Travel Photography with Taku

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Taku Kumabe is a freelance photographer and print designer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Taku’s photography revolves around capturing the essence of the moment. He strives to capture and produce images that evoke a feeling of being in that moment, often providing that “wow” effect. In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors and is often seen seeking adventures outside of the city. Read his full interview with phlow below.

Interviewer: When did you first decide to become a travel photographer and how did your journey start?

Taku: My desire to become a photographer was spurred from my family vacations where I initially used my parent’s camera to to take photos with. After realizing that I was able to experience that moment all over again just by looking at photos, I was hooked. I eventually bought my own camera and brought it with me as I backpacked Europe for two and a half months. I came back with over 30 rolls of film!

Interviewer: What is one place on Earth where you haven’t been yet but would love to go and photograph?

Taku: I have several places on my bucket list, but one of the places I would love to go to would be Australia. Whether it’s along the coastline or in the backcountry there are so many amazing looking places to go to that I would love to take a few weeks and explore the area at my own leisure. And while I’m there, I would definitely hit up New Zealand, which is also on my bucket list!

Interviewer: You generously spend a lot of your time providing tips and tricks for aspiring photographers. What has motivated you to start these tutorials and why do you think they have received such a great response?

Taku: More recently than ever, photography has become so accessible to the masses. With so many of us having an exceptional camera in our pockets (our mobile phones!), it’s no wonder why interest in photography has grown so quickly. However interest alone can’t create a great photograph, which is why I have a tips and tutorials section on my website. I have always loved to educate and inspire others to get outside and explore their own neighbourhoods. I love the outdoors so I use my passion for photography to try and motivate people to get outside and experience Mother Nature as well. My website is just one way in which I can help people with their photography and in turn motivate them to explore their surroundings. Over the last several years I’ve also partnered with local organizations to mentor and instruct youths who are enthusiastic about photography—it’s just amazing to be able to see their creativity explode when they get a hold of a camera.

Interviewer: What are your top 3 marketing tips for photographers to get new clients?

Taku: A website showcasing your portfolio is pretty much a must-have for any working photographer. This website is your 24/7/365 advertisement to anyone in the world looking to hire a photographer. Someone overseas may be looking for a photographer to hire for when they are in town, allowing your website to showcase your best work to them while you are asleep. If you are wondering, this has happened to me where someone overseas has hired me to photograph a multi-day event for them while they were in town.

Prove to your target clients that you are the one to get the job done. If you are looking for new clients—particularly in a market that is new to you—don’t expect them to come knocking on your door if you don’t already have what they are looking for. It’s one thing to say that you are capable of photographing something, but it’s another to actually show them examples of your work proving to them you know what you are doing. It’s also great to be able to build a rapport with potential clients. Social media is great for this as most companies are now on there whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram. Start interacting with them so they recognize your name early. When the time comes, a familiar name is always more comforting to clients.

Always treat your current clients with the utmost respect for their work when getting your job done right. Not only does your photographs speak about your work, but how you interact with your clients and generally behave in various situations reflects upon your reputation as well. Even if you have stellar photographs, if your currently clients can’t speak highly enough of you as a person, then word of mouth isn’t going to go too far for you.

Interviewer: For up and coming travel photographers, what are 5 pieces of career advice that you would give them?

Taku: Being a travel photographer may seem like a glorious job but it is not always what you think it may be like. There is always work to be done when you’re not travelling, and while you’re travelling, there may be expectations from you from clients. It can be quite hectic at times, and doing this over and over again can get quite exhaustive.

If you have a chance to travel for fun with your family or friends, take that opportunity to create images that you think potential clients may like. Use that opportunity to photograph and attract potential clients, proving to them your capabilities.

Respect the location/country that you are in, and they will treat you with respect as well. The last thing you want to do is create a bad image for tourists and photographers by disrespecting their culture, religious beliefs or actions that to you may seem unfamiliar. Research these before you go, and be aware of these while you’re travelling.

People have asked me if I have ever taken jobs for free. Yes I have, when I first started in photography. I find it a great way to gain experience in an industry that you are interested in, and want to gain more exposure in. I treat these opportunities as if they were paid jobs and do my best in them, ensuring that I treat these clients respectfully. After you prove yourself to them, these clients may be more inclined to pay you for future opportunities.

Always carry enough spare batteries with you! When I travel, I take photos with my Nikon and my iPhone. You never know where you’ll end up in your travels, and common outlets may not be readily accessible in certain places, so it’s imperative that you have spare batteries (or mobile chargers) on-the-ready for your camera(s).

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