Getting Paid for Tourism
The inescapable question: How do you get paid to travel? The myriad of possibilities could turn into a novel, but what many people think of is Tourism Photography.
What is Tourism photography?
Photography intended to promote travel to a certain area whether that be in publications, for companies (tours, hotels, etc.), or travel agencies.
What are Travel Agencies?
Government-funded entities that utilize multimedia platforms to highlight travel opportunities to encourage people to visit their region. This can be either state, county, or even city agencies.
Step 1: Build Your Portfolio
What projects do you hope to do for a travel agency? Use your existing website/blog/social media platforms to build your portfolio/brand/experience.
Your portfolio does not have to be hired work, but it needs to be polished and professional quality work to demonstrate you can deliver for future projects. Your follower counts don’t matter, the quality of your work does.
Practice selling stock photos on 500px, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, etc to get a feel for the types of images that sell for marketing.
Use your website to build a portfolio of travelogues, blogs, trip reports, etc. to use as a sample of your work when you reach out to potential clients. Write about every trip you take and hone your craft as a writer.
Post produced videos of your travels to YouTube, do a social media takeover, and/or have stories of your travels to your Instagram.
Step 2: The Pitch
Find a Travel Agency that is active in the project area you hope to work in (i.e. social media, blogs, YouTube, etc). This can be local, in an area of interest, or an area you are familiar with. Focus efforts towards agencies that partner with a range of creators (not just large media companies).
Search their directory and identify the specific person to reach out to about your project (Social Media Manager, Tourism Specialist, Content Manager, etc.)
Familiarize yourself with the agency’s work, and identify content gaps that you could help fill–don’t offer to remake the wheel.
- Don’t pitch Travel Wyoming to license photos of Old Faithful. Try to anticipate their upcoming needs on their content calendar. For example, If it’s close to Christmas, do they need to license photos of snowy trees or Christmas lights? Do they need a blog about the best places to rent a cabin for a Christmas getaway?
Assemble a media kit (a price sheet for how much you will charge for your services). You will need to have your exact price in mind BEFORE you reach out to an agency, and have a reason for your prices. Then email your pitch!
- Introduce yourself, your work, and how you found them
- Explain the project you are offering to do
- The concept (i.e. Christmas cabin getaway)
- The deliverables (e.g. 1 blog, 5 images for licensing, 2 videos, etc.)
- The timeline
- Why are you the person for this project?
- Your experience: what have you done that shows you can do this project (that blog portfolio you built up)
- Your brand (does this project fit with the vibe you portray on your website/social media?)
- Your personality (what’s unique about you that makes your lens the one we should see this project through?)
- Respond to emails quickly/professionally
Step 3: Get Your Shots
Create a shot list and use satellite maps/online research to help plan your locations.
Shoot with your project in mind. If you are licensing images, shoot with negative space for any text or branding that may be needed.
Compose your images for commercial appeal; it’s a good time to go ahead and follow the rule of thirds.
Be exceedingly careful with your settings to make sure you won’t have an unacceptable amount of noise and that your focus is sharp.
For the most part, Tourism Agencies want warm, rich colors, not moody/undersaturated – plan to shoot at golden hour.
If you are writing a blog or producing a video, have fun. If you aren’t having fun on the project, it won’t look like a fun place, and the Tourism Agency will be unable to use the content to attract people to visit. If you love to travel, it will show, and people will want to go there, too. Be you.
Shoot any people in your content candidly laughing, lounging, or immersed in the experience. Overly posed photos are out of place in travel marketing.
Step 4: Deliver
Submit your deliverables ON TIME.
A good rule of thumb is to get them in at least a week early, so if there are any changes that need to be made, you have enough time to make them ahead of the Agency’s content calendar needs.
Make an effort to deliver the files professionally. Google drive folders work fine, but organize them clearly, title your images, and make sure to write any metadata that the Agency needs to your files (e.g. photographer name, location, etc).
Once the Agency posts your work, make sure that people know about it. You want the work to perform well, and sharing it may turn into future work.
Sam Brockway is a freelance photographer specializing in travel and outdoor photography. He began sharing his work as a hobby, but after features from The Weather Channel and Travel Nevada, he started pursuing his passion of photography professionally.
Sam grew up in the diminutive mountain town of Chester, California where he spent his childhood roaming the forest and exploring Lassen National Park. He earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and attended the University of Washington for graduate work in Public Administration and Marine and Environmental Affairs. His lifelong personal and academic respect for wilderness areas is evident in his authentic depictions of people and products engaging with the outdoors.
Through a growing social media presence, Sam has been able to work with a number of large outdoor gear and apparel companies. He can be found creating while traveling throughout the great American West.
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