Travel and photography are simply a match made in heaven; but is it reasonable to ask ourselves if we could actually make a living out of this. The short answer is yes, unluckily, there aren’t friendly or easy paths in order to achieve such a rewarding career. The most valuable asset any aspiring professional traveling photographer could have is a deep passion for the craft. After that, all the tips and tricks simply fall into their place when the time is right for it to happen.
Here we’ve compiled some of the most common questions people have asked both online & offline, about making a living as a traveling photographer. To organize the information more easily, we’ve divided these into five different categories. So, without further ado, here are the most common questions anyone could ask about travel & photography.
1) The Basics
What is Travel Photography?
Travel photography is one of the most privileged genres in photography; and its basic goal is to materialize both traveling experiences and expectations. Everyone has their own way of traveling, and that translates into being lean when it comes to gear – without neglecting good time management skills.
Is Travel Photography a Job?
Travel photography can actually become a job if you are able to build a solid portfolio that allows you to get paid for doing it. Photographic style is always a heavy selling value, but traveling skills are even more rewarding. The best travel photographers in the world are able to pull out the best of a place without falling in the cliches, and of course, that is quite a challenge to achieve.
Can You Travel with Photography?
Heck yeah! And it doesn’t necessarily mean to limit ourselves to capture “traveling oriented content”. There are various wedding photographers that have such a unique style, that they even get booked for doing “Destination Weddings”, which is a completely different genre and we might cover this topic in the future.
How to do Traveling Photography?
From my experience, traveling photography is better done when you are able to get a pleasing traveling experience while documenting it with your camera.
How to Start with Traveling Photography?
If you are thinking about making your travels fit within your photographic workflow, you’ll have some big disappointments. Meanwhile, by doing it the other way around, the experience is natural and more productive. Ergo, enjoy your travels, and eventually you’ll know when to pull your camera out. This, of course, is for starting out, when the gigs start to arrive, you’ll have specific goals to achieve within a schedule and a budget. Traveling is not cheap, so don’t mess the adventure experience by just thinking about photography.
2) The Nuts and Bolts
What Camera Do I Need For Traveling Photography?
Based on all the things that I’ve said before, the logical thing to do is to get the lightest yet best built camera your budget allows you to invest in. Oh, and remember to save for an extremely lightweight yet sturdy tripod, and of course, some filters if you are into landscape photography.
What Lenses Are The Best For Traveling Photography?
Now that’s a good question! The wisest thing to do is to pick just one lens that allows you to have the most optimal traveling experience ever. This includes high quality zooms like a 24-70mm f/2.8 that guarantees you every shot without the need of changing it from your camera. Of course, this will depend on the purpose of your trip. If you are into wild-life, perhaps a mighty 400mm lens will be the best way to go, and if you are hired for doing some nice portraits, then a luminous 85mm will be enough for you. And of course, if you are into street photography, a 35mm will be the best way to go.
What Do I Need To Pack For Traveling Photography?
- Camera, of course.
- The best lens depends on the situation.
- Tripod if needed,
- Image back-up solution
- Comfy clothes and shoes for moving a lot.
- Chargers, batteries, clean SD cards, and don’t forget your passport!
3) The Effort
How To Make Travel Photographs?
Pay close attention to traveling trends and the traveling lifestyle. Look for traveling guides, and think outside the box from that. Explore what images have been done of the places you’ll be visiting and try to avoid those points of views. Making a creative or different photograph of a highly photographed venue is one of the bestselling angles you can aim to as an aspiring traveling photographer.
How To Learn Travel Photography?
On some rare occasions, there are some generous mature traveling photographers that are willing to share some of their knowledge. Beyond those serendipitous events, traveling photography is better learned by doing it, and getting asked for insightful critiques. There are a lot of good-willing photographic communities out there, try to find one where you feel comfortable with, and eventually try to invest in a serious critique.
How To Improve Travel Photography?
For this, high quality image consumption is the way to go. Clean your Instagram’s feed, try to only look at photographs that make sense of your own style. This will have a huge impact on the quality of your work, and won’t cost you a single penny for doing it. If you like the social activity from Instagram, have two dedicated accounts, one for leisure, and one for professional photographic purposes.
What Are The Basics Behind Traveling Photography?
In all these years of beautiful traveling experiences, the quintessential thing that I can surely tell you to consider is to capture the essence of a place. This includes both culture and context. When arriving at a place, take some time to read it and understand some basic things about the culture and nature surrounding a destination. And after that, you’ll simply take meaningful photographs without even thinking about it.
4) The Rewards
How To Monetize Travel Photography?
Now we are talking, but before answering this, we’d need to make clear that “monetizing” should be understood as that small yet constant income that arrives thanks to creating something that could be purchased by several people without signifying in additional production costs. Therefore, producing one photo will cost you an X amount of money, but selling it 1, 10, 100, 1000 or even a million times won’t require extra production costs. That is the real value of pure photography monetization. Said that, the best way to monetize traveling related images is by licensing your work through an agency or online. Some will also get into the wall decoration or the fine art industry.
Where To Sell Travel Photography
Adobe’s Stock imagery platform is still a pristine place for high quality photographs to be sold. And SaatchiArt could get you back some serious bucks if you are able to understand how the fine art market works (everyone has their own take on this). And last but not least, investing in a good website that allows you to execute e-commerce efforts is not a bad idea either. You could also attend art fairs, if you find the audience to be captive.
How To Market Travel Photography
First of all, build a consistent portfolio that speaks right and true about being a traveling photographer; mixed-genre portfolios are simply not attractive at all. Build an image across all your social media platforms as a traveling photographer, and don’t you ever forget about engaging with your audiences. Being relevant these days is hard, but not impossible!
What Is The Travel Photographer’s Salary?
So, let’s talk seriously about money. These are the digits according to CareerTrend: The median annual income for traveling photographers is $29,440.00, ranging from $20,520.00 to even $43,530.00. The luckiest folks out there are earning something near to $62,430.00, and the “less fortunate” are still making a decent net income of $16,920.00.
How Can I Get Traveling Photography Jobs?
You won’t like this answer, but it is the truth. There is no exact recipe for getting hired as a traveling photographer. The best way for getting your first traveling gigs is by being close to any company (little or big) that relies on tourism as their business model. This spans from freelance tour guides, to even airlines. Keep close attention to these, and you might get lucky.
5) The Not-so Obvious
Is Travel Photography Important?
Of course, it is! Huge and serious money is being invested in traveling experiences and tourism, and all these efforts require visual assets for them to be profitable.
Some Travel Photography Tips For Beginners
- Don’t forget to enjoy each and every single traveling experience you get access to. People rarely travel 100% alone, so try to make your companions feel accompanied too.
- Traveling with huge amounts of gear will only make you feel frustrated. Pick up a minimal setup, and prepare to enjoy the ride.
- If you are an open-minded person traveling to a more conservative place, respect the culture. And if you are an old-fashioned person traveling to a free-thinking place, respect the culture as well.
- Do some research on habits, traditions, and why not, on whether too.
- Don’t post everything you do, be selective about your photographs, and try to have a mild-quality standard for posting images online.
Why Travel Photography Anyway?
This is definitely not a job for everybody, crazy schedules, fluctuating income, and fierce competition. But if you are a passionate photographer that loves traveling, this is just the perfect way to go.
Remember that travel photography pretty much spans every genre of the photo industry. Therefore, the most important and fundamental thing to do is to build such a unique style, that people from other parts of the world will necessarily need to pay you to move where needed in order to have images like yours.