Friday, September 07, 2012

AS A STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER IS TRAVEL NECESSARY?

Friday, August 24, 2012, edition of the Wall Street Journal.

I'm sometimes challenged on why I need to travel in order to cover an assignment when a local photographer might be available. Wouldn't it be less expensive? The answer is not always. How would my coverage be different? Read on.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it doesn't make sense for me to travel to an assignment, and in those cases I'm the first to admit that it may be best to see if a local asset is available. Or it might even make sense to hand a point-and-shoot camera to the writer or exhibit coordinator who is already attending the event.

I also don't take it personally. However, if you have a professional photographer on staff and you don't use them, are you really saving money? Will the images be used beyond Facebook or internal publications? Is there national media interest or will there even be something to photograph? These questions need to be asked.

As an example, I was looking through the Friday, August 24th edition of the Wall Street Journal and immediately recognized one of my images. It was a photo of the Combat Tactical Vehicle technology demonstrator that I took during an assignment at the Nevada Automotive Test Center in Carson City, Nev., in 2008. It was being used to illustrate an article about companies competing to build a successor to the Humvee.

The combat tactical vehicle as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

How does this relate to the theme of this blog? When I travel on assignment for my employer, everything I do, from the way I approach the assignment, caption the photographs or edit the video, is designed to tell their story. This isn't the first time that photos taken during one assignment and for one purpose were used time and time again, often for completely different reasons. The key to this happening is that the photos were professionally taken along with a detailed caption containing enough key words that the photo can be found while doing a search, especially on a broad range of topics. That is best accomplished by a staff photographer.

As a staff photographer, from the time I receive the assignment and begin my research, I know the story, why it is important to my client and who the key players are. That all translates into how I market the image which makes a huge difference down the road.

In the end, a staff photographer is always going to have your best interests in mind and not be distracted  by other things going on around them. So when asked if I need to travel, I respond that you can't afford not to send me.

Another key that I will write about in the future is to have an approved travel budget and the ability to demonstrate what your employer is getting out of that budget.
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