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|| News Item: Posted 1999-07-21

Long and Winding Road
By Scott Wachter

Growing up in the sports photography business has brought me much experience in noticing trends in this industry. I, like some others, decided that in today's volatile world of freelance sports photography, where card companies and photo editors are changing faster than the moods of a baseball player, that it is much better to pursue other business
opportunities that can go along with income trickling in from the photography than do what many sports photographers like to do... complain.

Another motivator was thinking of the future, when I may not want to get up at 4am to catch a flight to California to be home at midnight that same day, all to run up and down a football field chasing pigskin for a mortgage payment and being dead tired in the process only to awake the next day to crank out some slides. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sports and I enjoy photography. But I also enjoy life, and wish to partake in more of it, rather than less.

Having planned my own travel itineraries for nine years (and counting) as a freelance sports photographer, and living within the sports photography business for twenty nine years, I see what photographers needs are when it comes to travel. I myself was never thrilled with the less than par service from your every day travel agent, working for an hourly wage or too busy to take care of me. And, when my photo schedule got too hectic, travel plans were a big nuisance.

So, while thoroughly enjoying being self-employed, I ventured into investigating the travel industry and what it takes to become an agent. As it turns out, many stand alone strip mall type stores have toned down since many airfare commission cuts by closing, by offering agent support or commissioned sales agents instead of the traditional hourly waged agent.

I found and researched an established host agency, or broker, that specializes in providing professional support to independent agents. They offer 18+ years of professional travel agency experience with many deep discounts to vacations and cruises, and with referrals to specific destinations, ticketing, etc. I can also offer clients a 17-25% discount on TWA!

The best part of my venture is that I continue to shoot baseball and football on weekends, and even have the time to accept some assignments during the week. I thoroughly enjoy flip-flopping my time.

I have used my knowledge of the traveling sports photographer and turned this opportunity into a successful internet based agency, offering 1) 24 hour online reservations to clients (currently restricted to current and future clients for security and liability purposes) 2) weekly cruise and vacation specials 3) links to those internet airfare specials that most agents would not dare to tell you about 4) real time flight tracking 5)
trip reviews with destination info including seats, meals, aircrafts, maps and weather, and most importantly, 5) a 24 hour support desk that can assist with reservation changes, lost bags, credit card registry, interpreter service, vital document registry, and flight delays while traveling!

I also spend much of my weekdays in the office attending to customer service and booking travel via the toll-free line. This is not at all strictly an online agency. I learned about customer service a very long time ago.

Instead of worrying, complaining, and wondering about how "the sports photography market is going to be like in 5 years" (we have all done this), continue to explore other job and business opportunities. All the while, knowing that whether your other job or business opportunities take away much of your photography time, there is always room for the dreaded "weekend warrior." Like myself, the same dreaded weekend warrior that would love to make YOUR life easier!

(Scott Wachter is a Phoenix-area freelance photographer. His online travel agency, which specializes in the needs of photographers, can be reached and emailed at:, outside of Phoenix1-888-SWi-9949; in Phoenix 602-912-5066, or via AOL Instant Messenger as "switravels".)

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