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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How a travel photojournalist travels Part 4

When I get back the first thing I do is collate all the material I've collected. Brochures, maps and business cards go into a large envelope. I then type out my trip notes on the computer and print them out. Then it's time to pick through all the information and choose which points will go into the article. Once I have this rough outline then it's time to write the piece. Without going into the nitty-gritty of writing a travel article, I will mention that you need to look at back issues of the magazine and note the tone of articles they run. Backpacker Essentials usually publishes first-person accounts with lots of information thrown into the mix, but rarely publishes details about prices or opening times. That gives you plenty of chances to put in funny stories about people and places you encountered.

Once the article takes shape you need to match the photos to the writing. I'm a great believer in the adage that a picture tells a thousand words, but sometimes words can do a better job of painting a scene. You need to choose images that complement the writing, not necessarily those that show what you have written about. This is where your choice of timing is so important. By gathering material for the article when the light is bad, you hopefully manage to photograph when the light is beautiful. So your final selection will include photographs of things not necessarily mentioned in the article, and you'll write about things you might not have photographed.

The thing to remember is that you are creating a total package of words and pictures. Resign yourself to the fact that you're not always going to get picture postcard conditions for photography but that you should be flexible enough to come back with publishable images no matter what the conditions. Remember to try and balance the collection of information with the photography. When the light is good snap away. When the conditions are terrible look for information for the article. Having to take care of both writing and photographs often means I'm running around like a headless chook. But I come away having had rewarding experiences that I get to share with the readers. What could be more satisfying? If you'd like to see how I did log on to www.yha.com.au. And if Scott asks if you're a writer or a photographer, tell him both.

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