How to Start a travel / landscape career?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by waynelee, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Hi everyone, I'm Wayne and I'm new here. I'm from Canada, now living in Hong Kong.

    I just signed up here and I come to you all because I've put off for too many years something I've always wanted to do, not just a career but the dream. I want to be a travel / landscape photographer and I'm not sure where or how to start given my gear, my experience, and the budget I have to start with. I'd like to be like the Youtubers like Peter McKinnon, Thomas Heaton, Brendan Van Son.

    Ideally, one day I would like to have my own Instagram feed and Youtube channel about landscape and travel photography as I continue to improve my craft and be really good in these areas, especially photographing exotic landscapes and cultures. I want to impart my own expertise on the field on social media, and run workshops eventually. I'd also like to create course content, have a blog, teach students in class, and even have them come shoot with me in different countries as I teach them.

    My challenges are my photography technical knowledge / experience and finances. I am still at amateur level: not bad but would not consider myself professional yet. The greater challenge is how I can leverage myself financially and kickstart my career as a travel photographer through magazine, editorial, publishing jobs, etc. in order for one thing to lead to another, financially and experience and ability wise (just like how Brendan Van Son and Thomas Heaton mentioned). Which way would you guys suggest: saving a lot of money and flying to wherever and shooting whatever I want to build a portfolio, or shoot for travel and landscape companies first so that I can build a following and then leverage those photos I did for publishers and turn it into a personal brand?I've tried to save money by doing normal jobs like sales and other gigs for this so-called dream I'm pursuing, but it's a dread doing something that I hate to do something that I love. It's kind of been like tread milling. So I've put everything off for a very long time, but I'd like to give it a chance for myself to enter the field directly and even if I face the financial challenges in it, then at least I'm still building on my craft.

    My gear and finances are as follows: Gear: Only a Nikon D750 body, 24-70mm f2.8 lens, a 16-85mm, and a 50mm 1.8G prime lensFinances: $17,000 USD in savings.

    So it's important how I use this little money to execute as wisely and strategically as possible.Do I need any more gear? What additional lenses, filter, etc. do I need just to put my food inside the door to get some shots going that's worthy of sales for editorials and publishers? Do I try to land jobs immediately or do I need to build a portfolio by shooting in my local area first? How do I know when I am ready?This is one of those situations where you need experience to get the job, but you also need a job to get the experience.
    Also, I'm taking time off work for the first time in 3 years for travel, so I would like to take 2-3 months to go to one or two of the following countries: Nepal, Tibet, West China, Northern India, Mongolia. These are the kinds of landscapes and cultures I like to shoot and I'm looking to using some of my budget I mentioned for those 2 months to build on my portfolio to hopefully capture some great shots.

    Overall, do you folks have any general suggestions, course of action, or just sources I can look into to get started?This is all very much for me to understand and try out by myself. Help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks and here is my Instagram, where you can see my passion for the outdoors in my 2016 backpacking trip to the Philippines, Indonesia, motorbike trip in Vietnam, along with some photos of Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong.

    Instagram link: Wayne Lee ( • Instagram photos and videos
  2. I think that most here would tell you that the last thing that you should want to be is a professional photographer . . . I gave up that idea years ago but I can give you a start of advice:

    First, you gear will be the least of your problems. If you are truly talented, it just doesn't matter any more. You can do what you want with a good cell phone and laptop.

    Second, even your photographic skills aren't as important as your marketing and communication skills will be.
  3. Since the beginning of photography, and for painters long before that, the dream is to travel, to explore the world, and to get paid for doing it.

    It was always a forlorn hope, but with every phone a camera and every person with a phone, I think it's even harder than it was in earlier times.

    The percentage who make it, must be something like the odds of becoming a major league baseball player, but some people do make it.

    You'll never know until you try, but don't quit your day job right away.
  4. That's make 2 of us. I want to be a travel / landscape photographer too, I have 6 cameras plus my phone, small advantage on you:) And I also bought my 6/49 lottery ticket for tonight to finance my travel. I have memorized my list of places to see/photograph:)
    danny_o' likes this.
  5. Good luck. I hope you're very successful.
  6. Well, I'm sure he's going to work hard. But a little luck along the way helps too. :)
    Phil S likes this.

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