Richard Branson, the ultimate entrepreneur and aviation mogul had said “If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be a priority”. Adventures somehow have that effect. An adventure, good or bad, will change you for the better. Memories of travels, expeditions and adventures will stick with you longer than a new phone or pair of shoes. The challenging part is capturing these feelings on camera.
Have you ever come across a breathtaking view or stunning sunset and tried to take a picture so you could have this visual memento? All of us have, some are just better at capturing it than others. As an adventure photographer you capture these events in a way that the viewer, who wasn’t there, can feel the power and essence of it. We’ve all come across a travel photo where it almost felt as though you were there. If you are looking to become an adventure photographer and start a career capturing images like these, then I am glad you came across our blog. We have streamlined everything we have learned along the way through our shared successes and failures. We put pen to paper (so-to-speak) and laid out the foundation for you here. These are our 7 key pieces of advice for anyone interested in becoming an adventure photographer:
1. Believe in yourself
The first thing we need to tell you is this – you MUST believe in yourself! We get it, it can sound cliché, but we’re telling you… this is a game changer. If you don’t have the confidence to take chances and creative risks, then you aren’t going to see a whole lot of success. If you don’t believe in yourself, you aren’t going to put yourself out there and you won’t be seen. And if you don’t believe in the value of your work, you will price your photos too low. You must see the value in your work and price accordingly. You absolutely can become a talented adventure photographer if that is what you want to do! As our confidence grew, so did our success, but the confidence always came before the success.
2. Build a brand
Another key to success is building a brand. This is a mistake many photographers still make, especially in the early stages. You need to know what kind of image you are going to take and build that into your brand. For example, dark images of untouched scenery or bright photos with people? Your brand is the feeling people get when they look at your photos. Having a defined brand will keep you consistent which will help connect you with businesses and people looking for exactly what you offer.
3. Use the gear you have
We’d say the most common reservation people have about becoming an adventure photographer is not having the right equipment. Use what you have now and just get started. Some of the most successful adventure photographers use only their phone and some good editing software. As you grow your business and get more work, you can build your equipment and buy more but you don’t need it all to get started. In fact, having tens of thousands of dollars in high end equipment to get started is a mistake and saving money to pursue your dreams long-term is a better idea. Start small and build.
4. Go out and explore
Not bad homework, right? You don’t need to hike Mount Kilimanjaro right from the get-go, but visit local trails, or go to a vacant lot or empty field. Exploring your local surroundings is the best way to improve your skills. Get creative and try different techniques, lighting and editing. You will have a better understanding for what your brand is, how you like to shoot and areas you want to improve. When you read a new blog post on photography or watch a video, immediately go out and practice. This is the best way to learn.
5. Connect with other photographers
Establishing connections and friendships with other photographers is incredibly beneficial. You can learn from each other, collaborate on amazing images and videos, cross promote and generally support one another. If you can find a more experienced adventure photographer who can help mentor you, that is ideal. Offer to assist them on their next shoot, simply so you can observe them. You help them out, while gaining a ton of experience and knowledge. A lot of the time, photographers tend to work in silos but the biggest leaps in your skillset will be made through these connections. You should also connect with a photographer at a similar skill level as yourself, someone just starting out. You will better understand each other’s struggles, frustrations and triumphs and can support each other along the way.
6. Pitch clients
You need to go after the clients you want. If you don’t, another photographer will – the industry can be quite competitive. When pitching a brand or client, highlight how you will solve a problem for them. How will your photographs benefit them and their business? People don’t care as much about your previous job experience or education; they really want to know what the return of their investment is. Basically, they want some ‘social proof’ and to develop trust in you to elevate their brand. Create a media kit that highlights exactly what you are offering and what the client will get from working with you. Connect with potential clients and send them your media kit to get the conversation started.
7. Market Yourself
This is related to the point above but needs to be stressed because it is incredibly important! As an adventure photographer, you really need to put yourself out there and market yourself to get noticed. Promote yourself consistently on social media platforms like Instagram and share the amazing photos you’ve taken with the world. Choose the right hashtags and get involved in the adventure photography community. Send messages and emails to clients, photographers, or influencers you would love to work with. You are an entrepreneur, and no one is going to market your business and adventure photography services for you, so go all in and make sure people know about you!
Is it easy? Definitely not! Becoming an adventure photographer requires a great deal of determination, confidence, hard work and consistency. But if you have the passion for it, take the first steps and start practicing. Everyone starts somewhere, and no one is going to take professional-quality photos right away. Anything is possible with a little hard work and determination. We say go for it!
Have questions about adventure photography? Leave a comment below!