I’ve been invited back as one of only two foreign photographers to address the annual Colors of Saudi Arabia National Photography Conference in Riyadh.
It’s the third time I’ve been invited, so I’m left to assume my sponsors see some value in what I have to offer (or, quite possibly, they’re simply entertained by my animated performance as I look to reach my audience through an interpreter while still recovering from the jet lag involved in flying from the other end of the planet).
This year’s format will be a three-day auditorium workshop, followed by a day of practical where I believe we’ll wander off to a fortress in the city and look to put what we have learned into practice.
Quite sensibly, I think, the Tourism Commission has recognised it already has a number of very talented photographers in Saudi Arabia, however, few of them are aware of how to shoot promotional photographs that are likely to appeal to a western audience (for those who are unaware, Saudi has just begun opening its doors to tourism).
The message I’ll take to the conference is that there is a difference between Travel Photography and Tourism Photography. ( For those that haven’t heard me preach from my soapbox, Travel Photography is largely about wandering around with a camera in hand, capturing beautiful photographs opportunistically. While Tourism Photography is about shooting high quality promotional photographs to convey the particular marketing message a destination is looking to project ( ie welcoming, full of adventure, romantic etc etc).
As I’ve been carrying-on about the difference – and what is needed to successfully deliver the later – every time I’ve visited, the tourism commission has concluded a bit of guidance for its local photographers might be helpful.
(In fact, there also seems to be interest in this approach in the South Pacific, with The Cook Islands signing up for an Introductory workshop in Tourism Photography for their tourism industry next year, and rumblings that other tourism authorities may be interested as well.
Anyway, I’m off to Saudi again – and I’m looking forward to it (even though it’s a presentation-only appearance this time, with plans for me to return in 2019 for some more photography). In the meantime, I’ve started structuring the presentation to meet a range of interests and abilities. Thankfully, I have two decades of images – including several hundred photos captured previously in Saudi – to illustrate my points.
I leave for the desert kingdom after a quick corporate shoot I’ve got up in Papua New Guinea at the start of next month……Inshallah.
If you’re interested in what unfolds, and receiving some “real-world” tips on travel and tourism photography as I go, follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/davidkirklandphotography (……which, I must confess, I’ve been paying way-more attention to of late than my blog).