COMPETITIVE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Learn how to stay ahead of the competition in this challenging genre
Succeed in this challenging field
For many photographers, becoming a full-time travel shooter is somewhat of a dream job. The prospect of combining our love of capturing images with seeing more of the world through a lens is very appealing. However, making travel photography a genuinely profitable and sustainable profession is incredibly difficult. This is largely due to the vast number of other photographers attempting the same thing. With so much competition present, it can be challenging to attract enough image sales to support the lifestyle and cover costs. This is especially important and potentially problematic in this genre, as there are large and unavoidable initial outlays to be made – namely travel and accommodation – before any images can be taken. A potential solution is to attempt to secure clients before taking a photography trip. Approach book publishers, calendar manufacturers and postcard or poster printers to promote your services, or check their respective websites for ‘want’ lists. This can give your images a more secure purpose before they are even made, adding value to your excursion and reducing the risk factor – that of investment without return. Once you arrive in the field, always shoot with a purpose or image function in mind. Make your photographs fit the needs of your intended customers, arranging compositions to allow for copy to be added, and shooting in the appropriate frame orientation and at a suitable focal length. Whether or not you are shooting for a prearranged commission, ensuring your shots have maximum appeal and selling potential is vital for securing a competitive market share and possible repeat business. If you manage to establish a working relationship with potential users of your work, keep them informed of your travel schedule, so that they can keep you apprised of their image needs and you can present yourself as working flexibly with them in mind. It gives you a competitive edge if clients know where you will be and when.
To increase file versatility, shoot scenes in both portrait and landscape orientation and take multiple versions. Having duplicate files enables you to sell on an exclusive basis, for higher fees, should a client or agency request this, while having alternative shots to sell freely.
Beyond costs, another challenge is capturing images that out-compete the competition for the attention of