elise marie photography

Surfing Piha Beach by Elise Manahan

Piha Beach in New Zealand offers breathtaking views and epic surf. (Elise Marie Photography)

Piha Beach in New Zealand offers breathtaking views and epic surf. (Elise Marie Photography)

Piha Beach, located on the west coast of the North Island, is famous for its black sand, epic waves and deadly undertows. Moving to either side of Lion Rock, a towering formation jutting out from the shore, visitors can watch surfers ride the waves or fishermen casting their lines into the salty waters. It is one of the stunning landscapes New Zealand is famous for, and a must-see for those visiting the country.

Waiheke Island by Elise Manahan

Waiheke Island is painted in an array of colors as the sun begins to set on the island. (Elise Marie Photography)

Waiheke Island is painted in an array of colors as the sun begins to set on the island. (Elise Marie Photography)

The calm waters of Putaki Bay were a canvas of color as the sun set on Waiheke Island this past summer. Boats dot the water and gently roll to and fro in the evening breeze. Sea birds make their final calls of the evening as the stars begin to appear in the sky. The moment is all too brief and nearly too heavenly.

Waiheke Island is home to many and a cherished get away for others. Oenophiles looking to sample some of the famous wine produced on the isle can find award winning bottles as they wind their way through the vineyards scattered across the island. After exploring local wineries many hop on a bus or continue on foot to trek along the coastal pathways, relax on the beach or go shopping in the village. Those without their own boat or seaplane take the ferry from downtown Auckland to the island and return home the same way.

We’ve visited the island several times since we moved to New Zealand and have been delighted every time we go. Be sure to put it on your travel list, and keep a weather eye for the setting sun. It may just be the most exceptional part of your visit.

Travel Photography - Austin, Texas Edition by Elise Manahan

When I’m getting ready to travel to a new place I can’t wait to research unique features of the city, determine what camera gear I want to bring along and start dreaming about the shots I hope to get on my trip. I’m usually thinking about getting photos while checking out cool restaurants and bars, local parks and gardens, things I see on the street and trying to get some candid photos of the folks I’m visiting or travelling with. Basically anything that will give me a visual reminder to take me back to that trip. Sometimes my pre-planning ideas and mental debate about what gear to pack can start to feel like it’s getting slightly out of hand. To cope with that I try to be mindful about finding a balance to allow myself to be present and just enjoy the moment without holding a camera up to my face while also fulfilling the creative joy I find in travel photography.

A great solution that works for me is to take along my dslr, a 35mm lens and if space allows a macro lens to double as a telephoto lens pretty much everywhere I go. I then try to keep several categories of images of interest to me on my radar. That usually includes documenting the local wildlife, great local food and drink I tried, the locals I see and friends I am visiting with and if the season is right some of the local flora. I also subscribe to the philosophy that variety is the spice of life. If I only have space for one lens I know that doesn’t mean I’m limited in what I can shoot. I just have to move my feet to get close up, medium and pulled back shots. It adds depth to my final selection of images and it can be a great creative challenge.

I find that there are always so many moments to take photos and the truly compelling moments usually grab your attention so fiercely you can’t ignore it. But it’s good to drop that camera back in the bag and enjoy that beer while it’s cold, to laugh with your friends while you get to see them and to take in all the wonderful things surrounding you on your travels.

It’s all about finding the right balance that works for you.

I took the photos below while visiting family in Austin, Texas. Spring was around the corner and you felt it everywhere you turned. I was lucky enough to have a local tour guide take me to some great locations around town that felt off the beaten path.

  • McKinney Falls State Park

  • Mayfield Park and Preserve

  • Radio Coffee and Beer

  • The Salt Lick BBQ

Do you have a method you like to use when shooting travel photography? Let me know what grabs your attention when you plan your travel photography trips.

Cheeky Smiles by Elise Manahan


I highly encourage cheekiness in my clients. I mean, how could you not?

This little Kiwi was a guest at a party I had the pleasure of photographing. I had been taking photos in another room when I noticed she was playing peek-a-boo with a balloon, checking to see if I had noticed her. I was able to move around to get a few frames before it was time for cake and she ran to join the others. It was an adorable moment of playfulness that I loved being able to capture.

The Clock Tower of the University of Auckland by Elise Manahan

One of the most iconic architectural sights on The University of Auckland campus is the Clock Tower. The tower was built in 1926 by Chicago architect, R.A. Lippincott. Inspired by the design of a church in Oxford, the clock tower has been cleaned, refurbished and is a beautiful sight to behold. Have you explored inside this historic building?

The 2019 Auckland Lantern Festival by Elise Manahan

The 20th Auckland Lantern Festival celebrated the Chinese New Year with over 800 lanterns on display throughout the Auckland Domain attracting thousands of visitors. Food trucks, musical entertainment and carnival rides were spread throughout the park for visitors enjoyment as they joined in celebrating the pig.