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The Power of Choosing a Niche

Travel insights from Elisa Parhad, contributor to The Compass

It might seem counterintuitive but focusing on a specific corner of the market — whether that be multi-generational travel, cruising or European vacations —is key. Doing so can turn your travel agency into a powerhouse, enabling your business to attract more clients, while showcasing you as an expert in a specific area. You’ll also spend less time researching trips as you continue to build your knowledge about your specific target audience and their needs.

This philosophy is one that Sharon Little, Owner of Bespoke Travel Group, always believed. She knew that, at some point, she would become known for a niche of her own. After all, she had always worked in one, initially in sports travel in the United Kingdom, and then in romance travel thereafter. But an even more specific corner of the market became clear in 2011 on a trip to Jamaica.

“I noticed at every property I visited, there were several weddings each day,” says Little. It turns out that Jamaica is one of the easiest places for Americans to get married legally, and the island offers several other perks for couples, including tropical vibes and close proximity to the East Coast and Midwest. Little also loved the island, so the decision she made was easy: her agency, Bespoke Travel Group (formerly known as Wedding and Honeymoon Travel Group), would focus on couples headed to Jamaica for weddings or honeymoons. “It was my niche within a niche,” Little jokes.

For three to four years, Little only booked these two types of trips, despite getting inquiries for other destinations. Working with top suppliers and vendors, she quickly achieved her goal and became the leading agency for weddings on the island. Although Bespoke Travel now offers trips to a variety of other islands and Mexico, Little is first and foremost an authority on Jamaican romance travel.

“If you’re good at what you do, and you have that knowledge, you become the authority for that niche and the go-to person,” said Little. “Not only were we getting referral business from our customers, but the partners that we worked with often recommended us to their clients, too.”

By zeroing in on a specific travel segment, Little’s reputation precedes her. Her job also requires far less research than if she were booking for a broader range of destinations, saving her valuable time on a day-to-day basis.

“We know what time the sun sets and what time the sun’s actually going down. We know how windy that location is. We know how long it’s going to take the bride to get from her room to the altar and we know what the walkway looks like. Essentially, we know every minute detail. To me, that’s a huge benefit I can offer clients,” Little says. “It also makes the job exponentially easier. Once you have your niche down, you basically know everything, or the majority of the knowledge that you need for every single inquiry.”

Another advantage of a specialization is that competition is reduced and the return on budgeting dollars — because they are focused — is higher. “I’d much rather be laser-focused on a smaller audience but convert them to clients at a much higher rate,” says Little.

How to find your own niche

This starts with discovering your passion. Little suggests asking yourself what you enjoy selling. Whether it is retreat trips for artists, deep-sea fishing excursions or heritage travel to Eastern Europe, it is crucial that you truly enjoy that type of travel and crafting those itineraries.

“If you’re a generalist right now, look at all the different types of travel you are booking,” Little suggests. “Maybe you love planning European itineraries or multi-generational families getting together and having a great experience. Regardless, it must be something you really love. If you aren’t excited about it, it’s not your niche.”

Next, research the market to understand if you can make a living on that slice of the pie. Is it big enough? Is it already saturated? In finding or developing your niche market, ensure it has accessible customers, room for growth, and no dominant competition.

Identifying and researching areas you are passionate about can be the fun part. Where most advisors get stuck is committing to their chosen niche. For a period, this likely means turning down work and getting through a hard transition period with a lower income stream. In Little’s case, she planned for a slow period of three to six months — the approximate amount of time it took her to change her message and let it filter down to her target customers. The success that followed is a testament to the idea that the foundation for a great business takes time and patience.

Little’s advice to weather the transition is to be prepared for short-term losses, partner with the best vendors and suppliers, and keep your eye on the long game. Now with 10 years of business behind her, she says the payoff is worth the initial hardships she had to overcome. Luckily for her, in just 12 to 18 months she was pulling in over a million dollars in revenue.

Get your message out there

Like so many elements of business today, social media is a key to keeping clients informed of any pivot your agency makes. Use these channels to communicate what your agency is learning and where it is going. “You’re just trying to get the word out there,” says Little. “’Hey, I’m doing this class today,’ or, ‘Hey, I’m in this destination today, and I’m learning about this.’ It’s about involving them in your learning process. In keeping them updated and letting them know what it is that you’re doing, you’re developing your education and keeping clients informed.”

When Little was starting out, social media wasn’t what it is today and she didn’t have a significant following. She turned to referrals, which is another classic tool to help grow a niche market. In the world of romance travel, it is likely that every bride getting married knows at least three other brides getting married within a couple of years. Little seized on that opportunity. “We would go to our brides with a referral program and ask them if they knew anyone getting married or getting engaged,” she explains. “We would ask them if they knew anyone or heard of anyone who’s looking for this type of service, to please keep us in mind. And, that has worked really, really well for us.”

The work of having an agency focused on a niche isn’t done after you have a regular roster of clients booking trips. Tending to your niche is just as important as committing to it. “It’s a partnership and a relationship that needs continuous nurturing,” says Little. “There’s high turnover in the hotels and the wedding teams, and properties constantly have new products, new packages and new customizations you need to know about.”

Focusing on a niche requires finding your passion, committing to your corner of the market and constantly nurturing its growth. “I don’t want to be a Jack of all trades, master of none,” Little says. “I want to be a big fish in a small pond. Because for me, sticking to a niche has absolutely worked.”

In searching for your own portion of paradise, remember that new niches are created all the time — think film tourism, trips for those who only travel with pets or adventure travel for women over 50. For Little, it was a perfect pairing of romance and an accommodating island in the West Indies. For you, the opportunities are endless.

Originally appeared in the spring 2022 issue of The Compass Magazine.

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How to Sell Yourself as a Travel Advisor

Travel insights from Steve Hirshan, senior vice president of sales at Avoya Travel and contributor to Travel Professional News

Here’s the one question customers usually ask themselves that can make or break your sale: “Am I willing to invest my time and trust with this person?”

How do you ensure you get the ‘yes’? By ensuring you’re selling yourself to your clients. As a travel advisor, your experience and knowledge help you design unforgettable travel experiences for your clients – this value that you bring is what you want to be selling. By ‘selling the product’ first and not yourself, you run the risk of your clients saying to themselves, “I can buy this online.”

Compare this to the large-scale travel websites today that focus on selling the product first. Following this strategy is sure to guarantee that your authenticity, uniqueness and human side get lost in the mass market of potential sources for booking travel.

Here are four tips on how to best showcase your value as a travel professional to your clients (and how to win over new ones).

Showcase Your Expertise

Don’t just focus on selling the deal, sell your knowledge and expertise. Being a jack-of-all-trades (but a master of none) isn’t going to help you stand out in the marketplace, so be sure to focus on a niche to specialize in and communicate that expertise to your clients. To get started, choose a few destinations, products or types of travel experiences and make those your specialty. Incorporating a niche may seem like you’re narrowing your prospects, however, it can create more business than you think by winning over prospective clients’ trust.

Focus On Personalization And The Human Touch

In today’s digital world, personalization is a must, and that doesn’t exclude the travel industry. Travelers are seeking out that personal touch more than ever, which is your opportunity to step up and fill those shoes.

Large-scale online travel agencies often make travelers feel unimportant and unknown, and clients can be made to wait on hold when complications arise. Travelers want to be assured they can talk to a real person, not a machine or call center agent – someone who gives that personal support even while clients are traveling.

You’ll also want to take the time to get to know your clients’ interests. Travelers are seeking out personalized trips partial to their interests and hobbies. You may have a customer looking at going paddle boarding, exploring coffee houses, different cuisines or cliff diving on the other side of the globe. Whatever their interest is, creating a personalized itinerary that reflects the traveler is key to success.

Sell Your Services

When it comes to the value you can bring to a booking, people usually think of the assistance you can provide when things go wrong, the time you can save clients by sifting through a myriad of travel options and the details you can tend to on their behalf that make trips go more smoothly (especially during these last two years).

Travelers are not coming to you for something they can easily book online themselves. They want to see the value of using you. Add different complexities to remind your customer that only you can plan a vacation like this – unique recommendations, unforgettable excursions, first-hand experience – the possibilities are endless.

Define Your Elevator Pitch

If you had only 30 seconds to sell yourself (and the value you provide), the same amount of time it would take you to ascend five floors in an elevator, would you be able to convince someone to book their travel through you? A good elevator pitch will help you establish yourself as someone with the ability to create great vacations for your clients; not just a representative for various travel companies, but the go-to source for all things travel.

Take the time to define what makes your agency different than the large-scale OTAs or other travel advisors out there. Is it an interesting backstory or a focus on a specific travel expertise? Make sure you know who you are and what you’re able to share with your clients. If you’re not clearly defining your value, your clients won’t be able to see it either.

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Germany Drops All COVID-Related Entry Requirements

By Matt TurnerJun 7, 2022 08:52am

Berlin, Germany (Photo by bluejayphoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Just in time for summer travel season, Germany has dropped its “3G” rule—which stated that tourists had to either show proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or provide a negative test when entering Germany—for travelers coming from the European Union, Schengen Area or other countries where the epidemiological situation is deemed acceptable by the E.U.

This means that, from the United States, visitors can now enter Germany without carrying any kind of proof of their COVID status. The modification is set to stay in place until at least August 31 and comes at a time during which many tourists make their summer travel plans, according to the German National Tourist Board.

Good to know: Germany had also dropped its mask mandates earlier this year; the only federal rule still remaining in place requires people to wear masks on public transportation.

Entry from any other country beyond those that fit the above criteria for any purpose (including visits and tourism) is only possible for fully vaccinated people. For people not yet vaccinated entry from other countries is only possible in exceptional cases and is conditional on there being an urgent need. Travelers that may have stayed in an area of concern within 10 days prior to their entry to Germany must observe special regulations, which includes registering before entry, providing a negative PCR-test result and quarantining for 14 days.

A total travel ban is in place for countries with widespread occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 virus variants of concern.

For the latest information, visit www.auswaertiges-amt.de.

This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.

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6 of the best location-scouting apps and websites for all photographers

By

Jamie Carter

Need some inspiration? Or have you got a great photo location you want to share with other photographers? These apps and websites will do just the job

Discover the best apps below to help you find the perfect locations for your photography. Photo by by Jaromir Chalabala

Finding amazing places to explore with your camera can be challenging particularly if you’re after something unusual. Thankfully there are plenty of apps that will help, from those offering simple inspiration and directions to others that will help you plan when to be there and at what time to get a specific kind of shot.

Here are some of the best location-scouting apps to help you find a great place to take your camera…

1 Atlas Obscura


Although it’s not specifically aimed at photographers, Atlas Obscura is hugely useful if you’re after something unusual.

“If you’re looking for something unusual, unexpected and, for the most part, largely ignored by my Instagrammers, Atlas Obscura is a must-have to check…”

Based on a website that’s been around for over a decade, its database of almost 25,000 unique places in the world depends on user-generated content and mostly comprises unusual and obscure travel destinations. We’re talking deserted buildings, weird architecture and things that appear to be out of place.

Some of them aren’t particularly photogenic – they’re only here because they have an interesting backstory – but a great deal of them are must-see, must-photograph places. If you’re looking for something unusual, unexpected and, for the most part, largely ignored by my Instagrammers, Atlas Obscura is a must-have to check before you go … anywhere. 

Author tip:

Perhaps because it’s been around for a long time, the database behind the Atlas Obscura website helps the app seem both professional and polished. For example, for each location you not only get directions For Google Maps, but you also get a link to the official website, where appropriate. you can also add any location to a list, make edits to existing entries and even add your own photos. However, you can use the Atlas Obscura app without signing-up or logging in. 

2 PhotoPills


If you want to shoot a sunset, sunrise, or a rising or setting full moon then you simply must download the PhotoPIlls app. When you’re in position you can use its augmented reality mode to display on your smartphone exactly where on horizon the Sun and the Moon will be at a specific time. It means you can can get in an exact position at an exact time to photograph, say, the Moon rising between two buildings.

It works really well when you’re in position, but its ‘planner’ page – a map with the exact direction of the Sun and Moon, as well as the times of golden hours, blue hour and even the length of shadows – is excellent for helping you scout out a good location in advance.

Author tip:

As well as being great for getting your angles right for the Sun and the Moon, PhotoPills is also an excellent source of information about meteor showers. Although displays of so-called ‘shooting stars’ tend to be hyped up by the media, the brightness of the Moon can render some of them completely invisible. PhotoPills includes dates for all active meteor showers, but crucially also includes the phase and illumination percentage of the Moon. 

3 MapAPic

MapAPic doesn’t offer you any inspiration or information on new photo locations. Instead it enables you to get as much out of places you’re currently in, you’ve recently been to or that you intend to visit soon. For example, if you’re in location or you’ve recently been somewhere and you’ve taken a photo that includes GPS data – likely from your smartphone or connected camera – then this app will create a new location, and then give you the option to add a photo.

However, the magic comes from its ‘sun insights’ page, which for very specific places will give you the exact times for astronomical night, dawn, the morning and evening golden hours, and the evening blue hour. You can also make notes about the location, back-up your favourite locations to Dropbox and share and print PDFs. 

Author tip:

MapAPic is a unique resource for photographers who intend to return to specific destinations. It gives you the exact times on any given date that you need to be in position to get a specific shot. However, given that this app is taking-in incredibly detailed information from all kinds of photographers it’s a shame you can’t browse others’ stored locations. 

4 TripBucket Mobile

Recently re-named (it used to be called Roadside Attractions Guide), this app has the tag-line “dream it, plan it, do it, share it”, which neatly summarises what it’s all about. The main way to interrogate its contents is by allowing it to see your location, which it uses to show you large thumbnail photos of attractions and things to do nearby.

However, you can also zoom-in on a map, browse via category or see upcoming events. Scan down the list and it takes you farther from your location. Click on the thumbnail and you’ll see a brief description, a useful gallery of photos, driving directions using the usual smartphone navigation apps, and even the current weather. You can also add your own photos and share each location with others. Annoyingly you have to create an account to get access, but once you’re in it’s really easy to use. 

Author tip:

A polished yet relatively simple app, TripBucket Mobile is essentially for travellers looking for inspiration and ideas when planning trips, so it should appeal mostly to travel photographers. It also has a fabulous section of about 100 virtual tours where you can choose a destination or theme – including Tokyo, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the U.S. National Parks – and then see 360º photos of those top attractions. It’s useful for planning potential shots. 

5 rGPS (Really Good Photo Spots)

What the aptly-named Really Good Photo Spots lacks in content it makes up for with in-depth detail. It’s a fairly simple database of interesting places, which you can interrogate by asking the app to look for spots around you using your phone’s location, or buy a manual search. You can also add your own spots and create trips, though the latter is a premium feature only.

What makes rGPS different to some of the more travel-centric apps is that not only is it focused purely on photography, but for each location it also gives you the exact GPS coordinates. However, the app does have a fairly rudimentary feel about it, and each page features ads, albeit rather small.

Author tip:

You don’t get a friendly welcome on rGPS. First it asks for your email and a password to sign-up – with no Facebok or Apple/Google auto-signup possible – then immediately asks  for £8.99 for a one-year, auto-renewing subscription. That gets you no ads and the ability to both create and save trips, as well as save locations for offline access. That could be useful if you’re away from mobile phone networks and WiFi.

Photomapper


Here’s an app that has a lot of potential, but so far lacks content. A crowdsourcing app that relies on photographers submitting their own photos and details of where they were taken, Photomapper presents a map of the world that you can zoom in on. As you do you see photos for various locations with a small blue number indicating how many shooting locations are included for that city, region or country. You then just click on the thumbnails to reveal small versions of all the photos submitted, with each one including information on the best time to go and details about entrance fees, if relevant.

You’ll need an account with Photomapper to start adding your own photos and tips, but you don’t need to sign-up or login to passively use Photomapper.

Author tip:

For each photo it’s possible to get the exact location of where the photo was taken. It opens using either Google Maps or, on an iPhone, Apple Maps, so you can navigate straight to it. You can also use either Mapbox or OpenStreetMap for the world map.

More apps:

Discover more brilliant resources for your photography with our recommended photography apps.

Jamie Carter

Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.

THE TOP CARIBBEAN DESTINATIONS FOR A COMPANY RETREAT

Born FreeBusiness TravelThe Top Caribbean Destinations For a Company Retreat

Going on company retreats has many benefits that can help the overall productivity of your business. Having fun as a team can build a family-like atmosphere and can help workers feel more comfortable with one another. This leads to better overall communication. Kelsey Meyer, writing for Entrepreneur Magazine, suggested that company retreats can even help managers discover hidden talents in their employees. By using out-of-the-box team building activities, managers can get a better look at potential or hidden leadership skills.

If your company is ready to take a trip to the Caribbean to build a better team, Fare Buzz suggests that you consider these affordable destinations:

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a great choice for company retreats because you won’t have to worry about making sure everyone has their passport. As long as everyone on the trip has a valid photo I.D., you shouldn’t have any problems getting to this fantastic Caribbean island.
In San Juan, there are many excellent traditional resorts, but if you’re looking for something unique, consider taking your team to Old San Juan where you can explore beautiful streets lined with 16th century architecture. Use company bonding time for exploring shops and historic districts and enjoy your dinners near breezy, tranquil coastline. You may create a scavenger hunt where teams of coworkers find different stores to take selfies, or purchase and bring back cultural merchandise to feature at a post-game dinner.

U.S. Virgin Islands
Another destination that doesn’t require a passport is the U.S. Virgin Islands. They offer more traditional resort opportunities, and you can use the meeting rooms at the resort to hold conferences and work on team building activities. Afterwards (or maybe in the morning before the meeting), your team can spend some time soaking up the rays on a white sand beach.

When you’re all ready to do some exploring, you can check out some of the great places the island has to offer, such as Blackbeard’s Castle, a tower built in the 1670s.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Ready to sip on a coconut and relax in style? Then consider taking your team to beautiful Montego Bay. Here you can enjoy some Jamaica’s best cuisine such as jerk chicken, saltfish and curried mutton. You can even rent a boat for a day trip into the bay for a fishing adventure. The office will be the last thing on everyone’s minds by the time you get back to the hotel at the end of the day.

CHECK OUT OUR EBOOK on MONTEGO BAY

Want a unique way to bond with your team members as well as sea creatures? How about taking a dip in the ocean among the dolphins? In the Bahamas, visitors can swim with bottlenose dolphins and take a dive among the colorful sea life below the blue waves. When you’re not taking a dip in the sea, the Bahamas has a lot more to offer, including boat tours, art galleries, and historic buildings. These options lend to positive business retreat experience. Let Fare Buzz help you find the perfect resort in Nassau or the other locations in the Bahamas to host your stay!

When everyone gets back to the office, the feeling of camaraderie and friendship will be higher than ever. Not only will your team be fully relaxed and rested, they’ll be ready to get back to work and be more productive than ever.
Now the only remaining question is: How will Fare Buzz help me find the perfect destination for my business retreat?

Answer:
• Call the Support Team at Fare Buzz at 1.800.847.1963 for assistance and for an unpublished fare!
• Sign up today to become a Rewards Member and start earning points towards future travel plans.
• You can even book online for business travel with Fare Buzz & receive $100 cash back!

YOUR GUIDE TO LUXURY RESORTS IN CABO SAN LUCAS

Born FreeHotel UpdatesYour Guide to Luxury Resorts in Cabo San Lucas

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Cabo San Lucas is a resort town situated at the tip of the Baja California peninsula in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. A favorite with sun-seeking vacationers and celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith, and George Clooney, Cabo San Lucas and its neighboring town of San Jose del Cabo make up the resort area, popularly known as Cabo.

As with most ocean-facing vacation hotspots, Cabo San Lucas offers a plethora of attractions. Numerous bars and restaurants line its beachfront and a multitude of water-based recreational activities set forth from its main Medano Beach. The resort city also has a large marina with yachting facilities and hosts famous landmarks such as the unusual natural formations at Land’s End; an outcrop located close to a small island that is home to two aptly-named beaches, the tranquil Playa del Amor or Lovers Beach and the tumultuous Divorce Beach.

As for accommodation, in Cabo, it’s all about grand, luxurious resorts, many of which offer all-inclusive deals ensuring that guests have no reason to leave their premises.

The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort

The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort is an adults-only, all-inclusive luxury boutique property located within a fashionable residential area of Quivira Los Cabos, a mere twenty minutes drive from the Cabo San Lucas Airport. The property is one of three properties that belong to the group that owns two other resorts in Cabo, namely the villa-only Monte Cristo and the all-inclusive Sunset Resort.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort is an exclusive hideaway consisting of a 201-room boutique resort that offers easy access to both downtown Cabo San Lucas as well as a private hotel beach on the Pacific Ocean.

Guests at this lux enclave also enjoy exclusive access to the Quivira Golf Club and its signature Jack Nicklaus Golf Course.

The resort has a wellness retreat onsite in the form of the expansive Armonia Spa that offers a whole host of relaxing and detoxifying treatments, which are expertly administered using only the finest organic ingredients.

Other amenities at this design-forward resort include five restaurants, including a Japanese restaurant that offers fresh sushi and five bars, one of which is a beach bar with a fire pit.

The well-appointed air-conditioned rooms at the resort feature the essential amenity – free Wi-Fi – along with a balcony and a kitchenette. During the whaling season from December to April, you can book a whale-watching trip through the resort, which arranges these tours for their guests.

Marina Fiesta Resort & Spa

The Marina Fiesta Resort and Spa enjoys an enviable location in the heart of the resort city within proximity to Medano Beach. All the luxurious suites at this resort property offer marina or pool views and feature private balconies, kitchenettes and sit-out areas along with free Wi-Fi. The resort has a large outdoor pool with a swim-up bar, a full-service spa, and a fitness center as well as a business center.

The Marina Fiesta resort offers an all-inclusive dine-out concept at a selection of fine dining and casual eateries that are located in the Marina Golden Zone and at its sister property, the Hacienda Encantada resort.

The resort’s central location grants easy access to other Cabo attractions such as Puerto Paraiso Mall and the upscale shopping hub, Luxury Avenue.

Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos

This all-inclusive resort occupies a cliff top between downtown Cabo San Lucas and the Pacific Ocean. The Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort, and the staff organizes an array of activities daily to keep young guests entertained.

If spa treatments are your priority while on vacation, you will not be disappointed with the natural treatments at the luxurious Spa del Mar. The beautiful spa offers a warm and inviting ambiance as it occupies a space carved into one of Cabo’s hills.

For discerning guests, the resort offers spacious, private, and luxurious accommodations with amenities like Jacuzzis and VIP pool access. The resort offers buffet as well as specialty restaurants and bars on site along with a well-equipped fitness center.

Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos

This large, all-inclusive lavish resort offers 527 well-kitted-out rooms and suites in the exclusive gated development of Cabo del Sol. The hotel has a private beach and is within proximity to the Cabo del Sol golf course to which its guests have access.

This extravagant resort also offers a full-service spa, nine diverse eateries, and six outdoor pools and Jacuzzis. All rooms at the resort feature private balconies, deep soaking tubs, free Wi-Fi and LCD TVs with a multitude of TV channels.

Other Cabo attractions such as the Arch at Lands End and downtown Cabo San Lucas are accessible via a short drive if you feel the need to leave the resort at all.

Get your trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico started

Spend a week or two at a luxury resort in the stunning resort town, Cabo San Lucas. With daily flights to Cabo, Fare Buzz travel specialists can find a discounted fare that matches your travel needs and budget.

Start here:
● Fill in the Request a Quote with your travel details and a travel specialist will research options and contact you shortly
● Call 1-800-847-1963 to speak directly with a travel specialist

✈️ Plan your trip to Cabo San Lucas today!

Navigation and browsing improvements for SmugMug.

We recently shared our forward looking for 2022 and are excited to talk about the latest improvements made to SmugMug for our photographers. Read on to learn more.

Announcing global navigation changes and browsing enhancements.

SmugMug is for more than just photos. We’re here for your videos and RAW files, too. Therefore we are making some terminology changes in our global navigation to reflect this. These changes include Photos renamed to Library and Photo Site renamed to Site.

Before:

After:

Finding items in the SmugMug Library is done by browsing and searching. This release includes a number of features to enhance the search and browse abilities in the SmugMug Library, namely:

Focused Search Page.

A focused context-sensitive search interface allows you to filter, sort or refine your search results. Once you have found the items you were looking for you can select one or many items and take actions, such as deleting, downloading and modifying keywords.

Finding items in the SmugMug Library is done by browsing and searching. This release includes a number of features to enhance the search and browse abilities in the SmugMug Library, namely:

Focused Search Page.

A focused context-sensitive search interface allows you to filter, sort or refine your search results. Once you have found the items you were looking for you can select one or many items and take actions, such as deleting, downloading and modifying keywords.

Recently Added.

Want quick access to the items you most recently added to SmugMug? Recently Added allows you to quickly access the photos and videos that you recently added to SmugMug.

Smug Improvements

Browse By Date.

Most users use dates to organize their SmugMug items, but run into problems finding a specific photo when they don’t remember exactly when a photo was taken. Browse by Date provides an interactive way to browse your SmugMug Library, surfacing the time periods when photos and videos were created and a simple way to visually browse your photos within that time period.

First, you are presented with a grid grouped and labeled by the year the item was captured.

You can further drill into a year by clicking the image and you are presented with each month that contains items.

Once you have clicked on the desired month, you are presented with a search page that displays all of the items captured during that month. From here, you can further refine your results, by filtering by type, sorting and entering search terms and results are generated in the context of that month.

This is just the start of an amazing year and beyond. We are dedicated to sharing out changes and improvements as they are made. Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or start a conversation on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Copyright Law: Understanding Your Rights as a Photographer

In the age of social media, a clear understanding of your rights as a photographer is crucial to receiving the credit you deserve. But with so much information out there, you might find yourself asking:

  • What laws are in place to protect photographers like me?
  • What do I do if someone uses my photo without permission?
  • How long do photographers have ownership of their images?

Here you will find an overview of what copyright law is and how it impacts your photography business. We’ll also take a look at the downloadable copyright resources and copyright infringement tools available to PPA members.

What is Copyright?

Copyright law in the United States prohibits the unauthorized copying of a “work of authorship.” In 1988, the following amendment was added to address visual works including photography:

“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”

Phew. That’s a mouthful of legalese! So what does it mean in English? Basically, copyright law says that when you take a photograph, you become the copyright owner of the image created. This means you hold exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce the photograph
  • Display the image in a public space
  • Distribute the photo
  • Create derivatives of the image

Seems straightforward, no? But what’s considered a “derivative?”

A “new version” of a work that is already copyrighted falls under the term of a “derivative” work. Special re-edits of movies, art reproductions, and literary translations all qualify as derivatives. A film based on a book or play is another common example.

In the realm of photography, any time someone creates a photograph that is a copy or “substantially similar” to another copyrighted work, they are potentially infringing upon the original owner’s rights.

By comparing and evaluating a derivative work to the original, a court of law can determine if any copyright laws have been violated. In other words, a photographer who went to great lengths to recreate an original work’s composition, lighting, and other creative elements would be more likely to be found guilty of copyright infringement than a photographer who simply takes pictures of subjects that already exist in other photos (i.e., monuments, nature). This means many different photographers can take photos of, say, the Golden Gate Bridge without infringing on each other’s artistic rights.

If you suspect your image has been used without your permission, use PPA’s copyright infringement tool to help you determine your next steps.

Mercedes Benz & Detroit’s Eastern Market Murals

In addition to looking out for your own rights, you as a photographer need to be aware of ways you may unknowingly infringe upon another artist’s rights. The last thing you want to do is misuse another creative’s work!

Take for example Mercedes Benz’s 2018 ad campaign featuring the company’s new vehicle “barreling through Detroit’s boho Eastern Market district past commercial buildings painted with vibrant murals.” Cool concept, no doubt. But the artists who created those murals that contributed so much color and atmosphere to the campaign were never asked permission to use their work, let alone credited:

“While Mercedes sought municipal permission to make beautiful shots of its vehicles on public city streets, it did not seek the muralists’ permission to make and post images of their works on Instagram. Copyright infringement? Mercedes thought not. The muralists—James Lewis, Jeff Soto, Maxx Gramajo, and Daniel Bombardier—thought otherwise.”

Read the full story at PPmag.com. The Mercedes Benz ad campaign is important for two reasons:

  1. It shows the importance of being aware of how others’ work appears in your photographs
  2. It serves as an example of how your work may be misused

The exception to copyright law is when the reproduction of a photograph or visual work is deemed “fair use.” The next section digs deeper into this term.

Fair Use

Fair use is an exception when it comes to copyright law. Journalism, critiques, research, and teaching materials are examples of specific types of writing that allow the reproduction of copyright-protected works without the permission of the “author”.

For example, if you exhibit your photography in a gallery, an art publication generally does not need permission to reproduce your image if they’re using it as part of a critique. Or, conversely, a newspaper may publish photographs of works and use them as part of an article. Both of these are examples of copyrighted work being used under “fair use” guidelines.

When considering whether a reproduction of a work is fair use, the U.S. Copyright Act says “the factors to be considered shall include whether:

  1. The use is of commercial nature or if it is for nonprofit education purposes
  2. The copyrighted work is highly creative or if it is fact-based
  3. Part of the entire original work was reproduced or just a part of it
  4. The reproduction reduces the value of the original work or has no effect

One important thing to keep in mind is that social media marketing’s use of images very rarely falls under “fair use.” If your photographic work is being used without your permission, check out the resources from PPA below for help determining if you need to take further action.


Resources

Remember: If a company uses one of your images in their marketing—on social media or otherwise—without your approval, they are violating your rights as a creator. So, what do you do if you suspect your work of being used without your permission? PPA has resources to help you understand copyright law, and even a Copyright Infringement Tool to leave no question in your mind whether or not your rights as a creator have been violated.

Protecting your work is vital to your success as a photographer. For more PPA resources, click here. 



Sources:
https://ppmag.com/news/photographers-should-be-cautious-about-using-murals-as-backdrops
https://blog.hootsuite.com/understanding-image-copyright/
https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-are-derivative-works-under-copyright-law
https://copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html


 

Stats: 70 Percent of Americans Plan to Travel in Next 12 Months

By Matt Turner Mar 30, 2022 10:31am

(Photo by jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Seven in 10 Americans are planning to take a leisure trip in the next 12 months, according to a recent survey by NerdWallet conducted online by The Harris Poll. More than 2,000 U.S. adults were asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to effect travel plans; beyond the 70 percent planning to travel, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said they were planning on taking two or more leisure trips in that span.

When it comes to those hitting the road more than once this year, Generation Z (ages 18 to 25) and Millennials are more likely to do so than members of earlier generations (60 percent of Gen Zers and 58 percent of millennials, versus 41 percent of Gen Xers and 40 percent of Baby Boomers).

Nearly one-quarter of Americans who have a travel rewards credit card (23 percent) are saving points or miles to pay for a luxurious or special occasion trip; 17 percent are saving them to pay for an international trip; and 16 percent are saving them because they want to visit a destination not currently accepting tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About two-thirds of Americans who don’t plan on traveling for leisure in the next 12 months say their reasons are COVID-related: 37 percent say it’s because they don’t feel safe traveling due to current or future COVID variants; 19 percent say it’s because they are concerned about COVID-19 case rates at their planned destinations, and 12 percent say it’s because the COVID-related restrictions at their desired destinations are a hassle. Among those not planning on traveling for leisure in the next 12 months, Baby boomers (ages 58 to 76) are more likely to avoid travel for COVID-related reasons than are members of later generations. A little over three in five Boomers (61 percent) cite COVID as a reason for not planning travel, versus 45 percent of Millennials (ages 26 to 41) and 43 percent of Generation Xers (ages 42 to 57).

Source: NerdWallet

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Five spectacular subjects for springtime photography

By Jamie Carter

From a sea of blue flowers and pink blossom to new life and an uptick in celestial activity, spring brings photographic opportunities galore

Flowers in bloom. Rushing waterfalls. The birth of new life. After a long winter, the beginning of spring is the ideal excuse to dust off your camera and get creative outdoors.

Nature comes alive in spring, with the longer days and warming temperatures leading to colorful sights such as wildflower displays and cherry blossoms, young animals frolicking, and even a little-known uptick in ‘space weather. Here are some of our top tips for taking full photographic advantage of the change from winter to spring…

Bluebell woods

Bluebell forest, taken at sunset in Micheldever Woods in Hampshire. Photo by Stuart Rouse – f/14 | 1.6s | ISO 100Micheldever Bluebells

A carpet of bluebells is an evocative image of spring, but like cherry blossoms, the season for capturing bluebells is short and sweet. They flower in April and May in the UK – home to over half the world’s bluebells – so you’re only going to get a short window to visit a bluebell wood to photograph them.

Although it’s a classic spring shot, bluebells can be tricky to capture. The options are endless. A wide-angle lens will help you create a dreamy scene, though you’ll need a very thick carpet of bluebells for that to work well. A telephotos lens can help you zoom in on a section of bluebell growth for a more luscious look. You can also attempt some macro shots of the flowers themselves. Close-ups are best done after rain when you can see droplets on the flowers, but you’ll likely have to be very patient because even a breath of wind can make a macro shot very difficult. 

Author tip:

Be really careful when in a bluebell wood because the flowers are very sensitive despite being perennials; they take many years to colonise a wood and if you stand on one it’s likely to die. So stick to paths and if attempting macro shots be very careful where you put your feet. There are actually two types of bluebells in the UK; the sweeter smelling British bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the less scented Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

Three lambs running across a field. Photo by Kieran Metcalfe – f/6.3 | 1/1000s | ISO 1250

Lambs gamboling in meadows and ducklings following their parents across streams and rivers; both are classic springtime photos, but they’re not particularly easy to get. A mistake a lot of casual wildlife photographers make is standing up. For a more interesting point of view crouch down to the eye-line of the animal. That way you’ll get a more natural-looking shot.

What lens to use depends on how far away the wildlife is, of course, but count on at least a mid-telephoto lens such as 300mm. Once you’re in position you have another problem because young animals move fast! So you have two choices; use a really fast shutter speed to make the animal sharp (but the background likely blurred) or a slightly longer shutter speed – and a smaller lens aperture – to keep both the subject and the background reasonably sharp. Exact settings will depend on your lens. For ducklings, go near sunset for more chance of activity and both reflections and silhouettes. For lambs, try to capture them in mid-gambol and be careful not to oversaturate their pure-white wool. 

Author tip:

There are ethics to consider before you stake-out a young family of animals to photograph. The golden rule is never to disturb wildlife, and that applies as much in your local park or a farmer’s field as it does when on safari. Firstly, don’t wear luminous or garish clothing. Secondly, keep as still as you can. Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – don’t get too close to them. Your focus should be on making yourself as invisible as possible. That way you won’t disturb your subject and you’ll also get more natural behaviour.

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossom in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Yuval Shoshan – f/4.5 | 1/100s | ISO 100

The sudden flowering of cherry trees is a sure sign that spring has sprung. Incredibly photogenic, you’ll find the beautiful, fleeting pink blossom across the world everywhere from Europe and Asia to North America. Surely one of the more iconic places to head to photograph cherry blossoms in Japan, where the sakura tends to bloom from the last week of March until the middle of April.

The fleeting flowering of the country’s thousands of cherry trees is a national obsession and there’s even a blossom forecast on the TV to track the blooms from south to north as spring unfolds. The most popular, and therefore most crowded, places to capture the sakura are Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Walk canal, Osaka’s Okawa River, and Tokyo’s many urban parks, though it’s much quieter – and just as impressive – in the southern state of Kyushu and even in South Korea, which have far fewer tourists. 

Author tip:

Since blossoming cherry trees are so bright they tend to work really well as foregrounds in nightscape photography. Easily reflecting any ambient light or moonlight, they can work well against a starry background, and thus also as the centrepiece of a star-trails composite photo. In manual mode and on a tripod, put your camera in front of the cherry tree and set it to ISO 800, the lowest f-number your lens has, and use a 30 second exposure. Make adjustments then take the same image repeatedly for at least an hour (put your camera on continuous mode and use a shutter release cable in the locked position). Then use the simple and free StarStaX software to produce a drag-and-drop composite photo. 

4 Northern Lights

The northern lights dance above the lighthouse in Andenes, Norway. Photo by Chris Rohner – f/2.0 | 2s | ISO 1000

Not many people know that the aurora borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – are at their most intense around the equinoxes in late September and late March. It’s because the axis of our planet is perpendicular to the Sun, which makes its solar wind – the cause of the optical phenomenon – more likely to push charged particles down the field lines of Earth’s magnetic field.

However, before heading for 66-69° North latitudes (or thereabouts) to pray for clear skies in northern Scandinavia, northern Canada, or Alaska for March ’20s vernal equinox do check the phase of the Moon. Displays tend to be easier to photograph away from a full Moon. Once you’re there the manual photography side of things is simple; wide-angle lens, tripod, 10-25 second exposures, ISO 800-1600, and infinity focus.

Author tip:

If you’ve always wanted to photograph the Northern Lights then get ready to start planning. We’re now entering a once-a-decade period when they’re going to be at their most frequent and intense. That’s because we’re in a new solar cycle and the Sun is waxing towards ‘solar maximum’, which will probably occur in mid-2025. The Sun has a 11 years cycle, with solar maximum being when the most sunspots are seen on its surface. That means more charged particles being hurled at Earth’s magnetic field, so more Northern Lights.

5 Waterfalls in full flow

The wonderful Buachaille Etive Mòr with the tumbling Coupal falls on a perfect spring day. Photo by Douglas Ritchie – f/16 | 4s | ISO 200

Like a lot of spring subjects, timing is everything if you want to capture a waterfall at full throttle. That’s mostly likely after heavy rain, of course, but there’s something else you want if you want to create that classic ‘milky’ motion. Clouds. Since you’re going to have to use a long exposure – between a second and two seconds – it massively helps if there is no direct sunlight on the waterfall, which instantly over-exposes your shot.

On a dark day, you can get away with stopping down your aperture (using a bigger f/ number) or using the shutter priority mode on your camera, and even using a circular polarizer. All will reduce the amount of light coming into your camera, but the easiest technique is to use a 1-stop or 2-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter, which lets you increase the exposure time.

Author tip:

If you want to capture something special alongside a waterfall then head for Skógafoss on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland. This 60 metre waterfall is south-facing, which means three optical phenomenon are possible; rainbows (and even double rainbows!) in its spray, the Northern Lights behind it at night (best seen between September and March), and Moonbows or lunar rainbows when a full Moon is low in the sky. If you’re really lucky you can get the latter two together!

Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.

Jamie Carter

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