One of the best aspects of being a professional photographer is the freedom the career provides. Most photographers determine when and where they work, with some choosing rigid nine-to-five schedules in physical studio spaces and others opting to work from home or local coffee shops. Then there are those who choose a more nomadic lifestyle, traveling indefinitely and finding work (and housing) along the way to sustain the journey.
For those photographers who long to see the world and take their unique skillset on the road, here are seven tips to help you work anywhere as a photographer.
1. Downsize Your Camera Gear
Traveling abroad, regardless of budget or location, requires a minimalist approach when choosing which of your belongings to bring along, including your camera gear and electronics. Here are a few ideas on how to downsize your photography gear:
- Reduce your gear to the must-haves. This might mean leaving that tilt-shift or fisheye at home, or choosing between similar focal length primes like the 24mm or the 35mm.
- Switch to smaller setups. For example, consider switching from DSLRs to Mirrorless Cameras to reduce the size and weight of your gear. Downsize your drone from a Phantom to a Mavic, and use your iPhone camera instead of an Osmo for some of your daytime footage. Essentially, determine if you can get similar results from smaller and fewer pieces of gear.
2. Check your Insurance
Equipment insurance is crucial for any photographer, but even more important for photographers traveling abroad. If you don’t have it yet, you can set it up almost instantaneously. If you already have it, double check to make sure you’re covered globally.
3. Use Cloud services for everything
Lost cameras and laptops used to mean lost memories, edits, and documents. In this day and age, however, you can back up all of your photos, videos and other files in the cloud.
Use a service like Dropbox that not only backs up your files but also has file recovery and version history to help keep your files safe in the event that you accidentally delete or save over your files.
4. Develop Your Network of Global Photographers
If you’re thinking about living the nomad life, start building up your global network now. Join Facebook groups that connect photographers from around the globe or within the regions that you’re planning on visiting. In each of these groups, start building a presence, and when your plans become more solidified, share your travel plans and dates.
You can ask questions that may help you in your travels, find the best photo locations, and possibly even meet up for collaborations, second-shooting or assisting opportunities, and more.
5. Get the right credit card
Points hacking can go a long way toward making your travel more affordable and comfortable. Find a card with 0% foreign transaction fees as well as perks like additional insurance for your trip, additional points for the travel category, and more. Some cards even offer lounge access at various airports where you can plug in and get some work done.
Of course, weigh the cost of the annual fee with your savings. Unless you travel often and take full advantage of the card’s point system, the fee might not be worth it.
6. Create Multiple Streams of Revenue
If you’re planning on spending extensive time abroad, you may need to make some money during your travels, and there are several ways to earn extra income as a nomadic photographer. Here are a few ideas:
- Second Shooting and Lighting Assisting – Contact local photographers in advance and show them your work. Besides making a few bucks, you can see an entirely different work experience.
- Portrait Sessions – Offer portrait sessions in the cities that you’re visiting. Depending on your social media reach, you might land a few gigs.
- Writing – Write articles for websites like SLR Lounge, Fstoppers, and others. You might be able to make $50 to $250 bucks reviewing gear or writing photography tutorials.
- Video Creation – If your skillset and passion are in video creation, consider making YouTube videos to build your brand and generate (a little bit of) ad revenue.
- Workshops – If you’ve established a distinct brand, you might consider teaching workshops abroad, either in-person or online. For example, if you’re on a wilderness trip and you find yourself in an ideal situation to capture the Milky Way or Northern Lights, you can build a workshop around your process for prepping, shooting, and editing your images.
Whether or not you decide to go all in on the nomadic lifestyle, there are lessons to be learned by expanding your network and simplifying your workflow that can be applied to all paths, even those that are more location-dependent.
Here’s a recap of the tips covered in this article for becoming a nomad:
- Downsize your camera gear
- Check your insurance
- Use Cloud for all digital files
- Develop your network of global photographers
- Prepare finances for the trip
- Get the right credit card
- Consider creating multiple streams of revenue
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.