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

Friday, September 25, 2009

Scurrying towards the future

This little fella is making a break for the ocean. Only 1 in 1000 thousand of his brothers and sisters will make it to being a fully fledged adult turtle. Remind you of a profession we all know and love?

Yesterday's post was about how editorial travel photographers are turning to commercial travel photography to make a buck. Well it ain't just commercial travel they're looking at - corporate, weddings, photo tours. You name it they're up for it.

And it kind of reminds me of this little turtle scrambling at full pace towards an uncertain future. But here's the thing. Travel photography has always been a pretty uncertain game.

I mean look at the odds. Your competition is anybody who travels, anybody who takes photos and anybody who would be happy to see their pictures in print. Now back in the days of large format cameras and heavy wooden tripods that wouldn't have been too many people who didn't have access to a couple of donkeys to get them to great locations and a lot of stamina!

Now all you need is the dosh to get you on a plane, a bag full of Immodium for dodgy meals, a donkey to carry all those cards, cables and batteries oh and a lot of stamina. :) It's always been a challenge making a living in this game but there has always been outlets for our work. Sure they mightn't have raised their pay rates in 20 years, they might be taking more and more of our rights but they were always there. But if the doomsday pundits are right newspapers and magazines won't be much of a market for too much longer. And with the plethora of great travel photographers sprouting up every year the competition for the few that remain will be immense.

So us wily travel photographers will have to put on our thinking caps and work out other ways to make money. Sending your spouse out to work is always appealing. :) Those of us who simply love photography and travel too much to even consider doing anything else will simply have to work smarter to do what we love. We'll have to create markets for our work rather than waiting for somebody to create them for us. We'll have to come up with lots of good ideas for images, rather than waiting on somebody to call us up and give us an assignment. And we'll have to be more proactive than ever before. Procrastinators can sit this one out.

As Dean so eloquently put it in the comments for yesterday's post, this shake up will weed out those who don't have the mettle to make a go of things. Bring it on I say! Deciding to go freelance means that you accept responsibility for being the master (or mistress) of your own future. Sounds better than having somebody else make all the decision for us if you ask me.

Have a great weekend and get those thinking caps on. If you can work out hyperfocal distance then figuring out how to make a buck shooting travel should be a walk in the park. :)


MansTouch said...

Planning a trip ahead of time can help lessen the stress. Researching on airfare promos will be great especially if the budget is limited, it is usually during off peak season.
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Paul Dymond said...

If you're going somewhere professionally then you'll definitely have to do a lot of research before you go. And although doing stuff on speculation is one way of doing it, I think a much smarter way is to get a good proposal out to people who will pay for your airfare before you go. Takes away a lot of the risk.