Inspiration is often difficult to define, especially for professional photographers, whose eyes are trained to spot a great shot from a mile away. But photographer Matt Long maintains that inspiration can strike anyone at any time. “It’s about what means the most to you and capturing the essence of that moment,” he says.

To further inspire travellers during the Focus on Four Seasons Instagram contest, we asked Long and nine other globetrotting photographers to share one unforgettable moment during their travels that they were compelled to capture on camera.

Splendour in the South Pacific

“To me, photography has always been about capturing those moments that not everyone gets to see,” says photographer Don Riddle. He believes that creating a great image takes planning, waiting and a bit of luck.

To capture the above photograph of the over-water bungalows at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Riddle revisited the location at sunset on multiple occasions, with different results each time. “Some evenings were rainy, and some were just average. Finally, the sunset was spectacular. I kept clicking the shutter as the light got better and better, until finally it was dark.”

A sense of place in Beijing

Lake Palace in Beijing
Without focusing on any faces, photographer Robb Aaron Gordon manages to capture the spirit of the crowd at the Summer Palace in Beijing. Photography courtesy Robb Aaron Gordon

You can almost hear the movement of the locals and tourists bustling through the Summer Palace on this day in Beijing. “I wanted to show what a place feels like rather than just what it looks like,” says photographer Robb Aaron Gordon of this intriguing shot. “I like the idea of timelessness and infinity, which lends itself to this image. I didn’t want to focus on people, but did want to give the sense of a crowd.”

Candid moments in Northern Thailand

Mahouts riding elephants in Thailand
While on location at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, photographer Dana Neibert took this candid picture of elephants and their mahouts while waiting for his models to finish preparing for their early morning shoot. Photography courtesy Dana Neibert

For photographer Dana Neibert, it’s not always easy to describe what inspires him to snap a photo. “I like real moments, nothing posed,” he says. “I wander around and see something, then I take a picture.”

In the Thai jungle at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Neibert captured this unstaged photo of the elephants and mahouts in the early morning. “A candid image like this is my favourite, as no one is really performing for the camera,” Neibert says. “It’s just life as it is.”

Light and life on the French Riviera

Boy playing on Paloma Beach in Cap Ferrat
Even after countless trips to the South of France, Martin Morrell still finds the French Riviera inspiring, often pinching himself when flying into Nice. This shot of Paloma Beach, featuring a guest appearance by a young boy, was one of many pleasant surprises during a recent visit. Photography courtesy Martin Morrell

During a recent visit to Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, photographer Martin Morrell found himself enamoured with the light and the variety of landscape in the South of France. “While at a Riviera beach restaurant, I was watching the shadow of a tree on the pebble beach and water,” he remembers. “As I took the photo, the boy ran into the shot, which made for the perfect moment.”

Morrell has travelled the world, but there is something he finds especially inspiring about the South of France. “There are elements of the Riviera that are timeless, and [that] French reluctance to change is also part of the charm.”

Watching Bali come to life

Rice planters in Bali
Christian Horan joined rice planters in a muddy field to capture this morning moment in Bali. Photography courtesy Christian Horan

Photographer Christian Horan has learned that the more uncomfortable he is while shooting, the better the photo. Case in point: During a sunrise walk through Ubud, not far from Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Horan slogged through mud to capture this shot of rice planters hard at work.

“The calm, peaceful energy of the town and rice fields inspired me,” Horan says. “I had to wade far out into the mud to get the photo. But finally, the reflection of the people on the water revealed itself.”

Uncovering hidden gems in India

Indian tomb portico
During a visit to the Taj Mahal, Rachelle Lucas was drawn to the more inconspicuous tombs surrounding the famous landmark. The simple design and warm colour of this portico is a direct contrast to the elaborate white marble of India’s renowned mausoleum. Photography courtesy Rachelle Lucas

Rachelle Lucas, creator of The Travel Bite, rarely follows the crowd when exploring a new destination. “The Taj Mahal is beautiful, and so iconic,” she says. “Everyone instantly recognises it.”

But what most intrigued Lucas on her visit, and likely went unnoticed by others, were the many tombs surrounding the landmark. “The doorways seemed to go on forever,” she says of the tourist-free portico captured here. “The feeling of infinity inspired me, along with the rustic orange colour.”

Making new friends in Northern Thailand

Woman riding elephant in Northern Thailand
Lesley Murphy’s unforgettable day with the elephants at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is captured in this joyful shot, photographed by her mother. Photography courtesy Lesley Murphy

Lesley Murphy, creator of the blog The Road Les Traveled, has an adventurous side. So after learning of the partnership that Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle has with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Murphy was inspired to book a trip to Thailand. At the Camp, a day of learning about these gentle giants and training with the mahouts culminated in a memorable ride down the river.

“This was an older elephant,” Murphy recalls. “She seemed to enjoy the time together as much as I did, splashing me with water and being playful.” Murphy’s mother captured this playful pachyderm photo from the riverbanks, and it’s one of her favourites from the trip. “I love photos that tell a whole story and contain action.”

An unforgettable sunrise in the Serengeti

The Great Migration in the Serengeti
Witnessing the Serengeti’s Great Migration at sunrise from a hot-air balloon is one of Kirsten Alana’s most treasured travel memories. Photography courtesy Kirsten Alana

On her blog, Aviators and a Camera, Kirsten Alana beautifully chronicles her travels around the world. But it’s a trip to the Serengeti during the Great Migration that created this most inspiring memory.

During a sunrise hot-air balloon flight, Alana saw the ground below blanketed with zebras. “I wanted to come away with a photo that encapsulated the landscape, hot-air ballooning and the Great Migration,” she says. “I kept turning and finally found the shot with the golden colour of the sunrise. I’ll never forget that light.”

The wonder of Maui’s sinking sun

Woman in infinity pool at Four Seasons Maui
In Maui, Sean Nguyen snapped this photo of his wife, Jennifer, as she took in nature’s beauty. Just below the infinity pool, a sunset wedding ceremony was taking place. Photography courtesy Sean Nguyen

Sean and Jennifer Nguyen, the husband-and-wife photography duo behind the popular Instagram handle @Kobechanel, often find themselves drawn to natural settings during their travels. At Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, the couple found inspiration at sunset, citing the colours of the sky, the calm of the sea, the tranquillity of the infinity pool and the last light of day as reasons for capturing this view.

“With its vibrant colours, nature is eye-catching,” Sean says. “We especially like capturing unique perspectives on scenes that are well known to be beautiful images.”

Nature’s beauty in Budapest

Sunset in Budapest
Christmas markets brought photographer Matt Long to Budapest, where he captured this warm sunset over the cold Danube River from his room at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest. Photography courtesy Matt Long

“I love natural landscapes. There’s just something about them,” says Matt Long, founder of popular travel blog Landlopers. Over time, Long has noticed how his eye and camera lens regularly gravitate towards the splendour of nature—even in an urban setting. “Landscapes show a simple beauty that’s not fabricated,” he says. “It captures the spirit of a place.”

From his room at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, Long took this shot of the sun setting over the Danube River. “It was my first sunset in the city. I remember feeling enchanted and mesmerised by what is really one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”