What is Photography Really All About? The Science of Light and Some Philosophy…

Photography is a pretty amazing subject. I mean, just think about it, it is the orchestration and the meeting of light forever frozen upon a well decorated still frame. Developed in the dark to bring out the beauty of light, photos have forever amazed us and it is why we cherish them.


As humans we are obsessed with stories and storytelling. There are few stories that photos cannot tell in an emotional, visceral kind of way. Whether it is to harvest the dream of travel, or to express the sadness of atrocities, or the love of a family or the passionate romance of newlywed lovers… photos are stories told in images.


When you go about your photography business with this kind of idea, it really brings a new light (see what I did there?) to the subject matter at hand! It makes it all the more meaningful and I think that is important because as a photographer you are a visual artist by the very nature of your amazing profession.


Keep that in mind.


Always look for new ways to tell the story. For instance, photographers that travel the world have for decades took amazing photos of beaches and the ocean. However it was only recently that someone was crazy enough to put together a whole equipment apparatus to allow them to simply go into the ocean and take pictures not just of waves – but in waves.


All that was needed was a simple waterproof camera with a good gripper and a rope to tie to your wrist so you do not lose it when the waves crash into you.


Not only is this incredibly fun, incredibly creative, but it was incredibly profitable for this wave photographer. Now people are buying photos from him all the time from all over the world of these beautiful waves from the North Shore of Hawaii. He became so viral with his art work that he was brought onto various television shows. Everyone wanted to know why did he start doing this very strange method of photography. People were ecstatic!




Because it was someone telling a story in a brand new totally refreshing angle – the story of the wave.


When you think about photography, think about how you can do something similar. How can you tell this story of light and darkness, that you are imprinting onto a still forever frame, in a totally new way?


This alone can skyrocket your career past the grind of just selling stock photos or doing high end client work you may not be nearly as passionate about. When you think of photos as stories told through the language of imagery, your whole world changes. At least it should.


Study how creativity works, how new ideas form in our heads, then put it into practice. The more you do this, and as you master your craft more, the more amazing stories you will be able to dream up through the ever warring lenses of light and dark that is your camera.

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How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer Part 3 – High End Clients

One of the really cool things about being a travel photographer in the age of the internet is that you have multiple sources you can really source your income from. You have the Amazon affiliate strategy, which is really just giving back to a community of other passionate photographers by selling them the gear you have had great experiences with.


Then you have stock photos that operate in a very similar manner as novels do in that they pay you royalties per a sell you make with that photo. You can literally build an entire income off this alone with enough persistence. Just remember this is a slow burn and can take time to really manifest itself.


How can you make money right this instant though? Is that not what we all want after all?


The answer is by sourcing high end clients.


Are you going to Vietnam? Traveling throughout South America?


You can reach out to travel bloggers and actually pitch them if they want new and exciting photos of different places by a professional photographer. Many of them might say yes and will pay you much more than what you would get from the stock photos. The drawback is that you will not gain any royalties off these photos you sell to them.


They are willing to pay a higher rate than what they would with stock photos because they are exclusive photos for them specifically.


This can be a great arrangement and could potentially really widen what kind of adventure you are about to go on when it comes to being a traveler in general. The next step is to reach out to bigger authority websites that are not just travel bloggers. These websites like TripAdvisor for instance are often looking for contributors, and a quick email might get you connected to the right people who happen to be looking for something.


You will have to be flexible in this regard to travel to where they need you, so it is not as freedom-filling as just wandering around and selling stock photos. However, you will likely make more income with this method.


Also if you specialize in a certain type of photography you will be able to charge more than if you just offered anything. For example, an extreme water sports photographer is going to make a whole lot more money than the generalist photographer showing photos from beaches to family portraits.


Keep that in mind as you go about building your travel photography business. Specialization creates a much higher income level potential because people want to buy services that are specifically crafted to them – this goes with any business and that includes travel photography!


How do you find these people?


Simple. All you need to do is open up Google and start searching for different keywords that would be related to what companies you want to pitch. Likewise, walk through your local bookstore looking at various travel guides. See who published what, then reach out ot those publishers if you happen to be heading into that area and see if they want more content there. Or just ask them if they are looking for photo content in another area and travel there!

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How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer Series Part 2 – The Money!

Alright, so we have been talking about different ways you can set up your travel photography audience. We have gone over a bit about how you just need a simple website and you can use wordpress (on your own private shared hosting of course) to get everything up and running.


After that you just need a few social media accounts going and you are off to the races with your new business!


So how do you actually make money selling your photography? There is a few different ways.


First of all, realize that your blog is now set up to do more than just make money with selling your photos. Let us dive into the 3 different ways you can really start to monetize a travel photography blog or website that can lead into a very handsome professional level income for yourself (and all location independent to boot!)


1 – Affiliate Marketing for Photographers


This sounds weird if you have no idea what it is. Basically you just sign up for Amazon.com’s associates program (it is free!). Once you are signed up, you can literally sell anything you want on their website. All you do is put a link to that product using what is known as an affiliate link, when people on your website click through to Amazon’s website and buy that product, Amazon will actually give you a commission.


Not only that, but the visitor is cookied to you for 24 hours. That means a tracking code will follow that user and for the next 24 hours anything a person buys on Amazon will be commissioned a small percentage of the profit to you.


Pretty cool.


How this works for you is by simply making recommendations on travel gear and photograpghy set up. The fact is, most people reading your blog likely will want to do something similar as you so why not share these products with them?


Cameras, lenses, various travel photographer hacks you learn along the way can all be products you can sell as a travel photographer.


2 – Stock Photos that Make Royalties Over and Over Again


This is one avenue where we can actually sell our photos on an infinite basis. So instead of client work where we are taking photos specifically for one person and one person only, we can sell the same photos over and over again.


This works by uploading those pictures for sell on a stock photo website (there are tons of them to choose from).


When someone sees your picture and wants that picture, they can click on it and buy it. The stock photo company will get paid and so will you – and an infinite amount of people can actually buy this stock photo from you creating a semi-passive style income for yourself.


Some travel photographers understand this process so well that this is ALL they do! You can too, but it takes time and hundreds of really well crafted photos. By building a web presence and an audience as talked about in part 1, you will be able to speed up how many stock photos of yours you will sell.


3 – Another idea is to team up with local businesses and produce photographs of their goods or services to use on their website, pamphlets, brochures, business cards, or other promotional materials. You can help produce these materials for them, if that’s an area you’re comfortable and efficient with, or you can just take the photos, sell them to the company, and be done. It will depend on your expertise and on the needs of that business. For example, you could contact a limousine company and see if they need photos of their vehicles to use on their website. Or you could offer to photograph the inside of a spa, to show potential clients what a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere that location provides. Many business owners aren’t great photographers, and would gladly hire someone like you to make their space, assets, service, or products look fantastic.



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How to Actually Make Money as a Travel Photographer Part 1

Welcome back!


Today, we announce a series on how to make money as a travel photographer. Photography is all about the beauty of capturing light, rendering it into a static form and turning it truly into a piece of artwork to be admired for as long as it exists.


Many people wonder how can they actually make a living from their photography, and today’s blog post is going to help you out… A TON!


The first thing is to get your crap into order! You need a website, preferably a blog. You can go the free route with a free blogspot or a free wordpress website, but I would advise against this if you are wanting to make your blog into a real profession that makes a real professional level income. The reasoning why is that these blogs are not owned by you, thus it can be taken away at any time. Not only that, but I believe it is also against terms of service for wordpress free site users to monetize their blogs.

So watch out for that.


Buying a website is easy though, it will cost you between $10-20 bucks from Godaddy and $5 in hosting a month from Hostgator. You might say you cannot build a website, but that is no longer a valid excuse in 2016! If roofers and mobile auto detailers and lawn services can all have these incredible – looking websites, then so can you! Sure, some of them hire out the service to savvy webmasters, but many more dust off their desktop, get online and learn how to do it themselves!


You just simply install wordpress into this blog – usually a one click situation and it is all setup with Hostgator. Then you just upload a theme and bam… a professional website can be up and running in about a day to a day and half.


From there you can start capturing your adventures and your exploits. The next step is to set up your social media presence. This can be as simple as creating a professional twitter and facebook page dedicated to your photography. People LOVE pictures on Pinterest so I highly recommend to use that social media channel to your advantage BIG TIME!


You can get ridiculous amounts of traffic from all three of these sources, but I would suggest really hammering and focusing on one.


As you blog, you will start gaining some real traffic that can turn into customers. This can be done by monetizing your website in a few different ways, something we will cover in the next portion of this make money as a travel photographer blog series.


First, set up your wordpress website that you own. You can also get an account with MailChimp which is free up to 2,000 members that will allow you to build an email newsletter actively for your business.


This is very important as the money really is in the list that you own more than anything else. Every time you create a new blog post full of beautiful pictures or thoughts, you want to send an email out to this email list you are building to bring people back to the website.


Over time, this email list will become the #1 driver of income for your photography business and will also allow you to remain location independent as a photographer traveling the world taking pictures of really cool things.




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5 Tips for Travel Photography

The lust for travel fills us every day as we clock in and clock out at our little cubicles in our sometimes very large offices. We dream about traveling and taking amazing pictures, and possibly one day even making a living off of travel photography.  So what can we do to put the best foot forward when it comes to abandoning the office and going abroad with our photography skills?


Well, this article is going to identify 5 key areas you can use to grow your photography skills.


Let us dive into it!


Tip #1 Think Mobile


You are traveling, often to places that are not going to have many conveniences for you as a photographer. That means you need to be prepared when you leave. Make sure you have everything you could possibly need, preferably in the smallest form.


For instance, you likely will not want to carry around a green screen with you in your backpack as you are moving throughout the wilderness. But say you needed that green screen for some kind of branding shot for a customer.


What do you do? Carry a green blanket with you. Easy.


Tip #2 Your Phone is a Friend


In today’s market, the cameras on phones are very good. This is fantastic for a travel photographer because we almost always have our phones with us. Using a camera phone presents several benefits with traveling and taking snapshots.


Obviously the convenience is the biggest factor. Out at a street food venue that is hopping? Snap a shot. Get a really cool meal in a foreign country? Instagram it immediately and add cool filters.


Tip #3 Download Photoshop Apps on Your Phone


Going back to just how awesome a phone is for a photographer nowadays, you should download all the worthwhile apps before leaving on your travels as it relates to taking photos. There are plenty of photoshop apps out there that do a really, really good job.


You can take even an amateur photo and turn it into a piece of art. Keep this in mind, because traveling might restrict a lot of your choices of what kind of shots you will have the chance to snap.

Tip #4 Travel Light


While you want to be as prepared as you can, you also want to be very light footed. Becoming bogged down by camera equipment will keep you stationary and actually prevent you from being able to take really cool photos of really cool things that you would never had been able to get to by lugging camera gear all over the place.


Tip #5 Carry Extras of Everything


This again is related to being prepared (noticing a pattern?).


You want extra batteries, maybe even an extra mobile charger for your smartphone too. This allows you to be as prepared as possible. Likewise a thin green blanket can come in handy for certain more client based jobs that you can earn money with as you go about your journey.

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Stay Tuned for More!

I’m still getting everything set up; check back soon and often for more content. In the mean time, this video of my namesake is literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.