When the luxury ski resort town of Kitzbühel, Austria began marketing itself as a year-round destination, the Wall Street Journal sent Vienna-based photographer Stefan Fürtbauer to cover the warm weather activities the town offers. Kitzbühel is located about a five-hour drive from Vienna, near Austria’s border with Germany. Accounting for three days to shoot in the town and one travel day, Stefan began planning his trip.
Based on my client’s list of mandatory and optional shots, I start researching each and every location. I then put all these details in a spreadsheet and a Google Map I’ve created for the assignment. This helps me to get a better feeling for distances and how to best group them together in my route around a travel destination.
Photo editor Kat Mallot first commissioned Stefan in 2017, and since that time the photographer has become very familiar with the publication’s process. Each travel assignment is based on a writer’s research and notes. Once those notes have been reviewed by the editor, they are given to the photo desk who compiles the briefing and shot list.
The assignment notes really cover every single detail and relevant information. If they can, the photo desk or the writer will assist in getting in touch with all the venues on the list to ask for permission and setting up appointments. It’s teamwork from day one.
It’s always been a heck of a lot of fun to work for the Wall Street Journal. The folks there are really super professional, and the assignment notes and briefings are industry standard!
Once Stefan arrived in Kitzbühel, he started by shooting the must-have shots for the article. These included images that captured Kitzbühel’s pivot towards wellness and healthy living, such as the Stanglwirt five-star hotel resort. After the photographer gets all of the must-have shots, he can move on to the nice-to-have shots and his alternative shots.
Staying in close contact with the writer, who usually was researching on-site, is pretty helpful because they always have good ideas and thoughts about what’s essential for the story.
To maximize the amount of alternative shots he can get, Stefan prefers to travel overground by tram, bus, or taxi rather than underground modes of transit like subways. Between different must-have locations, the photographer keeps his eyes peeled for places that could make an interesting shot.
I take additional shots when I come across things I like or pin them on Google Maps to return when I have time left. It really makes me very happy to see my alternative views or shots making it to the final edit.
Stefan’s photos of Kitzbühel were featured in the Wall Street Journal’s article An Austrian Resort Flexes Its Muscles, both in print and online. The two-story feature includes a luxury estate report and the travel piece. More of Stefan’s travel work for the Wall Street Journal can be seen in previous works, such as Warsaw Home Prices Rise Alongside Growing Crop of Luxury Skyscrapers.
Photo Editor at WSJ: Kat Malott
Writer at WSJ: Jeff Marcus
Check out more of Stefan’s work at stefanfuertbauer.com.
Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!