Being a travel photographer is not as easy and glamorous as it sounds. Just kidding, it’s a great occupation that allows you to make your dream of traveling around the world come true. Besides, it pays really well: 50 percent of travel photographers earn between $20,620 and $43,530, while 30 percent get over $62,430.
And, yes, going to amazing places and meeting exciting people will be your job, and lots of people will envy you.
However, I should tell you that travel photography can be very demanding and tough during the first months. Although it sounds like the best job ever, not a lot of people are ready to pay you to travel abroad and take photos if you cannot prove otherwise.
In other words, you’re going to have to be the sole investor in your career as a travel photographer during the first months. Don’t be discouraged, though: most well-known travel photographers and bloggers started the same way.
You still here? Great! Let’s talk business now. Here are the seven steps that you must take to become a travel photographer.
Step #1: Learn Photography
First and foremost, photography is a serious profession that should not be taken lightly. To succeed, you’ll need to learn the craft and know your camera inside out.
For example, you’ll have to know the right settings and quality standards to produce the best picture in different lighting conditions, outdoors, indoors, underwater, landscapes, etc.
While getting out there and shooting is a good start, you’ll probably also benefit from taking online courses such as Photography Course, Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide, and Your Road to Better Photography.
Step #2: Find a Niche
As you learn the craft and keep practicing your skills, you’ll realize that you have a unique style and view of the world. For example, someone specializes in aerial photography while others prefer underwater photography.
Whatever niche you choose, stick with it, and look for ways to stand out from the crowd of other photographers who are doing similar stuff.
Step #3: Learn How to Create Useful Content
If you don’t create content that will be helpful for fellow travelers, the only people reading your blog will be mom and dad. Getting other people to read it will require something much more useful.
For example, in addition to stunning photos, you’ll also have to provide specific food recommendations, travel tips, money savers, hotel tips, and other things that people could actually use when they travel to that place. If you don’t enjoy writing as much as taking photographs, consider outsource content creation to professionals like A-writer.
Step #4: Create a Great Portfolio
Some experienced photographers say that one needs to take tens of thousands of photos before one could even call themselves a real photographer.
Don’t let that stop you, because it’s simply not true. Building a portfolio doesn’t require photos from around the world, it is about compiling your best work, regardless of where you shot the photos.
So, go ahead and start compiling a portfolio and share it online. Also, keep them in a folder and curate regularly. Having them in a folder will allow a quick access in case you need to grab them and show to a potential client.
Step #5: Create a Blog or a Website
In addition to your printed portfolio, you need to establish a strong online presence. After all, it’s 2018, and most potential clients will look for you online.
A blog or a website is an amazing way to showcase your talents and publish your content whenever you want. The visitors will see what you can do and subscribe if they find you interesting.
It’s your job to make them feel this way. Find out how to do it in the next step.
Step #6: Do Fascinating Stuff
No one can know exactly how many travel photographers are out there, but it’s safe to assume you’ve got some tough competition. To beat it, you’ll have to be interesting. By “interesting,” I mean that you need to do amazing, fantastic, and sensational things, because that’s what will help you to build an audience.
For example, what do you think is more interesting: taking pictures of a volcano in Haiti or taking pictures of the Haitian carnival – taking several weeks with the locals in kaleidoscopic costumes parading the streets?
By the way, here’s a picture of the festival:
Step #7: Build Your Social Media Presence
Upload your best work, communicate with followers, create simple contests like “Guess where this photo is taken?” and build your social following.
When you have a lot of followers, the job offers will appear, just like that.
Until then, keep working hard!
Bonus Tip: Learn Photo Editing
Retouching your photos is a big part of the travel photography puzzle. Do not post your photos anywhere without color correction – especially in your blog.
As a travel photographer, you will not always have your laptop with you to edit photos in Photoshop or Lightroom. If you can find WiFi, send your photos to your iPhone and edit them in a photo-editing app – but only for posting on Instagram or Facebook.
If you want to use your images on your blog or portfolio, you need a deeper and more professional photo-editing touch. You can outsource photo retouching to WeEdit.photos or other online services and not worry about your photo quality.
Remember, there is no one way to edit your travel photos. Experiment and be creative to stand out from the crowd.
Author bio: Nancy Spektor has sharpened her pencil at “The Daily,” a newspaper for the University of Washington. After graduating, she decided to combine her business degree with her passion for written communication at college-paper.org. Nancy writes about marketing strategies, content management, and other topics she finds interesting. If she’s not composing on her laptop or notebook, you can find her playing with her dog, Bok Choy.