Travel Photography Jobs

It is entirely possible to combine your love for travel and your enthusiasm for photography into a career. It is a dream for many aspiring photographers to live the life of the travel photographer. After all, the most successful photographers publish their work in the top magazines and photo books.

In some cases, many are paid to travel the world, documenting exotic cultures and locales that many of us can only dream of seeing.

The Photographic Society of America (PSA) defines a travel photograph as an “image that expresses the feeling of time and place, portrays a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state and has no geographical limitations.” That is actually exciting news for burgeoning travel photographers who may have only their hometowns to work with, initially.

Like many other careers in photography, travel photography is difficult to break into, but it is also difficult to make a living out of it. If you aspire to do travel photography for magazines like National Geographic, then you should definitely plan to supplement your income with other types of photography and by selling and re-selling your images.

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What the Job Entails

A travel photographer’s job, when on location can vary greatly and this depends almost entirely on where he is shooting at that moment. For example, a weekend spent documenting the rural American countryside will go much smoother than a day spent documenting a hike in the Rocky Mountains.

Working as a travel photographer is also a solo job. No assistants, no clients, no models; it will be just you and the area you are photographing. Most travel photographers are freelance photographers; they travel for some parts of the year and spend the rest selling their images to magazines, publishing companies or travel agencies.

Travel photography can be daunting and expensive initially because you might have to fund own your own trips and there is no surefire way to ensure that your images sell in editorial publications. However, working a travel photographer is exciting and adventurous to say the least and if you can manage to market yourself properly, you can make a living as a travel photographer.

Career Routes

The smart and business savvy travel photographer will need to generate income because travel photography generally does not pay that well. Travel photographers, like many in difficult and competitive career fields, do what they do because they love it.

  • Travel Stock Photography: Travel photographers while on assignment in hopes that they will be able to sell some of those images later take travel stock images. Hotels, resorts, tourism boards and other companies often use stock images in conjunction with their publishing materials to advertise a company, a city or a destination.
  • When working as a travel photographer, it is generally acceptable to do side work as a wedding photographer, event photographer or perhaps as a holiday/seasonal photographer. Most travel photographers sell their best images as postcards or calendars.

Knowledge and Skills Required

  • The ability to see what others cannot see is what sets the professional photographer above the amateur. When you travel, anything and anyone becomes the subject of your photography. Your knack for finding beauty in the exotic and the mundane is what will make profitable images.
  • Marketing: Never forget the importance of marketing your work. When you start out as travel photographer, do not assume that there will always be editorial work flowing in. That is rarely the case for any freelance professional. You will have to market your images in ways that makes them easy to resell.

Getting Started

Getting started in your career as a travel photographer is simple and fun. There is no need for an advanced degree, just as a willingness to travel, to photograph anything and everything, and a technical aptitude of photography. Go on a vacation, take out your camera and shoot. Travel photographers are experts at creating photo essays and the images from these can be quite lucrative. If you are truly capable of producing beautiful images while on vacation, it will be possible to sell them for publication.


Most travel photographers cannot make a living on travel photography alone. Like seasonal/holiday photographers, travel photographers also do other kinds of photography work to earn money.

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