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

Monday, March 22, 2010

Land of the Rising Sun


Well it's that time of year again. Heading off to Japan for a month or so. It's a nice time of year with the cherry blossoms out around Tokyo and it still snowing up in Sapporo.

The kids have already put in their order for 4 days at Disneyland and we've organised to spend a few days at an 'onsen' hot springs resort outside of Sapporo with the in-laws.

Going back to Japan regularly as I do it reminds me of one of the beauties of regularly visiting and getting to know one specific area. The knowledge you gain over a long period of time enables you to search out images that won't be available to the average tourist or short-term visitor. As you get more of an understanding of the culture and the geography you increase the depth of your photographic coverage, instead of just shooting a wide variety of what I would call surface shots.

By digging below what the average visitor would see you come away with more intimate images. In a world saturated with photographs from every single corner of the globe the next frontier for the travel photographer either wanting to make a living, or hoping to get images out of the ordinary could come from this knowledge.

Travel photography has always been about showing the world to people who can't visit these places themselves, or inspiring those who can to choose that destination for their next holiday. But with microstock images available for a couple of cents and lots of people prepared to give their stuff away for free it's going to be pretty hard going forward to license 'shallow' images of destinations unless the light or conditions are really special.

So have a think about what you can bring to the travel photography party that others don't. Do you speak a foreign language? Live in a part of the world that is a popular tourist destination? Can get access to unusual views of popular landmarks? Have a cousin who has a friend who knows a brother? You get the idea. The ability to stand out in the saturated world of travel photography going forward is probably going to be reliant not on what you know about photography, but who you know and what you know about the places you visit. The specialist rather than the generalist. Time to put your thinking caps on, get out your little black book and start calling in those contacts.

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