hidden world, filled with local stories and myths.
What's on your bucket list?
If you can restrict yourself to just 7 places, you may discover what inspires you as a photographer. The postcard views in Paris or London are tempting, but don't stop there. Adventure starts when you go a whole day without seeing a selfie stick.