"France is one of the most undiscovered countries in the world for landscape photography. The contemplative and sedate nature that lies behind my approach to photography seems grounded within rural France.
"My affection for France began in the 1960s when my older sister acquired a farmhouse. 30 years later, I’ve had a series of enormously enriching experiences. I’m still entranced by France.
"I particularly like a department called Lot. I never see any tourists there. It’s relatively empty. As a landscape photographer, you pretty much know that you could walk down the middle of any road and you’d probably not meet a car for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s also full of little cameos. There isn’t a lot of the ‘big, grand scene’, but I find lots of little minor pieces, perhaps not more than a couple of hundred metres wide, that you can just build a little landscape study out of. I love that.
"I also love the French canals and the village nuggets that are nestled in so comfortably along side their banks, the Canal du Midi being a favourite. The Vercors Massif, west of Grenoble, is fantastic for its rich walnut groves against a backdrop of chunky mountains. The best of the world's sheds can be found in France and the frosts of December are better than I have ever seen. The many great rivers of France, often swollen after heavy rain, are also irresistible to me."
4: Iran by Amos Chapple
"I’ve been to a few places in the Middle East and didn’t have a good time, but Iran is completely distinct from its neighbours. The people are outward-looking and kind. Most Iranians I met were embarrassed by their government, which gives them such a bad rap abroad.
"The thing I found most enjoyable was being able to photograph without feeling like I was shooting anything clichéd. So few images of the country existed at the time that I felt like I was doing something worthwhile by shooting what were, in effect, fluffy travel images.
"Because of the sanctions, there are no American or US brands on the street, so you’re able to feel totally adrift in the foreignness of it all. Tehran and Shiraz are wonderful, though crossing the road is seriously scary, and out in the countryside, in places like Palangan, near the Iran/Iraq border, you won’t meet another tourist. It’s just you and your camera rolling through a fascinating, welcoming land."
5: Burma by Steve McCurry
"Colour is an integral part of life in countries like Burma, much more so than in the US. When you go into a church or a synagogue in the US, colour is just not important, whereas in a monastery in a place like Tibet or Burma, the colours are very uplifting.
"I’ve always been attracted to Buddhist cultures: Burma, Cambodia, parts of Tibet, Thailand, Japan. In the case of Burma, I think it’s a really great relationship they have between the communities and the monasteries. There’s a strong Buddhist belief here that I respect. I find it very positive. I think the principles are exactly what the world needs at this time.
"There’s a different pace of life in Burma, perhaps less so now than there used to be, but you can still get into the countryside and people have a less active pace of life than, say, neighbouring Thailand. There’s a marked difference between Burma and Thailand. Bangkok is a bustling modern city. Places like Rangoon or Mandalay are sleepy places, at least they were traditionally. There’s something about that different way of life that really appeals to me: a more relaxed, slower pace.
"The weather is great in Burma. I’ve always loved tropical warm countries. I’m not particularly attracted to cold climates. The people are also extremely friendly, hospitable, charming, easy to be with. They’re wonderful."
6: Guatemala by Mihaela Noroc
"The villages and small towns of Guatemala have something magical for photography. Most of the women are dressed in homemade traditional outfits, which are some of the most beautiful and colourful in the world.
"The proud descendants of the Mayan civilisation have a great sense of colours and a strong desire to keep their culture alive, so most of them are very open to being photographed.
"I would love to go back in Antigua, a picturesque colonial town, and to Chichicastenango, a village that hosts a vibrant market where, if you speak a bit of Spanish, you will hear some fascinating stories from the women that sell.
"Although there can be some harsh environments in Guatemala, the tenderness and the positivity of the hard-working women I’ve met there is impressive."
7: Bhutan by Graeme Green
"One of the greatest things about being a travel photographer is experiencing cultures that are not only unlike your own, but unlike anything you’ve experienced anywhere else. I get that in places like Japan and Ethiopia, and it's the overwhelming feeling in Bhutan, too, a colourful, friendly country where it often feels like time has stood still.
"Change is starting to happen, with young people in the capital, Thimphu, copying hairstyles and fashions they’ve seen on the Internet. For now, though, Bhutan’s religion, language, clothing, architecture and natural resources (it's the only carbon negative country in the world) are preserved as part of the country’s famous Gross National Happiness concept, which places happiness above GDP.
"Tradition is valued here. Many Bhutanese men still wear a formal gho (robe) with knee-high socks. In place of international brand logos, like Coke and Starbucks, you’ll see massive phallic paintings on the walls, believed to bring good fortune.
"My favourite thing here, as in most countries, is to just walk and explore, ready to stumble upon anything from archery competitions on the edge of town to families sitting in the shade of trees, watching over their animals in the fields.
"One of my most vivid memories is hearing chanting and otherworldy music at Punakha Dzong, the country’s most sacred religious building. At times like that, or watching novice monks at Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of the Divine Madman, playing Khuru (long distance darts), you get a sense of life going on in Bhutan as it has for centuries."
8: Japan by Michael Kenna