The task seemed simple enough. Send images for editorial consideration for Away.com's travel newsletter - Your Daily Escape. I've been working with Naturalight Productions for close to two years, it's a small company and everyone is very familiar with the 14,000 + images of Tony Rath Photography. Okay, so I know I can do this.
First of all I'll need the help of our photo librarian. She knows ALL the images and I'm sure she would be able to get us a couple of images for the feature in short order. But wait a minute, these aren't just any images! These images have to be attractive, grab and hold your attention. (No offense to our photographer). With 24 years chronicling Belize through images, he has definitely developed an eye for selling shots. But I need a magnetic image that will sell all by itself, no words needed.
"So what exactly is this Daily Escape?", she asks and to which I reply. "It's an email newsletter you sign up for that deposits an image a day into your inbox and makes you forget that you should be working?" It 'only' has pictures of spectacular sights such as The Torre de Belem, Angel Falls, Kilimanjaro, Galapagos... And it's Belize's turn to take subscribers on an escape.
Oh God! I need air. How will I find an image that compares to Africa's highest mountain or a castle in the middle of the sea or a strange island that opened up the world's eyes to evolution? Okay, stay calm. Belize has lots of attractions that can stand up to the Statue of Liberty and Hanover's Town Hall. Why there's that umm... Well, there's always ... Where did that photo librarian go?
Descriptions. She needs descriptions - at a time like this? What's more descriptive than "I need images of attractions in Belize that are as beautiful as the Hanlei Valley, as stately as Denali, and as historic as the Statue of Liberty? People need to see these images and want to come to Belize. They have to be unique, majestic, awesome, breathtaking." Need I say more? ... Never mind, if you had subscribed to Your Daily Escape you would understand that this is of monumental importance.
Ok so where do I start? I see these images everyday so I probably don't look at them as an escape anymore. Aha! Maybe that's it. Maybe I need to get images of Belize that haven't been used a lot. I know this goes contrary to everything I've learned about branding but ... I mean people would be just as interested in an image of friends enjoying a refreshing, recently-discovered waterfall in the jungle as they would an image on diving on the world's second largest Barrier Reef. Wouldn't they? I'll just go looking in the files and pick out anything that looks slightly dusty. Here we go...
Talk about diving. We act like that's the only diving shot we have. What about this new beauty? I've never seen this one before. Poor baby, it must have been waiting there for so long, having abandoned all hopes of ever being picked.
And what's this? Oh yeah. I remember reading about some type of pre-colonial factory at Lamanai. Just look at the trees framing the image. That's natural right? And that big rusty thing which look like it's been there since before my grandma had teeth. That's attention grabbing, don't you think? Hey, look at that one. That must be what they mean by "verdant green". Doesn't the rain forest look vibrant and healthy? - like eat your greens healthy. And those tents just blend right into the green background. If this photo were to show up in my inbox, it would certainly get my attention. I wonder why I haven't seen it used before.
That sunrise! That must be what heaven looks like. Gold so yellow, it's orange. Those two people in the boat must have just looked around and exclaimed how gorgeous the sunrise was and kept on fishing. Boy, did they miss the picture!
Hey, what's this? I haven't seen this one before either. That place looks so magical like it might be a backdrop for a fairy tale. Hmm, I don't know if people would want to visit Belize just by looking at this picture. This one, though, seems to have the elements that people come to Belize for. There's a beach, the Caribbean sea, and a hammock. If I stare at it long enough, I want to visit Belize myself. Oh, I almost forgot, I already live here.
Snorkeling is a popular Belize activity. If we can't use people, perhaps a fish might appeal more to the editor. Make that 'lots of fish' swimming in an almost transparent blue, make that aqua, maybe 'cerulean' water. Amazing how the fish know that gold trim is in this season.
Wait a minute. I don't wanna give people the impression that Belize is only about water. So what other subject can I use to portray Belize? Almost forgot. Culture and People. Yeah but I'm tired of seeing that Mayan girl with her little sister. I mean we are at least 10 different cultures living together. Here's something different, a Garifuna woman with her ruguma, probably getting ready to make ereba (cassava bread). And here are the original thatch houses in a Maya village. For some these are rustic thatch cabanas; for others, these are homes.
Okay, so Belize may not have a Statue of Liberty but we do have a lady who's equally magnificent. Check out the Stone Maiden towering proudly above the surrounding rainforest canopy. Look out Galapagos here comes Morelet's - crocodile, that is. Okay, crocodiles might scare people and make them not want to come to Belize; so let's try an iguana amidst tropical flowering vegetation. And here's a graceful creature you won't find near Kilimanjaro.
Oops! I went overboard. Now I have 23 images and I only needed 5.
Images Courtesy of:
Tony Rath Photography