Travel photography is one of the most oft-named areas of interest by photographers
polled in my marketing workshops and classes. The allure is undeniable--it
seems to be all about exotic places to visit and fascinating people to meet.
While lots of photographers want to get into travel photography it's also
one of the most competitive fields in free-lance photography.
Like any very competitive photography market, you need to specifically target
and then research your clients before you begin any marketing or selling. Search
the library source books, the Internet, and mailing list agencies that compile
travel clients' names. Don't stop there--take a hard look at
your prospective clients and assess whether or not your work is best suited
to their needs.
Travel photography is really two fields of work: the photography of travel and
the photography for travel. The photography of travel will be clients in advertising
and the goal of the images is to get people to drop what they are doing and
buy something--a ticket, a time-share. The photography for travel is more
geared toward storytelling and clients will be in editorial and publishing.
Which do you prefer?
Finally, look at the diverse subjects of the photography. Depending on the client
and the goal (of travel or for travel) you will be shooting architecture ("sticks
and bricks"), food, portraits, lifestyle, and people with products--just
about every subject under the sun! But they all have one thing in common--the
business of travel.
Prospective Clients For Your Travel Photography
Here's a quick look at all the different types of travel clients. The
big "divide" is between the more commercial (advertising) clients
and the more editorial (publishing) clients.
· Corporate clients (retailers, wholesalers, vacation clubs, leisure products
and sports products manufacturers--even educational institutions)
· Graphic design firms with travel clients
· Magazines that feature travel stories (note that this is not limited
to "travel magazines")
· Governments, travel bureaus
· Book publishers
· Paper products
· Stock and fine art sales
Marketing Tips From Travel Photographers
For marketing tips, let's talk to some travel photographers. For some,
the personal approach is still the best. Tom Reid (www.TRmotionstills.com)
starts with the basics as recommended earlier and researches his prospective
clients by checking out their websites.
Reid says, "Websites start everything for me. At any moment, I might find
that they have a good shooter but haven't done a lot of new images for
many different reasons and have nothing on the horizon. If so, I move on. I
also find clients I'd love to work with whom I know I could shoot great
images for, but they like who they are working with. I'm happy, they're
happy and I work on another prospect at that point. I've basically been
hitting very high percentages with book (portfolio) presentations and maybe
that's the key--sales calls, shake hands, let them know you're
just like them. Seriously, personal presentations with the book go a long way.
I wish I had a week every month just to show my book."
2005, Allan A. Philiba, All Rights Reserved
Allan A. Philiba (www.profotos.com/pros/profiles/index.cfm?member=852)
agrees with Reid on the value of the one-on-one approach. He says, "For
me, having worked in the New York metropolitan area, the personal touch works
best: sales calls, followed by appointments and return appointments at later
dates, each time with better and better photos. A top art director at one of
the largest advertising firms in New York with many large travel accounts told
me something I never forgot. He pointed to a wall full of business cards from
photographers behind him and told me that `every one of those photographers
is very competent and would probably do a great job on most assignments, like
you. However, you and I have built a great rapport, and that's why I give
you the assignments rather than them.'"
2005, Allan A. Philiba, All Rights Reserved
For new technology marketing, Doug Plummer (www.dougplummer.blogs.com/daily)
gets the most out of using the Internet. He says, "I think marketing is
getting more casual, in terms of portrayal of image and what some clients are
looking for. Case in point: my primary creative outlet lately has been my daily
photoblog. It is the opposite of a refined, thought-out, structured portfolio.
There's no sexy, titanium case. There's no fancy Flash code. I just
photograph every day. I pick one to post. It's just one photograph after
another, day after day. I printed and bound the first hundred days of my photoblog,
and started showing it as my portfolio. One designer completely keyed into what
I was doing and she's someone who has been on my `hit list'
for years. I think what the blog shows is my truest photographic sensibility,
my daily response to the world. Formatting is less important in this environment.
I think the image really is the message. That I've kept it up, and at
a high level visually, speaks to a level of discipline and commitment that is
the meta-message about how I'll act with a client. The right people are
going to get it."
2005, Doug Plummer, All Rights Reserved