I’m sitting at the Gold Coast airport with an hour to spare before heading off to Darwin and onto Timor-Leste on assignment so I thought I’d update my blog with another photography tip which might be helpful to those raising a camera and looking to make money out of it while they are travelling.
The subject: The difference between a Travel Photographer and a Travel and Tourism Photographer (it’s the later, by the way, which appears on my business card).
As a travel photographer, I walk around – camera in hand – ready to capture an appealing image of the location I’m visiting. My circumstance often dictates I move quickly – producing what I hope will be candid, appealing images of life as it presents itself in the destination I’m traveling. And it’s a challenge. A lot of time can be spent wandering opportunistically with very little to show for it. On the other hand, something stunning can be captured in your first few minutes out of the door. The skill, I think, is in anticipating or recognising what is often a fleeting opportunity and being in the best position to capture it.
But as a tourism photographer, this is only half of my job. Tourism photography – crass as it may sound – is all about deliberately selling a destination with photographs. It’s about recognising the destination’s competitive strengths, understanding the markets it’s seeking to attract and delivering images that re-enforce a strategy to market the destination. Truth be told, in the world of professional travel and tourism photography, often the shots that stand out in a highly competitive international marketplace are not those taken randomly, they are the ones that have been pre-conceived and carefully planned for. They have not been taken; they have been made. In my case, the process begins with me identifying one – or several – of the most outstanding features of a destination and building an idea for a photograph around them. Ideally, I’ll look to layer the photograph with the right talent, the right wardrobe and props, set them against a stunning background and, hopefully, shoot it in a perfect light – all combined to deliver a key marketing message (i.e.that the destination is culturally rich, romantic, safe, indulgent, full of adventure etc). And, within that framework, I’ll make a generous allowance for spontaneity to convey that “connecting emotion” so everything doesn’t look too staged.
It’s a fine line to get it right.
But deciding on whether you’re a Travel Photographer or a Travel and Tourism Photographer is an important distinction – one that could completely change your approach to how you travel with a camera.
For more tips on Travel Photography, click here.