I want to have the most diverse and interesting photo set possible from a trip
Are you a long time user of Media Kitty or a recent member?
I joined Media Kitty several years ago originally but got busy elsewhere and so have just recently re-subscribed my account.
How can Media Kitty members work with you?
As a freelance writer and photographer specialising in outdoor adventures and fishing locations in particular, I am always looking for fellow members and contacts in that area who are looking for someone who understands and can produce that specific type of material for them (although I will happily work on any travel content) and are able to sponsor a media visit to allow to gather the appropriate images and experiences. I always provide a set of images for the clients own ongoing marketing use as well. My website is www.paulsharmanoutdoors.com.
What challenges do you face in your role?
As a freelancer, the main challenge I face consistently in travelling internationally is securing comped air travel. It is very often the case that the destination will of course cover the local costs but cannot cover the airfare and it can be very hard to persuade an airline to get involved or even the national tourist office to help with additional sponsorship. This can be a deal breaker as of course it is the difference between a successful commercial proposition or otherwise accepting a loss on the trip.
What’s the most fun part of your job?
Being outdoors is key for me. I am an angler, wildlife lover and explorer and the chance to travel and see new places, meet a diverse range of people and just experience more of our planet is a huge driver for me.
What makes you good at what you do?
I love experiencing new places and am constantly on the lookout for great camera angles or subjects no matter what I am doing. At the end of the day I want to have the most diverse and interesting photo set possible from a trip. Having a passion for angling around the world myself, lets me understand how best to portray a destination to its best advantage. Also having another string to my bow in that I can also produce and publish digital magazines and brochures has been useful and something I enjoy creatively.
What changes and/or trends are you noticing in the market and your work networks?
The rise of the ezine is the biggest ongoing trend currently. The technology allows anyone to have a go at producing and publishing relatively inexpensively, but that does not mean quality or indeed an audience necessarily follows. In my angling network this also means many of us, including myself, are donating content for free to those startups we do believe are worth supporting in their early days but very few are in turn becoming fee paying so it becomes a vicious circle.
What organizations/outlets do you think are doing things right in the current market?
I am a fan of those who are providing a mixed platform approach, producing print and digital, but only if they are putting as much effort into really exploring the potential of digital and not just publishing their pdf’s as page-turners. The KLM digital members magazine for example is really pushing the boundaries.
In what ways does your job differ now from when you started out in your profession?
I originally started our writing local fishing stories which were really designed to capture the flavour of just one visit and so were fairly quick and easy to put together over a day or two. Now I am often liaising with contacts on a feature story for months before the trip actually takes place, researching story angles, locations and gathering information for the final piece. The feature copy can then take several sessions of writing and editing to compile, plus working through all my images to create a set I am happy to submit can take a while too. Perfectionist? Maybe, but if it’s going to have my name on it then I want it to look and read as good as it possibly can.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your profession?
Have confidence in your abilities. We all usually have to start out at the bottom but that does not mean you have to stay there. If you think you have strong and unique story ideas then pitch them to some titles at the top of your industry, be prepared for rejection but stick with it and you might be surprised. Also editors have a difficult job to do so don’t take criticism or edits personally, they are just trying to help shape your story into one that fits into their title and style. Once you have one published story with them it is then often easier to get the second and the third!
What inspired you to work in this area?
I have always loved fishing and photography and started writing longer and longer fishing reports on local message boards during my time living in San Diego, CA. Several of my friends encouraged me to submit some stories to local magazines and after some success I found I was really enjoying the creativity and chance to explore and cover more topics and areas. It also gave me an outlet for my photography.
If you were not working in this area, what other area would you have been interested in working in?
I’ve always known my missed vocation in life was as a marine biologist. The oceans and their wildlife, particularly around small remote islands, have always fascinated me and I can’t think of anything better than waking up every day knowing I was heading out on to the water.
What is on your bucket list?
There are so many iconic places and events I’d like to see around the world I don’t think there is enough time to fit them all in. A few locations at the top of my list would be visiting the Antarctic, Tierra de Fuego, Grand Tetons and the South Pacific islands. As for events I would love to witness the wildebeest migration across the Serengeti, the cherry blossom in Japan and hopefully to see more wild Atlantic salmon leaping up a waterfall somewhere in the highlands of Scotland.
Connect with Paul on Media Kitty!