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How to Break Into Travel Photography
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How to Break Into Travel Photography

Break Into Travel Photography with Julia Chapple


If you lust after adventure, have a keen eye for photography and want to get paid for your pictures, you’re ready to explore the world of travel photography.

Photo credit: Flickr via Julia Chapple

What Work is Available?

Magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, websites and advertisers all require travel photography. The Internet has opened up vast opportunities for photography sales, with millions of websites requiring images as well as individuals looking to purchase photographs as art. It’s important to build a portfolio, both online and in the physical world, as potential employers and collaborators will want to view your previous work.

How to Put Together a Travel Portfolio

In order to find work as a travel photographer, you need two portfolios. In your physical portfolio, you’ll want to place 40-60 images. This portfolio should be compact enough to travel with comfortably, but contain enough photos to truly showcase your abilities as a photographer. Choose images that tell a story, but also contain many layers, highlighting your editorial abilities. Unlike your physical portfolio, your online portfolio can tell multiple storiessince you can categorizephotos by your travels and include hundreds of images, rather than only selecting a few.

Travel Photography Equipment

Unlike studio photography, travel photography does not necessarily require a lot of equipment. In fact, you can’t plan to bring every piece of studio equipment because you simply wouldn’t be able to travel with all that gear. The trick is to pack light, only bringing the most essential equipment.

Photographer’s Bag

Choose a bag that is durable, such as the water resistant Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home Shoulder Bag. This bag has a ton of internal and external pockets, but more importantly it’s built for the elements, so it should hold up on your travels. For just $85, this nylon shoulder bag can carry a huge amount of photo gear, as well as accessories.

  • Water resistant

  • Two internal side pockets

  • Two external accessory attachment straps

  • Adjustable strap

Extra Lenses

In terms of travel, you can’t beat an outdoor lens kit, such as Nikon’s 400mm Outdoor Lens Kit. These lenses are built rugged and are essential for taking high-quality photographs while out in the elements. At $9,172.38, this high caliber lens will take your travel photography to the next level.


  • Truck case

  • Hood

  • Strap

  • Lens cap and cover

  • Filters, and more

External Hard Drive

An external hard drive is a secure way to store your photographs, plus they travel well. Hard drives with plug and play, such as Toshiba’s Canvio 3TB hard drive, can download photos directly from your camera. This means, you won’t have to lug your laptop everywhere you go. For just $96.99, you can harness the power and memory of 3TB.

  • High capacity storage

  • Preloaded with backup software

  • USB plug and play

External Flash Units

A built-in flash can be very limiting, so for improved photographs, bring some external flash units along on your travels. External flash units are developed for certain camera types, meaning there is no “one size fits all” option. For example, if you’re using an Alpha NEX camera, opt for the Sony HVL-F20S External Flash ($148), as it was developed for those cameras specifically.

  • Extends flash range

  • Bounce flash for shadowless indirect lighting

  • Built-in diffuser

  • ADI flash metering

Point and Shoot

Bring along a compact point-and-shoot camera, for those times when you’re forced to leave behind your larger camera. Travel photography may take you places you don’t trust bringing your more expensive camera. Plus, the point-and-shoot may come in handy if your battery dies or your camera becomes damaged. Choose a high definition camera, such as the Canon PowerShot G15 ($349).

  • 5x optical zoom

  • 12.1 megapixels

  • High speed

  • Intelligent IS

How to Pitch Photographs to Buyers

The final step to launching a successful travel photography business is pitching to potential clients. Build a list of magazines, websites and advertisers. Then, send them a short email detailing what you do, how you do it and how hiring you could help them meet their goals. The more emails you send, the more buyers you’ll engage, so don’t be afraid to email everyone and anyone whom you think would be interested in buying what you’ve photographed.

As you begin your entry into travel photography, the Adorama Learning Center is a great way to develop your skills and gain ideas.

Here are some other items you may want to add to your kit:

Here are some helpful articles to reference for travel photography:

If you could photograph any place in the world where would that be?


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