Just How Much Money Do I Make As A Traveling Photographer?

I get asked this question a lot, “Beth, just how much money do you make as a traveling photographer?”

Well I promise to answer that question fully in a moment.

Bu first, you need to know that when it comes to being a professional photographer, there is much more to it than taking pictures.

You might just think you can get paid thousands and travel the world just for pointing and shooting a stupid camera at a few people or some landscapes. However:

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Event Photography Paid For My Trip Around Italy

Getting started as a professional photographer is a difficult proposition and one that I wrestled with for some time – do you go it alone, or do you join a studio and have security?

Do you open your own studio, or do you just travel around doing shoots here and there?

To open your own studio, you not only need to invest in all of the photography equipment and backdrops needed to take the photos, but you also have to lease a space to do business in, and lay out money for all of the marketing and promotion which will be necessary if you want people walking through your studio door.

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How to Travel With Your Camera Gear

Hi, Beth here! In this article, I will be discussing how to travel with your camera gear in town.

I know that many new photographers can get pretty nervous while travelling to another country with their camera gear, afraid that it will get stolen, smashed, or rained on.

I know that when I received my first camera, I was absolutely mortified to bring it anywhere for fear of it being stolen or broken.

I know that I have saved a lot of my allowance to purchase it, and I did not want for it to go down the drain.

travel-camera-equipment

Unfortunately, keeping your camera at home will likely only make you lose some great opportunities for awesome photographs.

So, here are some of my tips to keep your camera safe.

1. Consult with your immigration lawyer

Believe it or not, your immigration lawyer can help keep your photography equipment safe.

You can ask them what to do if your stuff ever gets stolen, and whether or not you should worry about customs officers that may try to take away your gadgets.

I spoke to an immigration lawyer in Manchester who gave me some fantastic insight on how to put together my travel insurance and how it can protect your stuff.

I am not that good when it comes to the specifics of travel law, but it is always a good idea to talk to a trusted immigration lawyer.

2. Pack your gear in protected casings

Your camera, as well as other accessories including extra drives, memory cards, battery packs, and the like need to be packed into protected casings.

My favorite is to use a good, sturdy, padded camera bag to keep my stuff clean and to avoid dents and cracks.

Some people prefer using hard, reinforced hard cases for their goods, but while they can be effective, they can be rather bulky and difficult to handle.

They can also be rather expensive, so it is really up to you whether you need the extra protection or not, though I do suggest you purchase a good camera bag.

stylish_camera_tote_valencia

3. Hand carry the important things

While it is okay to put your tripod and battery packs in your check in luggage, you may want to bring the important things with you as hand carry baggage.

Your DSLR body and your lenses are the most sensitive items in your arsenal, so try to bring them with you to the plane if you can.

Just make sure that the airline that you are taking allows you to bring electronics on board.

 

4. Be vigilant at all times

Even if you have the best kind of anti-theft bags available complete with coded locks, your camera will always be small enough to be grabbed with one hand.

Be vigilant and keep an eye out for any thieves, and avoid taking your hands off of your camera bag.

I know that it can be very tiring to do, but it is better than losing your important equipment and your precious photos in one fell swoop.

Tips for Staying Out of The Way When Doing Event Photography

 

We all know that as photographers, our main job is to take photographs of the event and to commemorate it in pictures. Our job is not to be in the memories these people are trying to keep, but to capture them and make them so beautiful that they will be remembered through the ages.

 

During the event, it is important to capture every good moment as it passes, no to be in the frame, and not to be in the story. So it’s important that you stay out of the way so that you do not disrupt or interrupt the goings on of the event.

 

This one time I was asked to take photographs during a seminar or workshop about development finance for professional developers. It turned to be a good learning experience for me because I was able to pick up a few things that I will now remember for the rest of my days.

 

Here are the lessons I learned from that experience.

 

1.Take photographs without flash.

photograph-with-a-flash

Naturally it is difficult to take photographs without flash, especially when you are just starting out and you do not have all kinds of lenses just yet. But you must learn to work with natural lighting, or at least the lighting you are given in the venue.

It’s not easy, especially when there are two kinds of lighting sources making your life difficult. Flash can be disruptive during events, so unless asked to use it, do not. Get your lens and settings right so you can shoot even if it is relatively dark.

 

2. Use lenses to get close ups.

different-lenses-image

Of course we all know that the easiest way to get a close up shot is to actually come closer to the person to get the photograph. What not many people know however is the option of using lenses for long range.

These lenses however will need to have a good aperture in order to be able to accept more light in later. A good rule of thumb is f/2.8 by minimum, but the smaller the number the better—such as f/1.8 and f/1.4.

A good zoom lens can allow you to take a photograph all the way to the front of the room from the back, depending of course on the lenses’ capabilities.

 

3. Learn to be quiet as a mouse.

quiet-as-a-mouse

If you want to be virtually undetectable when you do your business taking photographs, then you will need to be able to be quiet as a mouse.

On top of that, you have to learn to be able to find good angles from different positions in a room, always making sure that you are taking photographs from somewhere, or from spots that are out of the way.

When I did that event, I almost never talked—I only did that one time when I was asked about something, but otherwise it was compete silence so as not to disturb anyone.

Meanwhile here is a video tutorial onhow to shoot an event Photography (A Photography & Video Lighting Tutorial):

 

My Top Favourite Things to Shoot

 

Photographers usually tend to find something that they absolutely love taking photographs of. And as a result they normally begin to specialise in that particular subject or field more and more and more.

 

It just happens. Amateur photographers normally take pictures of everything and anything, and then they fall in love with a certain subject and that is it for them.

 

Meanwhile, here is a video about the Six Quick tips to Improve your Photography:

 

But not for me! Personally…for me, well. I did find things that I love to shoot photos of, but truth be told there are so many things I love taking photos of that I never did end up specialising in any single thing. Why would I deprive myself of taking photos of other things?
 
So what are my favourites? Well… here, let me tell you!
 
Weddings

 

the-wedding-pics-image

 

Okay, what kind of a girl would I be if I didn’t like weddings? I’m not married myself just yet but I love being there for other people’s sweet moments.
I take photographs of weddings and I love doing that—capturing those special moments in people’s lives and making sure that they remember it exactly as it happened. It’s a lovely experience.

 

My favourite moment was when I actually shot such a nice wedding in a small intimate wedding venue in Leeds, it was so lovely I even got teary eyed!
 
Children

 

the-lovely-little-children

 

I absolutely love taking photos of children. I love catching them candidly, when they’re playing and talking and laughing. I love capturing their smiles and the way they interact with the things around them so curiously.

 

It’s so lovely. Sometimes I accept photo sessions with moms and kids, or even maternity photos—it’s just the best experience. Everyone enjoys! I can’t get enough of this, especially since playful children usually smile so nicely.
 
Pets and Animals

 

my-pet-image

 

Okay, this one seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? I love taking photos of pets and animals…they’re just so absolutely adorable. Especially the furrier, fluffier ones.

 

I will have to say that it is quite difficult to get photographs of them since they move around a lot and you can’t exactly direct them to do anything, but when you manage to get them when they’re still and catch a photo then, it’s absolutely magical. 
 
Landscapes

 

landscapes-image

 

I’ve woken up early, before the crack of dawn even, many times before. And all just to manage to catch photos of landscapes as the sun rises. Or as the sun sets.

 

When I travel what I love to do most is take photographs of the scenery—it’s just amazing, and I love it. It makes for great frame able souvenirs—so no need to buy anything anymore! Less clutter. Though I do love making prints of my photographs…so, that’s clutter too. Haha!
 
Portraits
the-portrait-image

 

And who doesn’t love taking portraits? I love capturing people as they really are. I love getting their essence on film (okay, on SD card, these days) and capturing their personalities in a photograph. I tend to do these a lot, too!

 

Speak Out: Photograph Something Controversial

girl-photosMaybe this is just my more rebellious side talking, but I think that photography is a window to the world — a window to both the light and dark side of it all.

That is why I think it is important that photographers know how to take pictures of more controversial subjects, and go beyond their comfort zone.

After all, the world does not revolve around cute children and puppies (though I admit, I can’t resist an adorable photo of a baby snuggling with a puppy).

I think that if you want to excel in photography, you should not be afraid to take photos of events, people, or objects in a way that would make people ponder. These “controversial” photos, for the lack of a better word, causes people to think about the world around them.

I want photos that make you want to change the world and see a different side of people. Now, I am not saying that you should go out and take scandalous photos for shock value. No, you should take photos with meaning. When you take photos of human subjects, make sure that you portray them fairly. Show people that they are human, and not just a subject.

My most controversial set of photos was when I took before and after pics of people who were entering a plastic surgery clinic in Scottsdale. Now, I realized that for some reason, people tend to criticise plastic surgery and those who try it without even knowing the ones who did.

controversial-photograph

Many seem to think that changing your natural features is disgraceful and somehow not right. However, each and every one of these individuals, the vast majority of them women, have a story to tell. Frankly, we do not know why any of these women decide to go under the knife, so I think it is unfair to judge.

As part of a personal project of mine, I decided that I wanted to find out what exactly goes through these women’s minds. I asked several individuals at the clinic what procedure they wanted and if I could photograph them.

Instead of the classic before and after photos of plastic surgery patients that feature them against a plain background and highlighting their new features, I decided to do something different: I took photos of what changed in their lives after their surgery.

So, I took photos of the women by following them around for one entire day (with permission of course) pre-surgery, showing them in different situations.

After they have had their surgery and after they have completely healed, I then follow them around for a second time to see what has changed.plastic-surgery

I then take two of the best photos, one before and after picture, to highlight what has changed. Generally, I see men and women become more confident and satisfied with their lives after surgery, so I felt that it was more than just superficial vanity. It was a way to empower themselves.

I was absolutely floored! It was an interesting project and an experience I will not forget. So whenever you feel like you want to take photos that are considered controversial, just do it. Be brave and express yourself.

Now here’s a few extra tips when shooting a controversial photos like nude photography:

Learning Things on The Road as a Photographer

You’d think that busy as I am taking photographs I would no longer have time to figure anything else out and learn things on the job, right? Wrong! The truth is I learn something on almost every job, especially since I travel.

I love learning things on the job, whether it’s about the culture or a certain industry or some sort of history. And with every job I do learn new things, which is absolutely another reason why I do adore my job.

If you want to know what things might be like when you work as a traveling photographer… read on to see what things I have learned so far!

I Learn the Most Random Things About Different Industries

Going to work for all sorts of different industries and all sorts of different jobs I learn a lot of things I don’t really need to know. But at the same time it’s useful information that I could use for the future. Like how when I was working to take photos for a storage company’s brochure I learned that for bulk items pallet racking is best.

Or like how when I was working to take photos for a digital printer, I learned that there are so many things I need to know in order to make the colors of my photographs print out accurately.

I Learn About Different Cultures

This is more so something I learn during traveling for my jobs rather than while actually doing my jobs, but I love it nevertheless. Learning about other people’s cultures is something that I really like because I can compare it to my own life and see how things differ.

I love learning about how people treat visitors, whether they are hospitable or not. I love to see how they go to work, how they go to school and get around I love to learn about their customs and traditions.

At times I end up missing those cultures at some point, but I know at some point I’ll be back if I loved the country enough.

I Learn About Different Kinds of Food

Traveling leads you to different places with different cultures, but at the same time all those cultures and countries mean you get all sorts of different delicacies. I love trying them all!

I’m quite glad that I am one of the people who do not care about what food looks or smells like as long as it tastes absolutely amazing. I love trying food that I am served or just about any food that looks interesting to me.

I Learn Something About Myself

I love traveling because not only do I learn about so many things but I learn about myself as well. I learn about what kind of a person I am—am I finicky or do I go with the flow? Am I a paranoid person or am I easy going? Traveling gives a lot of time to reflect and I do love this fact.

The Good and the Bad About Being Self-Employed

When you’re a photographer you’re often self-employed, unless you work for a magazine, a newsletter, a collective or a studio. Working for yourself is all well and good, but of course there are many pros and cons to it, just as with anything.

Let’s take a look at the perks I enjoy and the cons I don’t enjoy so much.

personalfulfillmentPros

You’re your own boss—literally!

There will be nobody looking over your shoulder to micromanage you and tell you you’re doing really badly or you’re screwing things up horribly. There is nobody to make sure you get up early so you can get to work and clock in on time.

Working for yourself sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

self_employedThere Are No Set Hours

You can wake up any time you wish and do whatever you want, when you want. Unless of course you are in event photography, at which point your schedule would revolve around the events you have to shoot.

Still, you control your own time for the most part.

Work Wherever You Want

I work from all over the globe! Traveling is my passion and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it while I work. Or to be able to work while I do it.

Whichever way you spin it, I’m really lucky and I very much appreciate my life.

Dictate Your Rates

You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rates but your own when you’re working for yourself. You can charge something that is exorbitantly high (not recommended!), something that is somewhere in the middle grown, or something dirt cheap (also not recommend!).

But remember that your rates also say something about you—clients read into everything these days.

1102sickCons

You’re your own boss.

Being your own boss is fun, and it’s all well and good, but there are some cons to that as well. There is nobody to check your work and make sure that you are doing your best and not settling for less.

There is nobody to keep you in check to ensure you deliver constant quality. And without someone to please you end up losing motivation at times.

No Benefits Unless You Pay for Them

Just imagine. When you don’t work for a company you don’t really get any benefits. But having them is important especially if you fall ill or get into an accident.

If you’re looking for personal injury claims with high payouts, this wouldn’t be possible unless you pay an insurance for yourself.

lonely-croppedNo Real Social Life

Okay this is a real bummer. Since you work alone you have no co-workers to have fun with after work.

Or to bother around the water cooler. When you work for yourself you also keep your own hours and work wherever you want to work.

So where does that leave you, really? Unless you manage to keep in touch with your friends through the miracles of scheduling, you are likely to not have much of a social life unless you purposely go out looking for one.

Measuring The Cheese Factor Of Your Shots

There’s no doubt that no matter what precautions you take, some of your shots are just gonna look down right cheesy and awkward.

Sometimes it’s not your fault, no matter how you stage some individuals – they just look cheesy. Whether it’s their smile, the surroundings, or both.

One thing I use to measure just how cheesy my shots are is to think about those lame personal injury adverts like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FCm1SbBqb8 which you see on day time telly.

If I liken one of my shoots to something that would be fitting in those adverts, I normally have another think about some different posing or staging that could take the edge off the cheese-factor.

You know the ones I’m taking about, where there’s a guy in a corny voice saying “If you’ve been injured at work and think you’re due a claim” etc. etc.

I normally phrase it as “taking the personal injury” out of your shots.

So if you here that being said anywhere else, you heard it from me first :)

cheesy-stock-photo

Another tip I have is to grab a couple of shots of your subject whilst they’re not “posing” as this over-posing is what can also really ham up your shots.

Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to give some more tips on this kind of stuff, as I have tons.

What Makes a Photography Gig Worth It?

confused-girlWhen I was a wet-behind-the-ears newbie in the photography world, I struggled a lot with this question.

In fact it’s less of a question to me and more of a problem—how exactly do I even know what jobs are worth my time taking, and which I should skip altogether?

When I first started out I took everything that came my way regardless of the pay, the hours needed, and the location. The result?

I ended up losing money on many of those gigs. It was practically like I paid them to take their pictures, lol.

mr-burns-evil-laughI’m pretty sure that many of you have been in the same situation before (feel free to share them in the comments!).

So, photographers and photography enthusiasts… what makes a photography gig worth it for you?

Personally when it comes to taking gigs the first thing I look at is the subject matter.

I’ve grown enough has a photographer that I have become fortunate enough to be able to choose my gigs, but back when I was a fledgling photographer looking to get my name out there, I rarely looked at the subject matter at all.

Instead I looked at the digits at the end of the contract—all I cared about was how much I got paid!

The result was a lot of uninspired photographs, and a few unsatisfied clients. Not good when you are trying to build up a reputation.

It was like this one time I was hired to take photos of a Yorkshire laser cutting company so they could update their brochure.

It sounded simple enough, I mean all I had to do was show up and take photos and poof, the sheet metal company would have everything they need to update their brochure and company website.

But I had no interest whatsoever in that industry, so I ended up taking snapshots. Completely uninspired ones that really disappointed me. I was so disappointed in myself for those, but thankfully the client was happy with them.

So, my advice to everyone is if you are able to have the choice, pick gigs that interest you at the very least so you don’t have to stand around lifting your camera and clicking just so you can collect the check at the end of the day.

good-choice

That’s the main thing about whether a job is worth it or not. Of course the second thing is to make sure the pay is enough to cover your expenses—travel expenses, equipment expenses, your food if any, lodging if any.

Make sure that you actually earn something at the end of the day.

For newbie photographers x-deals and taking cheap jobs is common, but make sure you are getting at least something good out of it.

Otherwise you are just cheating yourself out of your own time.

Lastly make sure that it’s at a location that is accessible to you.

Remember you have a lot of equipment. Can you bring a car? Will it be safe? Will you spend more on petrol than what you earn?

Just remember you want to be the one coming out on top—photography is expensive and you don’t want to be giving your time away.

How Being Chatty and Friendly Can End Up Landing You Gigs

When it comes to finding work, the easiest way to do it is by word of mouth.

I say it’s easiest because you don’t have to do anything different to what you would do anyway.

word of mouth pop art

Word of mouth just travels and it’s quite convenient as you don’t have to spend a single penny for it.

There is no extra effort required, and no need for you to put up flyers or arrange advertisements. All you’ve gotta do is have some business cards handy and hand them out to friends and family, as well as just about any other person you meet.

While word of mouth is the easiest way to land gigs, I’m also telling you now that it is also the hardest.

I say this because with only word of mouth as your ‘advertising’ so to speak jobs could be few and far in between. Word spreads slowly and you end up having dry spells that can be quite difficult to break.

So while I personally enjoy using word of mouth as a way to advertise myself and my business, I still make sure to have alternate methods for people to find me like my website and social media pages.

Despite the difficulties that I have mentioned, I actually have had some great success with word of mouth advertising.

Let me tell you about the time that being chatty and friendly was able to help me to land a pretty good photography gig.

I already have mentioned that I always carry business cards around with me. This is very important as you never know who you might meet and whether or not they may actually require your services.

I tend to hand out my business card to people whenever I can, there was one time that I even handed cards out at a party (lol, it was a slow period and I needed to get rid of a gig dry spell) and even though it may have been a bit embarrassing it was actually worth it as I got a couple gigs from that.

So of course I was at my Huddersfield Dentist getting my routine teeth cleaning and bi-annual check up done (you ought to make sure you consistently go to yours too if you want healthy teeth like mine).

At the end of my appointment with the dentist I decided to chat with him a little and I brought up my business.

Dentist plus me plus Chair

Coincidentally he mentioned he actually needed to update his and his staff’s photos for some new promotional material.

At that point of course I took out my handy dandy business cards and handed him one. I actually ended up winning some of his business! It really just takes a little guts to get to talking to people and to be friendly.

It’s funny how you can get gigs from the most unexpected places and situations—I’ve had many different instances like that before.

Including getting business from a florist I bought a bouquet (for my mother) from. Just never forget your business cards.

Tips for Photographing Outdoor Events

camera-lensesWow, the first time that I have ever photographed an outdoor concert was an absolutely electrifying experience!

It was a local rock festival and I was right there, taking photos of both the musicians and the crowd.

I like outdoor events because there is always something to be seen, and natural daylight can give your photos a very beautiful look.

You just have to know how to utilise the natural lighting to your advantage, coupling it with your flash if you really need it.

Now, if you want to photograph an outdoor event, you should always keep the following tips in mind:

camera bagFirst of all, you should always make sure to bring what you need for the entire duration of your shoot.

Bring extra batteries, extra memory cards, a tripod, or whatever you would need.

I am not saying that you should haul your whole studio out into the open, but prepare the essentials and bring back ups.

I once had to photograph a local fitness competition and a fun run, so I had a lot of great photos of people participating in the various events.

ADULT-PLAYGROUNDSI took photos of all the runners, of the audience, and their children and pets.

I even had a lovely photo set of some elderly folks trying out the outdoor gym in the park.

It was just so fun to shoot them trying out and having fun on the outside air walker equipment.

The outdoor fitness gym was a colourful backdrop to the many participants.

Now, unfortunately, I was so caught up with taking as many great photos as I could that I ran out of battery.

I had completely forgotten to bring an extra, so I had to run back to my place to pick up new batteries, probably missing half of the events that took place.

Next, you should know how to prevent overexposure.

One of the problems with outdoor light, especially if it is sunny outside, is that your photos become overexposed.

I always shot by dialing down a half-stop, to really make the colours pop. Likewise, an overcast day may require you to use density filters.

exposure
When setting up a complex shot, especially of a landscape, it is a good idea to predict what your camera settings should be.

For example, I had wanted to take a photograph of the sunset by a lake, so I fiddled around with camera to get the optimum settings.

Finally, if you are photographing an event full of people, you might want to ask their permission first.

While everyone was smiling and happy during the rock concert photography gig, some people at my outdoor fitness event didn’t like to be photographed all tired and sweaty.

Instead, I took flattering photos and asked permission when needed. I managed to capture some great candid moments as well as some nice portraits.

Photographing outdoor events can be challenging, but it is all about preparation.