10 Ways to Get Paid to Travel and Take Photos

bearded man holding camera and taking a photo

If you love photography, chances are you’ve thought about what it takes to become a professional photographer. In this day and age, it’s actually pretty easy to get paid to travel and take photos, particularly if you carve out a niche and put in the effort to build a portfolio.

I’m not saying anyone who’s ever snapped a good photo of a gorgeous mountainscape or breathtaking sunset can quit their day job and become a professional photographer. Still, you have to admit that it’s an enticing idea.

How can you take your passion and turn it into a profitable endeavor? Breaking into the industry can prove challenging but not impossible.

Fortunately, for those who love to travel and possess an eye for capturing stunning images, several companies will pay you to travel and take pictures. Personal travel photography represents a fantastic opportunity to earn money while exploring new places.

As a passionate traveler and avid photographer, I have found that incorporating travel hacking and photography into my adventure is financially rewarding and personally fulfilling. These pursuits have become not just hobbies but also reliable passive income sources.

While building a portfolio with budget-friendly gear is not impossible, if you’re serious about photography, the sooner you invest in a flagship camera body and high-quality glass, the better. After all, you’ll want your images to stand out and be well-exposed, sharp, and well-composed.

By developing a business around your travel photography, you can establish a reputation and carve out a lucrative niche in the industry. To learn more about transforming your passion into profit, read on to discover how to get paid to take pictures and travel.

How to Become a Professional Travel Photographer

Kim Magaraci's fall foliage camera set up with an Olympus camera on a tripod and neutral density filters
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

It’s important to remember that building a following and establishing a name for yourself in a competitive industry takes patience and persistence.

While high-quality images are essential, they are not the only factor to set you apart from the competition. To sell pictures and make a living as a travel photographer, committing and investing upfront in establishing a strong portfolio is crucial.

If you’re ready to begin your journey toward becoming a professional travel photographer, the following tips can help guide you on your path:

Start with a good camera and a simple website.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mk3 camera and 40-150 f/2.8 pro lens in a Pelican camera case
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

Having the right equipment and an essential online presence is critical to begin. You don’t need the most expensive camera on the market but a camera capable of producing high-quality images. An uncomplicated website that showcases your portfolio and services is also essential.

If you ask a handful of photographers for camera recommendations, you’ll hear some people claim Canon is the only way to go, while others tout Nikon as the best brand. More and more photographers are moving to mirrorless cameras, which brings Sony and OM System (formerly Olympus) into the mix, too.

The truth is that the best camera system for you is one that you’ll bring with you. Invest in a compact mirrorless system like OM System to travel light.

If you want to have many options for lenses and third-party accessories, stick with Canon on Nikon. Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras blend the best of both worlds, but jumping into the Sony system requires a heavy investment.

Establish a following on social media networks.

Social media is a necessary evil for anyone trying to break into travel photography. You’ll want to build followers organically, so be wary of anyone who tries to get you to pay to promote your work or offers to help you buy followers.

Creating a robust online presence through social media platforms is a lot of work, but it’s critical. By posting your photos on Instagram, Facebook, and other preferred social networks, you can connect with other photographers, engage potential clients, and gain a following.

Develop your skills by enrolling in online or in-person workshops.

Developing your photographic skills is also fundamental to excelling in the industry. Enrolling in online or in-person workshops and courses can help you acquire expertise in diverse photography styles. It may include photo editing software, marketing strategies, and other vital areas.

You’ll want to have a solid grasp of Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as an understanding of monitors and calibration, to turn out professional-quality prints.

Become a regular contributor to travel blogs and websites by promoting your services.

Moreover, contributing to travel blogs and websites and offering your services as a professional photographer can expand your reach and credibility. Through this avenue, you can gain valuable exposure and experience while building your reputation and establishing your name in the industry.

Keep in mind, though, that exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Once you have established a reputation and a portfolio, be mindful of giving your work away without the proper licensing or protection.

Get your first customer!

With your portfolio boasting spectacular and awe-inspiring images and your online presence firmly established, it’s time to venture into the market and approach potential customers.

Whether selling your pictures through stock photo websites or marketing your skills directly to clients who require travel-related images, securing your first customer is a crucial milestone. So put your best foot forward and offer your services with conviction and passion!

See Related: Best Personal Item Bags for Travelers

Decide on a Niche

Minori, Italy Aerial View
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Determining your photography niche is crucial to launching a photography side hustle or career. While it is possible to be a master of all, successful photographers often specialize in a specific genre. Their passion for their subject matter is palpable and ultimately reflected in their work.

If you’re considering a career in travel photography, the following specializations may be worth considering:

  • Food photography is an excellent way to capture the beauty of food and profit from it.
  • Drone photographers are in high demand. If you can get a commercial drone license, it’ll be easy to find clients.
  • Landscape photography is one of the most sought-after types of travel photography.
  • Street photography captures the heart of a city and its people. It requires razor-sharp attention to detail and a willingness to take risks.
  • Wildlife photography is a unique way to capture the splendor of animals in their natural habitats.
  • Portrait photography is a great way to capture an individual’s unique personality, and it tends to be lucrative and is a need worldwide.
  • Event photography captures special moments; elopement photography blends event and adventure photography together.
  • Architecture photography showcases the beauty and design of buildings, highlighting their unique features from the perfect angle.

Regardless of the type of photography you choose, the most crucial factor is to specialize in something you are passionate about. This approach will help you build a following of people who appreciate your particular style, leading to tremendous success.

See Related: Best Digital Nomad Destinations in the World

Proven Ways to Make Money from Travel Photography

1. Blog About Your Travel Photography and Travel Experiences

Woman Using a Laptop

Blogging has become a highly lucrative career option for creative individuals, especially photographers with solid writing skills. By leveraging the power of the internet, photographers can showcase their works and earn income from their passion.

One of the most significant advantages of photography blogging is the ability to monetize the blog through various avenues and to control your content. In addition to showcasing your photographs, you can share your travel experiences and photography tips with your readers, opening up affiliate marketing opportunities and more.

While immediate success is not always guaranteed, blogging can be an excellent opportunity to earn income from your art. Many individuals have successfully leveraged blogs as a significant source of income, and it’s one of the most rewarding ways to get paid to travel and take photos.

To monetize your blog effectively, you can also explore affiliate marketing by promoting camera equipment, photography software, and other relevant products from partner companies such as AmazonDJIGoPro, and Olympus. Through affiliate marketing, you can earn a commission for each sale made through your unique affiliate link.

Moreover, advertisers frequently scour blogs and websites to identify potential spaces for promoting their products. This provides an excellent opportunity to attract paid sponsorships by partnering with brands relevant to your niche. By collaborating with brands in your field, you can promote their products or services and earn a substantial income.

In addition to blogging, photographers can create and post videos on platforms such as YouTube. This can help attract more followers and enhance your revenue streams.

Launching a photography blog requires a website, a straightforward process with Bluehost. The company offers a range of subscription plans catering to beginner bloggers with various budgets.

See Related: 11 Practical Tips for Working While Traveling

2. Take Advantage of Social Media Channels

Phone Showing Social Media  Networks

Leveraging websites and social media platforms to promote your photography business is an effective strategy to enhance your revenue streams. Instagram, a widely used social networking platform, can be an ideal primary platform to showcase your photographic prowess. And it offers a simple-to-use interface.

You can easily attract a substantial and engaged follower base if your photographs are compelling. From there, selling calendars, prints, and other photography products can be easy.

Apart from social media promotion, you can also submit photos to various photo contests and exhibitions to gain recognition and exposure. These contests provide a platform to showcase your skills and gain recognition within the photography community.

See Related: Best Travel Instagram Accounts to Inspire Your Wanderlust

3. Sell Your Photography on Stock Websites

Holding a Stash of Cash

The digital era has brought about a plethora of online platforms where vacation photos can be submitted and sold to interested parties. As the demand for high-quality images continues to soar, stock photography sites have emerged as a profitable avenue for travel photographers to showcase and monetize their skills.

The beauty of a stock photo site lies in the fact that the images you submit need not be extraordinary or unusual – in fact, some of the best-selling stock photos are the same scenes that “everyone” posts. Learn to see a scene slightly differently, pay attention to the weather and lighting, and you’ll be in the mix.

Some top travel photography stock photo sites include:

These platforms offer a broad audience base and high-quality images, providing a competitive market for photographers to display their work.

To generate substantial earnings online, dedication and hard work are essential. Stock photography websites require a considerable volume of photos to make the numbers work, necessitating the need for efficiency and quantity.

See Related: Most Photographed Cities in the World

4. Partner with Local Businesses

New Jersey photography gallery in Carteret, New Jersey, featuring prints from Kim Magaraci
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

An alternative way to earn from travel photography is to sell your photos to businesses. Commercial licensing for products is lucrative, but it’s also worth exploring local businesses that may want to partner with you to display and sell your prints.

One real-life example I stumbled upon: City on a Hill Coffee in Leadville, Colorado, keeps a stock of 4×6 prints from local photographers to sell to travelers passing through. Whenever I’ve stopped in for a cup, I’ve noticed customers picking up a local print or two.

Reach out to businesses as you travel and see if they have similar programs. After all, supporting local art is a worthy cause, and you may be surprised that shops are often more than happy to put out a small display of prints or calendars.

Another potential source of income from your passion is to develop coffee table books from your travels. These can serve as beautiful keepsakes for friends and family and generate additional revenue, and again, are fairly easy to pitch to local boutiques and bookstores.

See Related: Best Travel Photography Books to Inspire You

5. Start a Travel Photography Website

Laptop Screen Showing Photos

Having a travel website is paramount to monetizing your travel photography skills. This virtual gallery lets you showcase your portfolio and build a professional online presence.

The most successful travel photographers all have personal websites. This provides an avenue to diversify your income streams and expand your services, such as branching out into travel blogging, stock photography sales, or creating educational courses.

One of the benefits of having a personal website is that you can set prices and profit margins without being tied to the fees from marketplace platforms. Pixieset, Shootproof, Smugmug, and Zenfolio are all platforms that make it easy to sell prints and products and self-fulfill orders.

Remember, photos sell, and a website is a powerful tool to market your work and attract potential clients. Ensure your website is user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and showcases your best work. This will help establish your brand as a travel photographer and increase your chances of success in the competitive world of photography.

6. Create T-shirt prints or Other E-Commerce Products from Your Travel Photography

Redbubble.com photography product examples
Redbubble.com

Achieving financial success as a travel photographer requires resourcefulness and strategic decision-making. One underrated way to make money from your efforts is to sell products with your images.

It’s pretty easy to set up a drop-ship, no-inventory-required line of products you can sell on your website or a third-party platform like Redbubble or CafePress. The revenue from this venture can be earned through flat fees, commissions, or royalties, depending on your store’s setup and the nature of the products you offer.

To succeed in this field, it’s essential to prioritize creativity and originality in your work. Additionally, staying up to date on the latest trends and consumer preferences can help you make informed decisions about the types of products you choose to offer.

7. Get Paid to Teach Photography

Photography workshop or lecture

If you have a passion for photography and an aptitude for teaching, there are various ways to turn your skills into a source of income. One such avenue is to create courses on e-learning platforms like Udemy, where you can share your knowledge and expertise with a global audience.

In these courses, you can delve into the fundamentals of photography. You can provide tips and techniques on how to take better photos more efficiently. Offline classes and workshops can also be offered for those who prefer in-person learning.

If you’re a good writer, creating whitepapers and guides can be practical marketing tools to promote your products and services. By tapping into the needs of your target audience, you can create content that caters to their interests and demands and build a relationship that keeps them coming back to you for advice – and for prints.

Lots of travel photographers make the bulk of their income by hosting exclusive workshops in the destinations with which they are most familiar. If you’re trying to host a workshop, be sure you know the landscape or niche well and can provide a truly incredible experience to your participants.

It is worth noting, however, that teaching requires a different skill set from photography. Effective teaching techniques and strategies may need to be learned to maximize your potential as an educator. With dedication and a willingness to learn, teaching photography can be a fulfilling and profitable endeavor.

See Related: Best Travel Quotes for Inspiring Your Next Trip

8. Become a Personal Travel Photographer

Professional travel photographer capturing landmarks

Becoming a personal travel photographer is an excellent opportunity to meet potential clients in your hometown or on the road. In the travel industry, hotel chains, tourism boards, real estate developers, bars, and restaurants always need captivating photos.

Although working as a personal travel photographer may require more effort and time to pitch your skills, it allows you to earn a higher fee upfront. However, this revenue stream is not passive, and one does not receive payments in perpetuity.

Establishing yourself in this field may prove challenging, as you must deliver your clients a unique and personalized experience. Your income potential may increase significantly once you build a satisfied clientele and receive referrals. To promote yourself as a personal travel photographer, various websites offer job listings and freelance opportunities, including:

You may consider expanding your travel photography business further once you establish a good reputation and a substantial client base.

Another potential income stream is working part-time as a freelance vacation photographer. For example, you can spend several months in Barcelona, offering daytime photo sessions to customers and capturing stunning cityscapes.

9. Make Money from Event Photography

Wedding photographer and couple

Event photography is a sought-after form of photography that can prove to be quite profitable. People often require photographs of their events for personal and business purposes, including concerts, festivals, fairs, and destination weddings.

When determining what niche to dive into, consider if you would like event photography. Keep in mind that it’s a high-pressure field, with no real opportunities for re-shoots, and the ability to pose and prompt your subjects is a skill that takes a long time to develop.

Enthusiastic adventurers should look into elopement photography. It’s a lucrative niche that may take you around the world and connect you with your clients on a personal level.

Don’t be afraid to explore new areas regardless of your chosen path. The world of photography is vast, offering endless learning opportunities for those who have honed their craft over time. You may start as someone who only shoots mountains and slowly turns into the best destination wedding photographer in Rocky Mountain National Park!

See Related: Best Places to Take Pictures in Minneapolis

10. Sell your photos or presets online

Laptop Screen Showing Set of Uploaded Photos

If you have a consistent supply of photos and don’t mind uploading them regularly, selling your travel photos online can be profitable. This approach allows for more creative freedom than selling photos on stock websites. Photographers can sell their work on platforms that best match their styles, such as Etsy or eBay.

However, building a significant following is crucial to earning money through this method. While establishing a substantial audience may take time, uploading photos to large e-commerce platforms during free time can help increase exposure.

Marketing oneself through various channels, including social media, online directories, and classified websites, is critical to reaching a broader audience. Offering free or discounted presets is also an effective strategy to attract new clients.

Additionally, photographers should ensure that their presets meet the needs of their clients by delivering high-quality and tailored services.

Final Thoughts

Establishing a side business offering personalized travel photos can be exciting but requires creative thinking and a strategic approach. Additional opportunities for leveraging your photography skills and generating income while traveling may exist depending on your location.

Earning money while on the road can be advantageous in offsetting travel expenses and enhancing your overall experience. Whether you’re seeking to supplement your income through online platforms or sell your travel photos to interested parties, there are various avenues to explore.

Strategic marketing and promoting your photography work can transform your passion for travel and photography into a profitable venture.

FAQ

Can you make money traveling and taking pictures?

Yes, you can. A robust online presence is vital in attracting clients and generating revenue opportunities.

Another viable option is to leverage established online platforms such as stock photography sites and freelance marketplaces. Additionally, selling presets on marketplaces like Etsy or Gumroad can be a viable revenue stream for those with a talent for post-processing.

How much do travel photographers make?

The compensation for travel or freelance photographers can fluctuate considerably. It is contingent on various factors, such as their level of expertise, working hours, and the caliber of clients they engage with. Similar to any profession, the earning potential of a travel photographer is substantially influenced by their competence, expertise, and standing within the industry.

What photos are in high demand?

In travel photography, clients and publications highly seek certain types of photos. High-demand travel photos often feature popular destinations, breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cityscapes, stunning architecture, mouth-watering food, colorful locals, and lively festivals.

How do I become a travel photographer and get paid?

Becoming a professional travel photographer requires a strategic approach to building a successful career. This involves developing a compelling portfolio, honing in on a specific niche or area of expertise, and cultivating connections with prospective clients and companies.

It also includes implementing a comprehensive marketing strategy utilizing social media, e-commerce platforms, and personal websites. Additionally, a profound understanding of photography techniques, tools, and software can significantly enhance one’s chances of success.

Related Resources

Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.