Erica & Matt Chua: Best Photo Spots, City

We visited over 200 cities around the world and took over 50,000 photos, but which cities were we the most shutter happy in?  We each share our favorite cities to capture on film.



It’s hard for me to pick a best city for photography.  I could put all the big cities we visited onto a dartboard and justify my pick being wherever the dart stuck.  The big cities of the world are so full of life, diversity, and history that I can as easily insist that photographers must shoot Tokyo and Cairo as much as I can argue the same for London or Buenos Aires.  There are so many fascinating cities in the world that it’s hard for me to recommend just one city, but my wife is making me, so, for today, I’ll say you absolutely, positively, necessarily, must shoot Istanbul.

Why Istanbul? Its unparalleled mix of history and modernity, religion and race.  Existing since 660 BC, it is one of the oldest major cities in the world.  That alone would be impressive, but it’s not just old, it was the capital of four of the world’s greatest empires, including being the capital of the Roman Empire.  As though political power weren’t enough, it has been the religious center of both Christianity and Islam.  Istanbul was literally the center of the world over a thousand years, connecting Asia, Africa and Europe…when that was the known world. As the center of the world, traders, conquerers and immigrants over the millennia have left indelible marks which are still visible to the modern photographer.

Photographers who want vibrant colors and beautiful objects, there is the 500+ year old Grand Bazaar.  Those who want to get up-close to religious history need go no further than the Aya Sophia, one of the world’s oldest, grandest churches, directly across from the epic Blue Mosque. Those who seek diversity just have to start walking…a photographer will find a mix of cultures, foods and history in all directions. The longer a photographer wanders, the more beauty, detail and richness he will see.  There is no other place like Istanbul.

Best of all?  Istanbul can be visited in as little as 1-3 days, see our three day Istanbul Travel Guide here.



Whenever we do a “best” of anything I struggle with what to share, being indecisive it is nearly impossible for me to pick just one best.  I thought about all the cities on this trip that I couldn’t put the camera down, and dozens came to mind. I wrote about the colorful cities in Rajasthan, India and the photogenic Portuguese architecture in Ouro Preto, Brazil.  However, there are so many other cities that I could easily highlight as must visits for photographers, from the street art in Buenos Aires to the mountains outside Huaraz, Peru there are hundreds of beautiful places to capture on camera.

We are still working on sorting through our thousands of pictures from South America, but Cartagena, Colombia stands out in my mind as a beautiful city to wander with a camera in hand.  I couldn’t resist capturing the colorful buildings, colonial churches and gorgeous people. Then when I would think about retiring the camera for the day I would start exploring the cobblestone alley ways full of street art and get shutter happy all over again.

Not only is Cartagena photogenic, but the relaxed vibe of the Caribbean Coast allows you to wander at your own pace taking photo opportunities as they present themselves.  Every time I left my room without a camera I felt that I had missed a photo-worthy moment.  Around every corner this city had a treasure hiding, I couldn’t get enough!

What city around the world has made you so shutter happy you couldn’t put down your camera?  Share with us in the comments.

(Cross-posted with


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