Making Money as a Travel Photographer #9 and #10

In Freelance and Business, Marketing, Self-Promotion, Travel by David5 Comments


On December 19, I posted an article called Making Money as a Travel Photographer and left suggestions 9 and 10 in your court with the promise that I’d pick two of the best and give you a signed copy of my book when it’s out. There were some great thoughts left in the comments, some of them more related to being a traveling photographer than actually making a source of income from it, but good thoughts all the same and I suggest you read them when you have a moment.

So here’s #9 and #10 from Jonathan Thomas, and a bonus from Dan Bannister which has less to do directly with making a living but is so generally overlooked it’s shocking.

#9 Have an online portfolio.
Not something with a 1000 shots or eight galleries with your family dog. Narrow it down. Let people see your best work. Keyword your images so you’re easier to find. In addition to easy, keep your web address simple.

If you’re looking to get serious about your portfolio, either online or print, take a look at Selina Oppenheim’s Portfolios The Sell

#10 Network.
Yes, it’s a competitive market… However, Network. Network. Network. Never burn a bridge with other photographers. This blog is proof of keeping respect and the benefit of doing so. (i.e. 5D Mark II) In networking with other photographers you gain experience and opportunities. When I traveled to Jerusalem, I met up with a fellow photographer I had met via a photography forum. That connection, friendship, saved me time and money.

Jonathan’s right on the money here – relationships are crucial and the old model wherein we all saw each other as competitors and guarded our secrets fiercely, it’s gone. The winners now are the ones who give openly and connect incessantly.

#11 Learn to light.
You should be able to turn day into night and night into day artificially. You may not always use it but, it will help you make much more interesting travel images and will allow you to get more pictures out of a given scenario.

I’d add to this and just say, Learn About Light. Even if you’re not controlling the light in any way the ability to see the light it crucial.

Jonathan and Dan both get a signed copy of Within The Frame when it’s out in May/June. Here’s the kicker guys, I’m leaving this in your court. I’ve got lots on the go right now and I will NEVER remember this. SO – when you see me announce that the book is out and on shelves, send me an email or leave a comment in any of my posts and remind me, along with your mailing address, and I’ll ship them out to you. Sorry to pass the buck, but it’s that or completely forget and totally neglect you, and I can’t live with that kind of guilt.

If this sort of conversation appeals to you, don’t hesitate to join the Vision Collective, the discussion forums for this blog. We’d love to see you there.


  1. 2 good points. Funny like the obvious is often overlooked. Now… a question, after looking at the picture: what’s with the keffieh and photographers? Why is it that many many photographers feel obligated to put a keffieh on their head as soon as they are in a muslim or arabic country? It hit me the first time in 1986, when 3 of us where trying to find a passage to Aden to shoot the n-ieme coup and the Russians and East Germans being kicked out of the country in a hurry. 2 had a keffieh, and I was my usual bald, with a $5.00 hat bought I don’t know where. Since then, I noticed everywhere I went this trend. Never saw a guy rushing to buy a beret and screwing it to his head in Paris. Or a felter hat in Finland, or straw hat in Japan… Sorry, but I had to ask.

  2. Author

    Luc – Good question, and while I can’t answer for everyone I can tell you I buy a scarf almost everywhere that sells them. I find them really versatile and if my bald heads burn one more time I’m in trouble. That said, it pretty much sits in my duffle and gets worn only when I travel and it’s appropriate. I am beginning to notice how ubiquitous these keffeyahs are becoming and feel a little goofy wearing it at times. But when the sun’s beating down, or it’s cold, and I have nothing else, I happily pull it out. Beret’s are not so versatile, though Matt Brandon wears one, sometimes with his keffeyah. 🙂

  3. I really like the plug relating to networking. Gavin Gough serves as a perfect example. On the forums, he has made himself available to those traveling to Thailand. I am anxious to take advantage of his local knowledge!

  4. Dave,

    Cheers to you, a very generous offer indeed. I’ll circle back with you mid summer and if I should be in Van, will ring you up for a beer. I’ve been trying to get out that way to shoot some stock for a while now but, just been full with other things so, we’ll see.

    Happy travels,


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