Off the Beaten Path
The beauty of traveling is that it is purely personal and can be customized to fit your needs and preferences. Whether you like to stick to a robust itinerary or simply book a flight and wing it upon arrival, finding a destination’s hidden gems requires a bit of effort. It’s one part spontaneity, one part active searching.
For this assignment, we want to see your best photos that capture experiences like these—where you were blown away from what you found when you abandoned the tourist path and paved your own. Maybe you’ve taken an impromptu detour during a road trip that led to an unexpected vista. Or maybe you’ve explored a city with no clear route, only to get lost and discover a side-street vendor whipping up the best pad Thai you’ve ever had. Have you taken a trail that showed you the Grand Canyon from a new perspective? Have you found an unusual piece of architecture tucked away down a road less traveled in Paris? We’re not just looking for another landscape of Machu Picchu, we’re looking for the secluded nook you discovered while descending to the Citadel. Show us through your images of these little known or newly discovered sights. It’s those unexpected places—those unplanned moments—that can make traveling most memorable.
SUBMISSION Deadline is July 27, 2017 at 12PM EST.
This assignment is inspired by the transformative travel opportunities that National Geographic Expeditions offers. From complete itineraries to photography-focused trips to private expeditions, all of our trips are led by Nat Geo photographers and experts to draw out the uniqueness of each destination through meaningful and enriching experiences. And traveling with us makes a difference—a portion of the proceeds return to the hands of National Geographic Society, whose explorers and researchers are furthering our understanding of the planet. Learn more about transformative travel at natgeoexpeditions.com.
Editor's Update #2
Thank you everyone for submitting such diverse work. You’re doing a fabulous job at pinpointing what this assignment means to you. And I especially appreciate the work you’ve put into your captions after I asked for detailed descriptions in my first editor’s note. Many of you have done a wonderful job explaining your experiences and giving me a sense of place.
Take for instance this submission from Georgijus Korobkovas. His image had a few things that struck me—beautiful light, depth, layers, and of course, questions. What is this man doing? How did he get there? Where is he going? In my mind, if you remove the priest from the photo, the scenery could have been mistaken as Utah or Arizona, but having the priest present created a story. Georgijus answered all of the questions I had formulated by the time I scrolled down to the caption.
Then there is Gloria Salgado Gispert’s photo of her daughter standing against the Tumblagooda Sandstone in Australia. This photo first caught my attention because of the lovely natural pattern, but when I looked closer, I noticed the girl standing with her arms outstretched. I liked that her outfit provided a vintage feel and was as colorful as the rock. I also liked that it provided scale while the wall filled the frame. Gloria’s detailed caption about the area and thought process behind the image tied it all together.
Lastly, I wanted to mention Antoine Bruneau’s photo of his llama encounter on the Huacahuasi Pass in Peru. Not only is there a good leading line with the llamas and herder, but we also get the sense that this is a spontaneous meeting off the grid. This is another fine example of interpreting the assignment—instead of showing me a famous landmark, Antoine illustrates the journey there.
I know providing detail with limited resources can feel like a burden, but it’s part of what we do as photographers. To me, photography isn’t only about the shot. It’s also about the story. We as photographers surely do not go out without an objective. Maybe our goal is unclear or open-ended, but there is no doubt that we go out in search of an image that is fueled through our curiosity of the world. I want to hear your curiosities and see the product of that.
Editor's Update #1
It’s been exciting to sort through your images and see how you interpret “off the beaten path.” As the assignment continues, there are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind as you continue to photograph and submit.
This theme often conjures images of remote landscapes and solitude. But that’s not the only form it can take. Sometimes it’s not about the place itself, but rather where the image brings you. I’ve seen dozens of photos of Machu Picchu all taken from the same spot, but if you can show me that misty citadel from an unusual perspective, or a unique scene in route to the landmark, that will certainly grab my attention. Similarly, you might have captured a heavily-trafficked city at an off-peak hour, or explored a side street not on the tourist map, bringing to life a different side of a metropolis. Though landscapes pull at my heart strings as much as the next person, I’d love to see more cultural images mixed in to your submissions.
I’d also like to learn more about the scene in your captions. Providing some detail on the location, how you got there, and what set that experience apart from the norm are helpful when I’m deciding if a submission fits the assignment.
I’ve loved what you’ve shared so far and am looking forward to seeing more in the coming weeks!
Digital Marketing Specialist, National Geographic Expeditions