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On the Road Again
The term travel photographer can often mean a lot of things, and in many cases it just means a photojournalist who stays on the move internationally. Often times what we think of as a travel photographer is defined by the "travel" oriented publications and shows that we have that talk visiting different locations. Travel blogs, magazines, television programs, and other media are meant to show different areas and what elements a traveler may want about those locations. It is actually easier to find travel photography jobs than it is many other types of photography, often times because on a lower level it is not near as profitable. Here is a look at a career as a travel photographer and how one may get started.
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The basic principle that you have to remember about travel photography is that it is simply photography about locations put into a specific context. This means that it does not have its own aesthetic principles, or separate format, but instead just means the directive of how you are going sell and distribute the photos. For a travel photographer, you may be on contract covering your day rate and travel costs as chartered by a company or organization. What is more likely in a career as a travel photographer is that you will simply be an independent freelancer who then sells the photos to organizations. This is a much less consistent and stable form of photography, but once you have connections at places that may want to buy your photos and a name for yourself you will be able to bring in consistent income. If you do want to find travel photography jobs that are consistent you will want to look to travel magazines that want staff photographers, travel agencies and organizations that may want the same, and maybe even open up what you want to do to include writing and video. Starting your own travel photography blog is also a good way to make a name for yourself, and if successful enough it can bring in enough income to sustain you.
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To start out your career in travel photography you are going to start as you would with any photography career, by getting education, developing a portfolio, and making contacts. Photography school is a good way to begin, but most importantly you will need to intern in comparable publications, such as travel magazines or even the Travel Channel, and do photo series' that show off your skills in representing locations, cultures, and characters. What is going to be important during these early points is to learn other languages to assist your goals, as well as cultural institutions and how the general practices of business work.
Do not start incurring costs right off the bat as you will not have income coming in. Instead, begin creating travel portfolio elements from locations that are nearby or places that you are traveling to for other reasons. Travel photography does not universally mean locations that are far away from you because that is a relative term to an international audience. Instead, a good travel photographer will just draw out the beauty and individuality of a place. This can be done in your own community even, as long as you find a way to create high quality images that hold a lot of character and visual production value.
You can begin doing your own travel missions along with it, but you will have to note that you will have to cover these costs yourself. The best way to do this is to find some publications ahead of time that may be interested in what you are doing, so it is best if you have a unique take on some travel idea. For example, you could propose that you do a backpacking tour of eastern Europe and you send this idea over to magazines that deal with youth travel, Eastern bloc countries, Cold War architecture, and the like. What you can expect is to sell photos to several locations from a single trip, each in a different context.
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You are going to need to try to purchase your own equipment, which is going to be important for both freelancing and consistent travel photography jobs. They will not want to send out a photographer who does not have consistent equipment that they can use, and this means the on site camera as well as an adequate laptop with photo editing software. You will need a high end DSLR camera and associated lenses. You may want to have lighting equipment and filters, though if these require a lot of space you may not use them consistently when on travel missions. All of these will be tax write-offs and you can factor in the cost of using your equipment into your fee or photo sale price.