Get Paid to Travel the World, A Photographer Roadmap

Getting paid to travel the world and take pictures is, in our opinion, one of the absolute best jobs a person could have. Can you imagine traveling the world, exploring exotic locations, meeting interesting people, being creative every day and getting paid to do so? This dream job isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. Making a living as a photographer (or travel photographer) isn’t always easy.  As with any awesome profession, there are a lot of people making amazing work and thus a lot of competition. To thrive in this saturated market, you need to stand out from the pack. To help you do this we have created a list of eight tips on how to get paid to travel the world as a photographer.

1 Find a Unique Niche: To stand out from the pack of amazing photographers who also get paid to travel the world as a travel photographer you need to claim and master a specific niche. Think about subjects that are much more specific than landscape, architecture or lifestyle photography.

Instead of trying to become the go-to landscape photographer (this is a highly competitive niche with lots of outstanding professionals way ahead of you) think about a niche within landscape photography. Think about claiming the agricultural, beach or flora and fauna niche. All these fall under the landscape umbrella but will allow you to become the go-to for your specific subject. Imagine traveling the world to shoot vineyards around the world because you are the go-to agricultural photographer. That would be an awesome niche to claim.

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Instead of trying to become a ‘lifestyle photographer’ (another highly completive niche) think about a very specific niche that falls within ‘lifestyle.’ Kite boarding, counter-culture or corporate culture. Corporate culture may sound somewhat a ‘boring’ niche, but imagine being tasked with photographing public workspaces at every office of an international Fortune 1000’s business in the 25 cities they are based in around the world. This would be an epic way to spend a year!

Instead of trying to become a renowned architecture photographer think about some specifics within architecture photography. Perhaps you could master drone photography and become a hotel/resort photographer that captures properties from unique angles? You could strike up a deal with a global corporate hotel chain and travel the world photographing their hotels/resorts.

The possibilities are endless, but you need to be creative. Choose a unique niche that you are passionate about; one where you could go shoot every day for five years and be the happiest person alive!

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2. Take Amazing Pictures: Let’s be honest, the number one way to wow your clients and to get dream gigs is to shoot beautiful photography for them. As basketball star Alan Iverson said ‘when you are not practicing, someone else is getting better.’ Practice does make perfect. So get out there and practice, practice, practice; shoot, improve, make mistakes, learn and perfect your craft. Word of mouth is your best source of lead generation. Wow every client = more and more jobs and more and more travel.

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3. Edit Like a Pro: Editing your photos can take them to the next level or make them look cheap, overly saturated and amateur. Editing your photos is almost as important as taking them. Become a master at editing, understand your editing software and formulate a time efficient workflow. Be careful not to over edit your work. Editing should be used as a tool to enhance your pictures without the viewer knowing it was enhanced in post production. Subtle edits go a long way, learn to use the tools.

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4. Start Local First: As with any big dream you need to pay your dues and work your way to the top. By all means aspire to become a travel photographer that travels 90% of the year and don’t stop until you have achieved that goal! But remember, any long journey starts with a single step. Start locally by getting as many paid gigs as you can to build your skills, portfolio, and business savvy. When you land your dream travel gig and client you will be prepared to deliver the best work of your life and get repeat business.

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5. Create a Promotional MyPublisher Photo Book: Self-publish your best and most jaw-dropping and inspiring photos in a beautiful MyPublisher photo book or album. Send the book to some high profile dream clients that you have your eye on. A book that they can physically hold and look through is much more valuable than an email or digital portfolio pitch (which they get tons of every week). Will a promo book get you your dream shoot with the client right away? Maybe, but it will likely take some time. Whether or not it materializes into your dream job immediately, it will certainly send a message to the client and you can guarantee that your book will live on their desk or in their office library. This will make you 100% more likely to come to their mind when they are looking for a great photographer for their next international shoot.

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6. Think Outside the Box. Emailing the photo editor of a popular travel magazine a note informing them you are available to photograph their next around-the-world luxury travel feature isn’t an effective strategy. To break your way into the travel photography space you have to be creative and think outside the box. Instead of seeking gigs in the obvious and popular places consider researching global corporations or business in a unique niche. Study their websites or blogs and see where they could use some beautiful visuals. Create a constructive email pitch about how sending you to shoot specific series of photos for their site would add tremendous value to their business and help them generate more revenue. Explain to them why you are the perfect person for the job.

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7. Step Up Your Website Game. Your website is your first and likely last impression with most of the outside world. You can guarantee that everyone who is considering hiring you will take a good look at your website and base a large part of their decision to hire you on it. Make sure it looks clean, tight and showcases your absolute best work. Building an amazing portfolio site doesn’t have to be expensive. There are countless services that offer beautiful portfolio templates for a small monthly fee.

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8. Start Tours/Workshops: Provide destination photography workshops and tours to the public. Do you have a location on lock-down where you know all the back streets, secret trails, where/when the light shines just right and perfect vantage points? I bet you are a local expert on your hometown. Put that knowledge to good use. Provide photography tours and location specific workshops that could serve either tourists, photographers or both. Start with your hometown to dial in your formula, then use that template to branch out into more exotic locations.

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9. Set Goals: Set ambitious goals and don’t stop until you achieve them. Every morning take a few seconds to read through your goals. With any amazing profession, it will take a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice to get where you want to be. By having clearly defined short and long-term goals, you will be able to fight through those rough patches on your way to success. Remember every failure gets you one step closer to your success. So keep your eye on the prize and don’t give up until your goals are achieved.