About Me

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Writing your way to a career in travel photography Part 1

Hi, I'm a travel photographer'. Who wouldn't love to be able to say that, even once! From giant billboards to glossy magazines, travel images are everywhere. If you have a portfolio of terrific photographs then there are customers for your work, but they might not be where you think they are. And they might want more than just your photos.

Although the market for travel photography is virtually unlimited, the market for beginning travel photographers is not nearly so large. Many advertising agencies license their images from stock libraries that can supply tens of thousands of images to choose from. Can you do the same? If a customer came to you for pictures from Japan one day, and then from Tanzania the next could you fill both requests? A client will only keep coming back if they know they can get what they need.


The same goes for assignment work. Sure there are always opportunities for talented up and coming photographers but if a major magazine or tour company has a big job coming up, chances are they'll give it to the tried and true pro. Feeling disillusioned? Don't be, because there's a sure-fire way to get your name and travel photographs seen by thousands of people all around the world, and get paid for it. And all it requires is for you to not just think of yourself as a photographer, but as a photojournalist.

Without a doubt, the best way to get your travel pictures published is to write some words to accompany them. Take a look at the magazines you subscribe to. How many of them use stand-alone photographs, or even a series of images run as a photo essay. Not many I'm sure. If you look closely, all the images are contained within articles. And if you look even closer you'll find that many of those photographs were taken by the author of the article.

Editors love a package. Give them ten stunning photos of India and, although they might love them, they have nowhere to put them. Write a 1500 word piece on that trip to India and again, they might be entranced, but they need some pictures. Give them both the words and the photographs and the editor will love you, and so will your bank manager when you deposit a nice cheque.

The first step on your road to being published is to find some customers. For travel photojournalists customers are anybody who publishes travel articles with photographs. These might range from Sunday travel supplements in your local newspaper to thick, glossy travel magazines. There are literally hundreds of publications in Australia alone that buy freelance travel material and one of the best places to find them is your local newsagent.

Don't just head for the travel section though. Take a browse through some magazines that you may never have opened in your life. Women's magazines, health magazines, 4WD magazines, motorbike magazines. Chances are there is a travel article in every single one of them. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. Trade publications, in-house company magazines and motoring body magazines will never find a space on the shelves next to your favourite photography magazine but often publish travel material. How do you find these magazines?

Well for the answer to that one you'll have to tune in tomorrow where I'll continue to talk about how I got started in travel photography - writing.

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