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How to do Better Travel Photography

Updated on March 16, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

8.07.2008 at 22:00h, License:
8.07.2008 at 22:00h, License: | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Traveling to new destination opens up a world filled with photographic opportunities as well as the chance to acquire a better understanding of the culture of the destination where your hosts call home.

Travel photography is more than just taking photographs of the tourist attractions and of the local hot spots , it involves much more.

The recording of images that showcase a culture, a geographical space, it's people, celebrations, festival, customs, foods, architecture and so many other aspects that give your host location its "flavor". In other words one should photograph images that will answer the question "what makes this place worth visiting?"

Each location offers the visitor a unique character, ambiance and local flavor, you job as a travel photographer is to transmit these "feelings" to your photograph's audience. If the image makes the audience feel as you felt when you captured the image, then you have done your job well.

One of the best examples of travel photography can be found in the pages of magazines such as National Geographic. Read and learn from like examples. You can attempt to emulate their styles and techniques, but making sure to give the images your own particular unique style. This is what is going to separate you from the rest.

Magazines are not the only candidates to buy travel photographs. Many travel photographers work with the travel & tourism industry. They are regularly sent to exotic locations to showcase a destination, the accommodations and record these images which are then used in travel and tourism brochures.

This affords many travel photographers the opportunity of visiting exotic travel destinations, stay at great hotels, photograph and be paid for it.

So you are asking where do you sign up?. Breaking into this genre is probably one of the hardest jobs in the industry to enter.

A good start is to compile a good group of photographs from any travels that you have done, not snap shots, but quality images. If you cannot afford to take some trips on your own, perhaps signing with or taking a job with a travel agency, a hotel chain, cruise industry, non-profit world organization and take any available time to capture images of these destinations.

Once you have a sufficient number of quality shots, sign up with an agency or stock house. Submit images to travel publications, hotel chains, travel industry. Sign up with art galleries if possible, to showcase your work.

A good idea is to secure an empty store front, set up a gallery for maybe a one or two day event, invite the most influential names in the art and travel industry for your are to come see your work. Don't forget to have some refreshments ready and a lists of titles, prices and shipping fees for your work as well as your wages.

The images should be professionally printed and mounted. Consider associating with a business partner who will handle all business aspect of the operation.

There are many other marketing ideas with which to start, just do some research and decide on the best ones for your and your personal shooting style. You may want to consider volunteering to photograph local tourist industry events, festivals and so forth. They will allow you to home in your skills and start assembling a portfolio.

Good examples are the Mardi Gras in Louisiana and the Calle Ocho Street Party in Miami Florida. Always keep in mind to make the images your own by adding your own personal style.

Always do your research about local customs, what is appropriate and what is not. It is very common for some locals to ask for a fee when taking their photographs, be ready for this. A big smile and some hand gestures can often lead to a good photo op.

Do not take a photo if your subject seems to object, their laws and customs are not the same as ours. Don't make the mistake of thinking that everyone thinks and acts like we do. Above all be respectful and polite, these two attributes will get you far.

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

Another side of being a travel photographer is having a good writing ability. The photographs by themselves can be sold, but if you possess an ability to put into words what your images capture, then you are twice more likely to see you work used by photography publications, and the travel and tourism industry.

One of the main projects and lucrative assignments within this field are travel book or guide books, They are normally guides to places that highlight or make recommendations to the best places and activities to do while on your visit. Thousands of these guides are published every year and are updated quite frequently. Do not overlook the possibility of becoming a local expert. Being a specialist in your city, region or state gives you an unique perspective and many angles that gives you an edge. Contact your local tourist boards and ask about volunteering for them. Once you start to gain recognition and building your reputation then you can discuss charging a fee for your efforts.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ellen Karman: Thank you

    • Ellen Karman profile image

      Ellen Karman 5 years ago from medina, Ohio

      I so enjoyed your photo's and how you explained what travel photographer does and how hard to break into the business. I have taken your tips on calling my city's office and volunteer. I had children young, both are in college, I went to photography school first then studied English and got my degree in that. I am 45 years young and now is my time to devote to my passions. Thank you for this post and I look forward to any more you write. Ellen email

    • dredcuan profile image

      Chef Tina 6 years ago

      These are really good photos and I do like all the subjects. Each capture the hidden beauty of the place. When a person sees your picture, all see can do is comment that life is simple but absolutely great!

    • profile image

      Travel for Less 6 years ago

      Thanks for posting this. Very informative, I have learned a lot of this topic.

    • john.maco profile image

      john.maco 6 years ago

      Saw your profile on traffup and this is really a wonderful article for people looking to make travel photography a profession. Good job.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      @Lynn S Murphy; Wait to see the ones which I haven't published yet! lol

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Chockful of information and very intriguing. You're giving my a long list of to-dos here. Fortunately they're fun to do!!!

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

      My Dear Friend, You have made all the photographs wonderful.