From professional tennis to electrical engineering to photography, my career has had more twists and turns than most. The one constant through it all was a love for travel. The desire to experience dramatic landscapes, walk through small towns, and meet new people is one of the things I’d sit at my desk and dream about each day. They say if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. That right there is why I decided to go all in on photography and build a career around sharing the most beautiful places in the world.
How Did it All Start?
A lot of it was being in the right place at the right time. I started going to the beach every day after work in San Diego with the goal of enjoying the sunset. I started taking pictures on my phone and sharing them on Instagram, a new app that had just come out. As my following grew, there was no way to know that brands, agencies, and resources would all start flowing into the platform. I was able to capitalize on being early while also being extremely passionate about taking photos to share on a daily basis.
It’s led to opportunities with Disney, BMW, Sony, Four Seasons, Adidas, and many more. It also led me to sign with United Airlines years ago to help produce their travel content around the world. There are a few key things I’ve done over the last 7-8 years that have been extremely helpful in building relationships with brands and establishing a career as a travel photographer. It may be a saturated market, but the opportunities are endless if you know where to look.
How to Get Started
One of the best ways to start out is right in your own backyard. Look local. There’s likely a local tourism board, boutique hotels, restaurants, or other startups that need pictures and media. It’s a great way to grow your portfolio, practice capturing a variety of content, and get a solid foundation before you aim to work with larger brands. Local companies are often easier to get in the door with and also easier to maintain relationships with. Don’t overlook the convenience of your own backyard!
When it comes to delivering a job, always aim to overdeliver. With photography being such a saturated profession, if you’re putting in average effort or the bare minimum of what’s been asked, you’re not giving a compelling reason for recurring work. If your deliverables for a campaign are 20 photos, try to give them 30. It’s little things like this that leave a positive impression and may make the difference between only landing a single project or being a person a brand wants to utilize time and time again.
Look to platforms and advantages others don’t. With so many creators and artists on Instagram, it’s increasingly harder to stand out. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a tool that nearly every professional uses, but it's typically something that’s overlooked by the creative community. Start to build your network, constantly add new contacts, and share work consistently. You never know who may see your post and reach out.
Speaking of reaching out, don’t be afraid of rejection. Always try to be proactive. If you sit around waiting for jobs to come your way, you’re leaving a lot up to chance. I worked on a generic pitch deck years ago that I’ve utilized to land many jobs. It doesn’t matter if most people you reach out to say no. You just need one yes.
Find Your Passion
There’s many different niches when it comes to travel photography, but my biggest tip is to find something you’re passionate about to build the foundation around. That passion always shines through and is evident in the work you put out. It’s easy to detect when someone is going through the motions and when someone loves what they do. A career in photography will undoubtedly have many highs and lows, but if it’s built around something you truly love, you’ll be able to navigate and push through the ebbs and flows. Happy shooting out there!