Heck yes, you can generate income abroad! Join us as we explore the world of travel photography jobs and start living the dream with this four-step process.
Travel + cafes + people watching + photography? Yes, please!
As travel opens back up, you’ve been eyeing flights to far-off places. So you consider monetizing your holiday photos or landing travel photography jobs to offset a portion of your vacation costs.
Long to live your dream life sipping cocktails on a secluded beach or hiking a local-only trail? Well, whip out your camera as you inspire others to join you on your globe-trotter travels.
It’s easy to think that combining your love of travel with your stunning photography skills is absolute #goals. But there’s more to getting those travel photography jobs than meets the wander-lusting eye.
Travel photographers are primarily responsible for capturing photos that focus on the atmosphere, environment, and culture of a particular location. You want to allow your viewers to join you on your journey through your images.
The professional travel photographer’s tips for getting the shot:
- Head out early and beat the crowds to capture the most popular tourist sites.
- Do your research. Your audience sees you as the expert.
- Watch for locals. Go where they go and do what they do.
Storytelling in travel photography
Your job as a travel photographer is not just to post pictures of you parading around a new city in your beautiful new #ootd. Give your audience a peek behind the curtain with a carefully curated photo series that tells the story of the location.
Create layers to your story by varying the type of images you deliver.
Introduce the location
These introductory images acquaint the observer with your new travel site. Typically wider shots, you want to give a feel of the overall travel experience.
Significant sites to feature:
- Iconic landmarks
- Local hotspots
- Noteworthy accommodations
- Landscapes or cityscapes
Add drama to your images by capturing photos during the golden and blue hours. The soft light will minimize unwanted shadows, and you will avoid blowing out the beautiful sky.
Feature a day in the life
Take your audience along with you as you explore daily life in this location. Give a sense of what it is like to tour this new environment.
Outstanding situations to feature:
- Discovering the culture or heritage
- Can’t-miss places to go
- What is typically eaten
- How to shop
Zoom lenses are fabulous for catching scenes when you can’t zoom with your feet. My trusty 24-105mm gives me the perfect range to capture everything I see as I’m out and about.
Highlight the peculiarities
Engage the senses when you dig into the details of what makes this place special.
Perfect details to feature:
- Textures and colors that are prominent
- Action that gives a sense of the movement or flow of the place
- Local delicacies that you can’t find elsewhere
- Recognizable cultural artifacts
Get to know the locals and ask them about their culture, history, and what they love about where they live, and then capture those features with your unique outsider’s perspective.
Four steps to get your travel photography dream job
You’re bursting with ideas, and you’ve purchased your tickets. All you’ve got to do is figure out how to get travel photography jobs and make this happen! Follow these steps to make your dream a reality.
#1: Discover your niche
Like any photography career, know what you do best and shine doing it. Find ways that your travel habits align with what you love to photograph and come up with your travel niche.
Potential travel niches that may have the perfect photography job for you
- Wildlife photography: You feel the call of the wild, and your knapsack is ready to go!
- Volunteer tourism: You have a servant’s heart and want to give back to the world.
- Cultural tourism: You love to partake in cultural activities and exchange with the locals.
- Adventure photography: You live for an adrenaline rush and getting outside of your comfort zone.
- Geotourism: You’re concerned with conservation and the environment and your role in this world.
- Vacation portrait photographer: You’re ready to pack up and move to your favorite touristic location and live like a local.
- Urban tourism: You love to explore new cities. Cafés, museums, and historical sites give you wanderlust.
Prepping for the expedition:
Start creating a profile of your target audience. You want all of your work to speak directly to them, so as you research your niche, dig deeper into the kinds of travelers it attracts.
#2: Arrive on social media
One of the easiest ways to get noticed in today’s society is on social. So if pictures of your travels don’t have a place on your existing social media accounts, now’s the time to create some new ones.
But don’t limit yourself to only creating an Instagram account. A large enough following on any platform is what matters.
Start by pulling together some of your favorite photos from past trips and plan out your posts. Create engaging content, and your target audience will notice you.
Be deliberate about how you use your account, always considering the purpose of its existence. Think about how this will benefit your audience while also creating content that will get you the travel jobs you long for.
Prepping for the expedition:
This is also a great time to start your travel website and blog. Create a mailing list and drive traffic to your own site. Bonus points if you try your hand at also writing great posts to accompany your stellar pictures. Start growing as a blogger and learn how to write for SEO without sounding like a robot.
#3: Track down submissions
There are so many travel photography job opportunities! News sites, magazines, and other media sources are always looking for spectacular photos from locations across the world. Before people approach you for work, get out there and find your own traveling photographer jobs!
Start local or with smaller publications, and move on from there as you grow your network.
Prepping for the expedition:
Before submitting anything to National Geographic or any other publication, get to know the media outlet. Understand their audience and the kinds of stories they feature. Pay attention to their submission requirements and properly send your proposals to the right person.
Paid travel photography jobs
As you explore the world, keep an eye out for phenomenal new ideas to pitch. Find a unique take, and some publications will pay to put you up in a location as you develop the story.
With a large enough following, some hotels and travel companies will pay you for sponsored content. Just remember, the larger the following, the bigger the budget.
Partner with tourism boards as a content producer. Or create a contract for a monthly subscription with travel and airline companies where you deliver a gallery of images that they can license from you.
A quick note on licensing: Don’t give in to the temptation to hand over all the rights to a photo. Many licensing options allow you to keep your rights and dictate precisely how your client can use the image.
#4: The world is your oyster
You’re living the dream as you travel the world and continue making money off of your photography. But don’t stop there! Find alternative ways to supplement your income while abroad.
The options are infinite. You’re only limited by your own creativity.
You can keep photographing people by booking portrait sessions or weddings in the various places you’ll be. Keep your clients updated with the dates and locations you’ll be in the coming year to book destination portraits, weddings, or elopements.
Want to earn money while you’re out relaxing? Earn passive income with online courses, selling stock photos, or monetizing your socials, blog, or YouTube channel.
A slow burn that’s worth the wait
Working as a travel photographer isn’t for the weak of heart. You must be adventurous, creative, self-motivated, and your own marketing boss. But the hardships are an easy tradeoff when you quit your 9-to-5 to pursue your dream of being a full-time travel photographer.
Travel photography is not just an occupation; it’s a lifestyle.
Written by RACHAEL LAPORTE | Photographs by RACHAEL LAPORTE