Graphic Design Portfolio

The QUALITY Checklist for Finding Great Tourism Photos of Korea (or Any Target Country)

Follow this simple checklist for GREAT tourism photos of KOREA (or any other country).

  1. Quality (High)
  2. Unique (to Korea – or the country of focus)
  3. Action (People are included)
  4. Light (Strong Colors/contrast/etc)
  5. Image (Clear, sharp)
  6. Traditional/Modern (but not generic)
  7. Yourself (Can you picture yourself there?)

As I have been searching for images to visually describe and define South Korea as an attractive tourist destination, I’ve run into a few snags.

First, many of the images I’ve viewed as potential for tourist marketing have come from Google searches (since I can’t physically travel everywhere in the country to take my own) and are not the most exciting images – many are rather generic. Granted, Korea’s nickname is the “Land of the Morning Calm,” but that doesn’t mean that its photos must also be so calm that they end up being bland. Tourism photos are important in stimulating interest in a destination with only a glance, and therefore must contain certain elements that would prompt further investigation and whet a potential tourist’s appetite for exploration.

Secondly, besides being rather generic and bland, a great deal of photos are not of a high enough quality, resolution, or sharpness to warrant usage in any form of tourism marketing. Tourist photos should be sharp and clear, with strong colors in order to virtually transport the viewer into the tourist destination. After all, if a viewer can picture themselves in a certain situation or setting, they are more likely to seek out the actual physical sensation of participating in that event or location.

That being said, I’ve developed my own list for finding and choosing top quality photos for the purpose of promoting Korea and tourism to Korea to people who may be uneducated, misinformed, or just ignorant to the culture, places, and experiences that Korea has to offer.

The QUALITY Checklist

The list is Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y, because each photo that is invested into a marketing strategy must be top QUALITY in all its aspects in order to draw continued interest to the campaign.

Q: Quality

Quality here describes the literal quality of the photograph. It must not be dirty, blurry, out of focus, too low of a resolution, or pixelated.

U: Unique

There must be some element of the uniqueness of Korea included in the photograph. Every country has unique elements of style, color, culture, geography, and so on. Each photo should show a piece of the country it displays, and not be so generic that it could be associated with any number of countries.

A: Action

Good tourism photos include tourists in action. People like to do things when on vacation, and those who are planning vacations like to picture themselves partaking in the activities they see others involved in within the photos. To see other people in tourism photos aids in mental visualization to place oneself within a given photo and seek avenues through which to truly and physically experience the actions in the photos (i.e. by traveling to the country). The more people connect with photos, the more likely they are to try to experience those photos in real life for themselves.

L: Light

The lighting within the photo must be appropriate and realistic. Colors should be bright and vivid, but not overpowering, and contrast should be realistic. Although HDR photos are becoming quite popular these days, they are probably not the right kinds of photos to include in tourism marketing campaigns. This is because often HDR photos are too colorful, and hyper-realistic. However, the vivid colors and good contrast in HDR photos are good things if used at appropriate levels to enhance photos while retaining their realism. There are many other photos available that do just the opposite of HDR photos in that there are no enhancements at all, and the photos look rather dim, bland, and lifeless. By applying the right amount of filters and effects, a vivid, clear, colorful photograph can be created to enhance any tourism marketing effort.

I: Image

Image refers to the sharpness or clarity of a photograph. Each photo should be sharp enough to make out small details, and should not be blurred – unless done so intentionally. Even a minor blur on night photos makes them look entirely unprofessional. Therefore a good clarity and sharpness with any photos is important.

T: Traditional

As mentioned earlier about each photo having an element that is unique to Korea, traditional and historic elements add much to tourism photos. We are all familiar with the traditional and historic elements of tourism giants China and Japan – from the martial arts, to the food, to their architecture, writing, language, and cultures. But how many people are truly familiar with the history of Korea? Additionally, it is often these interesting histories of China and Japan that are portrayed in movies and spark intense curiosity in viewers. A great number of people hope to one day see the Great Wall of China, or Mt. Fuji with their own eyes. This is partly due to the fact that they are amazing places, but also partly due to the fact that they are so widely known and publicized throughout history books and movies. Korea also needs images that are memorable, traditional, and historic to spark interest in the minds of tourists to come and explore Korea.

Y: Yourself

If you can picture yourself in a photo, enjoying the same activities that are shown, then is it not the perfect photo for tourism? Tourists should genuinely want to be included in the activities they see; they should desire to experience what they are shown.

What do you think?

How’s that for a checklist for QUALITY tourism photos? Did I leave anything out? For more pondering of tourism in Korea, check out the following questions. How would you answer the last one?


If you’re Chinese, where is one place within your country that you MUST go before you die?

A: The Great Wall of China -> not only Beijing

If you’re Japanese, where is one place within your country that you MUST go before you die?

A: Mt. Fuji -> not only Tokyo

If you’re Korea, where is one place within your country that you MUST go before you die?

A: ______(you fill in the blank)______ -> not only Seoul

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