Being a travel photographer comes with so many perks. Doing what you’re passionate about while also getting to satisfy your wanderlust? That’s a win-win situation. While it sounds like fun and it seems as though all you need to kick off your career is a camera and lots of flight tickets, that isn’t the case. Well, at least not in reality. Technically, all you need is just that. Your camera, photography skills and, of course, flight tickets. In the travel photography industry, though, so much more is needed. This is also keeping in mind that to be successful in this industry, you need to have a wide range of photography skillset. The travel photography industry is loaded with many other people who are just as ambitious, creative, and as talented as you are.
So, why should you remain just another travel photographer in the industry? Why not take it steps higher and become a professional? Being a professional travel photographer would not only set you apart in the industry, but it would also see to it that your content cuts through the noise and competition. It would also go a long way in helping you to attract the right kind of audience. As stated earlier, you would be needing so much more than the basics. This post explores all you would be needing to become a professional in the travel photography industry.
The Required Skillset for Travel Photography
Fine, this might seem pretty obvious but it still has to make the list. There’s no way you would become a professional travel photographer if your photos are mediocre. They have to be unique and yes, professional. Being a travel photographer means you have to skillful in photographing many subjects. From landscapes to architectural buildings to portraits, among many others. So, you need to know your onions or in this case, your camera. And it doesn’t stop at taking amazing photos alone. You need to have the necessary editing skills that would take your pictures from being just amazing to being super amazing. There’s a wide array of software that you can use to make this happen. From Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop to Aurora HDR, you have to be proficient in making use of one or two of this software. There are so many online courses on photography, take one or two of them. There are numerous tutorials on YouTube. Utilize them. That being said, you have to keep practicing. The saying “Practice makes perfect” rings very true when it comes to photography. You don’t have to wait before traveling to practice. Take a walk down your street and take spontaneous photos. When you get home, edit them with any good software. Continuously putting all you’ve learned to good use is a great way to fast track yourself into being a pro.
Professional and Travel-appropriate Equipment
A professional travel photographer needs professional equipment. As you would be traveling from one location to the other, you have to go for equipment that is not only of a high-quality but one that is also easy to move around with. That is travel-appropriate equipment. Imagine traveling to a destination where you’d have to hike to take certain shots. You don’t want to exhaust all of your energy on hauling bulky equipment while hiking. Equipment, for example, come from various brands, in various shapes and, of course, sizes. You should go for those that are lightweight but yet do not forfeit the quality of pictures. The camera has to be high-quality yet easy to move around with. The tripod has to be portable. You would also need a wide range of camera lens as well as a remote shutter that would help you to take pictures with long exposures amongst many others. Investing in your equipment stash coupled with great skills would help you to take very professional photos.
A Photography Portfolio
Now, here’s your chance to showcase your work to your prospective clients. Presenting them with a professional portfolio is one of the quickest ways to have them see you as a professional. You can’t depend on only your social media pages to help you get the job done. Your portfolio could be on your website if you have one. There are many online galleries where you can showcase the best of your work. An example is Flickr. You could also put it together in a PDF and share it when the need arises. Only the eye-catching, mouth-gaping photos should be included in your portfolio. This means that the content on your portfolio has to be always reviewed and updated. Most importantly, make sure to always put it out there by constantly promoting it. Don’t choke the portfolio with too many photos, though, as quality tops quantity in this case
A Strong Travel Photography Social Media Presence
Being active on social media is a must if you want to become a professional travel photographer. Be on as many social media platforms as possible. There are Instagram, Trover, Steller and so many others that are perfect for photographers. Clients are more likely to find you on there. Use the right tools, right hashtags and tag the right pages and brands to improve your visibility on the platform. Let your individuality shine through your page. People are more inclined to follow a page with an engaging caption than one where photos are just posted with very bland captions.
Another thing you need to do to become a pro is to brand yourself and your pictures. Whether it’s with a logo or with your signature, you should have something that makes someone say “Oh, this picture is by John Doe. I can see his logo/signature.” Whatever you choose should be easy to remember and, of course, eye-catching. You may also come up with a brand name that is unique and creative. The travel photography world is competitive so you have to stand out. Branding yourself would make standing out a lot easier.
Share Your Work in the Right Places
There’s no way the pro travel photographer would stick if it’s not bringing some income. Other than on social media where you are likely to attract clients, you still have to publish and sell your work on some platforms. One of such is stock image libraries such as iStock, Dreamstime, Shutterstock that you can sell your work to and get paid when someone buys one of your works. You can also contact the editors of travel and lifestyle magazines to know the criteria for getting your work published in their magazines. Be sure to let your social media family know when this happens. It would further set you apart as a professional.
Create Content in the Travel Photography Industry
Last but by no means the least, don’t stop at taking pictures. Take it a step further by sharing relevant content on your website or blog that others would find useful. For example, if you just got new equipment, review them and slide in the photos you took with them. Write about your experience while photographing a particular destination. Of course, include the pictures you took there. Review the places you visited, restaurants you ate in, and hotels you slept in. Slide in your pictures too. By doing this, you would be driving more traffic to your site, both from clients and from your fellow photographers. Before long, you would have made a name for yourself as a professional travel photographer.
Becoming a professional travel photographer might not be a walk through the park but it is very achievable. Keep working at it with the 7 tips above and before long, you would succeed at being just what you want to be – a professional travel photographer. Be sure to have fun while globetrotting and taking great pictures!