Wednesday, May 13, 2009
How a travel photojournalist travels Part 2
After researching the publication I always get on the internet and visit the library to get tips on things to see and photograph. I look for opening times of museums, famous places that always appear in travel articles and just general information on the areas I'll be visiting. Having found some great information, and feeling a bit more confident of what I needed to do it was time to bundle my wife and baby son into the car and hit the road. With me were notebooks, pens and a diary, two 35mm cameras with four lenses ranging from 20mm to 400mm, a tripod, filters, lots of transparency film and a couple of big manilla envelopes which I use to keep all my receipts and brochures in. I call these my trip files. Whenever I arrive in a new place the first thing I do is a scout. I walk or drive around with the minimum of camera equipment, a pen and paper and a compass. The idea is not to do any serious photography but to note which direction buildings and landmarks are facing so that I can choose whether to photograph them in the early morning or late evening. I also jot down things such as prices and facilities available, as well as general first impressions of a place. In other words, during the middle of the day when the light isn't so good for photography I concentrate on getting information for the article. I then come back at better times of the day to photograph. During this initial scout if I do find the light is nice then I make the most of the opportunity. During my Cooktown scout the museums were all beautifully lit by late afternoon sun and I grabbed the shots. The following two days turned out to be grey and overcast and if I had left the photography for another day I certainly would have missed out. So take those opportunities when they present themselves and never assume you'll have a chance to get a photograph or some information later. Later might never eventuate. Also don't forget to always keep in mind other customers for your work. Maximise your income by looking out for other opportunities. YHA is a backpacker magazine but travelling with my family meant that I could also write about the trip for that market as well. So I needed to jot down things of interest for people travelling with children. When I visited the Great Barrier Reef I photographed young people suiting up to go diving, and asked them their impressions of the day. I also made note of what facilities were available to keep kids amused and made sure I photographed little ones enjoying themselves. Another thing I always do is photograph information boards in museums and National Parks. I shoot them with a Coolpix digital camera on the lowest resolution setting. These photos aren't for publication but to save me having to write down all the information. Most information boards are very long and would take me an aeon to write out by hand, but a quick snap of the digital camera and I have an instant copy to refer to later. I always ask permission to do this beforehand. Because I had an aboriginal culture tour booked on my second morning in Cooktown, I only had two afternoons and two very early mornings to do any work around town so I had to carefully plan my time. Photographically it was important to get an overall impression of the town so I headed up to the Grassy Hill lookout. It was soon obvious that the sun sets right behind the town and everything was backlit so this was a morning shot. Then it was off to visit the various museums and landmarks around town to check which direction they were facing. I always try to schedule tours of the insides of buildings during the day when the light is unsuitable.