Noel Morata is a Hawaii-based photographer who works primarily in Hawaiian travel photography. While he started as a freelance portrait and special events photographer, much of his recent success has come from selling his prints on stock photo sites. In today’s interview, Noel introduces us to the world of digital travel photography and offers some tips for transitioning into the travel industry (hint: if you’re not on social media networks, you’ll probably want to change that). Check out his portfolio and enjoy!
Noel, tell us a little bit about yourself and you got your feet wet in the travel photography business.
The process of getting involved in the travel photography business started with my including images of places I have traveled to on my Flickr stock site and have been getting a lot of inquiries and comments compared to other images I typically show on my site. This inspired me to develop a travel photography website called Travel Photo Discovery which includes photo essays, top 10 related tips, camera advice and tips along with other photo inspiration. The process of getting fresh content and imagery up on both sites have been a lot of work, but I’ve made inroads networking and building up a presence in this new marketplace that I have targeted. It’s a learning process and I have found that many other travel bloggers are very helpful and supportive within their particular travel niche.
You recently transitioned into travel photography after establishing yourself as a freelance photography in other industries. How did you decide to move into the travel photography business, and what has that move been like?
I started this process because of my love for travel and wanting to make it a viable part of my portfolio. The travel market is already saturated with travel photographers and writers, so my intent is to do both and also start dabbling with video. Just like starting in any industry there is a lot of work to be done in building up a presence within this industry, and the first part of that was to establish my photo travel website. Developing content and beautiful imagery to match on a regular basis is a challenge but also a great opportunity to be creative and produce fresh material that can add to a presence in the marketplace. Also, key to this development is building up a social media presence with key tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. These all require a lot of active participation in marketing yourself and are necessary tools to helping you stand out from the crowds.
What advice do you have for a photographer who is trying to break into the freelancing world? How can a new photographer get that first “big break?”
Today’s market is very difficult to break into. My advice would be to follow what your passion is in your photography and it will show! From your main interests, find the key players, markets and influences are and start networking. Social media is very important in today’s market so you have to be an active participant in many social media channels along with a beautiful website, blog, stock site or any photo hosting site that will showcase your work to a buying market. There are so many facets of breaking into different segments of the photo market, but starting locally and building your presence there is a great way to start and even trying to find a local mentor that you can apprentice under will give you opportunities to learn and grow in that niche segment.
How do you see your income mix changing in the next few years as more emphasis continues to be on digital media?
In today’s market, you have to diversify and be able to find income streams in many channels. It’s all about putting in the work to the markets that you want to be present in.
In your opinion, how is travel photography as a visual genre different from other photography genres?
Travel photography inspires us to look outside of our own little worlds and associations. It gives us an opportunity to see people, lifestyles, cultures, events, historical sites and exciting new worlds in an exciting and provocative way. Also travel photography covers a full gamut of other related genres in food, fashion, lifestyle, home and design, photography wrapped up into a big umbrella.
Noel Morata is a freelance photographer, writer, and artist. Check out his work at www.travelphotodiscovery.com and his portfolio at www.noelmorata.blogspot.com.
Interview conducted in August, 2013 by Kristin Mock.