Photographers all seem to have a little bit (or a lot) of wanderlust within us. Even as a homebody 80% of the time, I long to go to far off places, just me and my camera (and some good lip balm) to see the world. The problem is that many of us in the creative field are starving artists who may be tied down to day jobs that finance our adult responsibilities like rent and car payments, leaving little room for world adventures.
For photographers that do travel the world, I often wonder, how? How are they able to travel all the time? Is there a secret? A trust fund? A sponsor? I spoke with Anna Tenne, an Australian photographer who travels the world frequently, going on adventures many of us only dream about. She shares with us her last adventure traveling through Southeast Asia with quadruple amputee Chris Koch and some tips on how to travel on the cheap using your photography skills to help offset some of the costs.
Anna and Chris in SouthEast Asia
Anna met Chris Koch at an inspirational talk Chris was giving at a school nearby. So how did these two strangers end up traveling halfway across the world together months later? Well, Anna simply asked Chris if he’d want to go with her. Traveling with a limbless man who got around on a skateboard for six weeks from Thailand to Cambodia and ending in Nepal, wasn’t as difficult as Anna imagined (you can read her full account here). The pair visited schools, worked with organizations to bring awareness to various causes, as well as delivered food to locals.
This trip for Anna was a labor of love. She didn’t make any money from the trip, get paid, or was sponsored to go. So, how was Anna able to travel for six weeks and photograph her adventures as she went? And furthermore, how does Anna afford to travel all the time?
Besides saving everything she can from her wedding and portrait business, Anna tells me, she has taken advantage of various work for trade/work for travel organizations available. Below she recommends a few she’s tried and researched.
Work Exchange Programs
Though these work exchange programs aren’t photography-centric, you can always ask and see if they need the skills of a photographer. In a nutshell, you exchange labor or do volunteer work for a place to stay. The following are ones Anna has used before. She also mentions that each country will have their own volunteer programs. Do some research on the countries on your bucket list.
- Help Exchange: https://www.helpx.net/
- Work Away: https://www.workaway.info/
- WWOOFing: http://www.wwoof.net/
Anna also has used and recommends Couch Surfing, where people open up their homes for you to stay at no cost.
Researching NGO’s, non-profits in your area and worldwide and offering your photography services are also options. One of our writers, Tanya traveled to Jamaica last year with a non-profit and shares her experience here. I’ve also worked with a non-profit and traveled to Ethiopia working as their staff photographer.
Selling Your Work
1. Leverage Your Social Media Following: We’ve featured the work of Australia’s “Professional Instagrammer” Lauren Bath in this article (these Aussies sure know how to do life right!) Lauren amassed a large following on Instagram and companies hire her to travel and share photos on her Instagram account.
2. Client Sales: You could also sell your images of your travels to companies, agencies or magazines. Some will hire you on retainer and ask for X number of images a month.
3. Monetize Your Blog/YouTube: If some 13-year-old kid can make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing video games on YouTube, you can figure out some sort of niche to get paid blogging or YouTubing while you travel.
4. Sponsorships: This goes hand in hand with your social media presence, though it’s not exclusive. The Eat, Pray, Love author paid for her around the world soul-searching trip through a book advance. Luckily, the book became a bestseller – for her and the publisher. Do your research and don’t be afraid to pitch an idea, you never know what might happen.
5. Stock Photography: Read some of our articles on stock photography and how to get started here.
6. Teaching Workshops: If you are so inclined, maybe hosting a few workshops a year in exotic places is an option. People are willing to pay money for knowledge and if you make it into an adventure, even better.
7. Teaching English:
This isn’t using your photography to make money per se, but I have a friend who has been traveling the world for the last three years, teaching English in different countries for months at a time. On the side, he photographs the places he’s been and sells his work using a variety of the aforementioned ideas.
If you’re a wanderlust, and you’re itching to travel, make it happen (and then send us pictures!) Many have done it, so why not you?
You might be interested in learning more about Elia Locardi, who is 100% location independent. He recently released a few tutorials, which we reviewed: TRAVEL & LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY| FSTOPPERS & ELIA LOCARDI PHOTOGRAPH THE WORLD and LEARN CITYSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY, ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY, AND MORE | ELIA LOCARDI & FSTOPPERS.
CREDITS: Photographs by Anna Tenne are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.