“One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.”… Eleanor Roosevelt


The chattering of kids grew louder. Feet stomping quickly through the tunnel. Wheels from luggage being dragged. Noises bouncing off the walls, making the narrow half mile tunnel seem like it was slowly getting narrower. I had to get out. To get some air. Normally not claustrophobic, very little sleep in three days was throwing off my internal radar.

Quickly darting out of the next exit I saw, one of many sprinkled alongside the tunnel, I popped up beside the Natural History Museum, eerily illuminated against murky dark skies.

So I snapped the photograph below using my day bag as a makeshift tripod…

Pure Passion – All You Truly Need?

Was in London for the Travellers’ Tales festival and had been looking forward to it for weeks. It seemed the perfect chance to meet the editors of Wanderlust and Traveller magazines and to network with fellow travel writers/photographers. I got half my money’s worth very early on, on Friday afternoon when attendees could sign up for writing or photography learning programmes.

Quickly scanning the small room to take a mental census, I settled in the first row. Mostly women. Older women to be exact. Hobbyists maybe? I wasn’t too sure.

I sit next to an older lady, maybe in her late fifties. We begin to make small talk.

“So what brings you here?” she asks. I answer.

“Haa. I see. Have you published any work?,” she continues. I tell her. Mostly travel writing in some big publications, I tell her.

“Really? I thought you had to be extraordinary to be published in National Geographic?” she retorts.

Extraordinary?

I hold her gaze for about two seconds, and let out a half smile. “You have to be able to craft a good story and pitch it well,” I tell her.

Our superficial conversation is interrupted by another older lady.

“I’ve just been back from The Gambia,” she chimes in, mouth pursed, thin glasses resting on the tip of her nose, very birdlike.

“Desperately poor country. Desperate,” she emphasizes. “But they’ve got 500 species of birds!”

“Oh my word!” the extraordinary lady exclaims, and the conversation is shifted to the other lady and tales from her bird-watching expedition. Turns out the bird lady doesn’t plan on selling her pictures, doesn’t plan on exhibiting, doesn’t want to publish, and just wants to take pictures for herself; which is perfectly alright.

I turn back towards the panel of pro photographers, the real reason I was there. Legendary landscape photographer, Colin Prior, travel photographer extraordinaire Paul Harris, and editor of Outdoor Photography Magazine, Steve Watkins.

In addition to the best ways of pitching Wanderlust and Outdoor Photography, what I took home in a nutshell from the pros was this:

  • Travel photography is a very challenging environment to be in at the moment and magazine commissions are extremely tough to come by.
  • Trying to make money through stock photography seems fruitless as well because the perceived value of travel photography is dropping.
  • So to survive, you truly need to be passionate about photography to stick with it.
  • You really don’t need more than 1 camera and 2 lenses for your photography.
  • Who buys those $50,000 cameras? Certainly not the pros, so it has to be hobbyists with money.
  • Within the next five years, cameras will get smaller and lenses will become optically superior.
  • “You know when you’ve shot a great picture. You don’t have to ask yourself if it’s good. You just know it”….Colin Prior
  • Your biggest challenge would always be finding ways to stand out.
  • Photo editors are still on the lookout for fresh, original ideas. They’ve seen it all so surprise them with fresh angles on the mundane.

Stay tuned for more summaries from the festival including a London photo gallery.