Welcome to the Capture the City photo competition!
We’re looking for the photo that best captures the essence of a city, ideally one that could be featured on the cover of an upcoming Lonely Planet City guide or Pocket City guide. Below we’ve listed some tips and things to keep in mind when thinking about photos for guidebook covers – hopefully this will prove helpful if you’re planning to enter the the Capture the City competition. (These are provided simply as helpful tips – please be sure to read the Terms & Conditions where you can find additional information about the competition.)
What makes a good cover photo for a city travel guidebook?
Finding a perfect cover photo isn’t an easy process – and it’s nearly as tricky just to describe how it’s done – but here are some basic tips for what the judges will be looking for.
When we choose cover images for a city travel guidebook, the first question we ask is also the source of the name of this contest: does the image capture the city? Does it transport a reader there and reflect the heart of the place? If the answer is yes, we then proceed to other important questions.
- Is it simple in composition with something iconic to the destination, showing passion for travel?
- Does the image have a twist, everyday people, personality, sense of place, a moment in time?
- Is it bold, striking and uncluttered with title text easily legible from a distance?
- Is the image of sufficient quality and recency?
Here are some helpful examples from recent Lonely Planet city and pocket city guidebooks (click to expand):
Any photo used on the cover of a Lonely Planet book must meet minimum requirements:
- Color (sorry, no black and white)
- 300 dpi minimum resolution
- Minimum dimensions of ~700 x ~900 pts (ideally more)
- Vertical (portrait) orientation (to fit the orientation of the book). On rare occasions, a landscape oriented photograph can be cropped to suit a cover, but for the sake of this contest we are only considering pre-cropped portrait-oriented photos.
- Photos must have been taken within the past two years (we don’t want pictures of buildings that don’t exist any more, closed shops, etc.)
- Photos cannot have been manipulated digitally (apart from cropping and resizing)
- Night shots are rarely used; ‘golden hour’ shots from dawn and dusk are fairly common (great light, fewer people and cars)
- Current Lonely Planet City guides and Pocket City guides have matte covers, which tends to favour photos with high contrast and definition (otherwise they can appear blurry).
- Guidebook covers have to accommodate text (white text directly on the image in the case of Lonely Planet City guides – see examples above). Overly busy photos, or photos with too much white are unlikely to work.
- The photo should make a traveler want to go to the destination. Ideally it should make them so desperate to get there that they’ll drop everything, speed to the nearest airport, buy a ticket and go. This rarely happens, but we can dream. The point is that the photo should be beautiful – real and un-photoshopped, but always beautiful. If a photo features a rubbish heap and a man passed out in the street, it may be a skillfully-taken photo, but it won’t end up on the cover of a guidebook.
- Our logo is white on a dark blue field, and dark blue is on the spine of nearly all of our books. There’s no requirement per se, but blue is a very common color on Lonely Planet guidebooks. (This is also partly due to the fact that the sky and ocean are blue – two very common features of travel photos.)
- We have many covers featuring pictures of local people, but we can only use pictures where we have received model release. Brand names and logos cannot be used.
- Photos cannot have been published anywhere else.
Destinations covered by Lonely Planet’s City Guide and Pocket City series:
|Amsterdam||Angkor Wat & Siem Reap||Athens|
|Budapest||Buenos Aires||Cancun, Cozumel & Yucatan|
|Edinburgh||Fez||Florence & Tuscany|
|Hanoi||Havana||Hong Kong & Macau|
|Kuala Lumpur||Kyoto||Las Vegas|
|Milan||Montreal & Quebec City||Moscow|
|Munich & Bavaria||New Orleans||New York City|
|Rio de Janeiro||Rome||San Francisco|