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Here's How You Can Make a Profit From Your Vacation Travel Photos

March 18, 1989|ROBERT LACHMAN | Times Staff Writer

Last week, we carried some advice on how to improve your travel photography. Now, we're going to show you how you can turn a profit from your travels.

The fact is that any picture, with a little work, can look as good as the ones in the brochures. And, a little extra effort and knowledge can allow you to turn your trip into a tax deduction or make the vacation pay for itself.

You need to take a quality single-lens reflex camera and two or three lenses on your trips. A point-and-shoot compact or Polaroid just won't cut it.

A simple way to sell your travel photographs is through a local stock agency, such as PhotoBank in Irvine, which encourages the advanced amateur or photo hobbyist to submit work.

A stock agency sells the work, splitting the sale price with the photographer, which allows the photographer to concentrate on shooting images and forget the headaches of billing, filing and servicing clients.

Kristi Bressert, co-owner of PhotoBank, says one big difference between basic vacation slides and shooting for stock is the way you view the scene. You need to shoot from various angles in order to leave room for titles or copy that may be added later. In addition, if a scene looks as if it is a natural horizontal, also shoot it vertical.

Vertical photographs sell the best, partly because magazine covers and magazine typography lend themselves to that shape. Thinking in that manner will pay big dividends. It's always better to shoot an extra shot than having to go back at another time.

Shoot at least two of each angle because originals are always better than duplicates. The stock agency will keep your work in their files, or you may want to keep a copy for your own files.

This means that along with bracketing for the perfect exposure, you might shoot from four to 36 frames at each location. The number of pictures you shoot is really up to the budget of the individual photographer.

The average color image may sell for between $250 and $500, but keep in mind not every image sells. The rule of thumb is the stock shooter makes $1 for every slide submitted.

All work must be shot with slide film. Bressert recommends using Kodachrome 64 for aerials, animals and fall colors because of the magenta cast of the film and its warming effect. Fujichrome 50 or 100 has a blue and green cast that can enhance scenic shots.

Surprisingly, Bressert recommends shooting the cliche landmarks because they sell the best.

"We have quite a few world travelers who work for us, and many of them are out there shooting exceptional real-life situations (such as those in National Geographic)," she said.

"But not many people want to see the down side of life on a travel brochure. They want to see the romance or the fantasy.

"The most popular shots are the blue water or sunsets from Hawaii, Big Ben in England, the Eiffel Tower in France, the Great Wall in China--just the classic or cliche shots."

Bressert will be teaching a one-day seminar, "Stock Photography: How to Shoot It, How to Sell It," at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Saturday, April 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Topics will include: picking the right stock agency, what sells the best, copyrights, legal issues, pricing and organizational techniques. The cost is $59. For more information, contact Bressert at (714) 250-4480.

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