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Location Assessment

Lesson 5 from: Travel Photography: Landscapes, Aerials, and Skylines

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

5. Location Assessment

Lesson Info

Location Assessment

Location assessment is very, very key, in understanding how you're going to build it out. The Leaning Tower of Pisa's a great example. You want to pay attention to where you set-up and make sure you scout the location. Become familiar with everything. I don't just go up and say, okay, here's the shot, and then leave. Walk around the perimeter, walk around the edges. Work your way all the way through. And this is something we talk a lot about in the bootcamp, in North Cascades National Park, that we just did. A 20-day bootcamp. (laughs) There's a whole section on just location scouting. It's not the mosquito section, that everybody seems to talk about. But pay attention to where you set-up, be sure to scout. Make sure you know where you are, make sure you're not in private property. Work the scene. Especially with your wide-angle shots, you can really make the wide-angle stuff work really well for you. I think that, any lens, but I usually, almost always go out with a 16-35mm lens for m...

y travel stuff. If I'm gonna bring one, I'll bring a 16-35. It used to be the 24-70, but I found it just too limiting over time. It was too much of the middle focal line for me. And so I switched to the 16-35 and one camera body. This is what I got. These are different lenses. Well, two lenses, I think. I think it was a 16-35, which is all of these shots, and then I think the 70-200. But, look at how I work my way in and work the scene. And, if you've got no people in here. Now, I don't know, some buildings, some things are trademarked. And you can't use them commercially. But, if it's not, then something like this, with no people, can potentially be commercially viable. But, again, always looking at leaving some empty space, but still have some texture, some clouds, some light, so on and so forth. But, working the scene. Getting as much out of it as you can. You're all the way there, it doesn't take that much extra. Have a little bag with a lens, if you want to bring two lenses or just go with the one. That's fine. But, you want to make sure you get as many different options to show the experience for sales as possible. The importance of authenticity. This is really key, because you don't want to fake a travel piece, but you may have to, sometimes. The best photos, in general, whether you are in nature, whether it's a sporting event, anything like that, the more natural it is, the better it will do, the more people will respond to it. People respond to authentic imagery. And the best way to keep things authentic is to live it. Live the adventure, right? That is what you want to do. If you're on a trip, live the adventure. If you're in your hometown and you want to photograph, maybe there's a cooking school, or something, take the class. Don't just say I'm gonna come in and photograph it. Maybe that'll work for you, maybe 'cause it's other people doing it, it's still authentic. But maybe you'd be part of it. What does that really mean? It's kind of hard to take pictures with your hands covered in flour or pizza dough or something like that. But, you'd be surprised. Every single cooking thing I've photographed for my travel stories, I've been a part of that class. To get the authenticity. Get involved in there. Why is this step important? Maybe it ends up not even becoming just a travel story, but maybe it ends up working in a cookbook sale or something like that one day. There's a lot of different ways to do it. But, if you have to pose it, you have to try and keep it as natural as possible. Some subjects, as I mentioned, are more naturally authentic than others. For example, horseback riding versus a pool. If you're out on a horseback ride and people are out in nature or something like that, there's no way, it's not going to ever feel totally posed, unless everyone's just staring and looking at the camera, smiling, right? And then it just feels like you're taking vacation photos. One big distinction on that note, actually, be careful of vacation photos. Vacation photos are not travel photography. They're your travel photography and no one else's. People standing there smiling, posing, in front of a monument. Very, very, very rarely will that ever license. So you want to be careful about creating vacation photos. You're trying to capture the moment, in the sense of place. You're not trying to say look what a great time I had and my two kids are adorable. Some subjects are more naturally authentic than others. So horseback riding, for instance, or such as a pool. The second you get into the pool, people are posed, they're leaning on the edge. They're laying back like this. It's hard to make it feel authentic. And it's already a set versus maybe being out in the wild, or something along those lines. This is a good example of the cooking class. Is it technically the best photograph ever? No, by no means. But seeing an actual chef in a cooking class rolling out the pizza dough, or whatever it was, there's a lot of authenticity that comes through. In the tools, the process along, I ended up getting a whole bunch of things out of this entire little cooking class. And they loved it. Sent them the photos afterwards. And I said, thank you for letting me photograph here. And feel free to use them for your social media or whatever. Maybe I grant a little usage. That's the price. And people say, well, I don't want to give away my stuff for free. Well, you have to figure out the balance of how you wanna do it. You gotta start somewhere, so a barter system might be a good way to start. And then that way you're both getting value out of it. They're getting some photos, you're getting a location to shoot. You start to build that up. Maybe the next one you could say here's my portfolio, it's very good. I've got all these great hotel shots. Would you be interested in hiring me and they'd pay a day rate. Travel photography for commercial, when a hotel hires you to come in, can be very, very lucrative. It is also very, very competitive. Everyone wants it. Everyone wants to go to Bora Bora and photograph the hotel. The sad truth is, most of the travel stories are not going to Bora Bora and photographing a beautiful hotel with fish swimming around. But, they are in urban areas, they're in cities. And you've probably got a couple hours and you've may make a few hundred bucks and that's gonna be the end of it. That's what travel photography typically is. But people always think of these great destinations 'cause that's what you see a lot of it, but it's not all like that. Being in the moment is very, very important. And being in the moment also means that you're gonna open up a lot of opportunities to sell your images, because now they're authentic and they're real.

Ratings and Reviews


Great class! Lots of useful information on on how to take, market and sell your photographs, including what constitutes editorial vs commercial work.

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