How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer

Is traveling a passion for you? Here are a handful of tips to start making money as a travel photographer.

Photography and travel are two passions that go well together. If you add in the ability to make money doing these two things, then you have a dream lifestyle for many photographers. Mango Street’s latest video is an interview with travel photographer Ryan Longnecker of Ryan Longnecker Photography. In the video, he gives a handful of tips on how to make money while doing what you love.

In the interview, Longnecker starts by offering a few tips from the artistic side of travel photography. This section included a few excellent points about the importance of developing a style that is unique to you. He also mentions the issue of creative ruts and how to deal with them. He then finished the interview with a handful tips on how to start making money by connecting with brands. He made the point more than once that you have to find a way to offer a brand something more than just your photography. His video has a few practical examples of this.

If the travel lifestyle is something that has long been a passion for you, this short video will give you several tips to get started.

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21 Comments

Jen Photographs's picture

To be fair, the auto captions utterly butchered this video, and I had trouble following. But I didn't find the info in this video particularly useful as far as learning about making money off travel photography. "Try everything." "Creative Ruts" Kayyy.

I'm also confused on how Skillshare is relevant?

Deleted Account's picture

Skillshare is their sponsor so they had to "pay the bills" by doing the promotion.

I agree that this was a pretty cryptic advise video which spent more time talking about vague ways to be a better photographer than how to connect with brands and get paid.

James Alexander Adams's picture

All these 'tutorial' video guys these days don't give actual advice, they give an image and lifestyle but not true tips on how to do what they are doing. They don't want to reveal how to actually make money because it's too easy to replicate and it is already overcrowded as is. These types of video are selling a lifestyle, not skills.

Jen Photographs's picture

True. That's why I value and recommend the ones who do give concrete advice and info. Chase Jarvis and Matt Haapoja are good.

Matthew Saville's picture

While I agree that a lot of video content these days is a bit too vague and cryptic to be highly valuable, I wouldn't necessarily say that it's too easy to replicate what they're doing, or that their industry is already over-crowded.

I've seen a handful of successful business models along these lines, and each and every time it involves an incredible amount of hustle to get to where they area, and once they get "somewhere", it's not as crowded as you'd think.

Jen Photographs's picture

Re skillshare - Ah ok! I'm cool with video hosts mentioning sponsors -- after all, they help pay the bills -- but that was awkwardly worked into the video.

Glad I'm not alone in feeling the main points were vague and not particularly helpful.

Ryan Longnecker's picture

comment posted twice

Jen Photographs's picture

> If I would say 'email Poler Outdoor Stuff and ask for steve about shooting headshots' it would actually be useless even though thats the specifics that worked for me.

You should say that! If that tactic worked for you, this information would help other people who do similar photography.

That's what we're asking for: specific information. Vague advice like "try everything" helps no one.

Ryan Longnecker's picture

works for a lot of the people I know, the 'try everything' had to do with creative ruts. the 'way to break into making money as a travel photographer' had to do with networking and working with smaller brands and companies. And, to be honest, no one besides Mango Street was asking me anything. If you want to ask me something specific you'll find out I'm more than happy to answer specifics. General questions usually precede general answers, but I can also guarantee that the advice I gave has/did/does work for me and those I know that do this full time

Jen Photographs's picture

Maybe reach out to one of the writers here on Fstopper and see if they're interested in doing a more in-depth interview.

I'm definitely interested in seeing what you have to share. Hopefully with more specific advice. :)

Ryan Longnecker's picture

yeah maybe, because any youtube video should have a sort of understood disclaimer of 'it's more complicated than this' whether it's a 5 minute video or an 8 hour one. It took me 8 years to figure this out so it's most certainly more complex than any youtube video can answer. If there are very specific questions you have though don't hesitate to ask, and if I have an answer I'll give it, if not I wont make one up, or if someone else answers it better I'll always defer

James Alexander Adams's picture

unfortunately, the youtube world has become more about getting views than truly offering advice. The truly teaching videos often have under 10k views because they are longer and more detailed, real tips can't be shared or learned a 5-minute video, so I guess the issue I have is the title is misleading, 'how to make it as a travel photographer' should be 12-hour video. I have just seen too many videos these days offering "how to teach you how to do what I do" and they tend to push people towards products, not skills. Listen I know I sound 1 sided but I am one of those sponsors, I pay people for advertising on youtube and Instagram in this space so I understand the need to make money from sponsors and products. Just titles of these videos can overpromise and underdeliver.

Jen Photographs's picture

I'm curious: if you found a youtuber that focused on skills, that'd be a pro in your book? Do you think other sponsors feel the same? Or do you find they prefer heavy products/endorsements videos?

Matthew Saville's picture

A pro what, a pro Youtuber, or a pro photographer? :-P ;-)

Lots of pro photographers "sell out" and only create Youtube videos when they're paid, or given products for free to review, however there are still plenty of pro photographers who refuse to do any paid content, or sponsored reviews / tutorials, etc.

A pro Youtuber, for the most part, is someone who either gets paid by sponsors, or is only producing Youtube content as the "delivery system" for what they're really selling, be it eBooks, workshops, or other products.

Honestly though? None of that matters.

I've seen genuine, earnest photographers who refuse to ever accept free products or do paid content, ...yet their advice is utterly terrible simply because they just don't know what they're talking about, or are just giving bad advice in general.

Oppositely, I've seen "sell-out photographers" and "professional Youtubers" who give fantastic advice, and produce quality reviews / tutorials, simply because they know what the heck they're talking about, have tons of experience in their field, and simply enjoy the process of producing honest, un-biased content.

The important thing is the combination of BOTH integrity / ethics, and experience / intelligence, of the photographer / content producer. Thankfully, most of the time you can smell a shill from a mile away, and you can also tell when someone is giving an honest assessment and/or quality tips...

Jen Photographs's picture

In this case, "a pro" as in "a plus" (ie pro vs con) not pro as in professional.

Matthew Saville's picture

Haha now I feel dumb for not thinking of that third option.

Thankfully, my point still /almost/ pertains to what you meant, though.

Ryan Longnecker's picture

Jen, James, Michael there are many more specific ways that I can address particular needs for one persons network, area, types of work/travel they want to do but for such a broad topic the answers have to be broad so they don't risk being over simplistic. My true advice is to look around at your current area of focus or surroundings and work with local brands/companies to build a portfolio. If I would say 'email Poler Outdoor Stuff and ask for steve about shooting headshots' it would actually be useless even though thats the specifics that worked for me.

Particular advice has to be particular to the person and there are mentorships for those kinds of things. Building a portfolio is a skill, but in the future if you have specific questions my best advice would be to exit the echo chamber of critique and ask specific questions. You may be surprised how willing I, and many like me, am willing to give specific answers.

Jeff McCollough's picture

I saw this video right when it came out. It sucked.

Deleted Account's picture

So basically, the point is "to try being different". Just like anybody else. Hmmm.

Also I'm fed up with the "find your own style" narrative. That's actual bullshit. Find a subject, carve it the way you like, and eventually, one day, the result may be called "your style". Creating a style is not a goal, it's a side effect. Especially now that a consistent color-grading is called a style.

With that in mind, I don't understand how "trying stuff that is not you" is supposed to help you find "your style", because finding your style is personal, so if you force yourself into something uncomfortable, how are you suppose to cultivate your style ?

And finally, I find that revealing that the guys asks "what kind of artists do you want to be" instead of "what sort of art do you want to produce". So it's not about the work, it's about the ego. So basically, we are talking about an Instagramer here.

Christos Dikos's picture

Is this the right video?

Ryan Longnecker's picture

Well at least we all agree it was a great video and content