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Snap happy holidays

Photographer Chris McLennan knows his way around a happy holiday snap – he makes his living as a travel photographer and has shot many exotic locales the world over and he has the pics to prove it. A Canon EOS Master, McLennan is renowned for his beautiful travel images. He got his start many years ago in Queenstown photographing for “the travel and adventure industries” and hasn’t looked back since. McLennan believes it is essential to have “the right equipment” to get good results” but admits that “everybody has different needs” so “you don’t have to start with the best. Use what your budget will allow and move forward.” Still he believes a tripod and a good backpack are the mainstay of the travel photographer – oh and “plenty of portable storage and back up capabilities”.

For McLennan, forewarned is forearmed, he admits to spending as much time as he can on preparing and researching for a shoot. “The better prepared you are the more successful you will be. Be prepared for the unexpected as this is often what creates the best images.” Yet he doesn’t discount serendipity. “It is often said ‘you were lucky to be in the right place at the right time’. [But] You make your own luck and to consistently be in the right place at the right time takes considerable skill and planning.”

McLennan doesn’t think there are any set rules for shooting a great travel photo apart from “capturing an image that evokes emotion from the viewer or inspires them to want to travel – that’s my goal”. Still he confesses that shooters should know the basic rules of photography – “then experiment and break them”. “Develop your own style and never stop experimenting. In order to succeed in today’s market your work has to stand out from the masses.”

Having shot travel destinations all over the world, McLennan says his most challenging shoot to date occurred earlier this year shooting the Northern Lights and an Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. “I followed the race through the wilderness of Alaska on snowmobile,” says Chris. “The warmest temperature was minus 28 and it dropped as low as minus 50 degrees C! Just preventing your cheek from sticking to the camera with your breath and stopping your eyes from freezing closed was a challenge, let alone keeping your fingers operational. The correct equipment and lots of preparation was critical!”

Lonely Planet photographer Andrew Peaccock combines his career as a doctor with his passion for travel and photography. Like McLennan, he believes knowledge of your location assists you in crafting a great pic. “Pre planning doesn’t have to mean you know exactly what it is you are going to shoot but just that you will try and put yourself in a situation where good photos are more likely. In Switzerland my wife and I camped overnight on a high ridge above Grindelwald and I made sure we struggled out of our tent early on a cold, wet morning after a storm because that was when the light was likely to be good for landscape work. As it turned out I got a great shot that became part of my winning ‘Call of the Wild’ portfolio submission in the 2008 Travel Photographer of the Year award.” Peacock also thinks a little time spent looking through stock libraries can  also assist. “It’s nice to be able to create new and interesting images that aren’t typical or stale looking.”

Chris is running a range of “photo tours” in 2011.  
For more information and itineraries visit

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