Traveling is not just a great way to experience the world, it also provides endless opportunities for amateur and professional photographers alike. You never know where that perfect shot is going to present itself! For many, the idea of leaving the “darkroom” of daily life to become a travel photographer is the ultimate dream. But is it actually possible to make a living from it? Let’s get real – it’s not like you’ll be counting the dough on a hammock sipping coconut juice. To make money as a travel photographer you’ll need to work, and to work hard. While it might take some time before you can reap the (tropical) fruits of your success, your efforts will eventually pay off.
What will it require, apart from a camera, an airplane ticket, and a stunning travel photography website? First and foremost, you’ll need to define a niche based on your skillset. Even the most professional photographer needs to find out what they’re good at, in addition to producing breathtaking photos. Leverage that other skill, excel at it, and you might earn an income that will support your photo-nomad lifestyle.
What are you good at? Find your virtue, and we will tell you what is the best way for you to make money as a travel photographer:
I’m great at teaching
Patience, knowledge, enthusiasm, the ability to inspire, love of learning, and flexibility are all crucial traits to have when it comes to being a good teacher. Knowing the A to Z’s of photography goes without saying! There are two great ways to earn money from teaching photography:
Run an online course
Use a large online course platform (like Udemy for example), or go solo and start your own Youtube channel. Take it one step further, and create a website to host (and monetize) your course with Wix Video. Start by finding a certain aspect of photography, with which your vast experience would be most valuable to potential students. For example: starting a wedding photography business, photographing landscapes at night, fashion photo shoot basics… Every topic you feel confident about. Think back to when you were starting out as a photographer: which courses would you have wanted to sign up for? It’s quite a production to create a plan, film the course and promote it on your own, but luckily it’s a one-time effort. If you’re the planning type, launching the course before take-off would make a great passive income. You can always add new lessons about travel photography on the go!
Conduct photography workshops and tours
Do you get goosebumps when discovering a new hidden photography spot? Do you tend to fall in love with your surroundings, and are you willing to share that love with the world? Then take your teaching efforts offline and organize photography workshops or tours. This works especially great for travelers who are likely to stay in a place long enough to call it their home. You can offer your services to tourists on vacation – we bet everyone would like to go back home with a stunning collection of photos! Besides, today’s tourists are eager for new and unique ways to experience popular locations – your photography workshop might just be the answer.
Another option is to target photography enthusiasts with specialty photography tours. Tours can be tied to a specific location or area in the city, or a popular local event/holiday… The trick here is to identify where your target audience is at and to lure them in with the right incentive. As always, a great photography website is a must. If you’re starting workshops on a regular basis, Wix Bookings will definitely save you time with all the logistics. Alfonso Calero, an avid Wix user, nailed it perfectly.
I’m a people’s person
Are you the life of every party? An extrovert, who easily connects with new friends just as easy as with old ones? As you probably know, being social can benefit not only your personality, but your bank account as well - there are many freelance photography jobs waiting for you.
Leverage social media followers
If your Instagram is poppin’ with hearts, and your Facebook with thumbs, then it’s time to meet your calling. Collaborating with online influencers is a popular practice in the photography marketing universe. Whether it’s a new camera or a smartphone – if you have a nice amount of passionate followers, there’s a significant chance you’ll end up receiving free gifts from brands. The trick? To know how to write reviews that will be beneficial for the company, and interesting enough for your audience. You don’t want your friends to click ‘Hide’, and you also don’t want to promote an over-promising product. This means you have to be a great self-marketer, content writer, and negotiator, perhaps even more than a good photographer.
Offer photography services locally and barter
Don’t feel like promoting other brands? Then be your own master! Apply your photography skills to get free hotel stays, tours, meals, or any other experience. Just offer your services to the place of interest, and if they need professional photos for their website or brochures, they may gladly accept the exchange. Saving money on accommodation and travel is equal to earning money, and in some cases, the deal might bring you some extra cash. If you know how to approach people, this might become your bread and barter!
I’m a natural storyteller
If you know your way with words, you’re sure to find your way in the world making a living off them.
Blogging & writing
Chances are that this thought has already crossed your mind. If you’re passionate about writing, photography, and travel, then why not combine it all into a one stunning photography blog? Topic ideas can vary from gear reviews, photo editing tutorials, magical destinations, photography life hacks, and what not. Once you gain a significant number of followers, you can start advertising and using affiliate partnerships. Yes, the market is saturated, and it won’t cover all your monthly expenses, but it will position you as an expert in your field, and with time will provide a partial income that is always nice to have. If your keyboard is just as good a friend as your camera is, you could also offer your writing services as a freelancer to other photography and travel outlets.
Publishing in travel photography magazines
Why limit your story to your online audience, if you can share it with the whole world? Many travel photography magazines accept submissions for review. The first step would be to subscribe to their online versions (one thing you won’t have as a travel photographer is a physical address, right?), to get the look and feel of what they usually publish. Before you give it your best shot, make sure to familiarize yourself with the submission requirements. Go for the magazines that actually pay, and don’t give up the rights to your photos – they should always be credited to you.
After being a little more established, you can start pitching publications (and even local tourism boards) by yourself, offering complete stories. This process is quite time-consuming but has great potential for nailing a piece, plus tons of exposure. Speaking of which, getting noticed amidst the ocean of online photographers can also help you get published. Share your best work regularly on Instagram with the right hashtags (#WixPhotography for example) and on major photography outlets (like 500px or Your Shot on NatGeo), participate in photography contests, and you’re on the right way to the spotlight.
There’s nothing I can’t sell
As a photographer who is passionate about traveling, you must have some awe-inspiring images that would captivate spectators all around the web. So how can you reach the masses beyond the boundaries of your website?
Sell your photos
Many online publications, news outlets, website owners and advertisers are looking for great images to match their texts. Photo stock websites is where they find them. Check out the biggest stock websites, or go for the smaller niche ones – test to see which platform works best for you.
Sell your prints
One way to sell prints is to organize or participate in thematic gallery exhibitions. Try to think of topics about particular people or places that might be interesting to your audience (locally or globally), and connect with relevant galleries. You could also self-publish a photo ebook on a selected topic and sell that on your website (the Sell Downloads app is at your service). Insider tip: set the price to be affordable - that way, with the proper marketing efforts, you’ll be able to sell more. A photo book is a one-time production that has the potential of becoming a nice passive income.
You could also upload your work to print-on-demand websites - they will take care of every aspect of the sale, all you need to do is provide unique images.