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 uniquely presents itself. 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 travel and 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. In the world of professional travel and tourism photography, often the shots that really stand out in a highly competitive international marketplace are not taken randomly, they are created. In my case, they are often pre-conceived once I identify one – or several – of the most outstanding features of a destination. Conceiving the photograph is the biggest challenge (followed closely by your ability to convince your client that what needed to make it work is worth the effort, he says). Ideally, I’ll look to layer the photograph with the right talent, the right wardrobe and props, a stunning background and, hopefully, a perfect light – all combined to deliver a key marketing message (i.e. culturally rich, romantic, safe, indulgent, adventure etc) And, within that framework, I make a generous allowance for spontaneity to convey that “connecting emotion” so everything doesn’t look too staged.
Often, its a fine line getting all of this 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.