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How to Become a Travel Photographer – the Blueprint

BY VIKTOR ELIZAROV

If you want to learn how to become a travel photographer, you in the right place.

It was a beautiful day in Montreal. I was on a regular afternoon jog listening to a popular photography podcast. The topic of the episode was travel photography. The guests of the show were two professional photographers with the years of experience.

At the end of the podcast during the listeners’ question and answer session, the first question immediately grabbed my attention. Why? Because I’ve been asked the same, or nearly identical, question many times before.

So what’s the question?

“I want to start traveling more specifically for photography, but I do not know where to start. Do you have any idea where I should go or how to plan my trip? Should I edit photos while I am there or should I wait until I return home? What cameras, lenses and other equipment do I take? Help! I am suffering from analysis paralysis“.
Ok, so perhaps the question has multiple parts but it still rang true to my experience. I was curious to hear the answers because I knew it was a loaded question and definitely not an easy one.

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The photographers’ answers surprised me.

Here are some of them:

“South Asia is a good place to go.”“Do not go to Bangkok.”“If you do not know, choose a place randomly.”“Europe, maybe.”
Instead of addressing the complex subject of travel photography, the photographers only concentrated on a single aspect: the location. Their answers disappointed me because I do not consider the location to be an essential part of travel photography. You do not need to travel to a remote and exotic destination to enjoy travel photography.

A simple 4-step process on how to become a travel photographer

I decided to put together a blueprint or guide to help people who want to get involved in travel photography but do not know where to start. I used a similar approach when I first started and it has proven successful over the years.

First and foremost, please do not start your travel photography journey with a trip to South Asia. It will be a waste of time and money, not to mention it will be full of disappointments.

Start smaller and grow from there.

Northern California. Morro Bay.


Step 1: Testing Ground

Find a local park in your neighborhood, preferably within walking distance or a short drive. Make this your testing ground for your equipment and photography routines.

Any urban park has all the essential elements of travel photography: landscapes, cityscapes, people, etc….

Plan your visits during different times of the day. Learn how to deal with the harsh midday light, overcast, rain, sunsets and sunrises. In doing so, you will figure out what minimum equipment you need to cover different scenarios of travel photography.

For example, I realized pretty early that a minimalistic approach to photography suits me the best and all I need is a camera with a walk around lens. For years, I used a combination of a Canon 60D + Sigma 17-70mm and now I have a similar setup of a Sony a6000 + Sony 16-70mm.

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I am lucky enough to have a beautiful park in only short walking distance from where I live. Even now, when I have a new piece of equipment, I always test it there. When I switched from a Canon to a Sony, it was a steep learning curve and the local park was the ideal place for learning and testing my new equipment.

Now that it is winter, I ordered new photo gloves and, when I receive them, I will go to the park for a few hours to see if I like them or not.

Park Rene Levesque in Montreal is my testing ground


Step 2: Mini Simulation

The next step is to go on a day-long trip at a location within a 1-2-hour driving range. In my case, I know all the national and provincial parks around Montreal and most of them make perfect destinations for short photo trips.

This trip will take you away from the comfort of your home for the entire day and will allow you to start micro planning and testing your skills.

Make sure you plan in advance what spot to visit at sunset or sunrise. It is not always easy to do both during a short trip, so choose only one and make sure you visit the best spot. Use Google search, Google maps, and 500px to pinpoint the perfect location for your sunrise or sunset shoot.

Also, you have to decide how many camera batteries to bring with you, if you need spare memory cards, and so on. If your trip involves challenging hiking, it also might be a good idea to leave the tripod at home.

These trips are designed for photographers to make mistakes and to learn from them. With every new trip, you will learn more about planning, your equipment, and your habits.

When you comfortable with the short trips, it is time to graduate to multi-day trips.

Mont-Saint-Bruno national park is only 30km from Montreal


Step 3: Multi-Day Driving Trips

This is how real travel photography started for me.

Montreal is located within a 5-7 hour driving distance from New York, Boston and Toronto with Niagara Falls. My trips dedicated exclusively to photography started with 2-3 day driving trips to those destinations.

Multi-days trips require much more planning where you should always do your research first and then plan all your sunrises, sunsets and everything in between.

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Another new challenge you have to face on these trips is to figure out how to deal with editing and backups.

I am not giving you a specific scenario to follow because, based on my experience, travel routines are always changing and evolving.

For example, in the beginning, I always did some basic edits of my new photos by the end of every day of the trip. Now, I only concentrate on my shooting and I start the editing process when I am back at home. But, I always have the option to edit photos simply by connecting my tablet to camera using Wi-Fi, grabbing a few photos, editing them with Snapseed and posting them to social media.

At the same time, my backup routine has not changed a lot. By the end of the day, I backup all new photos to two external hard drives and always make sure to keep them in two separate places. I have one with me at all times in my bag and the second I keep in the safe in the hotel or in the trunk of my car.

Also, I do not rush to format my memory cards. I keep photos on the cards until I run out of space on all four of them and only then do I start formatting.

The beauty of driving trips is that you do not have to be too selective about the equipment you bring with you. You can load your trunk with everything you own and later figure out what pieces are essential for your style of photography.

New York. Taken from Staten Island Ferry.

Step 4: Hacking Family Vacation

The next step is to hack your family vacation.

You have to be careful with this one so as to ensure you do not agitate your loved ones or ruin the vacation for them.

A family trip can serve as the perfect opportunity for testing your air travel routines. It requires additional research to figure out carry on allowances on every leg of your trip and to decide what equipment to bring.

After I brought all my equipment on one of my first family trips to Cuba and hardly used any of it, I started to pack differently by bringing only the necessities along. Also, after I switched from DSLR to Mirrorless, I can pack everything (almost everything) in my carry on without worrying about lost luggage.

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So how do you start planning?

Begin by planning your vacation as you normally would and concentrate on family activities first. When these are done and everybody is happy, you can enhance your trip with photography adventures.

During the vacation, the only time when you can be 100% dedicated to your photography is when everybody is sleeping. On each day of vacation you will have a few hours between sunrise and breakfast to concentrate on your photography. And, not only will your family be in bed at 5 am, about 99.9% of tourists will be in their beds as well. In fact, you would be surprised how beautiful Venice looks at sunrise – it is completely different and calm without the chaos of crowds.

Cuba. Sunrise at Cayo Coco beach.


Last year, my wife and I went to Niagara Falls in the middle of summer on a weekend getaway. It was so crowded during the day that I had no chance of using a tripod. It was even difficult to take any pictures without having people in the frame. But, when I went to the Falls the next morning just before sunrise, I had the entire place to myself. The only person I met there was another photographer who had the same idea.

The goal of successfully combining a family vacation with photography and to be able to enjoy them both is to plan every single sunrise in advance. The rest of the days will be dedicated to family activities and are much more difficult to plan. You can enjoy your family while trying to be as opportunistic as possible with your photography.

After you have completed dozens of one-day local trips, half a dozen of short driving trips and at least a couple of family vacations, you will be ready to go on extensive trips dedicated exclusively to photography. You will acquire the necessary skills and establish personal routines that will help you be comfortable, confident and safe during your travels.

Check what is in my camera bag

Conclusion

Learning any new complex process requires breaking it down into smaller digestible chunks that you can then start to tackle one at a time. Travel photography is no different. You cannot learn everything in one shot. By starting small, you will gradually accumulate knowledge, experience and establish your unique routines.

I hope my simple blueprint will help you fulfill your dream of becoming a travel photographer and accelerate the learning process.

By Viktor Elizarov

I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

12 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Release Your Shutter

In my personal quest to improve my digital photography skills, I am constantly seeking guidance.

Recently I ran across what I consider to be a very important guide.

Twelve very important questions I think all photographers should ask themselves before each shot.  Considering these questions can and will improve your photography skills.

Utilizing these questions has greatly improved my efforts to produce impressive imagery.  You should consider:

  1. The Purpose 
  2. The Story You Wish To Tell
  3. The Position You Should Take
  4. Orientation
  5. Background
  6. Is the composition Straight? 
  7. Framing
  8. Light
  9. Focal Point
  10. Eye Flow
  11. Movement Within The Frame
  12. Color/Contrast

Commit To Memory

Excited about the expected outcome from my next photo adventure, I immediately committed them to memory in the order given.  

Eager to see the outcome from my newly acquired knowledge, I began using them, in the exact order given.

After trying this for a while, I realized that I was struggling to get through the process.  At first, I could not understand why the process was so difficult for me.  Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck and I realized that the order in which the questions were given did not fit my slowly developing style.  Causing, my shooting process to become slow and difficult.

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Make Adjustments

Even though each question needs to be addressed, the order just didn’t match my style.  So I decided to experiment with the sequence.  

My new sequence looks like this:

  1. Purpose
  2. Story
  3. Light
  4. Position
  5. Orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
  6. Framing
  7. Focal Point 
  8. Eye Flow
  9. Background
  10. Color/Contrast
  11. Streight
  12. Movement

This is my personal sequence, and so far it has served me well.  I can see a dramatic improvement in my photography.

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For a final note, I must interject two thoughts.  First, I sometimes let light lead me to my story, after all, photography is all about light.  And finally, I have learned to always shoot both orientations.  You will be surprised at what you may come up with.

Nature Moment

So play around and find your sequence and see if it improves your skills. 

Create Your Lifestyle!

Now Is The Time To Do What You Do!

It is truly a blessing and a wonderful feeling to wake up each day doing the things you truly love to do.  It is also amazing that those things create for you the lifestyle of your choosing.  For me it is travel photography.

Early in life I discovered my love for art.  Sketching in pencil, pen, ink, and charcoal.  Later in life I was introduced to analog photograph.  I became obsessed.  But, because of the cost of film and printing, I had to abandon this love.

Now that I am retired I have returned to my passion.  I am fascinated by this new era of digital imagery. Thus, the creation of Digital Age Professionals.

We first, had to consider who our potential customers were going to be.  Secondly, we had to identify the problems DAP could solve for these customers.  After, this we had to establish a location for our potential customers to visit.  

Web Site

Working from the digital format, our first step involved building our web site. Our website is our digital home (real estate).  We have made our home as delightful as possible.

As with any home we expect guest.  Guest come in two distinct forms, invited, and uninvited.  I don’t know about you but certain close friends are allowed to drop by anytime.  Of course, the option of admittance is entirely at my discretion  🙂

Then there are those uninvited guest.  That you really have to consider if they are worthy for admittance. However, with our business home we want everybody interested in our product or services to stop by at any and all times!

Marketing

Marketing, is where my problems began! I quickly realized that even though I had a web site, no one was stopping by.  I became very lonely. In this instance lonely equates too low income.  I had to quickly learn to market my product to those who are interested in my problem solving capabilities.

Thanks to Six Figure Mentors and AWeber I have now developed superior marketing skills and capabilities.  Not only for me, but to other business owners who have marketing problems.

Marketing is the most important part of our business development.  Without customers there is no business.

Choosing A Niche

Even though my problems began with marketing, choosing my niche quickly became my largest problem.  I am writing this post for all new marketeers who are wrestling with this very same problem.

Affiliate marketing got me started, then I soon realized that I had to develop marketing plans that were concentrated on a particular speciality according to my personal desire.  This is where the rubber meets the road.

I spent months trying to get this right.  I now understand that many marketeers struggle with this problem. Thankfully my love for photography led me to my perfect niche. 

By the way, what I have learned from all of this, is that finding the proper niche is an evolutionary process. Don’t get hung up, let your heart lead you to the lifestyle you desire.

Check out this blog:

https://digitalageprofessionals.com/2019/12/23/tip-of-the-week-creative-ideas-to-help-you-target-a-specific-niche-in-photography/

Health Wealth & Love……… “Namaste”

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Tip of the week: Creative ideas to help you target a specific niche in photography

Written by Nelson Ikheafe November 25, 2019
User archive

When starting out in the photography business, it’s tempting to be a jack of all trades, shooting everything that looks interesting. While this approach may get you hundreds of unique photos, it will not set you apart from the competition.

Competition is a good thing, professional photographers who have embraced the power of intense competition in stock photography have discovered the power of branding for a specific niche. A niche will help you learn and zero in on what works and what doesn’t.

What type of photography sparks your creative juices? Your passion should be an indicator of your photographic niche.

Embrace Competition

Succeeding in the crowded field of stock photography requires tenacity, a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and work. Those that have succeeded in stock photography, have discovered the power of being focused on a specific niche.

Research on different niches to find out about the competition, gather as much information as you possibly can to discover what works in the niche and what doesn’t. Gather relevant statistics about sales and market demand. This should help you come up with strategies for joining the niche.

Embracing competition also means seeking out new areas that are underserved. Look for what customers are constantly asking for, what seems to be in short supply, join photography forums listen to the hub talk. Discover where there is demand.

Creative photography

Photography is all about painting with light, Creative photography is an art that transcends all spheres, essentially this means that you can shoot any kind of image, your creativity is what will direct your photography business.

You cannot be an expert in landscape photography, portraits, astrophotography, weddings, food, street photography. Approaching photography creatively requires that you zero in on a specific niche, buy the right gear and practice to shoot amazing photos in this niche.

Creative photographers, don’t really have to be professional, they can be hobbyists with an eye to see what works and what doesn’t. If you are a hobbyist with a keen photographic eye, expand your knowledge level through training, courses, and practical applications, as you concentrate on your chosen niche.

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What is a niche?

The business dictionary defines a market niche as

“a small but profitable segment of a market suitable for focused attention by a marketer, Market niches do not exist by themselves but are created by identifying needs or wants that are not being addressed by competitors, and by offering products that satisfy them.”

Photography has different specific niches, to discover which ones are profitable, and which ones aren’t you have to research. Study each niche in detail, and list only those niches that are of interest to you. Do you have the right gear and equipment for this niche?

Here is a list of a few niches that you can research on:

Real Estate Photography, Wedding Photography, newborns, Business, landscape Photography, Black and White Photography, Fashion Photography, Studio Photography, Street Photography Pet Photography, Photo-Journalism, Celebrity Photography, underwater Photography, Product Photography, Portrait Photography, amongst many others.

If you are a beginner starting out in photography, you will have limited knowledge about the equipment needed for specific niches. Start by learning about various types of photographic gear that will help shoot high-quality photos.

How do you identify a niche?

Your interest should lead you., Your interest, however, may not be good enough as an indicator of how profitable is. Researching about every area of your expertise to understand the market dynamics will help you settle on a profitable niche.

As we said earlier Photography is an art of painting with light, you may be good in one area and not the other, as an artist, identify areas you are good at. Proceed to do complete market research, this should direct your focus in the area that will eventually become your bread and butter.

When starting on your photographic journey, try out everything, see what works and what doesn’t, zero in on what is working. Study what prospective customers are asking for but seems to be in short supply. Are you in a position to work on meeting this demand? Do you have the required knowledge, expertise, and equipment to shoot images for this specific niche?

Before settling in one niche try out several niches to find out where your unique skills meet a demand in the market.

Challenges of niche Photography

Niche photography is a highly specialized approach to photography, it segments the industry into specific photography markets. Each market requires a specialized approach, in addition to special skills, some segments like astrophotography or insect photography require specialized equipment.

This means that no matter how passionate you are to shoot photos in a certain market, you might be limited by the availability of the right gear. Work in a niche that you have the right equipment and skills to produce high-quality images.

Your location will also determine the type of niche you can join, for example, if you live in the rural areas, you cannot shoot street photos, this, therefore, cannot be your specialty, unless you relocate to a city.

The location will also determine the type of images you can shoot, for example, you cannot shoot underwater images unless you live near a body of water. And have the right gear and scuba diving equipment.

Connect your brand to your niche

Once you have settled on a niche, prepare to ride the storms. As you go through the learning curves, you may find some months will be rough, you may be tempted to quit. Niche photography is a highly specialized photography genre that approaches a select group of buyers who may at first hesitate before committing to buying from you.

When you approach your niche with the end in mind you will stick in there for the long haul. Niche photography is a marathon and not a sprint. The easiest way to attract buyers fast is to have a wide selection of images in your niche.

Brand your images with a style template, as an individual your portfolio may not grow fast enough to stand out in the market. If you have the means you can hire other specialized photographers to shoot images that you can then post-process using your style template to retain uniformity.

If you do not have the means, build your business one brick at a time, work on your brand awareness, build your presence and don’t be in a hurry, the right buyers will eventually discover your unique talents.

Summary

Targeting a market niche is hard work, and is not for the faint-hearted, it is, however, the most rewarding and long-lasting successful way of joining this highly competitive business.

Do you want to make a stable career out of your photographic skills? Let stiff competition not derail your ambitions. Choose a niche, study the niche, roll up your sleeves and get to work, you will definitely succeed.

Photo credits: AlphaspiritFamveldmanIg0rzhIndra Eka PutraSrecko DjarmatiPhysykScyther5Sean PavoneWisconsinart.

Live Your Dream

Change Your Circumstances; Do Something Different!

You Can’t Change Your Circumstances By Doing the Same Things. In order to get a different outcome, you must change the way you are doing things. You can’t expect a better environment or circumstances when you continue to do the same things the same way. OK, I think you got the point.

Anyway, what I am trying to convey is a well known Universal Law, called Cause and Effect. The law simply states; For every effect, there is a cause. Therefore there is a cause for any and all of your circumstances, as well as the environment in which you live.

Now comes the hard part, and that is accepting that YOU are the cause! We all have a tendency to place blame everywhere but on ourselves. In the allegory of Adam and Eve, Adam placed blame on Eve for his disobedience. We all have a tendency to look for others to blame.

You are the cause! Being created in the “image and likeness of God” makes you a part of Universal Spirit (God is omnipresent). A part of anything possesses the same substance and qualities of that from which it comes. Remember the “Kingdom of God is within”.

All power including the power to change things comes from within. Now ask yourself:

    • Are you happy with your circumstances/environment?

    • Are you happy with your job? 

    • Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck?

    • Are you tired of working 60 hours per week just to make ends meet?

    • Are you tired of just being the consumer?

    • Are you tired of spending your whole paycheck on bills?

If you are dissatisfied with your answers to any of these questions, you need to change the way you are doing things. Change the way you think!

Explore your options, consider your purpose, and your God-given gifts and talents. Find your niche and create a better experience. You are individualized Spirit, placed on earth with a purpose to create something. Look around you, everything you see that is not animal, vegetable or mineral was created by man acting in harmony with Universal Spirit.

My new creation is an internet marketing business called “Digital Age Professionals”. I have found that the internet marketing platform provides me the opportunity to participate in a global economy, offering unlimited income potential, all while living a lifestyle of freedom.

Acting within my purpose which is to help people, I believe in the greatest good for the greatest number. I am offering you the opportunity to join me and help to make a change “one person at a time, from the inside out” Click the banner below to launch your new lifestyle at no cost! Let your journey begin!

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Change Your Lifestyle! Prostitution is Illegal!

If you work a regular 9 to 5 job, you are a prostitute and your boss is a pimp. You provide the service for pennies, and he makes the big bucks. It is time for a change. It is time for a lifestyle change.

This economy is wholly based on consumerism. We trade our time for money so we can buy stuff. We always want more stuff so we invest more time to get more stuff. Then we have no time for the important things in life, our family.

Think about your job and your situation.

  • Does it really provide the lifestyle you want?
  • Are you compensated adequately for doing the job you do?
  • Are you sacrificing family time?
  • Do you have job security?
  • Are you tired of doing your job, and everybody else job?

If you continue to do the same thing, you get the same results. So you must make changes to create a better outcome. So how do you change your situation?

We were born to create. Consider your gifts and talents. Now, consider your passion. These should lead you to your purpose. Your purpose should be your gift to the universe.

 

Your Dream

Now consider starting your own business. Consider a business that can be built around your purpose that will enable you to shed your chains, and still provide the lifestyle you were born to live.

Technology has changed the whole landscape of Entrepreneurship. We now live in a “digital age”. This age of transformation allows us the opportunity to remove your shackles, and step into the lifestyle of the “Rich and Famous”.

This digital age opens the door to a virtually unlimited income, by extending your market area to encompass the whole world.

Step forward and begin your journey. Your “laptop lifestyle”, awaits.

BEGIN HERE!

 

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