Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash
I don’t think I’ve ever met a photographer who isn’t obsessed with travel photography. Granted, travel photography is all the rage right now due to social media platforms like Instagram, but travel photography has been around since mass photography started.
People crave new experiences, and in an art form like photography where the goal is to bring new experiences to your audience, travel photography just makes sense.
But, there are dozens of types of travel photography, and thousands of places to pitch your travel photography, and it’s really easy to suffer from information overload while trying to research them all.
If you, too, want to start your travel photography career but don’t know where to start, then these travel photography tips may help.
Practice Traditional “Travel Photography” Shots in Your Own Backyard
Photo by jesse williams on Unsplash
Before I get into how you can start practicing your travel photography in your own backyard, it’s important to highlight the main types of travel photography.
Street photography is both its own photography niche as well as an important part of travel photography. It’s been proven that pictures with people in them are much more likely to both catch and hold people’s attention, so you’re going to have a tough time selling any of your travel photography if you don’t throw some street photography in with it.
Food photography (along with most of the photography categories on this list) is rapidly expanding right now. The “foodie” trend continues to gain traction as people find traveling to new countries more and more accessible. Food is a major factor in where people decide to travel, especially for groups known as “food travellers” who solely pick their travel destinations on the cuisine in those countries.
Event photography has been around for decades, but people are obsessed with the weird, grotesque, or hilarious events and festivals that happen around the world. As proven in Netflix’s show, “Dark Tourist,” some travelers even pick their destinations based on natural disaster events like a nuclear explosion. While you don’t necessarily need to travel to Chernobyl to participate in event photography, you should look for odd festivals happening around the world that haven’t received much coverage. For example, there’s a cheese rolling competition that happens in Britain every year where the participants fling themselves down a hill in an attempt to catch the cheese first. Most participants come out with broken and bloody bodies, and the event didn’t receive much international coverage until 2018 despite the fact that it has been happening for hundreds of years.
Magazine photography is one of the only travel photography niches on this list that is losing popularity. However, print magazines are still a great resource for learning how to get started with travel photography for a few reasons. First, when you’re shooting travel photography for a magazine, you’ll need to take a huge variety of pictures for that magazine. Typically, magazine photography is in a listicle format, i.e. the New York Times very popular, “36 hours in…” articles. You’ll need to have photos of the food, people, places, and things to do in that town.
Landscape photography is also an important aspect of travel photography because it gives your viewer one distinct photo with one distinct feel about an entire country, or maybe an entire region of the world. When you’re using landscape photography as part of your travel photography, you’ll not want to focus on it very much, but rather focus on getting a handful of shots to showcase the natural beauty of that location.
photo by GCShutter via iStock
Now that you understand the types of travel photography you should be practicing, get out into your hometown and practice them.
Not only will this help you to build a mini-portfolio, but it may just help you discover some incredible things about the town you call home.
Be Prepared to Travel Smart
photo by Rawpixel via iStock
Traveling smart means a few things to me: it means traveling on a budget and traveling safely.
But, these two things are typically at odds. The safer neighborhoods usually cost more money, so you need to research your destinations thoroughly (I’ll touch more on this in a moment) and understand where you can make compromises.
For instance, using shared living spaces like hostels is a great way to save money while traveling, while also ensuring you are going to be space in that city.
All great beginner travel photography tips have one thing in common, though. In order to save money in the long run, you need to spend money in the short run.
photo by Eshma via iStock
For example, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in hostels (spending $20 per night as opposed to $100) you’ll need to have the proper equipment to ensure your camera gear isn’t stolen at that hostel.
Make sure you always have a traditional U-lock in your camera bag (most hostels have lockers you can rent for your more expensive items) and invest in a locking suitcase.
Plan Long Trips Efficiently
Portable Professional is used to long, international trips and this is exactly the type of person you’re going to want to meet when you start to plan your first long trip for the first time.
If you’re proficient at researching international destinations on your own, that’s a phenomenal skill that I’d love to pay you to do for me, but if you aren’t that’s okay. Chances are, you know someone in your life that has been to your destination before.
And if you don’t, then there are a ton of online resources created by people like the woman behind Portable Professional who have traveled to your destination before and can walk you through all of the boring bureaucratic things, like where and how to submit your visa requirements and what types of vaccines you need.
Photo by Irene Strong on Unsplash
Keep in mind there are all kinds of requirements immigration services in each country have and they can change at a moment’s notice.
On a trip to Peru I took a few years ago, I had hotels, flights and activities lined up in Bolivia (Peru’s neighboring country) that were completely canceled after a Canadian tourist brought Yellow Fever to La Paz a month before my arrival and immigration services there started requiring a Yellow Fever vaccine.
As a kicker, you needed to get your Yellow Fever vaccine a few weeks before entering Bolivia.
This brings us to another point: buy travel insurance. Part of planning travel photography trips is thinking about the incidentals.
Create a Portfolio for Every Single Trip
photo by StockRocket via iStock
You’re never going to sell your travel photography if you don’t have it all in one place, neatly displayed for potential buyers.
While you should have an overarching portfolio that showcases all of the photography niches you participate in, you should also create a portfolio for each individual trip you take as a travel photographer.
This means not only organizing and editing your photos as soon as possible after leaving one destination, but choosing the best ones and putting them up online (hopefully with themes).
This way, when you are pitching a story or set of photographs you don’t need to spend time individually choosing photos to send to editors with every pitch.
Make Money While You Travel
Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash
It’s the unfortunate reality about long-term travel photography: it’s expensive. Photography is expensive enough as is, but with travel photography you’re paying for all of your camera equipment, plus all of your travel expenses (flights, hotels, transportation, visas), plus added things like travel insurance.
The expenses behind travel photography add up. Fortunately, we are moving towards a global economy with every passing day, which means it is becoming easier and easier to live as a nomad.
Travel nomads are people who have no “homes,” because they are constantly traveling from one country to the next. This means they work from wherever they are at. Usually nomads have work-from-home jobs in the marketing or finance spaces doing things like freelance copywriting or accounting.
But, if you aren’t especially skilled in any digital jobs, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do travel photography full-time because there are a ton of resources popping up that help you learn how to make money while traveling off of just your portfolio (you know, the one we talked about above).
Travel School is one of those resources, and they’re doing it better than anyone else because their formula teaches you how to make passive income you don’t even need to think about.
Their fully-online courses teach you about affiliate marketing, which is basically just inserting advertisements into your website, blog and YouTube. Depending upon the affiliate marketing agreement you establish with your clients, you either get a percentage of every sale you send their way, or you get a small fee for every click your client receives off of your link.
While you can learn the basics of affiliate marketing on your own, the creator of Travel School already has this knowledge because he’s been doing it for years and can streamline your process.
If you’re serious about travel photography and you don’t want to be tied to your laptop while you’re in Indonesia, or Thailand, or bumming across Europe, then check them out.