The Business of Travel Photography – Shutterbug

May 10, 2011 · 1 comment

5-469-13  stock photo of South Africa, Cape Town, Table Mountain and city at dawn from Lions Head

For an article on the Business of Travel Photography in the June 2011 issue of Shutterbug magazine now on the newstands, Maria Piscopo interviewed me along with travel shooters Glen Allison, Justin Bastien and Lorne Resnick. Here’s an excerpt from my intial interview. For the full story pick up and issue or subscribe:

The world of travel photography has undergone profound changes in the last few years with the introduction of digital media and distribution channels. First, an ever increasing supply of travel images available online has saturated the market for many types of imagery. Second, as result of competition and the introduction of microstock, the average price for licensing images has declined. Third, the recession has constrained many travel company and tourist board budgets. Fourth, with circulations and ad revenue down, travel publications are in difficult straits. Lastly, there is an increasing move towards crowd-sourcing images from amateurs and semi-pros in low end markets.

The consequences for travel photography are that many of the traditional avenues for revenue are no longer viable. Where does that leave the prospective travel photographer?

Some guidelines:

  • Familiarize yourself with the industry, online and print publications, travel and tourist boards, other travel photographers and teachers
  • Develop specialty expertise (geographic, cultural, technical etc.)
  • Work on your own photo projects and present them online.
  • Offer multiple services to a client, not just images but editing, web design, video, communications consulting, subject matter expertise, social media campaigns
  • Develop your own voice and point of view on your website.

Some classical strategies are still important:

  • Show only our best work. Edit tightly. Master Photoshop and post-processing to be sure your images are presented as well as possible.
  • Once you have a body of work online, then you can approach magazines and travel companies who use the kind of images or stories you produce, and the stock agencies who sell to them.
  • Take advantage of professional associations (ASMP, APA, SATW) and a variety of online communities (ASMPstock, FLICKR, Lighstalkers)

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