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On-the-ground reports from the Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop in Paris.

Since you couldn’t be with us in Paris for our photography workshop, I asked David Morgan – a freelance writer and photographer – to fill you in on what we’ve learned. You’ll find his report here below.

Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

Dear Reader,

The first day of the Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop has come to a close.

After this evening’s opening seminar, we strolled together down the hustle-bustle Champs Elysees, around the Arc de Triomph, and to a private apartment for a cocktail party before dinner.

I would love to report on the fine cuisine, or at least the wine, but, alas… that is not what I have come here to do.  I will, however, be more than happy to fill you in on the table conversation…

But first, an introduction is in order.

My name is David Morgan, and I am writing to you over the next few days with free on-the-ground reports from our Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop here in Paris.

Consider me your official eavesdropper, filling you in on a few of the things you’ve missed by not being here this time around. (We hope to see you very soon, though – I’ll tell you a bit more about that in a minute.)

I’m here to debunk the myth that you have to be exceptionally talented, “well-heeled,” or rolling in money in order to enjoy an international lifestyle.

Far from it. You just need to know a few basics. Then put your knowledge into action.

That’s the beauty of these workshops. Not only do we get to find out what techniques we need to succeed, but once we know what they are, we get to practice them immediately.

Lori Appling spoke earlier today about a few participants in AWAI’s travel writing program. She said that the ones who tend to make the most money and get published more frequently also tend to be the ones who submit photos with their articles.

I’d like to give you a “leg up” so you can do the same – without spending a fortune on a camera with more megapixels than you need.

You see, I think it’s a great idea to submit articles and photos together. It makes your chances of getting published much better than if you submitted either articles or photos alone. Plus, you get paid for both.

It’s the best travel-writing deal going, and still not too many people do it… do it well, I mean.

And the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t much matter what kind of camera you use to take those photos, once a few basic requirements are met.

Today I’m going to tell you that it probably doesn’t even matter how many megapixels your camera has.

People were talking about the megapixel issue long after master photographer Rich Wagner’s evening talk about it. Does it really not matter how many megapixels your camera has?

Well, yes and no. Certainly your photos need enough resolution to appear normal – without jagged edges – when blown up to at least eight-by-ten inches. That’s as big as most any publication will ever need.

To that end, a five- or six-megapixel camera should be more than adequate…so long as you take into consideration another important factor: the camera’s sensor.

The size of your camera’s sensor is actually more important than the number of megapixels it has.  You see, the sensor is the part of the camera that actually captures the image. And, in very simple terms, the bigger the sensor, the more image data it can capture.

I’ve been in the travel photography business for quite awhile now, and I only learned this lesson myself very recently… so I was really happy to hear Rich share it with our participants… and now with you…

When it comes to sensors, at least, bigger does mean better.

Think of the sensor as the digital equivalent of your negative. The bigger your negative, the bigger each individual pixel is. Six megapixels on a large sensor is better than six megapixels on a small sensor. You’ll get less digital “noise” or grain when each pixel is larger.

So, a camera with a big sensor and, say, six megapixels of resolution can take a higher-quality image than a camera with a small sensor that packs in eight megapixels.

Those megapixels really get crammed in there when you’re working with a small sensor, so even though you’re theoretically getting an image with higher resolution, you’re actually getting an image of lesser quality.

So, how do you know whether your camera has a small sensor or a big one?

As a rule of thumb, digital SLR cameras (single-lens reflex) have larger sensors than digital viewfinder cameras (point-and-shoot cameras). If you’re not sure what a digital SLR is, the easiest way to explain it is this: they’re the ones with the interchangeable lenses. When you look through the eyepiece, you’re actually looking at a reflection of what the lens sees, not through a separate window from your lens.

So… if you’re trying to decide between a digital point-and-shoot camera with eight megapixels or a digital SLR with 6 megapixels, you’ll get better quality images from the camera with the larger sensor. It will also do a better job in low light situations, where “noise” is more evident. Of course, price is always a factor and you can expect to pay more for the digital SLR. But if you can fit it into your budget, definitely go with the digital SLR. You’ll have a better sensor, not to mention you’ll also have much more control over your pictures once you learn your way around your camera’s manual controls.

So that’s PARIS PHOTO TIP #1: A larger sensor is more important than number of megapixels when you’re shopping for your next digital camera.

And I’ll add this. We can call it PARIS PHOTO TIP #2: There’s no need to buy a new camera until you’ve outgrown the one you’ve got.

It’s not the paintbrush that makes the painter. The first photo I ever sold was made with a $75 plastic-bodied Vivitar. Once I learned my way around that camera and made it take the best images it was capable of, and found that I wanted more, only then did I upgrade.

Like I said earlier, if the camera you have meets the basic criteria, that’s good enough to make money. Whatever camera you have today really can help you sell more travel articles.

And if you haven’t sold a travel article yet, submitting your article with photos could help make it happen for you.

Give it a try! And to that end…

New This Year: The Paris Push

I understand all too well that sometimes the hardest thing is just getting started, so I’ll be here the rest of the week to help give you a little push in the right direction.

Here’s your Paris Push for today: Think of your favorite place in your hometown. It could be a restaurant, a park, a museum, a statue, a swimming hole, a tree with history… most anything at all. If it happens to be something you pass regularly on your way to work or wherever, that’d be even better.

Right now, once you finish reading this letter, write a paragraph or two about what makes that place so great. (Be sure to follow the guidelines you’ve learned from the travel writing program… or even just from your free Write Way to Travel subscription!)

Then before this time tomorrow, go take a few pictures of the place. One up close, one from a distance, one with people in the picture… you get the drift. Take a bunch of different pictures.

Looks like you’ve just finished a travel article! More tomorrow…

Well, that’s it for today. We’re getting up before dawn to visit the Sacre Coeur monastery in the Montmartre neighborhood. We’d like to practice capturing the warm tones of early morning.

I’m looking forward to the shoot – but not so much the getting up, so I’ll leave you with that.

Kind regards,
David Morgan
Writer and Photographer

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]