Questions about Travel Journalism

Lizane Louw Travel Journalist and Photographer- Article- Questions for a Travel Journalist and Photographer

Questions for a travel journalist and photographer

How do you become a travel journalist and photographer? This is one of the questions I often get asked when what I do for a living pops up in conversation. I decided to share this short article on “Questions for a travel journalist and photographer” to answer some questions.

Life as a nomad, where do I start?

Photography and exploration is a calling; it is a lifestyle, is a way of living. I crossed the boundaries of this being a career a long time ago.

I had many solo travel experiences, train journeys through India, and motorbike adventures on the islands of Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia. Surf adventures in Bali and South Korea. Street photography adventures in Hong Kong, Taipei, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Busan, Paris and Berlin. Wine adventures in South Africa and Portugal. Highlights of my photographic trips were my Photography safaris in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

I met my husband during Holi in Varanasi, India. Daniel is a keen photographer and now also a registered drone pilot. Since we “teamed” up, we did photographic expeditions to Iceland and Greece and safaris in Africa. We have travelled extensively together.

My favourite experiences have been my tea adventures in Taiwan; so much life inspiration was found at the bottom of my teacup.

MY WORK IN TRAVEL JOURNALISM AND TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

I am sure there are many people who are interested in a career in travel journalism and photography. I put together this list of questions that I get asked often. If you have any other questions, get in contact.

My profiles on Muck Rack and Trav Media, and several conversations I had and emails received from professional photographers, aspiring journalists and travel writers guided this Q and A.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AS A JOURNALIST?

I entered the world of journalism as a photojournalist at Media 24, Die Burger in Cape Town, South Africa in 2007.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO TRAVEL WRITING?

I have always kept journals and wrote about my travel adventures and experiences on social media. It was a natural progression from being a hard news photojournalist into the world of multimedia journalism. I did a master’s degree in journalism and got into feature writing when I wrote a series “The Tea Diaries” in Taiwan in 2018.

The transition from news to travel writing was a challenge. I still have a lot to learn about the travel industry. I received much support and guidance from some great travel writers and editors in 2020 and 2021. I am in the process of writing, editing and working on some exciting profiles and destination stories.

This career fits me, I have been a nomad for over 24 years, living and working internationally. To date, I visited over 60 countries.

WHAT IS YOUR  FAVOURITE DESTINATION?

That is always a tough question to answer. This is usually a question that pops up when people ask me about my adventurous spirit. My heart will always be drawn to Asia since I lived between the countries in South East Asia, the Far East and Central Asia for a decade. I love train journeys in India, tea adventures in Taiwan, motorbike and surf adventures in Bali, and Safaris in Africa. I just love travelling.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES THAT YOU LIKE TO WRITE ABOUT?

At the moment, my focus is on unique experiences and destinations off the regular tourist cycle. I am working on tea and textiles stories from India, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. I am also busy writing stories on culinary experiences in Iceland, Peru, France and Portugal. I am drawn to stories about sustainability and the environment, culture and art; I love to explore countries where I can learn about local communities and sustainable ways of living.

DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR SUBJECT YOU LIKE TO PHOTOGRAPH?

My background in news photography and photojournalism gave me exposure to a wide variety of subjects. I can document anything I want really; I think I am lucky that I have over 14 years of visual journalism experience.

That said, my areas of speciality and expertise in photography are photojournalismnature and wildlife photographyportraiture and travel photography.

My heart is in portraiture, though. As my career progresses and I get older, I might focus on portraiture more.

EXPLAIN THE TIMELINE OF YOUR CAREER.

I am a trained and experienced hard news and investigative journalist. I followed this career path until I finished a master’s degree in Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, Philippines. My written work in news and investigative journalism shifted after researching and writing about marine debris and pollution in Taiwan.

Once I landed in Europe in 2020, I started focusing more on travel journalism; living in Germany has opened many doors. Currently, my focus is on stories that educate and inspire. I hope my work can cultivate a better understanding of people and cultures, sustainability, and our relationship with the natural world and the environment.

I work as a travel journalist and photographer in Europe and Africa.

MORE ABOUT THE WORLD OF JOURNALISM AND MY THOUGHTS

HOW IS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGING NEWS?

Now more than ever, it is essential to educate yourself so that you can have informed opinions. News is available with the press of a button. Be an informed citizen of the world. Don’t believe everything you read.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A JOURNALIST?

Journalism, especially photojournalism, has taught me to look and then see. As journalists, we are storytellers on the front line of history. That comes with a huge responsibility. I am a journalist, first and foremost, to help people make sense of our world.

WHY DID YOU BECOME A JOURNALIST?

I am a storyteller and an artist, mainly in visual mediums. I like to communicate messages and stories. I have never wanted to be anything else.

WHAT STORY ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF WORKING ON?

“Dust of the Streets. Nobody’s baby, somebody’s child.” A story on adoption and abandonment in South Korea.

DID YOU WORK FOR YOUR HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER?

I wrote for “Die Sollie”, our school newspaper in high school. I wrote gossip news articles.

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FICTIONAL JOURNALIST?

Lois Lane.

TOOLS I USE IN MY JOB

WHAT TOOLS/ PROGRAMS DO YOU USE IN YOUR JOB?

I use the Adobe Creative Suite daily and Microsoft Office. I experiment a lot with programs and apps on my iPhone.

WHAT GEAR DO YOU USE?

My interest is remote and unusual destinations. I keep my camera bag light. I have used Nikon gear my whole life and own several cameras. I have a collection of Nikon film cameras and my pro gear.

What is essential for me is not to have the latest, best gear and the biggest and fastest lenses. It is crucial for me to know my gear well and move fast; I guess that comes from my mindset and training as a photojournalist. You check out what gear I use here. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SOCIAL NETWORK?

Instagram, I have recently also re-discovered twitter.

WHO DO YOU WISH FOLLOWED YOU?

Photographer Annie Leibovitz and Journalist Christiane Amanpour.

SOME THINGS ONLY MY CLOSE FRIENDS KNOW

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DRINKS?

Gin & Tonic, Green Tea Mojito and Wine.

WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT YOUR COMPUTER OR WORKING ON STORIES, WHERE ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE?

Apart from photography, I have many hobbies. You can find me in my studio painting or working in my urban herb and tea garden. I also like experimenting with Asian tea rituals at my tea table. You might also find me somewhere close to water camping and on my SUP.

We live in Berlin, on Saturdays you can find me in the streets out exploring, shooting or gallery hopping.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PUBLICATIONS TO READ?

New York Times Travel,  National Geographic,  National Traveler UK and Condé Nast Traveler.

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING TRAVEL JOURNALISTS 

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER ASPIRING TRAVEL JOURNALISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS? 

I guess the most important piece of advice I would give is to be true to yourself, don’t copy others.

Find inspiration in the work of other photographers and writers, but work on your own voice and creative identity. Forget what other creatives are doing and do you. You are your only competition, don’t compete with others.

It is vital to get out there, experience life and shoot as much as possible. Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Travel. Explore. Do things that surprise and shock you as often as possible.

Travel often.