The Garmin fēnix for Photographers

A perfect moment for a little help from my Garmin fēnix. Sunrise in a fog bank in the middle of the inside passage, somewhere in Alaska.  The watch has saved me hours of work in post production thanks to the GPX tracklog it stores.

How I use the Garmin fēnix and Adobe Lightroom to automate the process of geotagging my images

The Problem

When I decided to pursue photography as a profession, little did I know I was also signing up to become one part librarian and one part IT professional.  Every day spent in the field, results in at least one obligatory day in front of the computer color correcting, cataloguing, and captioning photographs – all necessary evils that add value to the final image for my clients.

One of the key pieces of metadata clients request is the photographs location information.  While easily added by hand to one or two images, the fun level quickly drops to zero trying to remember where a specific image was taken after a multi week assignment on another continent covering an assortment of locations and potentially thousands of frames.  Compounding this frustration, $300 point and shoot cameras come with built in GPS that automate this process, but $6000 pro DSLR cameras do not!

Needless to say, when I found a way to automate the task of entering location information into my photographs, I jumped at the opportunity as it meant less time in front of the computer, and more time doing ANYTHING else.

The Solution

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6 Rules for Photographers Entering the Business

A male rock climber scales an orange cliff at an area known as The White Mountain near Yangshuo, China (Model Released, Sean Ouyang). (Jonathan Kingston)

Taking pictures like this is the easy part of being a photographer.


From time to time I receive emails asking for advice from photographers who are just entering the business. Having recently replied to such an email, it made sense to share my answer with anyone who stumbles across this blog. The business of photography is evolving so quickly that marketing strategies that worked 1 year ago don’t necessarily apply today, however there are a few rules I have found to be true:

1) Only show work that you actually want to do. Editors and art directors love to pigeonhole photographers. You might have the best shot in the world of “x” but if “x” isn’t what you want to photograph – don’t show the shot.

2) Find a way to make yourself visible to the people you want to work for. 10 years ago this meant sending out promotional mailers on a regular basis to editors and art directors. Five years ago this meant sending out emails to the same. Today it means finding the social media channels those art directors are watching and being active and visible on them. Tomorrow it will mean something different. I don’t have the magic formula for this… I am experimenting just like you are.

3) Do good work. Don’t prove – rather continually improve.

4) Plan on starving. It isn’t feast or famine in this business – its only famine. Either you don’t have enough work to eat, or you are too busy to eat. The end result is the same either way. As a side note, most pro photographers net LESS on a year to year basis than the starting salary of school teachers.

5) Be nice… to everybody. The photography world is small and incestuous.

6) Find a way to survive. Some of the best photographers I know could not make it in the business and some of the worst continue to make ends meet. Your skill as a photographer only takes you so far. Your skill as a businessman/woman is MUCH MORE important. It is a long term game of attrition. If you can find a way to survive – you will win in the end.

Jonathan Kingston now represented by National Geographic Creative

Jonathan Kingston National Geographic Creative

Jonathan Kingston represented by National Geographic Creative

A few years ago I had the honor of joining the National Geographic Image Collection as a contributing photographer. Now – For the first time, National Geographic has gathered its expansive archive of still and moving images and its roster of award-winning photographic and filmmaking talent and made them accessible to the creative community in one place, through National Geographic Creative.

National Geographic Creative is an in-house agency that brings together National Geographic’s photography and video stock collection and talent representation agency. The agency licenses National Geographic photography and video to commercial and editorial clients and makes National Geographic talent available for custom marketing campaigns, in branded and non-branded formats. The agency has just launched a fully searchable, intuitive database at

Jonathan Kingston featured on National Geographic Stock

Jonathan Kingston Featured on National Geographic Stock Blog

Jonathan Kingston Featured on National Geographic Stock Blog.

Two years ago I photographed a personal project over the course of a month in China.  I had the good fortune to spend most of the time traveling with a dear friend who had just moved back to Beijing to start a fuel cell company.  As often happens when I travel – there was a very fine line between visiting a country as a tourist and getting beyond the surface.  I find the only way to get deeper is to have deep connections with subjects you are photographing.  This can’t be rushed and I feel blessed to have made many deep connections world wide over the last 10 years of my career as a photographer. You can click through to the image set on the Nat Geo Stock blog here.

Jonathan Kingston Explores the World in Search of Images and Insights