As we’ve seen elsewhere on this website, travel photography has taken a particularly punishing hit during the lockdowns, with many top travel photographers and writers effectively grounded and struggling to pay their bills.
Travel shooters are a tough and resilient bunch, however, and plenty of bulldog spirit is being shown by Jordan Banks and his partner, Kav Dadfar. Jordan is a 20 year-plus veteran of the travel photography business, whose images regularly appeared in National Geographic and the big newspapers, while Kav Dadfar is also a well-respected travel photographer and writer.
The duo came up with the idea of producing a high-end, 250-page ‘bookazine’ – a cross between a book and a magazine – called JRNY. It will feature travel stories, essays and photography from some of the world’s most talented travel writers and photographers.
JRNY is a collaboration of over 20 freelancers who will design, write, edit and produce the first issue and Jordan and Kav’s goal is to ensure every one of these contributors is paid properly for their time. So, all profits from JRNY will be split equally among the contributors.
Much of the funding for the first issue of JRNY has been raised via Crowdfunder, and Jordan reports they are well on track to publish the first issue. Intrigued, we met up for a virtual chat – Jordan also shares some early spreads from issue one.
It’s been really tough for travel photographers such as yourself, right?
Yes, the pandemic brought a halt to everything. Some big magazine clients, notably Sunday Times Travel and Lonely Planet closed, which hit the market for licensing images and photo essays.
My real income, however, came from working with hotels, developers, tourist boards and giving talks on cruise ships – again, it all stopped. This was a tough and competitive business even before the pandemic hit.
Kav and I run That Wild Idea, which at the moment mainly offers tours and workshops, but we both really liked the idea of doing a magazine run by freelancers to support the travel industry. The timing never seemed right though, but when I was out in Croatia last summer and heard that two of the big travel magazines had closed, I thought, yes, there is now a gap in the market. The timing was finally right.
So is JRNY a book or magazine?
It’s a cross between a book and a magazine – a bookazine – and will have high production values, with top-notch writing and photography. We’ve also got design and editing support from very experienced people.
It was tough to decide who to give work to, as we wanted to find a nice mix of people who had experience, had been affected by Covid, and who had time to take part in the project.
If JRNY is a success, we hope to be able to help out the more up and coming people, budding writers and photographers with potential – mentoring them and so on. Our aim is to build JRNY into a network where we can nurture talent, but first things first.
How will you distribute JRNY?
It will not be a newsstand bookazine, just subscription only. We have only committed to one issue but the project has gone well, so we may well extend the crowdfunding.
Can you share any specific details about issue one?
The first issue costs GBP18, which seems to be acceptable for a high-end product, based on advice from other publishers. So we are also testing the market. The first issue should go onsale on July 3rd and if we do further issues, we hope to raise revenue via sponsorship, for example.
When we can all travel again, do you think there will be a big explosion, or do you think post Covid restrictions will make it more difficult? Is the golden age of cheap and easy travel over?
It’s human nature to want to travel and explore, so I am certainly optimistic and expect there to be an explosion of interest in travel. I have learned generally that photographers are quite a pessimistic bunch so I take gloom and doom predictions with a pinch of salt.
I listen to a lot of moaning from some younger travel photographers about how overcrowded places are these days, as if they discovered them… You only found this great location because somebody else went first!
We should all be respectful and not put graffiti on the pyramids, but beyond that, people have the same right to enjoy places as you do. Photographers get hung up on this whole secretive thing, that they discovered something… chances are, it was discovered centuries before. But yes I am optimistic about the future of travel photography.