Ask James: Your Favorite Places You’ve Been

Hey James! I’m just getting my feet wet in landscape photography and really have the travel bug now. Looking at planning some trips to start building my portfolio and would love to know what your favorite locations are? Taryn M.

Great question! There are certainly places that I find myself going back to every year or two, and others where now that I’ve been to them one or more times, I’m not sure I’ll be back.

So here are my Top 3. Hope that’s enough!

Central Coast, California

morro-sunset-tight-james-brandonI fell in love with this region during my first visit, which was just over a decade ago. It’s where I fell in love with my now wife, Kristin. It’s an area I’ve been back to year after year ever since and one that I’m more familiar with than even my own state. The area I’m talking about mainly is San Luis Obispo, but also the area north in Big Sur. SLO has pristine beaches, piers, marine wildlife sanctuaries, sand dunes and treacherous cliffs that shoot down straight into the sea. Big Sur is just an all around violent collision between land and sea, although there are a few peaceful locations too.

In addition to the coastline, you can go just 30 minutes inland and find yourself in the middle of the central coast wine country. Paso Robles, Templeton and Atascadero are the main areas where you can find vineyards in just about any direction.

Add in perfect year round weather and you’ve got a pretty stellar place to come back to time and time again 🙂

It just so happens that I’m hosting a workshop to this region in November. Still 1 spot available!

Death Valley National Park

straight horizonAnother location in California, but it doesn’t feel like California. Not at all. Death Valley is one of the most mysterious and inspiring places I’ve been to as a landscape photographer. It’s main draw for me is that it’s different every time I go back. The sand dunes: Always changing by the winds. Badwater Basin: Always changing through the cycling of rain, time and the underground river that flows beneath it. Racetrack Playa: Always changing due to the sailing stones (and unfortunately humans moving the rocks as well).

The best time to go by far is in the winter, namely January to early March. The temps during these months are very comfortable with highs in the 70s-80s and lows in the 40s-60s. I was there in August one year and it was 125˚ at the sand dunes and still 113˚ when the stars came out. Never. Again.

You can see more images from Death Valley over in my online portfolio at SmugMug!

Riomaggiore, Italy

Although I’ve only been here once, it won’t be long before I go back. I’m already in the early stages of planning a return trip there some time next year. Italy in general is just a magnificent place to visit all around, but there’s something about the quaintness and timeless beauty of the Cinque Terre region that stuck with me and has been calling me back from the moment I left.

Check out more images from Riomaggiore in my online portfolio on SmugMug!

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