No matter where you travel, you see people taking pictures – thousands and thousands of pictures! With the advent of the digital camera, photography has become the most prolific form of communication. With a simple click of the button, you’re able to tell the story of a place that can be understood by people all over the planet, regardless of their language.
Studies have shown that nearly three-quarters of all travelers stay connected via social media while they’re on vacation, mainly sharing travel images with friends and family. More and more often, however, these images are being shared on brand pages and with complete strangers.
Social media sites have responded to this abundance of imagery by refining their functionality and interfaces in favor of larger images and more visual content.
Add to that the popularity of sites such as Pinterest, which rely solely on sharing and re-sharing images, and it’s easy to understand why many future travelers are making decisions about where and when to travel based on the images they’re seeing.
The travel industry has always recognized the power of imagery as a tool for marketing, and you can be sure they’re taking note of how social channels are influencing consumer behavior. For instance, the Travel & Places category on Pinterest is one of the most frequently pinned categories and Pinterest has recently added place pins to facilitate vacation planning. Savvy travel brands understand how a single image can reach a far greater audience than ever before and they’re capitalizing on this by providing their own image-rich content.
So how does this trend toward image-based sharing affect stock photographers? Photos of iconic landmarks, monuments, and scenes are in high demand. A person or family shot in the context of a location, cultural portraiture, or local color and lifestyle can make an impression on potential visitors. And because social media needs to be updated frequently in order to remain relevant, more images are needed than ever before.
As a photographer, if you can find a subject or a location that has not been covered well, or if you can capture an iconic location in a unique way, you have a huge advantage in selling your stock photos.
Don’t think that you need to travel to an exotic location to shoot stock photos! Some of the best photos can be found in your own neighborhood, since you already understand your subject! Look for events, landmarks, and interesting people in your area. Compile a list of places that tourists would want to visit if they were coming to your town and then find the best time to photograph those places!
As your portfolio grows, you can expand your range of destinations. Maybe there’s a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Taking stock photography can be a great way to finance your dream! Research the location, compile a shot list, and then go visit!
You’ll need to do some advance planning to ensure the best possible photos. Before booking your flight and accommodations, consider factors such as festivals, weather, and local culture. Start a trip notebook to keep track of planning and necessary documents, and read guidebooks and web sites to outline possible itineraries. The more time you have for travel planning, the better prepared you’ll be!
Once you’re at your destination, get out of bed early to take advantage of the best possible light. It’ll also help you get ahead of the crowds at popular tourist locations! And don’t be afraid to stray from your planned itinerary if something catches your fancy. The best experience you can share with your viewers is one that you’ve become absorbed in yourself!
Back at home, you’ll need to sort through the photos you’ve taken. Discard any that are out of focus, have weak subjects, or inadequate exposure. Find the collection of photos that best represent your experience and tweak the contrast, color, and sharpness before you upload. Then use your favorite tool to compile a list of keywords.
If you’ve done your research well, the images should begin to sell soon after you upload them! Before long, you’ll be planning your next adventure!