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Why you need to learn photo skills NOW

As I mentioned in the two previous posts (here and here), if you want to be a full-time writer, you need to have a diversified income stream AND you need to continually stay on editors’ radar screens, letting them know about all of your skills and subject area specialties.

Do you STILL need more proof?


This afternoon, within the span of a couple minutes, I received two emails from editors–one at Fodor’s and one elsewhere–asking if Francisco and I concurred with the terms of agreement for using the photos we shot while in Puerto Rico and in one other location. I’d been sure to include links to my Flickr albums when submitting the drafts of my written assignments, mentioning that I had relevant photos to accompany the pieces.*

I actually hadn’t seen the terms of agreement previously– seems like they got lost somewhere in the Internet ether–but I read over them and thought: Man, that investment in a camera and in learning photography might finally pay off! Theoretically (though I’m not holding my breath– I’ve lived long enough to know that money’s not in the bank until it’s in the bank), if the publication used the maximum number of photos they’ll run, we’d make more on our photos than we would on the written part of the assignment.

So don’t stop working on your writing skills, but do start polishing those photography skills. And if you’re not sure how to get started, keep your eye on Matador U: we’re launching a travel photography course in the Spring, put together by pro travel photographers Paul Sullivan and Lola Akinmade.

The course would be a great investment in yourself and your career.


*Beyond making work for an editor easier and your own portfolio stronger, having photos of the places you’re writing about serves another function: It confirms for the editor that you’ve actually been to the places you’re writing about. And one other benefit? Photos really help you as a form of what my friend and colleague Lola calls “visual notes.”


3 responses »

  1. “It confirms for the editor that you’ve actually been to the places you’re writing about.”

    That is really funny! I would never have thought about editors thinking of photos as proof, but I guess it comes up much more than I realize.

    • Of course, there are ways people could fudge their photos as proof of having been somewhere, but if you can talk about and caption the photos properly, your editor definitely has more confidence that you know what you’re talking/writing about.

  2. I never thought about how writing and pictures go hand in hand, great advice!


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