Curated Article/Blog

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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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.

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


 

How to Stop Endlessly Procrastinating

Photo by Tom Morel on Unsplash

Is it even possible?

Ayodeji AwosikaFollowingJan 21 · 4 min read

I hated this feeling.

Before I figured out how to change, every day of my life felt like I was losing bits and pieces of myself.

I had all these dreams, but I kept procrastinating.

I felt my future slipping through my fingers. And still, I couldn’t bring myself to do a damn thing about it — couldn’t save my own freaking life.

I felt pathetic.

But, eventually, I stopped. Just like that.

Here’s how…

Step 1 — Decide to Change Your Life

Great advice, Ayo.

I’m sorry, but it’s the answer. It’s that simple.

I decided I was done being a loser, and then with a seemingly infinite number of baby steps, I’ve made it to the point where I am today.

You see people in the gym every single year who make it past the New Year’s resolution threshold and create a life-long habit.

Why? Because they decided to.

The distinction between wanting to do something and deciding to do it is so subtle, but it makes a world of difference.

How can you bring yourself to decide? Some of my favorite techniques are:

  • Future extrapolation — I always think about what my life will be like years from now if I don’t decide to do that thing I know I need to do. What will your future look like if you don’t decide to make that move you know, deep down, you need to make? Use that negativity to your advantage.
  • Get pissed — Inspiration is light and fluffy, but negativity cuts deep. So when I’m on the fence, feel scared, and find myself hesitating, I beat myself up until I do it. I don’t automatically make the tough decisions I need to make right away, just because I’m a self-help writer. Like I said, it’s hard to bring yourself to do the things you need to do. Sometimes, it takes a ton of repetition.
  • Positive Visualization — Positive visualization can and does work, but I put it last because you can easily fall into the trap of having a never-ending daydream about the person you can become. Be careful with this one, but yes, do take time to actively and vividly picture what a better life would look like. This only works when combined with the work, though.

Step 2 — Do the Work

Wow, what an amazing pep talk here Ayo! Do the work! Such sage advice!

Look…

As cliche as it sounds…one step at a time my friend.

What are you trying to do with your life?

What do you want to change?

Ok, first you decide. Then, you do the teeniest tiniest steps consecutively until you get momentum. That’s it. This little mini-empire I have started with writing one blog post.

If you want to get in shape, you have to go to the gym for the first time.

If you want to be a writer, you have to write one thing — could be 10 minutes worth of writing, but you have to do it.

If you want to start a business, you have to do whatever the teeniest tiniest step is…maybe googling “How to Start an Online Business” is step one. Then maybe you find a list of businesses you could start.

Then you find a guide on how to start that specific type of business. Maybe the guide has 17 steps to it. Do step 1 on day 1[….] step 17 on day 17. Break it down into the smallest chunks you need.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

You kill procrastination by creating a system. Your system has rituals and practices you force yourself to do at first, but become second nature over time.

Reverse engineer your goals to what you need to do now. Create an environment that helps you get to work as soon as possible.

Put your gym clothes in the car so you don’t have to stop home to change after work. Leave your phone in another room while you work on your blog posts. Batch tasks. Throw your Xbox in the trash. Use tiny checklists and cross them off.

When you feel like hesitating, take a deep breath, and count down from five. Once you reach one, you have to start the task. I used to do this in the mornings when I needed to wake up early to write.

Eventually your systems create momentum and all of a sudden your entire life has changed.

You can get there.

Let’s say you’re at square one as of this moment.

Decide today. And then ‘do’ today.

This is the recipe.

TOP 15 SITES TO SELL YOUR PHOTOS ONLINE

SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 curated article by: Elle-Rose,

I take a lot of travel photos (it comes naturally, being a travel blogger!) and I’m always thinking of ways that those photos can make me money. I love the photos I’ve taken, so surely other people would too?

Here I’ve put together a big list of websites where you can sell your travel photos online, some are big companies you’ll have heard of – others are smaller companies – that might make a better choice if you’re taking this on as a side project for extra ‘pocket-money’. Either way – these are all great places to sell your photos online – so get reading!

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iStock Photo

Sell your images through iStock Photo and you’ll earn a royalty rate of 15% for each download. There is also an option to become an exclusive contributor and earn up to 45% instead, which is pretty impressive. These website has a good community feel to it – there are lots of forums and group discussion, which really helps when you’re trying to figure out which of your photos will sell online better than others.

Art Storefronts

Learn how to sell photos online as fine art, and get your own eCommerce website with must-have features to increase your art sales.  This is a robust website platform for professional photographers focused on selling their images as art prints.  They provide first-class educational resources, and a step-by-step Success Plan to ensure that you follow best-practices.  You can print and fulfill your own orders, choose your own lab, or use one of their labs for automated print fulfillment (“print on demand”).  There is also a members-only forum where all customers share ideas, sales strategies, and receive guidance from industry experts.

TourPhotos.com 

If you work in travel, and want to make extra money from your photos – TourPhotos is a professional photography platform dedicated to tourism and activity companies. It will help you manage and deliver your tour photos (the photographs from your activities, excursions and attractions) to your customers. You will be able to choose whether to sell or make your photos available for free (SELL plan or GIVE plan). TourPhotos charges between 19% and 25% commission on your sales with zero fixed fees (if you decide to sell photos) or a 19$/49$ (pro/business) monthly fee if you decide to share your photos for free.
With its endless features and tools, TourPhotos guarantees you, your photographers and your final customers an extremely user-friendly, customisable and professional experience.

SmugMug

This website is a lot like an online gallery or portfolio – with the added benefit of being able to sell your photos online via the tool too. It’s great as it has two purposes. The first (of course) to sell your photos, the second – to make them look awesome. And you’re more likely to sell more photos online, the more professional and awesome you’ve got them displayed.  You can set your own pricing and you get to keep 85% of the markup – but that’s not all, as well as selling digital downloads, you have the option of selling prints and greetings cards too, which is good for those of us who want more selling options.

Unlimited Photo Storage

Alamy

On Alamy photographers earn a whopping 60% royalty fee on any images they sell, so it’s easy to see why this website is such a popular choice when it comes to selling photos online. It’s one of the world’s largest stock photo libraries – so you’l have a fair bit of competition,  but maybe that’s a good thing and will help you step up your game!

Stockxpert

This is one of the smaller websites on the list, but still offers a great reach for beginners – so would make a fantastic option for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the world of selling photos online. The royalty isn’t too bad either – you’ll get 50% of the price of each photos you sell.

Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a microstock agency, and one of the best there is. Aside from being easy to use, it is well thought of and reputable too – which is just as important when making the decision of where to sell your photos online. Before you start selling, you’ll need to get your images approved by their editors (which can be a long process) but once you’ve been approved and you’ve got the hang of it, a rate of 25-50% royalty is yours for the taking.

Travel Accessories

PhotoShelter

This is perhaps one of the more well known options on this list, and if you like the idea of selling your work (but at the same time want to retain complete control and pocket more of the profit – who doesn’t want those things?) you could consider setting up a professional photography website with built-in ecommerce from PhotoShelter. The PhotoShelter system is modern, and will make your images look beautiful.

Crestock

To start selling with Crestock, simply sign up to their website, follow through the easy registration process… and you’re good to go! They’ll give you 30% royalty, so once the images have been approved by staff you may be able to start selling images within the week!

Fotolia

I like Fotolia for its convenience, fair royalties and expansive market reach. Sign up and present your work to more than four million image buyers around the world, around the clock and you’ll notice your images start selling quickly and seamlessly. Each time one of your photos sell, you earn a royalty of between 20% and 63% of your sale, which is immediately added to your Fotolia account – which takes away any money hassles.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a highly ranking website which means it likely gets a lot of online traffic – perfect for making sure you sell your photos! Shutterstock also have an approval process in place – and you’ll have to submit ten initial images for approval before you can proceed with any others. But no fear! There are many online forums on their website where you can pick up hints and tips for getting this right first time. With Shutterstock you’ll earn between $0.25 and $28 each time an image of yours sells, depending on the licence.

123RF

With this site, their royalty structure is based on your contributor level, which is quite unique. It basically means, the more images you upload, the more you can earn – good news for anyone who plans to commit to this full-time. The amount you receive could rise from 30% up to 60% if you are particularly active on the site – so get started quickly and build up your reputation.

Can Stock Photo

Can Stock Photo offers photographers a 50% royalty fee which is great if you’re just starting out. Once you’re a member it’s easy to submit images and you can get going almost immediately.

Zenfolio

Zenfolio allows you to create a portfolio site of your work, a little like Smug Mug mentioned above. You can upload photos, create galleries, password protect galleries, and make your photos available for purchase – a great option for wedding and event photographers where you might make several sales off the back of one event. There is a 14-day free trial available if you want to give it a spin first.

Red Bubble

This is a more quirky one, but I wanted to include it! If your images are more VSCO and Instagram friendly – than studio lighting and fake smiles, you may find the audience on Red Bubble more interested in what you have to sell. They don’t just sell images, it’s all about the products too – so you could sell canvases with your images on, for example.

Snap Market

This is a bargain stock photo website, so the amount you’ll make will be less per image – but if people buy in bulk, it may end up equalising anyway. With a less strict submission process that other big names on this list, it may be a good option for anyone wanting to test the water.

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10 expert tips for improving your street photography

ByKav Dadfar

Street photography is one of the most popular genres for image-makers. But getting those striking photos isn’t always easy. These top tips will help you get the best results

Street photography is a genre that many will experiment with at some point in their photography journey, even if it’s not their principal subject of interest. It’s easily accessible for photographers of all levels, and provides ample opportunity to practice a wide range of photography skills and techniques. Great street photography has the power to evoke a range of emotions with the viewer, turn the environment around us into something extraordinary, and provide an unseen and intimate glimpse into the everyday life of others.

Saying this, capturing great photos within this genre takes time, patience, and above all, practice. So, to help you elevate your street photography–here are our top tips:

Travel light

One of the biggest advantages of street photography versus other photographic genres is that you do not need a lot of equipment for it. This is handy as you will be spending a considerable amount of time walking around looking for interesting scenes to capture. And you will generally be shooting handheld so those cumbersome tripods can stay at home, as can the bulk of your camera gear. 

Just pack your camera, mirrorless, smartphones and compact cameras are great for street photography as they are lighter and smaller than DSLRs (read more about different types of cameras here). Also consider a zoom lens – something like a 24-70mm or 24mm-105mm lens will be more than sufficient.

The only other accessory, besides a spare battery and memory cards, that might be useful would be a small LED light. This will help in low light scenarios by allowing you to illuminate your subject a little – instead of having to raise your ISO too high, which may impact the overall quality of your image. Read more about ISO here.

When it comes to street photography it is best to travel light. Compact cameras, mirrorless cameras and smartphones are ideal, as they are easy to carry around, more discreet, and much less cumbersome compared to larger cameras. Image by Grgrgrz

Get close and get over your inhibitions

Often street photography will involve people being in your composition, and to capture an intimate moment, it might mean taking a photo without the subject noticing. At other times your subject needs to be looking at the camera to help build that engagement in the photo. Either way, you will need to be close to your subject to get the best shot.

One of the most common issues encountered when practising street photography is shyness in approaching strangers to photograph, which might result in trying to take a photo from a distance with a telephoto lens, which won’t yield good results. If this sounds like you, the shyness will be a big hurdle that you need to overcome if you want to get better at street photography.

So how do you overcome your shyness? A task that I often set for my workshop attendees who suffer from this is to capture at least 3 head and shoulder portraits of strangers every day. This means they have to ask people which, when done enough, helps overcome that shyness. And in turn, you’ll find your street photography will become much more engaging.

You may need to get out of your comfort zone to get close to your subjects. But once you do, you’ll get much more intimate shots. Like this beautiful image of a mother and baby from Manila, Philippines captured by Edwin Tuyay

Learn to shoot from the hip

This is a useful technique for every street photographer to master – but especially for those who struggle with shyness. It involves just pointing the camera and shooting from lower down without looking at the LCD or through the viewfinder. The benefits of this technique are that your shots can feel more spontaneous and of course, people will be far less aware that they are being photographed.

But as you might imagine, without composing your shot properly through the viewfinder or LCD screen, the results will be very hit and miss. Sometimes you will capture a great photo, but you must accept that most of the time your shots will not work. Like anything, the more you practice the better you will become at using this technique.

Move your camera to your hip to get more discreet shots. With this technique you can get some great results–but it takes some practice. Without the assistance of the viewfinder or LCD to guide you, you’ll be relying on an element of luck to get the perfect shot. Image from Sven Hartmann

Make sure you’re ready

Good street photography will involve capturing fleeting or spontaneous moments. So, you need to be ready to shoot at any moment. That means your camera needs to be out of your bag, turned on with the lens cap off. You should also get into the habit of tweaking your exposure settings regularly based on the environment around you.

There are no universal settings for street photography as every scenario is different. But as a rule, I would recommend shooting in burst mode (when you hold down the shutter button on your camera to take multiple shots in rapid succession) as it’s extremely difficult to nail the perfect moment with one shot. Using burst mode, you can select the best frame later when you are editing your shots.

The other setting that you will find useful in most street photography scenarios is “continuous focus”. When enabled, if the shutter button is held down half-way the camera will continue to focus on the subject. This is vital when photographing a moving subject – as the point of focus will change every millisecond to stay on the subject.

With street photography it’s important to be ready to capture a moment in an instant. So make sure you have your camera out of your bag, turned on, and with the lens cap off. That way you’ll be ready when that serendipitous moment comes about–like with this stunning shot by Liviu Ratiu

Wait for the right moment

I refer to this technique as ‘setting a photography trap’. It simply requires you to find an interesting setting or location and wait for the perfect moment to take a photo. You could be waiting just a few minutes, sometimes a bit longer, and in extreme cases – hours!

See the visual examples below, the key is to try to pre-visualise the shot in your head, get your settings correct and wait for the perfect moment.


This shot wouldn’t have the same impact without the person in it – waiting for that moment with the shopkeeper is what has made this image by Niney Azman so striking
Places with street art can provide a great opportunity for photography. Photo by Michael Townsend
Choose a location and be patient–waiting will bring about the best moment for the shot. Image by Klaus Balszno

Look beyond eye-level shots

Every photographer is guilty of taking too many shots at eye level. You will be amazed how different your photos will look by simply raising your camera above your head or lowering it to the ground. Even just kneeling will give your shot a completely different perspective.

A lot of cameras these days come with a tiltable LCD screen that makes it incredibly easy and a lot more convenient to shoot at different angles. A good habit to get into is to take a variety of shots low to the ground, eye-level and above your head when you’re out with your camera. This will give you a nice range of images from different perspectives.

The lower angle for this shot adds an interesting dynamic to the scene. Image by David Young
It may be subtle, but moving the camera to above eye level (even just a little) can give your photos more unusual perspective. Image by Andrei Bortnikau
Lower your camera to the ground to find atypical angles for your subject. Image by Jean-Baptise Poupart

Simplify your composition

It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to include too much in your composition. In street photography, it is even more important to have a clear and defined story. This does not necessarily mean that you should have only one focal point in the shot. But rather to be aware of other elements in your composition that might be distracting to the viewer.

For example, if the main point of interest is in the centre of your shot, avoid distracting elements around the edges of the frame. Or if you are photographing a busy scene, make sure you have a clear point of focus for the viewer so that their eyes are not darting around the image.

The shallow depth of field in this shot by Gagan Sadana helps the main subject stand out against the busy background
Don’t be afraid to go minimalist with your shots–they can make a much bigger impact with the viewer. Image by Grgrgrz

Incorporate the urban environment

Photo opportunities for a street photographer are endless. There are just so many different variables that you can combine to make your photos unique. One of the biggest elements is the environment around you. Any built-up area will have interesting textures and features that can bring a photo to life.

Some of the best street photos are those that incorporate the built environment into the main story of the image. So be on the lookout for interesting scenes where you can combine the main subject of the photo with the surrounding environment.

The metal fence in this shot actually adds to overall composition of the photo. And the soft focus helps it not be distracting to the viewer–image by Ollie Kerr
The use of leading lines, created by the subway entrance, helps draw the viewer to the subject of the image. Image by Sven Hartmann
This image from San Sebastian by Rosie Andrews incorporates bold colours, lines and shapes in the environment around the subject which helps amplify the scene

Look for interesting light and contrasts

It is not just your subject and story that can elevate your street photos, but also the light and contrasts present in any scene. Street photography will naturally mean you’re taking photos in built up areas. This will present challenges in being able to control harsh light in bright and dark areas. But often you can use these contrasts to your advantage by making them part of your composition.

Like the examples below, if you are faced with a harsh backlit scenario, then look to capture silhouettes. If there is strong light and shadow across your scene, see if you can use it as a frame for your shot, or as leading lines to guide the viewer into other parts of the image. Strong contrasts also look great when converted to black and white

Conditions for silhouettes are a gift for street photographers and can create beautiful settings, as seen with this stunning shot from New York City by Dan Martland
Use strong shadows and contrasts to guide the viewer through your image. Here is a creative example by George Natsioulis

10 There’s no such thing as bad weather

One of the best things about street photography is that you are not restricted by changing weather and light conditions as you may be with landscape photography. In some ways, what could be considered ‘bad conditions’ is perfect for street photography. For example, overcast and rainy conditions are often the bugbear of landscape and nature photographers. But with street photography, these can be great conditions.

Muted light makes it much easier to manage your exposure, and the city streets after rainfall present tons of opportunities to capture reflections or interesting shots through rain-soaked windows (see the examples below). Even in harsh sunshine, you can utilise the shadows I talked about above to add an interesting element to your compositions.

 Bad weather is great for street photography – when it rains puddles and reflections provide an excellent opportunity to add an additional dimension to your shots. As seen with this stunning shot from London by Jackal Photography
Bad weather can add atmosphere to your shots, as demonstrated with this striking shot from Manchester, UK by Maria Panagiotidi

Next steps


Street photography is a great genre of photography to be involved in. Not only will you learn a lot of skills that will help you in whatever type of photography you specialise in, but you will also end up with some amazingly unique photos. By following these 10 tips above, you will find your images become much more striking, not just with street shots, but across many other photographic subjects too.


Kav Dadfar

Kav is a full-time photographer and author of 400+ articles. He is also a judge on the Wanderlust Magazine Photography of the Year competition and leads small group photo tours around the world.

Photography And Color

In the midst of this Travel Shut Down, I have been devoting my time to learning as much as possible about photography. My love of photography crosses a multiplicity of genre.

Whatever the genre, as a photographer we must address the big three; Light, Color, and Composition. For whatever reason my study of color has been limited.

While I am stuck at home I intend to increase my knowledge of this most important subject. The blog below from 500px Blog is my starting point. Check it out!

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Color theory for photographers: An introduction to the color wheel

In 1907, Auguste and Louis Lumière presented autochrome—a revolutionary method for reproducing color in photographs. The world was stunned and enraptured. “Soon the world will be color-mad,” photographer Alfred Stieglitz wrote that July from Munich. “And Lumière will be responsible.”

We’ve come a long way in the last century, and we no longer need potato starch—the crucial ingredient in the autochrome process—to render color. But the power of color hasn’t faded over time; all these decades later, the world is still color-mad.

While you can find color theory in any painting classroom, it remains a somewhat overlooked field in the world of photography, so we’re devoting a three-part series of articles to examine colors and the relationships between them. This is just part one–an introduction to the color wheel–so keep an eye out for the rest in the coming months.

The Color Wheel

A color wheel is just a convenient way of visualizing the relationships between colors. The most common wheel used by painters is based on RYB color system–where red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors. Mix those colors, and you end up with secondary colors orange, green, and violet. Combining those results in one of six tertiary colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, or red-violet.

Sometimes, however, photographers might use the RGB system–in which case, red, green, and blue are the primaries. Mixing these colors will create secondary colors yellow, cyan, and magenta. The RGB system also has six tertiary colors: orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet, or rose.

In this brief introduction, we’ll look at six easy ways photographers can use the color wheel and simple “color schemes” to strengthen their compositions. While photographers can certainly use the RGB system, we’ll rely on RYB for right now.

Monochromatic colors

A monochromatic color scheme uses one of the twelve colors on the color wheel with different tints, shades, and tones. You create a tint by adding white to your base color, a shade by adding black, and a tone by adding gray. Photographers can use these schemes to create harmony throughout a composition.

Puchong Pannoi’s photograph of the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar has many layers, from temples to trees to a hot air balloon floating in the distance. While these elements could be distracting in the eyes of another photographer, Pannoi has brought them all together beautifully–with a little help from a monochromatic palette.

Monochromatic color schemes can often be bold. According to photography legend, Ansel Adams was once so displeased upon seeing one of William Eggleston’s most famous monochromatic photos that he remarked, “If you can’t make it good, make it red.” Fortunately, these days dramatic color is not only accepted but embraced–with stunning results. Take a cue from 500px Contributor Estislav Ploshtakov, and use it to make a strong impact.

Complementary colors

For a complementary color palette, use two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. Complementary color schemes are well-suited for photography because they add contrast–resulting in pictures that “pop” off the page and screen. Here, Da Miane uses complementary colors green and red.

In this street photo from Singapore, Peter Stewart uses complementary colors blue and orange. No need for an overly complex composition–these colors catch our eye all on their own.

Split-Complementary Colors

In this variation on a complementary color scheme, you’ll select your base color, and then instead of using the color directly opposite, you’ll use the two colors on either side of it.

In this colorful photo, Claudio de Sat photographs the blue sky against the architecture of East Berlin’s Plattenbauten buildings. He then incorporates hues closer to red-orange and yellow-orange on the color wheel. The result is a striking and harmonious photo with a little bit less of the dramatic tension we’re used to seeing in photos with complementary colors.

Tetradic colors

A tetradic color scheme, sometimes called double-complementary, features a total of four colors, including two sets of complementary colors. Of the basic color schemes we’ll cover here, this one might be the trickiest to pull off–if only for the fact that it incorporates four colors.

This photo by Alena Haurylik does it brilliantly. By using two complementary pairs (orange-blue, green-red) in moderation, it succeeds in being both eye-catching and sophisticated.

Analogous colors

Analogous color schemes incorporate three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Wildlife photographer Jonne Seijdel encountered this dazzling Rwenzori three-horned chameleon while traveling through the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda. In this photo, he was able to include side-by-side colors for a pleasing and dynamic result. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this example, analogous colors are often found in nature.

When using analogous colors, photographers usually choose one dominant color and then use the others in a supporting role. Designers use what they call the “60-30-10 rule”–meaning that the main color (usually primary or secondary) takes up 60% of the space, while a supporting color (secondary or tertiary) takes up 30%, and the final color takes up just 10%.

This photograph by Jovana Rikalo, appropriately titled Orange Dream, features mainly the color orange, with red and yellow accents.

Triadic colors

A triadic color scheme comprises any three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Like complementary colors, these schemes are vibrant and full of contrast. In the majority of situations, these will be the three primary or secondary colors. 500px Contributor Sabrina Hb’s portrait of a woman and fruit in Colombia might be called Yellow, but those touches of blue and red on the woman’s dress complete the photo–giving it that extra “oomph” and vitality.

Designers generally recommend sticking to the three primary or three secondary colors for that “clean” look. Use too many tertiary colors, and you run the risk of a photo that looks muddy. This landscape by Gunar Streu is another perfect example of color done right because it uses the three secondary colors of the RYB color system: orange, violet, and green.

While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you. We’ll see you again in part two of this three-part series on color theory.

While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you.

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series on color theory.

Click here to learn more about Licensing with 500px.

Blue Hour Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

Curated Article from Coles Class Room.

Photographers like to talk about golden hour photography and the beautiful, glowy light they find right before sunset or after sunrise.  Golden hour is amazing.  But for my money, you can’t beat blue hour photography for some peaceful, serene images.  Don’t be so hasty packing up your gear after the sun has set.  Stay a little while to enjoy the blue hour!  

Exactly what is blue hour photography and how do you shoot it?  Follow along below for our beginner’s guide on when, what and how to shoot to take advantage of this really cool period of day!

What is Blue Hour?

Blue hour is the period of morning or night when the sun is below the horizon but still casting light into the sky.  The result is a beautiful, cool sky that makes a stunning backdrop for your photography.  Blue hour skies are crisp, cool and full of gauzy shades from indigo to navy with hints of red and pink.

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When is Blue Hour?

The general rule of thumb for blue hour is up to one hour after sunset or one hour before sunrise.  Your blue hour might not last a full hour, though.  Sometimes we only get 20-40 minutes of photography of beautiful blue before the skies turn completely black at night or the sun clears the horizon in the morning.

How long the blue hour lasts and what it looks like depends on your location, season, and the weather.  The best blue hours, in my opinion, occur on nights with few clouds.

Why Should You Shoot Blue Hour?  

Shooting during blue hour has several advantages.  First, blue hour can add more visual interest to your images.  The blue hue of the sky is a more appealing backdrop than a completely black sky, and is a great contrast to electric lights.

Also, blue hour photography helps add creativity to your photo by allowing you to convey motion.  Because there is less ambient light, you can use a lower shutter speed like 1/60, 1/10, 5, or even 30 seconds.  A slow shutter speed lets you convey motion by smoothing out water, creating light trails, or blurring clouds.  Also, you aren’t fighting mid-day or late evening sun.  So blue hour gives you more flexibility when it comes to adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO in dim light.

What to Photograph During Blue Hour Photography

Blue hour is a popular time to photograph lots of different types of images, from portraits to carnivals.  Try shooting any of these images as blue hour photography subjects:

  • Cityscapes
  • Travel images like busy, winding roads or freeways
  • Landscapes like beaches, bridges, wharves, or marinas
  • Fairs, circuses, or carnivals
  • Portraits with suitable ambient light or off-camera flash
  • Moon photography

Want to take scenic landscape and cityscape photography shots like a pro? Check out our landscape photography course!

What Equipment Do You Need for Blue Hour Photos?

To capture your own blue hour photo, make sure you’re ready with the following gear:

  • DSLR or mirrorless camera that shoots in manual mode and RAW.  Your camera should also be capable of shooting in bulb mode to create long exposures.
  • Lenses that matches your intended composition.  A wide-angle lens, such as an 18mm or 24mm, is a great choice for cityscapes and landscapes.
  • Tripod (to stabilize your camera)
  • Flashlight (to adjust settings in the dark)
  • Stopwatch or intervalometer (for a time-lapse photo)
  • Remote shutter release (cable or wireless)
  • Extra batteries and warm clothes if you’re shooting in cold temperatures

How to Capture the Blue Hour

Blue hour photography isn’t a hard concept to master, but it does take some planning and forethought to get it right.  Here are my best tips!

  1. Plan your blue hour photography shoot ahead of time.  Scout out possible locations in the day and know when blue hour will occur for your location.  An app such as PhotoTime or Photopills can help!  Look for locations that have artificial light for interest but aren’t overwhelmed with light pollution.  Too much light in the background dilutes your skies.  You’ll get a sky that’s orange or pink instead of that tranquil deep, dark blue.
  2. Pack your gear ahead of time.  Make sure you have everything you need for a blue hour shoot before you leave the house. You don’t want to find the perfect location and have beautiful weather only to realize you’ve left your tripod at home.
  3. Arrive early to set up your equipment.  Allow plenty of time to set up your tripod, frame your shot, and dial in focus and settings.  I always plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to sunset or 90 minutes before sunrise.  The best blue hues can fade quickly, so you want to be ready to make the most of your opportunity.
  4. Choose your settings based on your goals for the photo.  Slower shutter speeds help create light trails or smooth out water or clouds.  Wider apertures such as f/2.8 or f/1.8 can create beautiful bokeh orbs.  Narrower apertures turn points of light into sun stars.  Prioritize your settings based on what’s most important in your image.
  5. Be patient!  Don’t get in a hurry to start snapping pictures too early!  You want to wait for the moment when the sun has sunk below the horizon at night.  For morning blue hour, you’ll want to wait for the moment when the light turns from black to dark blue.  
  6. If light trails or buttery water/clouds are your goals, shoot in shutter priority mode.  That way the camera will choose ISO and aperture for you, allowing you to focus solely on shutter speed, composition, and timing.
  7. Turn off auto white balance.  The camera gets fooled by the blues and tries to neutralize them, which kind of defeats the point of shooting gorgeous blue skies!  I prefer to use Kelvin instead.  Start in the 6500K range and adjust as needed.
  8. Use a shutter release cable or remote to fire the shutter.  This will make sure you aren’t jiggling the camera and creating blur in your images when you manually press the trigger. If you don’t have a remote or cable, you can also use the timer function of your camera. This lets the camera settle first before firing.
  9. If you’re still getting blur even if using a tripod and remote, try shooting in live view or locking up your mirror.  Occasionally the minor act of your mirror flipping up to expose your sensor is enough to introduce blur into your image.  But if you shoot in live view or adjust your setting to lock the mirror in the up position, the mirror stays in place and helps eliminate shake.  
  10. Remember your other composition rules!  Use the rule-of-thirds where appropriate.  Look for leading lines to accentuate your subject.  Shoot from different angles and perspectives.
  11. Don’t be afraid to experiment!  Try different combinations of settings to give your images a slightly different look and find what YOU like best.  For example, I usually keep my ISO between 200 and 400.  But you might find you really prefer the added grain of ISO 1000 better.  Take multiple exposures with different settings and pick your favorites.  Soon you’ll find your perfect blue hour setting combo!

Post-Processing and Editing Blue Hour Images

How you process your images will vary according to your personal style.  I always shoot in RAW so I have the most flexibility in post-production.  My style is bold and colorful, so I usually add some vibrance, saturation, and contrast to my images from the hour blue.  Split toning helps enhance the color of the sky while keeping natural skin tones. Split toning also ensures you don’t wind up with all blue photos…remember it’s the contrast between blue and the other colors in the scene that add visual interest.  Finally, adjusting the luminosity may give your photo the pop it needs!  Try editing in your typical style first, then tweaking your blue hour images to find a style you best!

Conclusion

Don’t be such a slave to the golden hour that you miss photographing in the blue hour.  It really can be every bit as magical as golden hour and lends a certain tranquil and calm spirit to your photo.  You’ll love the tones and ethereal quality for landscapes, cityscapes and more!

Article written and copied from Coles Classroom.

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