Creating your dream career around a lifestyle of traveling is easier than you think, and much better than working a job with only a hope of supporting your dreams for seeing the world.
I wish someone would have told me back when I first started shooting…that I could control the type of work I attracted by branding my work to fit my aspirations, and I would have saved a lot of time and money trying to do the expected with my photography. I used to spend way too much time comparing myself to others, and not enough time celebrating and focusing on what made me unique.
I believe that our fear and lack of confidence is usually the only thing that holds us back from the dreams we aspire to achieve in life. Nothing else. My goal is to help show you how you can overcome those obstacles and use your photography, writing, video, social media, and people skills to create life you want and how to own your dreams so you can build your work around them.
How many of you are interested in becoming a professional travel photographer, writer, or social media influencer? How many of you are bored with what you do and want more excitement and travel in your life? Or maybe you are looking for more ways to get your travel funded and ways to get paid for having adventures. Whatever your reasons are for reading this article, I want to help you to turn your dreams into reality.
As a travel photographer, most of what I do is not photography related at all. Being a travel photographer today has a very different road map than it used to have. Frequently, people ask me how I book the travel jobs that I do and what steps did I have to take in order to get into this career field. So often, in fact, that Venuelust and I decided to start a weekly column dedicated to answering your frequently asked travel influencer questions.
In the next few months, I am going to show you how to brand yourself as a travel photographer, writer or blogger, how to be strategic in your marketing, how to turn a crazy idea into a paid job, how to pitch stories, who to pitch them to, how to add intent to your images, and most importantly how to get paid while filling up your passport.
I am not going to tell you how to set your cameras and take the perfect photo or how I edit my work, but I will tell you through my stories, videos and photos how you can break into the travel photography world, pitch story ideas and better prepare for destination and travel shoots. The path to get here is different for everyone, but I DO believe that you CAN do it all in life! The key to attaining your dreams starts right now. I don’t mean to sound preachy, but literally, you have already begun your journey towards an exciting life of travel by just being here and reading this!
I am an adventure, destination, and travel photographer, a travel writer, thrill seeker and jet set junkie. I have been shooting for 16 years and so far, my work has brought me to 66 countries and 6 continents. I grew up in a family that was stationed abroad and was always surrounded by different languages and cultures from a very young age. I lived in Indonesia as a child and traveled a lot, so I was sort of born into my wanderlust you could say. What I love about my work is that it is constantly evolving and is always exciting and I grab my inspiration from everywhere and anywhere. Usually, I am fueled by hearing about an obscure location or adventure that I would like to go on and then I will conceptualize a shoot there just so I can go. The overall theme to my work is “adventure” and I think that I embrace the unknown and the whole process of getting to the actual photo taking. I definitely have a plan and a vision going into a shoot, but I love having the “unknown” factor. That is the best part!
To begin with, I want to tell you about my most recent destination project that I just came back from in The Czech Republic so I can show you how I turned a crazy idea into a visual story and a paid job and embarked on a fabulous adventure across Europe with my boyfriend Winston because of it.
Inspiration can come from Anywhere
As a duo with a shared sense of adventure, my boyfriend Winston and I were looking for inspiration for a romantic getaway to Europe. While there’s nothing wrong with finding a desolate beach somewhere to park ourselves sipping drinks for days, some couples like us crave a cocktail of thrills and adventure instead.
We didn’t really know where or how, but as a travel photographer, writer, and jet-set junkie myself, I find my inspiration for my adventures in many different ways. I am always looking for a great story to tell, so it was no surprise that the idea for our next adventure would come to me one night while we were cuddled up in bed watching the James Bond movie, Casino Royale.
Let’s just say that watching Daniel Craig on the screen is sort of a win-win situation for us both. James Bond, AKA 007 and possibly the world's best known spy is just a ridiculously sexy character. He gets all the women, the spy gadgets, races the best cars and boats, has friends in high places, and can kick ass like a hero.
But what really got to me while watching Casino Royale, was the epic scenery in this film. All of the castles and quaint villages, opulent casinos, luxurious hotels, and Italian coastline gave Winston and I some serious wanderlust wanting to jump into the scenery ourselves. I immediately googled where the scenes of the movie were shot and was surprised to discover that most of them were filmed in the Czech Republic as well as the UK and Italy, even though the movie was supposed to be placed in Montenegro. As an American, the Czech Republic is a country that really hasn’t ever been on my radar to go to, but after seeing its beauty on the movie screen, I knew that an epic idea for our next adventure trip had been born.
Write a Storyline
“Babe, what if we did a James Bond-themed adventure road trip across the Czech Republic to visit the scenes from Casino Royale? Let’s rent a bad-ass sports car and you could be James Bond!”
Winston’s immediate response was,“Well who would be my other Bond Girls?”
Seriously, such a guy thing to say, but then a light bulb went off! “Wait, Babe, I can be all of your Bond girls! I am going to need some wigs and some amazing outfits, but let’s do some James Bond movie poster-style photo shoots at each location.” I mean, gorgeous locations, fancy cars, luxurious clothing, and a chance to play dress up with your love? What’s a better way to add some daring, intrigue, mystery and James Bond sexiness to your romantic getaway or honeymoon!
Create a Visual Story
You should always create an amazing visual story to go along with your idea. For a couple of adrenaline junkies like ourselves, Winston and I knew we had to make this mission happen. In order for “Operation Shaken Not Stirred” to go off without a hitch, we would quickly have to go through a “Bond Bootcamp” to become more “Bond-like.” I knew that in order to be a believable James Bond duo, that Winston and I would have to dress impeccably. Not being a super fashionista myself, I enlisted the help of celebrity honeymoon stylist, Caley Rinker, to style each of our looks based on the locations and scenes that we were going to. Not only did she style our outfits, but she sent them ahead to our hotel so they were ready and waiting for us and we didn’t have to lug huge garment bags across the globe!
The best part about writing your own story is that it can be styled and told in so many different ways, like “How to Sex Up your Romantic Getaway by Turning it into a James Bond Adventure,” “How to Add Mystery and Intrigue to your Vacation in the Czech Republic,” or “Planning your Next Trip around your Favorite Movie.” Literally, the stories are endless that you can come up with, but having a storyline is the most important part of any pitch.
Do Your Homework
A trip like this takes prep and research. We needed to know where to go and how to get there. This is where contacting the Board of Tourism of the Czech Republic turned out to be an invaluable asset. I emailed them our trip idea and not only did they LOVE the concept, but they helped us research the locations, set up English speaking guides and transportation for us to get there, helped get us special access to take photos in some of their country’s most elite locations, and FUNDED our entire trip! The trip hadn’t even started and already we were being treated like celebrities!
What would happen next would be an epic adventure across 4 countries, all expenses paid to photograph and write about what it was like to take a James Bond trip across the Czech Republic.
My dreams for this trip became a reality, but this may not be everyone’s idea of a dream travel job. For me it is about connecting and combining all of the things I am passionate about in life like meeting and connecting with new people and cultures, capturing beauty, experiencing adventures, and being a storyteller.
In fact, bringing the story back into your photography is what is going to make you a successful travel photographer, writer, or influencer no matter what your skill level is. Whatever your dream travel job is, be clear on your mission and storyline moving forward, because I am not here to tell you how to live MY dreams, but rather to find ways to turn yours into a reality…and it’s ALL about having a compelling story to tell.