Photography of people in nature has a larger market than nature photography without people! The sales figures support that.
I am referring to general interest outdoor publications that cover a wide range of topics and are many of the magazines we all wish to be published in.
For some photographers, photographing people is challenging if not a difficult area to get into. Many outdoor photographers specialize in the natural world because the draw is nature itself and other people around is a distraction. Others prefer to shoot to the demands of the market and the market demands people.
For some editors, a photo essay is not complete without photographs of people complimenting the nature photography.
Consider the editorial markets. Generally publications whose editorial focus is primarily nature related subjects will seek nature images to illustrate the piece, but often request images with people visiting the location. These images are often harder to find.
Publications that are more activity oriented (skiing, hiking, adventure travel) will focus first on images containingpeople and may follow by inserting a few pure nature images. The editorial slant is often about the location and activities available for humans and less about the natural history story behind the scenery.
Some publications walk the line. The slant is about the natural history story and how humans explore it and here photos with and without people have equal appeal.
Explore your favorite magazines and literally count how many people images are included versus non-people nature images. This will give you an idea on how to shoot for this market.
Evaluate Your Shooting Plans
Consider the locations you plan to photograph and their marketability. For example, is the planned location a bioreserve with few annual visitors or a n
ational park with great scenery and a variety of hiking, biking, and family activities? The answer will aid you in determining the marketability of the location first and then what coverage you should have.
If for example, you are heading for Bryce NP to shoot winter scenic’s and you get some great scenic imagery. It just so
happens when you return to the office that a publisher of national park soft cover tourist books is updating their Bryce book. They will want to see your winter scenic’s but also be on the lookout for snowshoeing and cross country skiing in Bryce. If you shot those subjects as well you have increased your opportunity to make a sale.
How to Add the Human Element?
You don’t need to hire models, rather go with friends or team with other photographers on your upcoming shoots and agree to pose for each other from time to time. Include these companions in some of the nature compositions.
Photograph applicable scenes with and without a person. A person standing at the base of a waterfall, hiking along a trail, backpacking (or pretending to backpack) or doing other activities can be shot on the same outing to photograph the waterfall.
Avoid the image of your friend photographing the waterfall. Images of photographers rarely sell compared to a well composed day hiker standing at the base of the waterfall.
Since your photo trip will most likely take you to other destinations, keep a colorful dome tent, camp stove, and backpack in the car and you can stage a camp scene anywhere.
Using a wireless remote to trigger your camera will allow you to be in your own photos when a model is not available. Be careful as it can be difficult to photograph yourself in a marketable manner so try many different posed positions.
Consider coordinating clothing before you leave on the trip. If your friend wears a dirty sweatshirt you have killed the chances of selling that image. I went to Target and purchased several cheap but colorful fleece pullovers and take them on my shooting excursions. If the scene is perfect for a shot with a person, I hand the colorful fleece to my friend and pose them for the shot.
By doubling your effort while in the field and shooting with and without people in as many compositions as possible, you dramatically increase your chances of licensing an image.