Lonely Planet Writer

Travel photography: for or against?

To click or not to click?

Taking lots of photos as you travel might leave you with some fantastic memories once you're home, but does a holiday-through-the-viewfinder mean you don't make the most of your time away?

Photo Credit: Nicolás García

Here at the Lonely Planet offices, some of us love travel photography, others simply won't snap. The only way to settle it is to fight it out. A camera-off, if you like.

So, travel photography: good thing or bad thing?

FOR: Kylie McLaughlin, Lonely Planet Images

Why do we take photographs when we're travelling? Because they preserve treasured memories of places and people that could otherwise be long forgotten. They can remind you why you want to return to (or perhaps avoid) a particular place. Each image can help you recall experiences, reignite old flames or retell amusing anecdotes. Every click of that shutter is worth the little effort it takes.

If you haven't caught the shutterbug, what are you missing out on? Some of us spend a lot of time regretting leaving the camera behind in the hotel room that night everything magical seems to happen. I wish I could recall the face of the criminally-handsome Italian man that swooned to my rescue at the Vatican when my jacket got caught in the turnstiles. Or that night me and my companions were all giddy from Malibu and fell asleep to the sound of waves lapping at our feet on the beach in Mykonos.

The excitement that comes from developing a roll or two of film or seeing your images on a computer screen for the first time almost exceeds the trip, particularly when you discover captured moments you’d forgotten you had. Would I have remembered sitting in a café in Oban, Scotland with my best friend as one of the most amazing sunsets set the sky alight? I’d certainly forgotten how I'd grabbed my camera and taken a timely shot through the window, but now I will always remember that spectacular moment, as it sits framed in my bookcase at home.

Cameras are an essential part of the travel experience. Photographs enable you to relive otherwise forgotten moments in time and inspire you to live a thousand more just like it.

AGAINST: Tom Hall, UK travel editor

Your camera ruined my holiday. Not only that, it ruined yours too. You probably daydreamed for months, years maybe about the moment you first set eyes on Machu Picchu, or the colosseum maybe, or the Golden Gate Bridge. I had too. And when you got there you chose to look at it not through your eyes, those marvellous things that give you such a wide field of vision, but through a tiny screen at the back of your digital camera. Then, while you snapped endless inferior photos of the thing you've come all this way to see, you made people like me feel bad. Just for walking around looking at this great thing and 'getting in the way' as you compose 'the perfect picture'.

As you can probably tell, I'm no fan of travel photography. My wife banned me long ago from saying 'let's look with our eyes' while she cradled her SLR. To me it's pointless and gets in the way of seeing as much as possible. All that effort you all go to and for what? These days we don't even have albums to flick through. Photos are files on a computer that rarely get looked at. You can see more impressive results by using Google Images. Want your loved ones in the shot? Use Photoshop and save yourself the bother of going anywhere.

Cameras are a barrier to really looking at something, and to really experiencing a place. Nothing says 'tourist' like a chunky Nikon round your neck. And as you've probably discovered, the best things in the world can't be photographed: Victoria Falls in full flow, the Eiffel Tower close up, the time-lapse magic of sunset over the Indian Ocean.

No camera needed. Don't even think about asking me to say 'cheese'.

We've heard from our team, but what do you think? Is your camera an essential part of your travel kit, or do you prefer to leave it at home? Let us know in the comments below.