Travel photography is not always going to make you a lot of money, but the freedom of the lifestyle can be particularly attractive. Living life on your own terms and being your own boss can be a great motivator. You have the flexibility to take on any project you want, and reject the ones you don’t.
You don’t have to take the plunge immediately; you can start by doing things in your vacation time, and spending weekends photographing in your own town. Wherever you live, it’s exotic to someone else.
Here’s what else to do before you go:
- Get all the education you possibly can while you can. Acquiring skills in writing, in technical photography knowledge, in geography, human interest and art is all going to be useful when you have only your skills and ideas to live by.
- Build up a portfolio and put in the images that you want to be paid to shoot. Don’t use things that you don’t enjoy doing or you’ll end up doing more of them, because people will think you like them.
- Set up a photography website to host and license your images. Choose one that links through to purchasing prints. This can save you time and makes it easier for the client to purchase your products. It can be automated throughout the site, and the customer will have very little interaction with you. It’s very time effective for you.
- If you have no obligations, mortgage contracts, loans, or people to take care of, then you can reduce your expenditure considerably. If you give up paying rent, you also don’t need to pay the gas and electricity bills either. You can choose where to live, in hostels, hotels, camping, in any country you like. ( Within visa restrictions etc.)
- It may be helpful if you’re located somewhere that the exchange rate is favorable to your salary currency. This effectively makes your hotel bill cheaper, and you can afford a higher standard than you would elsewhere.
- Be prepared to take any assignments. Be flexible and open minded on what jobs you take.
- Set up accounts with micro stock sites. It may not make you a lot of money, but it should become a steady income. Think about the unusual images you could take for these sites, because the usual angle has already been done so many times.
- Set up your laptop with all of your photo editing software. Have everything you could need ready, PortraitPro and LandscapePro will save you time on editing in Photoshop, and they can both be used as plugins to Photoshop.
- Be prepared for anything you might find. Have an app for model releases; you don’t want to not be able to use the image because you missed getting the stranger to sign a release.
- Look for apps that will save carrying extra things. In fact, anything you can carry in an app effectively weighs nothing. Maps, editing tools, ebooks, you can carry all kinds in an app and you’d have your smartphone with you anyway.
- Keep your kit lightweight. Remember not to take everything you could possibly need. It weighs a lot and you’ll regret carrying that spare lens when you are so tired you can’t make it up the next staircase or mountain peak or down the next road to get the shot. The best camera is the one that you have with you, and having to make do with the reasonable camera you have with you can make you more creative to get the shot you want.
When you do leave on your travels, there are some things you need to remember while you’re away to help you stay organized and productive:
- Keep regular hours when you can. Do what you should to avoid jet lag; don’t work through the night because you’ve just left somewhere where you’d normally be awake at that time. Sometimes that means staying up a little longer, sometimes it means going to bed before you’re ready.
- Stay focused every day. You need to stay focused on the 2 or 3 things that you need to achieve each day to continue making a living. Set achievable goals, and make sure you do them. Don’t get overloaded by trying to do too much in one day, just take each day at a time and make each day productive.
- Make room for down-time. Every day that you take a break, is a day that you don’t make any income. This is tough when you’re your own boss. You still need to have the discipline to put in a day’s work, and also to give yourself a day’s break. There’s no one to throw you out of the office if you’re still working at midnight.
- Don’t underestimate the people you meet. You never know who you might meet when you’re traveling. Travel is a great opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise have bumped into. Step out of your comfort zone and go somewhere you wouldn’t usually think about going. You might be surprised, and you might find your next project.
- Do your photo editing as you go. If you’re taking lots of images every day, then will need to back up your photos and should do your editing regularly. Discard the images that won’t make the cut often too, so you’re not storing images that you’ll really delete when you get home.
- Doing your basic photo editing in PortraitPro or LandscapePro. Doing it while the original is still fresh in your mind, and while you still remember what you wanted to portray in your image is useful.