Travel photography as a business
After graduating from university with a double degree in the Japanese and Korean languages, I was accepted into a prestigious masters course in Japanese Interpreting/Translating. You can imagine my mother's horror when I told her that I was going to travel through Africa for nine months and maybe do post-grad after that!
But those nine months of travel changed my life. Wandering around Africa with 140 rolls of Kodachrome-64 film in my backpack, I caught the bug both for travel and photography. Still, I didn't seriously consider making a living out of this crazy game until several years later. My wife and I were about half way through a year-long trip around Southeast Asia, India and Nepal (some of the resulting images pictured at right) when I stumbled across a book in a Bangkok bookshop that showed me the way. John Shaw's "The Business of Nature Photography" really got me thinking about making this my career, and when I returned home to Australia (after lugging this big bloody hardcover book halfway around the world) I set up my business.
Now this is my path. Specializing in travel means that I have to diversify my work, so I do both stock and assignment photography as well as write travel and photography articles. I also occasionally run travel-photography courses. My goal is to expand my client base internationally. Although I have traveled to more than 50 countries, Australia is my home and far north Queensland is my main stomping-ground. I would like to position myself so that if clients have image needs from this part of the world, I'm the first on their list of contacts. This is why I have the need for a proper digital asset management program.
Before iView MediaPro, I used a Microsoft Office Access database that I built myself. It was totally text based so that I could find any image in seconds. Having only a text description of the image, I'd have to pull the transparency out of the file cabinet to actually see it. At the time, it was a good system, but things have changed.
When I was looking for a digital asset management program, I briefly looked at Canto Cumulus, but I'd read reviews and comparisons, and decided to go with iView MediaPro.
After downloading the trial version, I knew it was the program for me. The interface was simple to understand, and it did everything I needed. Reading Peter Krogh's book "The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers," (http://www.thedambook.com) reinforced my decision. I think it's the most useful piece of software I own. That's a big call I know, but for someone who shoots in a documentary style and rarely uses Adobe Photoshop in-depth, MediaPro really is the backbone of my operation.
I use MediaPro to catalog all my images, as well as to update my Web site and compile images for both personal and client use. I also use it to track which of my images have been submitted to which stock agency, and which publication has published my images.
My workflow varies depending on whether I'm scanning existing film images or cataloguing new digital images (I transferred to shooting digital in October 2005). When scanning film images, I do my scan and produce a master file that I add to my archive and then import into MediaPro. It couldn't be easier.
With new digital images, first I download the images from a portable hard drive into my RAW working folder. I then open the images in Adobe Bridge, batch rename them, and then insert my copyright and other relevant metadata. After making any necessary corrections, I convert all the images to DNG and store them in my archive folder structure. I then save a copy of the original RAW and XMP files to a DVD and delete them from the hard drive. Next, I import all the DNG files into my MediaPro catalog (one for each year) and they are then ready to be sent to the client as either a stand-alone catalog (which I burn to CD complete with a copy of iView Catalog Reader) or as a static page added to my Web site. Finally, I backup all my files to a second external hard drive as well as to a DVD.
The ability to show clients an image without having to convert it from a DNG to a TIFF or JPEG has been a revolution for me. I don't convert any of my files unless a client wants to license it, or I submit it to my stock agency.
To submit images to my stock library I add keywords and other metadata in MediaPro. For images I submit to Alamy, a UK stock agency, I use MediaPro's Alamy Wizard (http://www.iview-multimedia.com/alamy/). This plug-in validates each image for Alamy's submission criteria — including metadata and file properties — and then packages my images for disc burning and delivery to the agency. For images that I submit to Lonely Planet Images, a stock agency specializing in travel photography, I just drag and drop the files to my disc burning software and that does it all for me.
I also use Adobe Photoshop CS2. I open any images that I need to edit in Photoshop from within MediaPro. It's much easier to select a group of pictures in a MediaPro catalog and open them all at the same time in Photoshop (using the "Open With" function) without having to search through various folders on the desktop. It's particularly handy when I need to batch process a group of pictures with a Photoshop action or droplet, and it's much faster than trying to do the same thing in Bridge.
My MediaPro Favorites
MediaPro lets me collate images from anywhere in my system, place them in a Catalog Set, and then present them to a client. Before I had MediaPro, I had to search for all my images, duplicate them into a single folder and then burn a CD -- it took forever and it was just a nightmare. Now it couldn't be easier.
The "Send Email" function means that I don't need to keep small versions of every single one of my pictures to email quickly to clients. Now, I just highlight the images I want to email and, with the click of a button, MediaPro prepares a small version of the photo on the fly and sends it for me.