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John Mitchell

What is a "travel" image?

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I'm mainly a "travel" photographer. However, these days I can't afford to do much roaming, so I've been doing a lot of street and other types of general walk-around photography close to home. Consequently, I decided a couple of days ago to set up a pseudonym for my non-travel images. The task is proving to be more difficult than anticipated because I'm having trouble figuring out what is or isn't a "travel" image in many cases. So my nagging questions are:

 

What exactly is a travel image? How would you define this genre? What characteristics make a photo a "travel" shot?

 

All opinions most welcome. Merci beaucoup.

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http://www.alamy.com/contributors/resources/tips/stock-photography-travel.asp

 

http://discussion.alamy.com/index.php?/topic/285-the-word-travel/

 

Quite difficult unless you concentrate on the process of travelling. The old steam clock downtown Vancouver is travelling to me - Castle Kronborg more or less in my backgarden. Opposite to you, I guess. The Alamy blog on travel photos has also some valuable information.

 

Personally I sometimes include the word travel for known and famous destinations and landmarks - but not for a wheat field in northern Jutland......

Edited by Niels Quist

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I'll have a try!!

A travel photo to me is a photo that I would take (these always/often appear to be taken around towns/cities and iconic locations) if I was travelling! I live outside Cardiff but reckon it is quite acceptable to call a photograph of Cardiff Castle a travel photo (even though I took it) as I would certainly shoot it if I was from away. It doesn't, to me anyway, matter that I live nearby - it still qualifies as a travel photo.

Obvious travel subjects would be the Eiffel Tower (AARRGGHH), the Paris Bateaux Mouches, The Pompidou Centre, Christ the Resurrection, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Houses of Parliament, Hadrian's Wall, The Statue of Liberty, Angel Falls, The Arctic Tundra, Angkor Wat, The Golden Gate Bridge, Camels and their owners in Egypt..................the list goes on and on. And on that premise, Cardiff Castle qualifies.

So, travel photography is, for me, any photograph I would take if I were a traveller - wherever.

nj

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John, travel images, in my opinion, can be defined with very broad terms. But I would suggest, while walking around, to not only keep travel in mind but also everyday life images. While I am primarily a travel photographer too, so much of what sells of mine are images that happened to be taken while traveling, such as bilingual sign on a recycling bin that I saw in a park in your home country of Canada.

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In the ‘good old days’ a stock photographer might travel the world, harvesting travel photos of the sights and locals (perhaps with a slightly patronising, colonial air). That’s how we learned what the Pyramids of Egypt looked like, or Niagara Falls. These days the locals have cameras, expertise and broadband... so those pix of faraway places may be the handiwork of people who live nearby rather than the work of adventurous first-world travellers.

Maybe travel photography is more a state of mind than a geographical location. I have the option to ‘travel’ into town and see it afresh, with new eyes... like a traveller who was seeing the place for the first time...

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John, travel images, in my opinion, can be defined with very broad terms. But I would suggest, while walking around, to not only keep travel in mind but also everyday life images. While I am primarily a travel photographer too, so much of what sells of mine are images that happened to be taken while traveling, such as bilingual sign on a recycling bin that I saw in a park in your home country of Canada.

 

Agreed, travel is a very broad topic. But would it be accurate to classify the shot of the bilingual sign on the recycling bin as a "travel" shot? Would a publication looking for travel images of Canada be likely to lease it?

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Quite possibly John - Rough Guide or Lonely Planet?

 

So one characteristic of a travel shot is is that reveals/depicts something unique or at least readily identifiable (or iconic) about a country, city, town, etc. In this case, that Canada is officially a bilingual (English and French) country?

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Instead of thinking as the photographer, try instead to think as a traveller. Imagine you have never been to Canada - what sort of photos would invite you there, or arouse your interest/curiosity?

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Thanks very much for all the interesting and useful comments. This is my first experiment with pseudonyms, so it looks as if I'll be juggling images back and forth between pseudos. It seems pretty easy to do using Manage Your Images.

 

I quite like Nick's simple rule of thumb:

 

"So, travel photography is, for me, any photograph I would take if I were a traveller - wherever."

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I only use the keyword travel to refer to travel - trains, stations, flights, passengers, tourists, traffic, etc. I use other terms to cover things like leisure, attractions, entertainment, vacation, holidays, trekking, backpacking, etc (some of which may be travel). I don't keyword work as 'travel' photography in the old sense and I think that it's rapidly becoming redundant. I would use the term for a set of images taken on something like a tourism/travel facility - say a cruise or a package - which show people taking part.

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I only use the keyword travel to refer to travel - trains, stations, flights, passengers, tourists, traffic, etc. I use other terms to cover things like leisure, attractions, entertainment, vacation, holidays, trekking, backpacking, etc (some of which may be travel). I don't keyword work as 'travel' photography in the old sense and I think that it's rapidly becoming redundant. I would use the term for a set of images taken on something like a tourism/travel facility - say a cruise or a package - which show people taking part.

 

Yes, perhaps there really isn't such a thing as "travel photography" any longer in our connected world. I'm tending to populate the new pseudo that I created with "artsy" shots that don't do well on Alamy and local images that don't seem to fit that well into the rest of my collection. Shall see how it goes. I really just want to experiment with pseudonyms, so that I can get an idea of what the potential benefits -- if any -- there are in using them.

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We/they used to have a saying in the airline business; "A successful travel picture is anything that will help put butts on seats."  

 

Before I get into that, let me say there are three separate areas of travel photography—editorial, advertising and marketing. Advertising is where the big money is. But the path to those lucrative advertising jobs is high-end editorial work. Second-string editorial jobs? Sorry, but they're not likely to lead to the big ad jobs. 

 

Travel marketing is where I lived. The difference between advertising and marketing in travel is that as a marketing photographer I often worked directly for the client, mostly airlines and tour companies or tourist boards. My first shoot was for Alitalia and soon after that I found myself doing trip after trip for PanAm. (Remember them?) Most of the PanAm trips were multi-destination trips that could last up to three months. I've worked for a couple of dozen airlines and for American Express.

 

I made the choice early on to stay with travel marketing instead of trying for the editorial jobs that might lead to the big money and possibly fame. In my youth I had been a jazz musician and an actor and I found that . . . fame did not agree with me. I'm reclusive by nature. The anonymous travel marketing work, at best, only lead to more travel marketing work; I was known in the business but almost never got a credit. Sure, over the years, I did a few ad campaigns and some magazine work, but stayed mostly with marketing, where I mostly traveled and worked alone and made steady money. Marketing images appear in brochures, posters and point-of-purchase displays.  Early on I had offered buyouts. Later I changed my way of billing and was able to place a fair amount of material with Tony Stone. 

 

Since the arrival of digital and micro, travel marketing has totally disappeared as an assignment area. Gone. I did it from the late in the Sixties till the late Eighties. 

 

Ed

Edited by Ed Rooney

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Oh, I never explained what "puts butts on seats."  Let's see:

 

Landmarks, cityscapes, pools, theaters, tennis courts, food, drinks, happy folks, local folks who are happy to see travelers, shopping, goods, any social sports, beaches, pretty people (okay, models), pubs, bistros, uniquely local stuff . . . and 100 other things. 

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I'm mainly a "travel" photographer. However, these days I can't afford to do much roaming, so I've been doing a lot of street and other types of general walk-around photography close to home. Consequently, I decided a couple of days ago to set up a pseudonym for my non-travel images. The task is proving to be more difficult than anticipated because I'm having trouble figuring out what is or isn't a "travel" image in many cases. So my nagging questions are:

 

What exactly is a travel image? How would you define this genre? What characteristics make a photo a "travel" shot?

 

All opinions most welcome. Merci beaucoup.

 

John, you're asking the question from your point of view, from the photographer's point of view. Shouldn't you/we be asking from the point of view of the researcher/picture buyer?

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I'm mainly a "travel" photographer. However, these days I can't afford to do much roaming, so I've been doing a lot of street and other types of general walk-around photography close to home. Consequently, I decided a couple of days ago to set up a pseudonym for my non-travel images. The task is proving to be more difficult than anticipated because I'm having trouble figuring out what is or isn't a "travel" image in many cases. So my nagging questions are:

 

What exactly is a travel image? How would you define this genre? What characteristics make a photo a "travel" shot?

 

All opinions most welcome. Merci beaucoup.

 

John, you're asking the question from your point of view, from the photographer's point of view. Shouldn't you/we be asking from the point of view of the researcher/picture buyer?

 

Good point. And then there is the traveller's POV as well. He/she shouldn't be left out. However, I would say that my "travel" images are more likely to be leased on Alamy for purposes other than travel/tourism promotion ( e.g. textbooks, retail books, etc.).  It gets complicated. How do you find your NYC travel photos are being used?

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Shooting your neighborhood is a travel image...for someone who lives say in France or in Papua...

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