Imagine heading to exotic destinations and enjoying the very best sights, foods, and cultural experiences all in order to get your job done. This is the life of the freelance travel photographer. This, however, does not mean that it is an easy way to make a living. Why not? Many professional travel photographers will work precisely in the same way as photojournalists – meaning that they await the offer of work before they actually head into the field to do it OR they pay for all of the expenses themselves and hope to make a good sale after the work is done.
Where to Sell Travel Photographs
Of course, this doesn’t stop many dedicated travel photographers from pursuing their passion. This is because they are quite likely to be able to develop a few reliable and alternative streams of income through such things as stock websites and their own websites too.
Photo by Mindaugas Danys
For example, let’s say that a travel photographer thought it would be interesting to do some work in the Caribbean. They go ahead and plan their trip, head to their location, and shoot tons of landscapes and related pictures. They might also go ahead and document a lot of “minor” details too. This might mean that their camera’s memory card holds some wonderful images of the most popular beachfront location as well as a close up shot of some shells from that beach or some trees that line the shore. Upon returning home, the photographer is going to be able to post these files to a stock photography website (after selecting the most likely tags or labels) and then see what kind of sales they get from this work. Many travel photographers might also use some of their images to make calendars or travel guides for the location from which they just returned, and then sell them through their website.
They can also approach relevant travel sites and printed publications in order to see if these groups would have any interest in acquiring their shots as well. Some photographers even use social networking and wiki sites to get their name and their work into the public arena too. Not all of these methods generate immediate income, but they do ensure that the photographer’s work is being seen and their name being acknowledged.
Photo by Claudio Matsuoka
So, what sort of camera equipment is necessary for travel photography? This is not an easy question to answer. This is because this is a truly diverse way of taking pictures. As already mentioned, a single excursion might implement grand landscape techniques along with macro or telephoto techniques in the same spot. This means that a novice photographer is going to have to work very hard to keep their equipment budget under control. Something recommended by most professionals is the purchase of a DSLR camera body, and the fastest lenses possible. These are lenses that have low f/stop figures that provide the photographer with a lot of intensity where lighting is concerned. Control of the light in the setting is something of incredible significance to the travel photographer, and so a 400/f2.8 is a highly recommended figure for control.
Additional gear for the travel photographer is always going to include the ND or the polarizing filter. This is a sure way to prevent atmospheric conditions or brilliant reflections from ruining a shot, and let’s face it – a travel photographer is going to find themselves beneath cloudless blue skies and glistening seas on a somewhat frequent basis. A lens hood is also helpful at such times too. They also tend to need a sturdy tripod and a cable release too. This is because any low-light shots (though helped by the fast lens) will demand that the camera be in a stable position and undisturbed by the triggering of the shutter.
Photo by Claude Renault
The Necessity of Research
One thing that all travel photographers must do is spend time researching the locales in which they intend to work. This is especially important if they want to be able to sell the work upon their return home. Why? For one thing, their research is going to show them how other professionals have gone about documenting the locale. For another, it will show them the most common ways that people are capturing popular sites and attractions with their cameras and can help them to craft genuinely original and appealing work.
Another thing that travel photographers are often encouraged to do is to take a more cultural view of the location. Rather than focusing on the scenic buildings or the natural wonders, they are finding more success by taking pictures of less obvious details. Road signs, small homes, native residents, native animals, and more mundane views are all being used to make very relevant and fascinating records of a specific location. While these might be quite stylistic, there are dozens of popular travel and geographic magazines that take interest in images such as this, and there are many websites that would be interested in acquiring such original work too.
Show Off Your Travel Photography
If you would like to share your travel photography please feel free to join our flickr group and add your images to the pool. Make sure and tag your images with “TPA_Travel”. From the pool of images we will be selecting the best examples and showcasing them in a future article.