City Guide Cover Photos

Calling all travel photographers who would like to see a photograph they’ve taken published on the cover of a travel guide.

Lonely Planet are looking for a stunning image for possible use on one of their new city guide covers. If you’ve got an eye for a photo that captures the essence of a city, that cover photo could well be yours.

Cover Photo Tips

Some of our travel photography tips will certainly help you but when shooting for covers you do need to think in a certain way; vertically.

Many aspiring photographers – not specialising in portraiture or architectural photography – tend to shoot almost entirely in landscape format; maybe influenced by how we see through television and computer screens, what fits best in their blogs, or works well as a generated thumbnail for featured posts.

Capture the City - Lonely Planet Guides
Capture the City – Lonely Planet Guides

As our eyes are aligned horizontally, it’s how we see the world; unless we take the time to study magazine and book covers, or use our cameras to look for different angles and produce stunning images by thinking graphically.

It’s also the shape of the camera screen; and a sign of laziness. You don’t need to turn your head to ‘see vertically’, just the camera.

Magazines and books usually need some space at the top of their covers for bleeding the title. In this case, Lonely Planet guides use white text. Blue skies are often a good choice for travel guide covers, but if you look at the examples above (or in a bookshop) you’ll see that’s not always the case.

Of course you could crop to format but why waste all those pixels. For every four or five photos you take horizontally, you should train yourself to turn the camera and look at the image in front of you – from top to bottom.

Sure we don’t always have the time and often just feel lucky to get something special in ‘that split second’.

I must admit, my first cover photo was shot horizontally.

Luckily there was enough blue sky and white snow for the editor of the Good Ski Guide to use my image of a downhill racer on his cover.

Get The Buzz

While I always get a buzz seeing my pictures used in travel guides or magazines, nothing beats the feeling of seeing an image you first composed through a camera viewfinder now staring back at you – and the passing public – from a shelf at the bookstore or local newsagent.

When that photo was published, I even had an old school friend (who I didn’t think was interested in skiing) stop me in the street and ask if that was my photo he had seen on the magazine cover.

Capture the City Competition

As with any competition, you can increase your chances of winning by properly reading the terms and conditions.

Lonely Planet would like your pictures to be in colour; in vertical, .jpg (or JPEG) format; have a maximum file size of 3MB; be submitted through the Lonely Planet Facebook page; not be digitally manipulated (except for cropping and re-sizing); and be taken within the last two years.

To stand a better chance of giving the publishers what they want, it helps to think specifically about their needs.

Lonely Planet would like an image that could be used on the cover of a city travel guidebook; an image that is simple in composition with something iconic to the destination; an image that would inspire someone to travel to the place (they like to say); and buy the book (I would say).

I’ve looked at some of the photos uploaded to Lonely Planet’s Capture the City competition on Facebook and most don’t seem to have followed the brief at all.

So before you enter, maybe take a look at what’s already there and ask yourself if you’d buy a book based solely on some of those images. I don’t think so.

City Guides to Choose From

Amsterdam, Angkor Wat & Siem Reap, Athens, Bangkok, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Cozumel & Yucatan, Cape Town, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dublin, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Fez, Florence & Tuscany, Hanoi, Havana, Hong Kong & Macau, Istanbul, Ko Samui, Krakow, Kuala Lumpur, Kyoto, Las Vegas, Lisbon, Ljubljana, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Marrakech, Melbourne, Mexico City, Miami, Milan, Montreal & Quebec City, Moscow, Munich & Bavaria, New Orleans, New York City, Paris, Prague, Puerto Vallarta, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Francisco, Seattle, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, St Petersburg, Stockholm, Sydney, Tallinn, Tokyo, Toronto, Valencia, Vancouver, Venice, Vienna, Washington DC.

The competition closes on June 13th, 2012 at 11:59pm Pacific Time; so you’ve got a week to look through your recent archives or, better still, get out to one of those cities nearest to you this weekend and capture something special.

Look at it as an assignment and see if you can perform under pressure.

► If you win the competition, thanks to reading this blog post, I’ll send you $50 through PayPal as well.

● To be eligible for this additional prize, you will need to post in the comments before the closing date.

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5 thoughts on “City Guide Cover Photos

    1. Edith – If it’s an archive pic, make sure the photo was taken on or after May 1st, 2010. Here’s hoping that you find a good one; and that it’s a winner!


    1. To have someone win the Lonely Planet ‘Capture the City’ competition through reading about it on the Travel Notes blog would be really nice. 🙂


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