Travel Photo Thursday: When Opportunity Knocks, Answer

Travel Photo Thursday: When Opportunity Knocks, Answer

Finding a travel destination’s icon to photograph is usually quite easy.

Big Ben, LondonSan Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge isn’t going to be dismantled. Neither is Paris’ Eiffel Tower. And “Big Ben” that towers over London’s Parliament buildings isn’t going to be replaced by a giant LED time clock.

Unless bad weather precludes it, you can almost always be sure that you’ll have a chance to bring back a photo of such signature landmarks.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that several million photos have already been taken of those well-known structures, so coming up with a unique shot of them is going to be difficult.

Go ahead and take your photo of that famous sightseers’ “must-see” place. But don’t just focus your efforts on getting that shot. Keep looking for a “photo op” that will let you capture a seldom-seen scene.

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National ParkIn “Travel Photo Thursday: A Career Launching Moment,”  I said that photo I took of Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park helped launch my second career as a travel writer. While that shot did indeed run along with my first-ever published travel story, it was a photo taken a week later that actually led to the publication of that story.

While walking along the waterfront in Ketchikan, Alaska, I looked up and spotted two dogs—one wearing sunglasses, the other sporting a red bandana around his neck—gawking out a second-story window at the tourists trudging up and down Steadman Street below. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the chance to capture their quirky canine behavior “on film” with my digital point-and-shoot camera.

Dogs in Window, Ketchikan, AlaskaSix months later, I submitted the shot to a newspaper back home, hoping that it might run in the paper’s Sunday Travel section as one of the “Just Back From” column of reader photos. After the travel editor sent me an e-mail telling me that my dog photo would appear in next week’s edition, I immediately sent her a story about Glacier touring in Southeast Alaska, along with several photos, including the one of Margerie Glacier.

Bad news: The editor had just finalized an upcoming story on Alaska, and couldn’t use mine.

Good news: She encouraged me to pitch my story and photos to other newspapers. That turned out to be great advice, since two different versions of the story and several of my photos ran a few months later in both the San Francisco Chronicle and Dallas Morning News.

For about ten years, on and off, I’d tried in vain to get travel stories published. Without that “dog shot,” odds are good that I would never have had a story appear in print.

So, when a photo opportunity “knocks,” be sure to “answer.” You never know where it might lead you.

(Click on an image to enlarge to full-size. Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots.)

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13 Replies to “Travel Photo Thursday: When Opportunity Knocks, Answer”

  1. Great advice and it’s true that the interesting and quirky shots are the one’s likely to gain an editor’s attention. Plus you have to be persistent. Just because one editor can’t use your travel story, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. Love the photo of the dogs!!

  2. What a great story…and a fun photo! I’m still waiting for the knock on the door but when and if it happens I’ll be certain to answer ‘yes’

  3. Hi Dick, it’s so true that people tend to focus their attention on the famous landmark and miss out on shooting great “decisive moments.” Your dogs shot is amazing. A great example of keeping your eyes always open to photographic opportunities.

  4. What a great and inspiring story! I love that quirky dog shot and I’ve always loved your glacier shots. You’re right, it is always a struggle to find a different angle on those famous landmarks. Thanks for the reminder not to give up and try other doors to open too.

  5. Great advice. I always have my digital P&S with me – you never know when that pic will pop up in front of you! I’ve had a photo taken through the windscreen of our 4WD on a dusty road used in the opening spread of one of my travel articles! And yes, just because one editor says no, it doesn’t mean another one might say yes!

  6. Haha…this photo is really too cool. There are photo ops in the most unsuspecting moments. Our camera phone had to jump in quickly more than once. Somehow we always have that along but not always the camera.

  7. I have just gotten back from a week trip where I took over 1000+ photos. Having a camera on hand let you capture those amazing moment that if you were telling the story… most people would think you made it up! However, if you can say, “just look at this photo” then you can give yourself credit!

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