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Meet Jim Cline of Jim Cline Photo Tours in Carmel Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jim Cline.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jim. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I had decided I wanted to pursue a career in travel photography. I was starting to sell my images for publication in books, magazines, CD covers, calendars, newspapers, annual reports. I realized that I knew certain areas really well, and would be able to bring groups of photo-enthusiasts on trips planned for photography. As soon as I started leading trips, I realized that there was a very good market for this, and with the digital boom, more people we’re getting serious about photography.

Meanwhile many baby-boomers were retiring, and had the time and interest to explore new places around the world. My friend and fellow professional photographer Karl Grobl, joined with me, and expanded our offerings to many destinations in Asia. Eventually I enlisted other photographer/guides to lead trips to even more destinations.

We developed and grew a legion of loyal customers who returned on trips with us over and over again. Most of our guests on tours are return clients.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Well, the competition has increased immensely. Since the digital boom, publishers pay nothing or very little for photography, as there is so much free content out there. Professional photographers who made a good living selling their photography suddenly found themselves with rapidly shrinking incomes. So virtually every famous and/or accomplished travel or documentary photographer got into the business of offering classes, instructions, workshops, or photo travel like us.

And the big corporations have tried to muscle us out of the market, but we have continued to grow into one of the largest photo tours/workshops companies in the U.S.

Please tell us about Jim Cline Photo Tours.
Most photo tours/workshops companies pick a destination, then plug a famous photographer in as leader, even though they may know little or nothing about the destination. Then they rely on local tour operators to plan an itinerary, even though they really don’t understand what photographers are looking for.

We personally plan our itineraries especially for photography – planning for the best time of day for light, getting to know the local people beforehand, managing the pacing of the trips, etc. And we keep our group sizes very small, even though of course we could make more money if we increased the size of the groups like the aforementioned large companies who dabble in international photo travel. Also, these small group sizes allow us to really offer one-on-one assistance to our clients. That is why we have so many repeat customers.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I should have started sooner in life, ha ha.

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Image Credit:
Jim Cline

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