Apr 212014

I sometimes get asked questions about travel photography by email. This one came in today from a student of photography, part of her BA course was to write a report on the subject of her choice and she chose “making a living from travel photography”. I thought I’d share my replies below….

Q: How would a travel photographer make a living?

with great difficulty! seriously, most photographers (55%) have a second revenue stream or support to take up the slack but ‘travel photography’ would be a higher percentage. Even the best like David Noton now diversify into workshops, website subscriptions, roadshows and dvd sales to make any decent money!

Q: How could you finance your travels?

with the help of generous parents, a wealthy spouse, an inheritance, a property disposal, another business on the side or shooting society weddings (and doing them well)

Q: What is needed to become a successful travel photographer?

a less materialistic definition of the word ‘success’! If you can view success less in terms of financial rewards and more in the joy you get in the job itself, however infrequently you actually get to do it, then you’ll be a big success. There is nothing on this earth that gives me greater pleasure than shooting travel photography, it is exhilarating and intoxicating. I feel very fortunate to have done and continue to do any at all, but it will never make me rich:)

Q: How could emerging travel photographer build a business?

with a good agent perhaps, and the willingness to diversify. it’s a bit like people who work in many fields of the arts, they do stuff that pays to support the stuff they love that doesn’t pay, whether the paying bit is related to the art or not is irrelevant.

Q: How would one get noticed by travel industries or magazines?

enter (and win) competitions or get an agent who deals with the travel business

Q: What makes a successful travel image?

aesthetic visual impact, aspirational excess, escapism, emotional impact.

Q: What is it like being a travel photographer?

it’s good!

Q: Who inspires or influences you and your work?

other photographers’ work mostly, there are so many great ones out there! reading travel magazines, experiencing new cultures, seeing the great faces of people in a new place.

Q: What camera and lenses do you use?

I use Olympus OMD cameras and lenses

Q: When did you discover your love of travel?

when I started taking half-decent pictures really. it was the combination that gave me a creative outlet with the added benefit of having the sun on my face, meeting new people and ending the day with some great food and wine!

Q: Any tips for emerging travel photographers?

don’t focus on the money, just do it when you can and enjoy it…. and enter lots of competitions!!!

(if you have an opinion on this I’d love to hear it, leave your comments below)

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