100 Photo Essays About Places and Travel

13 min read by, with images by
During our backpacking years, my wife made ink drawings. This one depicts our first leg of travels back in 2013.
Visiting foreign places through photography and well-written essays is, perhaps, the next best thing to stepping onto the tarmac and leaving. Words and pictures have the power to set us free.

Note: If you’re here to learn how to travel with a film camera, check outAir Travel With Film,” where I talk extensively about airport security, and X-Ray machines — the greatest threat to your images.

“Stuck at home during COVID.”

I love travelling. I love living in new societies, landscapes, and nature.

Unfortunately, the privilege to do so ceased at the beginning of 2020. The virus has put a damper on any kind of movement; even getting to the office is no longer an option. Though I was lucky enough to get outside for a few local trips this summer, that, of course, does not compare to crossing legal, cultural, and natural borders.

As of fall 2021, going far and away is still — far and away.

The next best thing.

Visiting foreign places through photography and well-written essays is, perhaps, the next best thing to stepping onto the tarmac and leaving. Words and pictures have the power to set us free. Reading stories won’t replace the act of crossing borders and actually being elsewhere, of course. But the good ones will spark the imagination and satisfy your curiosity.

So this week, I decided to rediscover the world through the works published on Analog.Cafe. Being an editor, I’ve read them all at some point, but when taken in as a whole, the essays represent a more complete picture of the community that makes this website.

It’s a huge list.

I feel grateful to have been entrusted by everyone here to edit and exhibit their work in the best light possible. And I’m in awe at how large and diverse our world is, despite feeling small and mundane when one’s stuck at home. 🌎

The list is organized by continent » country » alphabetically by title. If the author isn’t listed, the essay’s been written by me.


Africa » South Africa and Tunisia.

Dreary Town is a grungy, experimental photo essay by Enrico Doria, who travels across Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa, and an unknown town in Tunisia. All black and white, shot on plastic Holga and Lubitel cameras, his images present a fuzzy, moody portrait of the urban landscapes. In addition to the African continent, Enrico’s series also feature European cities.

I would love to see more photo essays here. If you shoot film and have a story to share about Africa, please get in touch or submit your work here. 🙏

P.S. Australia, Oceania, and Antarctica also need your help!

North America » Canada.

10 Summer Road Trips to Do From Banff National Park is a well-illustrated guide to British Columbia/Alberta’s mountainous forest gateways by Elouise Antonina.

Climate Strike Vancouver is a short, well-illustrated recollection of a big, peaceful protest at the core of the largest city on the Canadian West Coast.

KOTD Level Up is a short photo story of a rap battle event at one of Vancouver’s famed nightclubs.

Let’s Go to the EX! is a set of panoramic photographs from Toronto’s “beloved exhibition” — a state fair — by Shamraiz Gul.

Raincouver is a short piece by tommykchong that touches on the topics of gentrification around Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood.

Resettle to Vancouveris a thought piece I composed shortly after moving country of residence for the third time: from Thailand to Canada.

Revelstoke, Canada is a photo story by Elouise Antonina about “…a quaint town in the eastern part of British Columbia.”

Sky Train (Vancouver) is an essay about an autonomous transit system across the coastal Canadian city, sandwiched between the Rockies and the Pacific Ocean. Being built almost exclusively above ground it grants views of expansive mountainous landscapes interacting with a modern mid-sized metropolis.

Vancouver — an Urban Street View is a short photo essay by rick davy about his first impressions of Canada’s West Coast metropolis.

North America » Mexico.

An American Fault Line by Robert Castagna takes on the topic of borders and division and how the lines our governments draw affect the people who live close to the edge. His story features black and white photographs shot primarily around Tijuana.

North America » USA.

At Work on Central Avenueis a photo essay by Jason Bruner with images and recollections of his long walk in Phoenix, Arizona.

Brighton Beachis a photo essay by Lee Clark about her experience photographing the neighborhood (and its people) in southern Brooklyn.

Desert Islandsby Peter Reil takes the reader on a trip with Peter and his two disposable cameras across the rugged Great Salt Lake, Utah terrain.

Happiest Place on Earth is an essay by Peter Reilly full of his thoughts on photographing heavily trafficked tourist spots. It is set at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Holiday Lights With CineStill 800Tis a short essay by Kevan Wilkinson about his experience shooting unique colour film at the twinkling Beverly Hills neighbourhood.

On the Waterfront is Kevan Wilkinson’s photographic diary of his visit to Noyo Harbor, California — “…[s]ituated along the Mendocino coast about 170 miles north of San Francisco.”

Portraits of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Killeen, Texas is a series of photographs and interviews by Christian K. Lee documenting the onset of the pandemic in his local community.

Snyder Quarry is a short story by Peter Reil about his trip to the town of Granite, Oklahoma and his learning experience at the worksite.

So-Sois a short photo story by Jason Bruner from the suburbs in the American Sonoran Desert.

Searching for Freedom is a short photo diary by Kabir Dugal about his mid-pandemic trip across the USA.

South America » Brazil.

“.Casa is a thought piece by laura.mariagabre where she reminisces about her upbringing in a small town, Santa Catarina, amongst the lush South American mountains. Having moved to a much larger São Paulo, she talks about the subsequent lifestyle changes after leaving her farming community behind.

A Slice of the Countryside is a photo essay by marina_guarreschi about her experiencing the pandemic onset in São Paulo, Brazil.

Humanidade by Stefano Fristachi is a creative writing piece with wonderful film photographs from the island of Boipeba in Bahia.

South America » Colombia.

Comuna 13: From Violence to New Horizons is the documentation of icarium.imagery’s first impressions of a Medellín neighbourhood known for its violent history.

South America » Venezuela.

Everything Counts is a photo essay by Natali Herrera-Pacheco that touches on the harsh realities of living in poverty.

Asia » Armenia.

Inside World/Outside World is a long series of photographs by norayr taken at his Yerevan apartment as the city began to shut its doors down ahead of the first wave of lockdowns that swept the world in 2020.

Freedom is a large set of film photographs from the Yerevan apartment by sanyokot.0n9g.

Asia » Cambodia.

Cambodia is an eight-minute read about my visit to the Southeast Asian country with a bloody history and a swath of socioeconomic problems — in the middle of a jungle paradise.

Asia » China.

Hexie Haois a thought piece by JlFeixa on his recent travels via rail across China.

Shooting Ilford Pan 400 in Shanghaiis a diary of a film roll making its way across the streets of the Chinese metropolis by Lee Webb.

Testing the Olympus Supertrip in Shanghai is Lee Webb’s recollection of the days spent walking around Shanghai with his new film camera.

Asia » India.

“India Trip” Part Two & Part Three — are the stories written by Jacob Maracle with a few illustrations of my own.

Asia » Indonesia.

Night Train is a short story by Iman Alfarizi, where he describes life as a nocturnal commuter in Jakarta.

The Flood is andry dilindra’s portrait of a small neighbourhood in Jakarta as its people busy themselves with restoring their homes and belongings the day after the flood.

Lombok, Indonesia is a piece by Iman Alfarizi about an island east of Bali, a part of Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province.

Asia » Iran.

Analog Iran is a photo essay by Ali MC in which he documents “…the changing face of young Iran… where alcohol and even dancing are forbidden, young Iranian people are forging their own lives, navigating the old and new.

Asia » Japan.

A Visit to Tsukiji is Ermanno Fissore’s photo story about his visit to the famed Tokyo fish market.

Asia » Malaysia.

Sang Kancil by Adrian is a very short piece about Kancil — an adorable mouse-deer (a prominent character in Malaysian folklore), and a namesake vehicle.

Asia » Multi-Country.

A Seven-Month Trip Across Asiais a photographic diary by nahogan about his experience as a backpacker across the Asian continent.

Asia » Myanmar.

23 Days in Myanmar is my travel diary from a Southeast Asian country known for the political unrest and military dictatorship — a unique place filled with incredible human history and kind locals (though not the best destination for a tourist).

Asia » Nepal.

My Home, Nepal is a biographical story by Arina Garbuja about her recent trip to her motherland.

Asia » Singapore.

A Better Way is a photographic call to use public transit by MNKC — I can attest that his city has a wonderful system that is indeed able to move a lot of people in a more ecologically sustainable way.

The Recyclable Cycle is an essay by MNKC in response to an earlier call to submissions on the theme of environment. It documents the waste management of a city so small it can’t afford to build landfills.

Asia » South Korea.

N-Po Generation is a thought piece by Sa-eh Kim about the influence of the old and the vintage on Korean youth.

Asia » Taiwan.

A Trip to Taiwan is my photographic diary of a holiday spent at a small island nation east of China, illustrated with Betty’s Instax frames.

Asia » Thailand.

150R is a photographic homage to a small motorcycle and the places it’s taken me on the windy, mountainous roads of northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai is a photo essay about a small city in the centre of northern Thailand that turned quickly from a tourist trap to a permanent home.

Climbing the Furnace is a photo story from Chiang Mai’s local crag, featuring a few action photographs taken while dangling from the rope.

“From Chiang Mai to Chumphon” is a three-part essay by ice about his train transit across Thailand. Here are the links: Day One, Day Two, Day Three.

Isaan, on a Cloud is my retrospective piece about the four nearly “magical” spots in northern Thailand: Doi Suthep, Pai, Doi Inthanon, and Chiang Dao.

Loy Krathong is my diary entry about the incredible Festival of Light in Chiang Mai. During this event, thousands of river and sky lanterns are launched by tourists and residents.

Plastic Thailand is my documentary piece on the extent of plastic pollution in Chiang Mai back in 2017.

Rain is my photo story about the enchanting rain season of northern Thailand, where the floods aren’t as common or scary as they are in the south.

Soi Dogs is an essay by Betty with a few images of mine about the unique street lives of the local dogs.

The Coffee Provinceis a very short story about a motorbike trip across coffee plantations of northern Thailand.

Tropical Fruits is an essay I wrote with a few images by Betty back in 2018 where I awe at the lush diversity of Chiang Mai’s fruit-bearing trees.

Asia » Vietnam.

Hanoi is my photo essay from the bustling streets of Hanoi and my culture shock in Vietnam as a western visitor.

Cross-Continent.

Echoing Themes is an essay by andrewbonnenfant about the repeating visual motifs that he’s noticed during his travels across Mexico, Spain, and China.

From Church, Charity Shop to a Coastal City in Chinais a photo story written by Lee Webb about his voyage across the continent with a small film camera.

From Film to Digital, and Back Againis a biographical piece by raphaeltm where he tells his story of passion that grew with him as he switched his homes: from Tanzania to Canada.

Return Flight is my short story about a business trip from Chiang Mai to San Francisco (and back).

Europe » Bulgaria.

Sofia on Ektaris a short photographic trip around Sofia, written and illustrated by olli thomson.

Europe » Ireland.

My Favourite Island is a photo essay by Ash Bennison about the beautiful, rugged, virtually unreachable spot in the middle of the ocean.

Europe » Italy.

COndiVIDere is an essay illustrated with enlarged and scanned film photographs by lorenzo.stolfi from his and his parents’ apartment during the pandemic’s onset.

Pinhole Day, Abroad is a diary of a trip with his pinhole camera to Calabria, Italy by Jozef Pajersky.

Take Careis a thought piece by benedetta.ristori that describes the women who leave their countries to become caregivers for hire in Italy.

Europe » France.

Auguste Rodin on Filmis a short essay by Abhijeet Dangat about the 19th/20th centuries’ reveered French sculptor and his works exhibited in Paris.

Paris Diaries is a piece by Joana Polonia where she attempts to explain how her two-day stay in Paris ended up a month-long affair.

We Will Always Have Paris is a story by Abhijeet Dangat about living the ex-pat life in Paris and his love for the city.

Europe » Germany.

Forgotten World by Nils Leonhardt is a thought piece about Aue, a small German town, and how its relevance (along with that of many other places’) is being altered with technological and societal advances.

Streets of Solitude is an essay set at the bordering triangle between Germany, France, and Switzerland by Michael Nguyen. He describes his work best: “…these images expose the cityscapes’ gloomy, bleak facade. Empty benches on the sidewalks, a tired bicycle, walls, covered with barbed wire.”

The Power of Design is a piece by Prof. Dr. Rainer Funke on work by Michael Nguyen made on the outskirts of Munich. A take on daring architectural decisions staging a unique spectacle of colours and geometry in a suburban European neighbourhood.

Europe » Lithuania.

Dystopian Fiction is a diary of a steampunk cosplay shootout in Panevėžys, Lithuania by Andrej Spilevoj.

Europe » Malta.

Maltais a short piece by Will Barnes where he shares his story of getting into film photography during his recent trip along with Contax T2.

Europe » Multi-Country.

A Photographic Love Affair Between Siberia & Portugalis a collection of double-exposures by Justino Lourenço and @yulia_paix. The images were created by first exposing the whole roll in V. N. Gaia, Porto (Portugal) and then taken into Siberia to be photographed on top of.

Europe’s ‘Flashing Eyes’ on Film is a compilation of annotated photographs from Paris, London, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Hamburg, Rome, and Vatican City by Abhijeet Dangat.

Europe » Portugal.

At Ease in Abrantes is a well-illustrated short piece by Ioana Lupascu about her surreal experience during a hot day in a small Portuguese city.

Portois a photo essay by Justino Lourenço about “the city of bridges and tiles” in northern Portugal.

Saint Stephen Feast in Ousilhão is an exploration of the northern Portuguese tradition that involves elaborate costumes by Paulo Monteiro.

Europe » Romania.

Summer With Anais a short photoshoot by Crina set in Transylvania.

România, Îți Dau Inima Mea (Romania, I Give You My Heart) is an essay and a zine by Emily Bradshaw about her favourite trip destination.

Europe » Russia.

An Immigrant Storyis a photo essay with a few images from my somewhat recent trip to Moscow. Many of those photographs are the basis for a book that’s now available at the Analog.Cafe’s Etsy shop.

Europe » Scotland.

Inchindown is a story of two friends going deep underground to photography a defunct military storage facility in Invergorden, Scotland. Their complete piece is a video feature (linked within the article). This is an overview of their work and the photograph that they created — published with permission.

Europe » Spain.

COSTAis a photo essay by Seb's on the unique and eerie visual realities of living away from the mainland. Most of his images explore islands around Spain.

Europe » Sweden.

Cloudy Days is a photo story by mariah.peixoto about her move to Sweden for a research-based work internship at the University of Gothenburg in March 2020 — which is around the time when the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep the world.

Europe » Switzerland.

Once Upon a New Year is Peter Reil’s recollection of a pre-pandemic trip to the Alps with a few friends to catch the wondrous vistas.

Europe » United Kingdom.

A Day in a Life of A-” is an essay by rick davy who spent his time interviewing and photographing Cornwall locals, documenting their passions and lifestyles.

A Terrace in the Sky by Danilo Leonardi is an explorative photo essay that will take you on a walk around the famous London landmarks, their history, architectural choices, and how they affect the people inhabiting them.

Daydreams in Lockdown is a thought piece by Danilo Leonardi where he paints the picture of a Londoner going through the initial lockdowns during the 2020 pandemic’s onset.

Nostalgia for an Undefined Something is a thought piece by Danilo Leonardi on a pre-pandemic political crisis in the UK: Brexit.

Those Three Streets is a thought piece by Alastair about living with dual identities — and his disconnect with one of them — in London.

Trafalgar Square in the Time of COVID is a thought piece by Danilo Leonardi where he dissects and critiques the phrase “we are all in this together” that infected the English-speaking internet when the pandemic took hold in early 2020.

Trafalgar on Deck by Nick Frazier is a short story set in London. It describes the photographer’s experience at a youth skateboarding event in the midst of the pandemic and social unrest.

Waterways is a photo story where Jessica Edney writes about London’s canal system, and how it links people like Jessica and her mother who live miles apart.

Oceania.

A Walk Through the City is a short photo essay by Kent, set in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

An Insular Journey is a piece of creative/investigative writing and photography by sarahbejerano on island life.


Note: I may update this list periodically to improve the essays’ relevancy and representation. 🌍