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How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer (9 Ways)

| Updated Jun 20, 2023

Yes, everybody has a camera on their phone wherever they go. But that doesn't mean you can't make a living doing what you love. Here's how to make money as a travel photographer.

The profession of a traveling photographer is hands down a top dream job, especially for those blessed with photography skills. Imagine making a lot of money for your own business taking amazing photos, all the while having unforgettable travel experiences? Sounds like a great way to live to me.

But the world has changed pretty rapidly for the professional photographer lately. Everyone has a cell phone with a high-quality camera attached. Exotic destinations are now more affordable than ever to visit. Social media platforms allow anyone with beautiful photos to become social media influencers.

There doesn't seem to be much money for travel photography jobs when the average amateur can become successful photographers overnight.

But there's good news for the freelance travel photographer in this competitive market. This line of work isn't dead but a long shot, no pun intended. The best photographers with an eye for that perfect shot can still have a successful photography business.

So here are a handful of tips for how to make money as a travel photographer.

How Was It Done in the Past?

How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer - Mike Wendland taking a picture
I wonder what Mike is framing up?

In the past, there were plenty of ways a photographer could work full-time. Magazines like National Geographic were the primary employers of travel photographers.

These photographers would be sent to popular and remote destinations and capture travel images of these great places. The magazine would then review the best work and print for editorial use.

However, this fantastic way to make a living as a successful travel photographer is few and far between. Magazine budgets have greatly decreased, unable to afford good quality travel photos. As a result, many photos in magazines were given by the photographer for free, which brings me to the first method for how to make money as a travel photographer.

How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer in the Modern World

How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer - Mike and Bo looking for a good photograph
Bo protecting Mike 🙂

Despite everyone having constant access to a camera, very few people know how to monetize photography. Here are the best ways to make money as a photographer on the go.

Build Your Portfolio

It's true that getting a lot of work from magazines is no longer one of the reliable income streams. But in order to even begin earning work on a regular basis, you should first have a portfolio of sample work that stands out amongst those leaning on social media followings.

This is why photographers sell photos for a small fee or none at all to a magazine or online publications. It's the best way to get credibility for your work. Who would turn down a chance to have their stunning landscape photography featured in Lonely Planet?

This might mean upgrading your gear so you can compete with your fellow photographers on the market. And be sure to print that business card to hand out in case anybody out in the world asks to see your work!

(By the way, here's a great way to store and organize photos).

Sell Your Work Online

The little money you get from printing your work in magazines will translate to potential buyers. People who appreciate the art of photography like to line their walls with work they admire. Some might as well be yours!

But first, these new fans of your work need to be able to find you…

Make a Photography Website

How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer - young women taking a photograph

It's true that you can be set back by not having an online presence. Having a place where potential clients can know how to contact you is key. These days, you must have an online store to sell your work.

Even if you sell your work through websites, like 500px or Adobe Stock, you should still have your own website. Your own website also serves as a hub for you to build your own brand and audience base.

Your photography website doesn't strictly have to be a gallery…

Start a Travel Blog

Becoming a travel blogger is a way to build a following and direct these people to your own website and see the services you offer. Travel is one of the most searched topics, and the travel industry loves to cater to their needs. You can join them!

Create blog posts that address the interests of travelers searching for information online. This is another good way to showcase your talent, and even get the attention of tourism boards who are looking to hire those with an avid following.

With a lot of hard work, you may even find yourself shooting YouTube videos as marketing materials for a cruise ship and their social media channels.

The income you make from this may even help support you as a full-time traveler.

Sell Your Work On Stock Photography Platforms

How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer - sell stock photography
Stock photography

All the while, you can be making passive income simply listing your digital prints to be purchased on stock photography sites.

The best part is that as you build your brand as a photographer, the appeal of your travel stock photos rises, and you can even charge more.

Sell Photos Directly to Travelers

There are even some platforms that specialize in travel and tourism, like TourPhotos. TourPhotos was designed for tour companies, but who's to say you can't take pictures of people (with their permission) on their travels and point them to your store?

I imagine a lot of people would appreciate professional-level pictures when hiking and exploring amazing places. It'd feel serendipitous to come across a professional photographer to capture the moment. Or you can have a pop-up photography studio.

Just like Disneyland, you can hand them a card where they can later purchase the photos.

Families, couples, people and their pets, or anyone looking to capture this moment of time in their lives can hire you to shoot a portrait. If you travel enough, you may even build a client base from all over the world!

Embrace Other Forms of Photography

many photographers - How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer
Lead a tour?

As your portfolio builds, it doesn't hurt to expand to other forms of photography businesses. We can't all make a decent enough income traveling the world!

Event photography, such as shooting destination weddings, can offer different ways of earning money as a travel photographer.

There are endless opportunities if you are open-minded to other kinds of photography work.

Hosting photography tours and teaching can be rewarding ways to pad your income. You will also be spreading joy to those with less experience. Sharing your passion can be incredibly rewarding. Check out how Back Country Journeys does it.

By having a website and online following, you can showcase what services you offer. Building a network of clients can also generate good word of mouth, and even better, good reviews.

Affiliate Marketing

If you have a website or blog that gets any kind of traffic, you may be able to sell products for extra income. You can even be paid to provide affiliate links to products, luring in customers through your beautiful travel photography.

Keep Learning to Stay Ahead of the Curve

If there is a course that can fill the gaps in your knowledge, it's a great investment for your personal business. There are actually quite a few travel photography courses available, just binge-watch a bunch of tutorials on SkillShare!

Can I Make Money as a Travel Photographer?

If you can keep up with the times and adapt to the marketplace, there are plenty of opportunities. You must look at is a business, because that's exactly what it is.

There's a lot of time and hustle involved, but it can provide a living. How nice of a living depends on how hard you work, clever strategies, and perhaps a little bit of luck. Don't quit your day job. Build your business on the side until it can support you.

From travel stock photography to events to freelance work from companies, it's a great thing to take charge of your own destiny.

Share Your Thoughts and Advice

Do you have any favorite travel photographers? Do you have more tips on how to make money as a travel photographer? Let us know in the comments!

Our RV Lifestyle Team members contributed their favorite travel photographers for this short list:

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-12-12

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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