How to Get paid to Travel and Take Photos
Today we’re walking through exactly how you can get paid to travel the world and take photos.
Travelling and social media have allowed many people to see mesmerizing sights that they could’ve never imagined.
With that, competing social media businesses have sought to find ways to make content that will attract a bigger audience and help them develop their business. As a result, many people now use social media to promote their businesses, and one popular niche on social media platforms is travel photography.
Instagram is the largest visual social media network, after YouTube of, course.
The platform allows visual storytellers such as photographers to tell their stories to a larger audience. However, there are many photography niches just like in every field of work.
Travel photography captures a wide audience on the popular social media platforms. That’s because many people jump at the opportunity to take mesmerizing photos around the world and enjoy the places they visit in the process.
If you’re still reading this article, chances are that you’re one of the people who’d like to experience the beauty of traveling, wandering, and experiencing new sights, nations, cultures, and traditions.
However, everyone knows that traveling gets a little trickier than snapping nature and architecture shots, editing them, and posting them to social media.
You need quality equipment that is often not cheap.
Additionally, you need to invest in traveling, like plane tickets, accommodation, tourist or work visa, health insurance, and other things. Add the ongoing COVID-19 pandemics and traveling to take photos can turn from a dream into a nightmare.
Due to all the potential difficulties with traveling and working as a freelance photographer, we decided to craft this guide that informs you about all the possible ways to travel and earn money taking photos.
We’ll also provide a list of websites that pay photographers and other ways to get paid.
If you’re interested in that, we recommend you to continue reading through this compelling guide and inform yourself about all the benefits of working as a travel photographer, as well as the potential risks and bottlenecks of this bold business.
How to Become A Paid Travel Photographer
You need to understand that no one became a travel photographer overnight. If you already have experience taking photos for money and working on different events where you’re taking photographs of people, this journey will be a tad easier for you.
If you’re completely new to photography, this article as well as other content on the website will help you build and hone your skills, while also providing the resources to becoming a travel photographer. Still, it’ll take time before you can get paid to travel and take photos.
Below are some important things to know.
Find A Diverse Niche
Travel niche is huge, regardless of whether you’re a content strategist, marketing consultant, or photographer. Nowadays, there are a lot of people who travel, and just as many people who take high-quality photos and share them on social media. They make their professionally edited photos look just as if anyone can become a travel photographer. While that holds true, the whole process is not so easy.
Before anything else, you need to find your niche. We can say that traveling is already a niche, but it’s so widespread that we can even call it a topic that has multiple sub-niches. The sub-niches can range anywhere from portrait and landscape photography to tourism photography, magazine photography, and even food photography.
If you’re a foodie, you loved to visit nice restaurants and get well-versed with different spices and cuisines, then food photography while traveling is the right niche for you. If you’re into hiking and want to highlight beautiful and mesmerizing travel destinations on the lone lakes, mountain peaks, and forests, then landscape photography is perfect for you.
You need to ask yourself what exactly is interesting about traveling. Is it the enriched day and night city life, or wanderlust hikes and camping?
Lastly, you can also be into things like architecture and history, meaning you can use photography of different architectural buildings to convey a historical event or visit animal conservation sites to portray how the protected wildlife looks like and more.
To get even better results, you can collab with different traveling magazines and see what sub-niches are popular now. Diversify your sub-niche as much as possible and focus only on it.
Use Social Media
If you’re unable to travel currently because you’re still in the process of saving money or building your business and network, there are still ways to promote travel photography. Every country in the world is filled with great touristic attractions, and your current country of stay is no exception.
Explore some local places that won’t be too far to travel to, learn about the tourism there, potential historical or conservation sites, hiking treks, or some other attraction that you can photograph. All your good photos should be posted across different social media.
Networks like Instagram allow users to convey emotions and tell a story using images, and that’s exactly what you can do to grow your audience.
Post regularly, research, and explore different hashtags that can improve your search visibility, use your content to tell a story, and be motivational to the people who follow you.
Adhering to all of these tips will help you grow your audience and find potential clients who’d like to work with you, initially locally, and then potentially in other countries too. It’s important to start small, however, you can’t expect to go to the different parts of the planet if your portfolio isn’t so rich.
Search Up Stock Photography
Stock photography websites are one of the best ways to sell your photos and earn money that will help you to dedicate yourself to travel photography. Upload your best photos to the stock photography websites such as iStock and Shutterstock. However, it’s not so easy from the beginning.
For the beginning, it’d be best to upload your photos on some of the free stock photography websites such as Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay, where visitors will give attribution when using your photos, and potentially spread your talent for clients that will emerge.
Stock photography can take time to take effect, that’s why it’s important to be patient and slowly and steadily pave your way into the well-paid photography gigs.
Find Ongoing Clients
When traveling, photographers tend to spend a long time in one location to get introduced to the local cuisine, people, tourist attraction, and everything that could potentially attract and talented photographers to invest their time and take high-quality photos.
During this time, where you’re getting to know about hot spots at certain locations, it’s important to check the local ads and search for people who’d like to work with a photographer. That can be anyone promoting their local touristic business, as well as restaurant and hotel owners. There are many opportunities to make money as a freelancer.
Using social media can also help you find some local clients. Sometimes, it’d even be a good idea to contact potential clients or leave some kind of an ad a few weeks or even a full month before you go with your travel.
Alternatively, using freelance platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr can help you get invitations from clients who are either coming near you or inviting you to meet them at their town or city of residence. However, it’s important to always verify that the person and their business are real and legit, just to be on a safe note. You can also use LinkedIn to find potential clients.
Build A Personal Network
Sometimes, owning a social media network isn’t enough to build a business strong enough to attract new clients. In addition to social media and maybe a YouTube channel where you can talk about your travel photography experiences, you should also build your photography blog, followed by an online shop where you can sell your printed photos and photo albums that will be shipped globally.
A photography blog could potentially help other aspiring photographers to start after your path and learn more about travel photography. Additionally, clients looking for skilled and professional photographers specializing in your niche could also get attracted to your website and decide to contact you.
Websites with well-made contact forms and email lists have a better chance to attract professional clients with a larger budget than your social media like Instagram. Nevertheless, Instagram can help with that and help channel clients to your website where they can learn more about your business offers.
Never Stop Learning
Even though the equipment is important when it comes to photography, especially if you shoot action photography when traveling, it’s not crucial to the quality of your photos. With that in mind, you should start with learning photography if you haven’t engaged yourself completely in it.
Additionally, when you learn how to take breathtaking and attractive photos, your journey doesn’t end. More innovative lenses emerge, trends change and you need to follow up with them and train so that your skills will never get worse, but continue thriving as you improve.
Invest in Quality Equipment
There’s only so much you can do with a smartphone or basic point-and-shoot camera.
Sure, it’s absolutely possible to take crisp stills with your phone’s camera, but unless you have an exceptional talent for smartphone photography it’s unlikely to impress potential clients and buyers.
As such, if you want to get paid for your photography and known for taking high-quality shots, then you should probably consider investing in some quality equipment.
What qualifies as quality photography equipment?
We’re glad you asked, here are the top 3 essentials every pro photographer should carry:
Unsurprisingly, the first piece of equipment you need to capture epic stills is a camera.
But what type of camera should you get?
There’s the ever-popular DSLRs, the more compact mirrorless, the intuitive point-and-shoots, and more.
To make the best decision, think about the type of photos you’re going to take.
If you’re interested in nature photography, you might want to invest in a DSLR for example because of the interchangeable lens which will allow you to capture animals at various distances.
If your niche is urban photography, then perhaps a mirrorless camera with a fixed lens will be your best option, especially since it should be compact enough to carry around in your pocket.
While many of us like to think that we have a steady pair of hands, when it comes to some activities like photography (or surgery) it takes a lot of willpower and energy to keep things stable and shake-free.
Unless the majority of your photography will be on the move, you’re going to need a good tripod to take on your adventures.
If you’re sat there thinking you don’t have the space to lug around a huge tripod, we have good news for you. There are many compact tripods out there, such as the Gorilla model, which are adaptable to the environment and can be set up just about anywhere.
That means you are free to capture shake-free stills even if you’re deep in the forest and only have branches nearby for stability.
If you have a subject that you don’t anticipate moving much or you’re taking a landscape shot, a tripod is an essential piece of equipment to ensure you get the perfect shot.
Lenses aren’t necessary for every photographer or camera.
For example, point-and-shoot and mirrorless cameras have fixed lenses so you won’t be able to swap out the lenses on them.
DSLRs, however, have interchangeable lenses which means you can swap out the lens at will.
This can be incredibly useful for photography trips in which you plan on taking a variety of photographs of different subjects.
If you’re out in nature and you see something move in the distance, you’ll want a telephoto lens on hand to provide that extra zoom.
Invest in Your Craft
Every novice photographer is listening about how good equipment makes a good photographer. We say that it’s not the truth, at least not in its entirety. The equipment is quite important, but you won’t be able to utilize most of it if you don’t have the necessary skills. We already said that above.
On top of equipment, you’ll also need to invest in your craft, and yourself. As your skills and experience grow, you’ll see the necessity to swap your equipment for better.
But, not all expensive equipment is good to meet your requirements. Sometimes, it’s smarter to invest in making your portfolio, in photography courses, and other educational material that is worth spending on.
What exactly does this mean?
It means taking courses to improve your photography skills, or downloading software such as PhotoShop to familiarize yourself with the process of editing stills. Or, it can even mean rounding out your skills as a freelancer, if that’s the path you choose to take.
It would be naive to think that you can just start making money from photography without first taking an inventory of your skills and identifying gaps in your knowledge.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to brush up on photography skills with an expert teacher?
Wouldn’t you prefer to cut corners by taking a course on freelancing so that you don’t make all of the beginner mistakes?
Investing in your craft can be seen like investing in yourself.
You are the brand, you are the person behind the photos, so you want to be the best version of yourself if you are to achieve the level of success you hope to.
Keep Honing Your Portfolio
Like we said multiple times in this article, it’s super important to constantly work on your portfolio and improving it. There are multiple ways of maintaining it, including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Stock Photo websites, your website portfolio, and more.
However, not just any photo should make it into your library for future clients. Only your best works should sit there, and when you see that some of the new images surpass the quality of the previous photos make sure to update them.
Photos, especially those travel ones, are the first ones that your clients will see. That means that you are easily adjusting to different seasons and areas and that you have an adventurous spirit that encourages you to explore new places and photograph them.
Sites That Will Pay You to Travel and Take Photos
Above we highlighted tools and social media channels you can use to earn an extra buck when traveling and taking photos. However, we also decided to highlight a list of stock photo websites and a few other websites that will pay you to take travel photos.
Foap is an easy-to-use website that allows business owners to buy travel photography, as well as other photos while creators can use it as their portfolio and a way to sell their photos and attract potential clients. It’s quite easy to use and flexible, with mobile apps being available on both Android and iOS platforms.
Whenever your photo is sold, you get a 50% commission, but that’s not the only way you can earn money on this site. Foap often hosts competitions for the best photo in different niches and sub-niches. You can compete with other visual creators, and get compensated for the reward.
Tandem Stills + Motion
If you’re into traveling into nature, hiking, landscape photography, and geography, this app is the right choice for you. The selling process is simple, all you have to do is make an account on the website and specialize what you want to sell.
It has a pricing model which helps photographers get the best rate for the photos they are selling. People who buy photos from photographers on this site can specify exactly what kind of photo they are looking for, and if you fit the criteria, there’s a great chance that you’ll make money online this way.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this company is associated with many eco-friendly and conservation companies and organizations, so if you’re interested in sustainability while traveling, this site is the right for you.
As part of Getty Images, iStock is one of the largest names in the world of online photography and has over 1 million customers. If you’re interested in selling your photos to them, you can earn as much as 45% of the commission for the work sold through the website.
The best part is that all the sold work within one year is being calculated through iStock and Getty Images channels. However, this works only for exclusive contributors. Regular contributors can get a 15% commission for a photo, while an illustration is rated at 20%.
Snapwire has its creative brief that allows you to sell photos per request or a challenge, which are active on the website. People can also buy your photos directly from your profile.
When there’s a challenge, people can nominate and vote for your photos, and the best ones win. As a creator, you can get up to 70% of the price if your photos are nominated and you win through. If you sell as part of the marketplace and profile sales, you get 50% of the price.
As one of the largest stock photography platforms, Shutterstock is rich in travel photos and often sought after by magazines and travel portals.
You can get lifetime earnings as a contributor, and it allows you to progressively earn money as you sell more images, growing your network and revenue. You can get between 20-30% per photo, with vectors and videos also being popular on the site, if you’re into video editing and design.
Finally, you can refer other contributors that will allow you to get a small commission per image. Shutterstock is also an excellent option for photographers who want to use a stock photography site as another branch of their portfolio.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Paid for Travel Photography
When emerging into travel photography, many people have different questions about how to get started with traveling and taking photos. We hope that we answered some of such questions here.
How much money can a traveling photographer make?
At the beginning of their careers, travel photographers aren’t expected to make a lot.
However, as time progresses and skill and experience grow, the prices and revenues grow too.
he lowest some travel photographers can get is $15,000 annually, but some can make as much as $100,000 per year. On average, travel photographers can make anywhere from $33,000 to $45,000.
What degree do I need to become a travel photographer?
To be a travel photographer or a photographer, in particular, you don’t need more than a high school diploma. However, it’s welcome to partake in some photography courses. Some photographers have photojournalism or design degrees.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
Various travel photography influencers make it look easy to travel and earn money taking photos.
However, becoming a good travel photographer is more about patience, persistence, and hard work than anything else.
It’s important to start small and grow as time passes and gain experience. Start with small locations, promote your country and different destinations within it, share it on social media, and save money for future endeavors.