Out of the different genres of photography, travel photography is the most appealing to many. A travel photographer gets a chance to experience places, people, and cultures while doing photography. And one tries to bring the viewer to the same experience through the photographs. It offers a fair share of the adrenaline rush, money, and accolades. However, choosing to combine a life of wanderlust with your profession has its own set of challenges. Like other career and business options, travel photography can offer you every bit of joy and learning experience that you want both from traveling the world and from the career of photography, provided that you can manage and scale things up, focus on brand building and market your work effectively.
Pro-tip: Remember that travel photography will require you to do the miles, most often on your own, and there will be serious expenses to be incurred and work to be done.
Before you respond to the call of adrenaline and decide to quit your nine to five to dedicate yourself to travel photography business, take cognizance of the pros and cons.
Travelling is a fantastic activity that rejuvenates the mind and soul to the hilt. Each destination comes with its unique charm and beauty, which you capture through the lenses (photography). You can cherish the travel memories for long and share the beauty of the places you travel to with the world.
Someone has aptly said that a picture paints a thousand words. No wonder travel photography is not only amazing but soul-stirring. And nowadays travel photography has also become an interesting and lucrative business. It is such a rewarding thing that you will grow creatively, and the joy that you will experience in your heart will be unparalleled.
What is Travel Photography?
Travel photography is primarily about photographing places in all their glory. As a travel photographer, you will travel to lots of places and capture them through your camera. The places can be tourist attractions, natural landscapes, hotels and resorts, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures. Most professional travel photography is in some way or the other linked with the tourism industry, generating imagery for magazines, brochures, advertising, merchandise, and online media.
Top reasons why you should become a travel photographer:
Develop your respect and love for this beautiful planet When you step out of the hustle-bustle and chaos of your fast-paced life in cities and see the natural beauty and abundance of this fascinating earth, you feel ardent love and need to save this planet. When you capture the enchanting beauty of the places, you feel grateful and happy. You understand the lessons which your parents and teachers taught you in school about being sensitive to our environment and the planet. Travel photography strengthens the bond with our planet and makes you value it more than ever.
Learn the virtues of flexibility and patience
Travel photography helps you grow at a personal level. It changes you significantly. When you are sensitive to the planet, you become more flexible and develop patience. It is one of the best learnings from travel photography that Nature runs at its own sweet pace and yet accomplishes everything it aspires.
Similarly, you feel that you have become more patient with people, with circumstances. Success doesn’t always come fast; one needs to persevere and show some patience. Similarly, in photography, also you need lots of patience and perseverance. You have to wait for hours to capture that perfect and mind-boggling sunrise. And if you give it the time it deserves by being patient, then you will have some of the best shots in your portfolio. Flexibility is another great lesson you learn through travel photography. There have been times when you face undesirable circumstances such as flight cancellation, a flat tire, sudden change in weather conditions, etc., but you should never hold on to an itinerary and schedule and should show flexibility instead. You won’t regret it.
Make your life an adventure
You will never find any shortage of places to see and capture in your camera. Even your entire life is not enough to photograph our vast and beautiful planet. There are endless places you can shoot. Make a list of the places you will travel to and shoot. You will be spoilt for choice. There are endless options, and it is the most beautiful dilemma to choose which places to shortlist for travel photography. So don’t miss out on any opportunity and photograph as many places as you can and build a treasure of your photographs.
Feel and mingle with your environment
Let lose yourself in your environment, be natural, and absorb every bit of it. Even ask your co-travelers to do the same. Don’t get into posing and constantly smiling. Capture natural emotions as they will come out more beautifully in your pictures. For travelers, landscape photography is one preferred approach. Be it doing travel and street photography, animals, or inanimate objects, you will find a lot of choices in picking up a theme or subject for your next set of travel photography portfolio. It is important to note that external conditions such as the weather and lighting play an important role in getting that perfect shot. So, make sure to know the right time and right vantage point to click a memorable photograph and fulfill your wanderlust and engage in travel photography.
Revel in the opportunity to capture fascinating places and moments
Every time you travel, you come back with pictures of beautiful places and moments, some of which may leave you spell-bound, and some leave the effect of absolute tranquillity. You get to capture your dream destinations, the places which looked picture-perfect in a magazine/internet. You capture those moments which leave you in awe. One such place where you can click such pictures is Rajasthan. The picturesque beauty and history of Rajasthan make it a perfect destination for travel photography. Wherever you travel in Rajasthan, you will be inspired by the “Lands of Kings,” which is one of the best places in the entire world. Such is the charm of majestic Rajasthan.
Here are 4 top useful tips on how to get started in travel photography
- Play around with angles and shots
- Capture emotions and moments
- Plan the travel photography shoot well
- Always be ready with your gears
Wondering how to get into travel photography? First things first. You don’t have to be obsessive about your gear. You can start shooting with your smartphone, regular cameras, or DSLR. The best lens for travel photography is what you have. Since there are so many types of subjects, one type of lens would not be enough. Instead of focusing on the subjects which your lens is suitable for is the thing to do. What is essential is to start. Many photographers prove that it is not the equipment, but the creative vision that helps one to sift the best from the rest.
Similarly, there are no specific types of DSLR made for travel photography; even an entry-level DSLR can take some good photos. The best camera for travel photography is the one that can give you a wide scope of getting the best shots. Also, the best lenses for travel photography would depend on which type of shots you are looking to take. If you are looking for wide-angle shots, then a wide-angle zoom lens like a 16-35mm lens would help you take great shots. The more pictures you take, the more you will come to know about camera angles, subject/object interplay, lighting conditions, and post-processing. Thus, when you start, it’s best to start on a slow scale and then upgrade your travel photography gear as and when you feel you are ready to transcend the next level of photography expertise.
Play around with angles and shots
Take pictures from different angles, and maybe you can use wide-angle lenses to give more context to your images. Step out of your comfort zone and make silly poses and have a good time alone with good pictures. You will surely get some good shots which will be interesting. But first, you need to know some crucial terms like eye angle, Dutch, establishing shot, cut-in, cutaway, low angle, perspective, reverse shot, over the shoulder (for shots).
Similarly, in angles, you need to have some degree of proficiency in close up/ extreme, medium shot, worm’s eye view, bird’s eye view, longshot, or POV. The interplay of framing, angles, shots, and positions provide a different viewpoint, a different aspect of focus to the viewer, and convey varied emotions.
Capture emotions and moments
When you visit a lovely place with amazing landscapes, views, and the environment, apart from capturing these beautiful things to capture the feeling of being there. More than the aesthetics, it is about telling its own story to the viewers. This virtue can be enabled by allowing the subjects to be captured in their familiar environment or surroundings. The special bond of the familiar place can stir emotions and can be radiated into your shots.
Also, they need not be overwhelmed with elaborate directions. Just subtle guidance would be enough to keep the subjects at ease and bring out the natural pose without feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable. Another way to conjure emotion is to avoid having them standstill. Give them something to do, and see their involvement in the activity, bring out their genuine emotion.
Plan the travel photography shoot well
It is always better to plan things before heading out for travel photography. Take ideas on how to capture emotions and the surroundings when you are on your travel photography trip. Spend some time to assess how you will be capturing the place in its full glory. Answer questions like,” How will I get there?” ‘Does the place have photographic potential,’ ‘Will the potential be affected by the time of the year or the time of the day?’, ‘How do I arrange for traveling around the different spots to get incredible shots?’.
An hour on Google can provide you both – the inspiration as well as the information to plan your travel photography trip well. While you plan on which places will be worth the shot, you also need to factor in unexpected issues like delay, seasonal changes, or poor lighting conditions.
For many photography enthusiasts, the sudden change in weather can be a blessing in disguise. It can present an unexpected enhancement to the subject (Think of a layer of snow covering the city landscapes, or sudden rainfall leading to lush greenery).
Always be ready with your gears
Wherever you travel, be prepared with your camera and the supporting gear. Be prepared to take advantage of an opportunity to click photographs. You never know you might click your masterpiece at a very humble place or in any other place where you had never thought you would.
To summarize, you can say that there is a vast difference between taking photos on your trip or traveling specifically to take photos. The proof of the difference will be in the quality of the images captured by your camera. These travel photography tips and techniques aptly showed why you need to explore travel photography as an option. These tips will factor in for elevating the overall photography experience to a new level of subtlety and sophistication.
Now that you know the benefits of travel photography, here are our top 9 travel photography tips for beginners on how to turn your travel photography passion into a business.
1. Choose travel photography only if you love it deeply. It’s going to be tough.
Adventurous photography has many niche genres, like wildlife photography, industrial photography, landscape photography, etc. Learn about the types, the corresponding skill requirements, the temperament that is needed, the challenges involved, and of course, the monetization models involved. Make sure that you understand all the dynamics before making your final decision. Follow both your heart and mind. Once you have made up your mind on selecting travel photography as your specialty, you then need to focus and prioritize it and pursue it with all your passion. Half measures will not do.
2. Invest time, effort and money to learn the tricks of the trade
Falling in love with someone at first sight, is sensitivity at its highest. Planning to get married and start a family with that someone is sensibility at its highest. We are talking about marriage here. Marrying your passion and your expertise - technical, aesthetic, and commercial. Think like a pro. Start learning the tricks of the trade by interning for free as you take pictures with a second-hand camera or taking some travel photography courses. Interact with peers and seek travel photography tips by browsing good travel photography websites. Study books and magazines on travel photography. Learn from the masters. You can also attend travel photography workshops, seminars, and other training programs to learn from the best.
3. Clearly Describe your Travel Photography Service
Define your travel photography service in unambiguous terms. Enable your clients and prospects understand the quality of work that you deliver, prices that you charge, value-added services that you render, and the scale of projects that you work on. Define the mode of payment, and the terms and conditions for hourly rates, weekly commitments of time and project deadlines. Defining your service will help you to make money with photography while traveling.
4. Create your professional travel photography website
Even as you continue to learn and inculcate the skills of professional travel photography, you must not forget to market your work. Build a professional travel photography website to showcase your travel photography photos. Sort and curate your work and select the best travel photos of different genres that you have for your portfolio website. Regularly update your portfolio website and add new work from recent travels. Your website is your showcase window to the world and the first point of contact with potential clients and collaborators. Get inspired by these awe-inspiring photography portfolio websites created on Pixpa.
Here’s a great guide on how to create an online portfolio website.
Pixpa is an all-in-one platform to create a travel photography portfolio website easily without any coding knowledge. Take a free trial and start building your portfolio website now.
5. Use social media to generate exposure for your work
Travel photography gets a lot of attention and response to social media. People love to like and share beautiful, picturesque images of places they would love to visit. As a travel photographer, learn to leverage social media to your advantage. Choose one or at max two social media platforms and focus all your energies on sharing high-quality posts regularly. Interact with people who comment and share your work and build your fan following. Look through the metrics of likes, shares, and comments to understand the market trends, the quality of work, and areas for improvement.
Instagram has emerged as the preferred platform for photographers to share their work. Travel photography is especially popular on Instagram, with many hub pages promoting travel photography. Learn how to use photography hashtags on Instagram to get success as a travel photographer.
6. Start a Travel Photography Blog
Add a travel photography blog to your portfolio website. Starting telling visual stories, share travel photography tips, and behind-the-scenes insights of your travels. Create photo stories of the places you are visiting. Talk about the culture, experiences, and share your explorations through your blog posts. Your blog will gradually become a magnet for attracting admirers and potential clients alike.
Tip: You can add a blog to your portfolio website on Pixpa easily. Learn more.
7. Explore Ways to Earn Money through Travel Photography Passion
Here is the challenge. Capturing the best travel photos as you travel across the world is one thing and making money from them, quite another. Always be looking to sell your skills, brand your work, and get a better bargain. You may try publishing your work on some of the best travel photography platforms, online tourism platforms, and wildlife adventure photography and conservation platforms that offer a good amount of money.
There are a lot of stock photography websites where you can sell your travel photography images. There are also many travel magazines that regularly post travel photography jobs. Build your relationships with travel magazines and understand their requirements. You can plan your travels wherein you are shooting images that a travel photography magazine or website would be interested in paying.
Tip: Get an established photography agency to market and sell your travel photography work
8. Network! Join a Travel Photography Group
How about socializing with buddy travel photographers at a cool theme restaurant on the weekend? You get to know each other, bond over shared interests in adventure photography, learn cutting-edge technical tricks, and, most importantly, get recommended to clients by senior professionals. Network, share positive vibes with your tribe, and get recognized within the community of travel photographers for your work.
There are also several online travel photography communities that you can join. Fellow travel photographers are more than happy to help each other out with insider tips on the places they have visited.
9. Build and Grow your Client Relationships
Travel photography is not just about the camera. It is about exploring people, places, cultures, geographies, and practically whatever the roads serve your way. Flag each place you visit with a bit of self-promotion. Associate with noble causes and look to attach yourself to social campaigns. For example, you can try your hand at wildlife photography to spread the word on endangered species and animals that are on the verge of extinction. Amidst all the frenzy of meeting people, new clients and new assignments will pop out of nowhere.
Keep the faith and have the resolve to overcome a few challenges that the trade might throw your way. If you love photography and the freedom of working while traveling places, travel photography is for you. Leap with preparation and trust that the net will appear.
So, what are you waiting for, when the lush vistas of unexplored terrains beckon your inner creative side? Don't think too hard about how to be a travel photographer. Simply pack your bag and camera, make note of the tips and tricks of the trade and embark on your travel photography journey today!
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I prepare to be a travel photographer?
To prepare yourself to be a travel photographer, you need to first prepare yourself to be a good traveller. This includes being flexible and patient, planning well but being prepared for eventualities, and always being on the lookout for an opportunity to capture an interesting moment or place. Having a sense of adventure is important in travel photography.
- What makes for good travel photography?
Good travel photography always tries to capture the emotion of the moment and the place in each photograph. Make sure to capture not just locations, buildings and monuments but also people, events and moments. Your travel photography should be able to visually narrate the story of your journeys and not just the destinations.
- How much money do travel photographers make?
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of travel photographers in the United States was $44,193 for 2021.