For those of you who may not recognize his name, Andrea is one of the busiest and most talented travel shooters around, with a string of publication credits that would choke a horse. If I had a quarter for every assignment I lost to Andrea over the years, I’d be very well off—this guy can shoot (and write, in English, even though he’s Italian!).
I highly recommend taking a read of the whole post, but to summarize, Andrea posits that travel photography as a profession is gone, primarily because most of the publications that made assignments are either gone or severely cutting back. But he ends with a very cogent and insightful observation:
“I keep thinking that the world has a lot of stories worth to be covered photographically. The real task is to modernize our scope, create new ways of distribution (using the new technologies, think of the iPad for example), reach the young reader.
For the Travel Photographer the time has come to drop the “Travel” label. Everybody has a camera in his pocket today. The photographer is somebody able to see in a personal, strong way, and pass the message on..
Wow, Andrea’s analysis really hits a home run (or, more culturally fitting, scores a big goooooaaaaaal). To find out what this might mean, hit the jump.
It’s finding the stories in our travels and a personal way of telling them, that may help us all survive in the new media market. And it sure jibes with my experience. A lot of travel photography I see (and have done myself on occasion) lately is trophy hunting more than story-telling.
Like the photo tours and cruises, where the leader takes the group to all the best spots so everybody gets “the shot.” Or going and nailing the skylines, the icons, etc. that have been done before (and yes, we try to do them better, but sometimes, in the older professional travel photography business paradigm, you just needed them).
I know that my last few months have been spent grappling with new media, trying to learn the new grammar of visual storytelling with moving pictures.
It’s all brought me back to wanting to tell stories, like the picture page spreads I did on local characters in Jersey City and Hoboken for The Dispatch back when I was a fledgling news shooter in the mid-70’s, rather than shooting single iconic photos that have been done before.
Problem is, there’s no clear market for these stories, local or exotic…. yet. But hopefully there will be, because the net is very niche, and because the billions of pictures of every place from the Taj Mahal to Monument Valley out there being licensed or sold outright for pennies, combined with the dearth of editorial outlets, really have doomed the old paradigm.
And I’m hoping, but not entirely sure, that the new paradigm might include a pay-to-play, decent-money-for-decent-content, business model.
So besides learning a new way of telling visual stories, I’m also going to try to go for a new paradigm in my own travels. Just like the Slow Food movement has taught us to slow down and really eat, I’m thinking of Slow Travel—-go fewer places, stay longer, and dig out the stories of the people who are in the place.
That doesn’t mean I won’t accept the run and gun assignments that have been a career staple (I say that knowing that although no photo editors read this blog, I should cover my kiester just in case one stumbles upon this post… Yes, Mongo have camera, will shoot fast for food and mortgage money!).
So, like Andrea Pistolesi, I’m hoping that professional travel photography (and photographers!) don’t need a requiem just yet……maybe just a major makeover!