Most travel photographers are freelancers with a good eye, able to capture the beauty of every place they visit, not matter if it’s Egypt or the corner shop. When it comes to being a travel photographer, it’s essential not only to be open to unexpected trips and requests, but also to understand well what the market needs and being able to provide that at all times.
Learn the craft. Travel photographers may specialize in one type of photography, but they still need to learn how to handle a camera, how to shoot properly and how to identify good photo opportunities. Taking a class at a local college or continuing education center can help, or you can look for online workshops like the ones offered by the New York Institute of Photography (see Resources below).
Buy a copy of Photographer's Market or similar guidebook. These guides include detailed listings of magazines and databases open to submissions from freelance photographers, including travel photographers. The book will help you understand the format required for submissions, the quality and sizes expected and what a market pays.
Study the market. Because travel photography is often used to accompany articles written by others, it’s important that you take your time to research the type of work featured in magazines and databases. Go through the pages and look at the photos with a critical eye, rather than as an observer. Try to understand the angles, lights and effects used to create the final composition.
Network. Especially at the beginning of your career, it’s important to connect with the right people in order to land assignments or tag along tours and travels. This could mean doing some work for hotels and travel companies, selling your work to stock photo databases or taking some short trips in your own state (see Resources below).
Create a portfolio. Since you will be dealing with people all over the world, having a website is essential. You can create an online portfolio divided by topic or type of photography, as well as having a physical, print portfolio in case local clients want to see how the final product turns out.
Travel photography is not necessarily any more glamorous than other types of photography. Most professionals make a living selling stock shots, rather than getting paid to travel on their own.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.