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February 17, 2017

Tips For Photographing Cartagena, Colombia

Travel Guides

cartagena travel tips

This past February I got to photograph my first destination wedding and simultaneously cross visiting South America off my list! We spent 5 days in colorful Cartagena, Colombia – a place I had never heard of before a year ago when my bride contacted me about her wedding. Unbeknownst to me, Cartagena is a beautifully vibrant city bursting with culture. Although much of our time was spent partaking in wedding festivities, during our free time we were free to roam the streets and take some photos for fun! So I thought to put together this post for anyone who is an aspiring photographer and plans to visit Cartagena soon (and if you don’t yet, you might after seeing these photos!).

Photograph the Architecture

cartagena travel guide

The walled city of Cartagena is famous for its Spanish colonial architecture, which is one of the reasons why it’s so easy to photograph! The main Cathedral of Cartagena is located in El Centro (the city center) and is one of the most iconic views, and you’ll probably see it quite a lot as you’re walking around!

Find the Colorful Mochilas

cartagena photographs

Cartagena is famous for its colorful handmade bags, which you’ll see street vendors selling all around town. Not only do they make for a beautiful photo, but they’re awesome to have to put your belongings in as you’re walking around in the heat!

Get a Rooftop View of the City

One of the best ways to photograph Cartagena is to get some elevation. This was taken at the rooftop of Hotel Movich, and was my absolute favorite view of the trip. Make sure to get there for sunset to get a really special view!

Use Colorful Doors as Backdrops

As you walk about the streets, you will start to notice an abundance of colorful doors of all shapes and sizes. They happen to make awesome backdrops for portraits, whether solo or with a friend or loved one. Pro tip: Step back to get the whole door in the frame!

Capture the Culture

One of the best parts about experiencing a new city is experiencing what that place is famous for. You may have known Colombia is famous for its coffee, but it also happens to make some pretty great cigars.

Rent a Traditional Apartment

The architecture of Cartagena is something that is sure to amaze you when you visit. I recommend renting an apartment or Airbnb with traditional architecture, which will provide you some extra cool photo opportunities and make you feel like a rockstar every time you come home at the end of the day!

Find the Famous Palenqueras

cartagena travel photography

The “palenqueras” are a rich part of Cartagena’s history and you won’t really find them anywhere else! They are basically women dressed in colorful Colombian attire with fruit bowls on top of their heads. Though they look beautiful, be prepared to have a few pesos to spare them because they will surely ask you!

Snap Candids of the Locals

One of my favorite things about Colombia is there are street vendors on every street corner selling everything from fruit, handmade items, Colombian coffee, and so on. They add so much life to the city and will definitely make a great memory!

Did I Mention the Fruit Ladies!?

These are just a few tips that will guarantee fun and colorful photos, but my best advice is just to spend the day walking the streets and exploring! The best photos are the ones you didn’t plan, so pack some sunscreen and stuff some pesos in your pocket and you’re all set for a photo adventure.

Have you been to Cartagena or are planning a trip there soon? Let me know in the comments and on social media!

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  1. Masson Liang says:

    Looks so great and full of life! I will definitely be making a trip out there in the near future, thanks Donna!


I'm Donna — travel photographer, educator, and environmental advocate here to help you turn your passion into a career and help you find freedom in life + business. 

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