About Me

My photo

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

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Writing your way to a career in travel photography Part 3

So you've sent your query letter and contact sheet of pictures off to an editor. What happens next?

If the editor likes your idea they will tell you to go ahead 'on spec'. This means that they agree to look at your article package but there is no obligation for them to buy it. When you have been writing for an editor for a while they will give you assignments but when you're first starting out expect everything to be 'on spec'. So now it's time to put everything together and send it off.

A month or so down the track and hopefully you will get an email out of the blue. They love your piece and are publishing it in the upcoming edition. You'll have a five page spread with 20 photographs and your name in shining lights. But now is not the time to rest on your laurels. You need to sell that article somewhere else. What, the same article? Yep. To another magazine? You bet. No travel photojournalist can ever make a living selling an article only once. The pay rates are just too low. For a big double page spread in a state newspaper here in Australia, you might get $250 on a good day. The trip alone cost you thousands, not to mention the amount of time it took you to write the piece, prepare the digital images…$250 doesn't buy a lot so you need to get a greater return on your investment.

Time to head back to the books and find another market for your piece. An article that sold to a newspaper in your home state could then be sold to a paper in a different state. An article that sells to a women's magazine could then sell to a caravanning magazine - obviously with slight alterations for the different market. As long as the publications are non-competing then editors know and understand that you have to sell the same piece multiple times. My piece on Japan sold to a local newspaper, a medical journal which runs travel articles, a backpacker's magazine and a travel magazine in the United Kingdom. Yes, the United Kingdom. (which doesn't seem a long way away for my UK readers but is a world away for my Aussie ones!) The picture above is the opening spread from the UK version of yesterday's Aussie version.

Look at overseas magazines for potential markets. The library is also home to books such as the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook (UK) and the Writers Market (USA) which lists thousands of magazines and newspapers in Europe, North America and Asia. Remember that Australia is a popular travel destination for the rest of the world.

In this day and age you need to think globally. At the beginning you might be writing about your local area but you should be trying to write for a global market.

Tomorrow in the final installment we'll talk about the golden pot at the end of the rainbow - having somebody pay you to travel and take photos, and of course write.

No comments: