The Sum Of It: This post will go over some of my best tips on how you can become an adventure photographer! Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of every purchase at no cost to you.
My Adventure Photographer Story
What I’m about to write is hard. It’s nothing crazy that hasn’t happened to someone somewhere in the world, but that fact that it occurred to me, hurts. I feel vulnerable, and quite frankly, terrified of what others will think as I type this, and for NO good reason. It’s been almost two years since it happened, but I still can’t shake the feelings of failure I have.
I was fired from my first job out of college. Yep. I said it- there it is! And I am embarrassed by it. I can get into a long tangent about what happened. For time sake, I went into my promotion meeting pretty unhappy. I told my bosses I didn’t want to be promoted because I felt like the company wasn’t taking my career seriously. Slowly but surely, tasks were taken away from me, and not two weeks later, I was fired. And the worst part? I had just planned two DREAM trips for any adventure photographer. How the heck was I going to pay for those now?
It hurt for a while, and I still haven’t mustered up the courage to tell most people. SO CONGRATS. Now you know one of my deepest secrets. Does this make us BFFs?
Can we Talk About Adventure Photography Now?
Now, what the heck does this have to do with becoming an adventure photographer? Well, a lot, actually. You see, I was manifesting something BIG before I was let go. The travel bug already hit me hard, my Instagram following was growing, and all my little heart wanted to do was break away from my office and SEE THE WORLD. I knew FOMO very well.
I would go to bed wishing I could be outside every day, but HOW? I was way too scared to leave my steady job and take the leap. So I guess the Universe heard my prayers because that beyotch got me fired. HAHA.
With all my new found freedom, I was HERE FOR IT. AIN”T NOBODY GONNA BRING ME DOWN. I took this as an opportunity to go full force into becoming an adventure photographer. And that’s why you’re here, right? You want to know the hows, the why, the in’s and out’s. I didn’t have much guidance going into this, so, young grasshopper, sit down and prepare for me to drop a whole ton of hard-earned wisdom on yo ass.
Please Note That…
I am still learning! This blog isn’t meant to be an exact formula on how to become an adventure photographer. It’s more of a list of lessons I have learned along the way that I think will help you!
Yes, I still have a ton of learning to do, BUT I think we can all learn for each other, and I’m writing this one for you, boo boo.
OKAY. Here’s the lowdown on how to become an adventure photographer:
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #1: Believe in the Unseen
My journey began after being fired from my 9-5. And you know what that taught me? YOU CAN’T PLAN FOR THESE THINGS. No matter who you are or where you are or what you’re looking for in life, you need to get it through your head that there will never be a right time. You just have to start.
Wanna become an adventure photographer? START. Start taking photos. Start editing pictures. Start studying the work of photographers you love and see why their work sings to you. Start reaching out to brands and see if you can shoot their products in your free time. If you don’t do anything else, just START.
Believing is All You Have
And you want to know what the biggest favor I did for myself was? I BELIEVED in me. Was I an adventure photographer yet? Nope! But I believed that’s what I was working towards was REAL. I believed that if all these other people could, I could too. I had grit and believed in what didn’t exist yet. Think of it this way: if you can dream of something, then it does exist somewhere. Someone else out there is living YOUR dream. Otherwise, how else did you come up with it, to begin with? Get serious and throw doubt out the window until you’re a badass adventure photographer.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #2: Build Your Adventure Photographer Brand
Find a style you love for editing images and use that to help color grade your social feeds and add a personal, recognizable touch to your photos. I have presets I use to edit all of my images. When someone sees one of my pictures, I want them to say “Oh! That’s Dani The Explorer’s photo!”.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #3: Use The Gear You Have
You do not need fancy equipment to become an adventure photographer. However, you need to become an expert in the gear you have. Learn all your camera settings, watch YouTube tutorials, and practice! To become an adventure photographer, practice creating visually inspiring images.
What Gear Do You Use, Dani?
I’m glad you asked! While I don’t believe you need to have the most high-tech equipment in the world to succeed, as your skill grows, you will want new equipment. I have a blog about all the photo gear I use and suggest.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #4: Go Out and Explore
Adventure photographers go on adventures. Yep! I said it. Even if you are starting out and only have weekends to work with, try to find a couple of hours on your next Saturday to take a hike or explore somewhere new. In my blog on how to get paid to travel on Instagram, I talk about some techniques you can use to get your first couple of brand sponsorships.
Those techniques can be applied to photography too! Because let’s be honest here, there is no way you’re going to become an adventure photographer if you don’t, well, adventure. No excuses!
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #5: Make Connections with Other Photographers
As with any business, in the adventure photographer realm networking is necessary! You need to be a positive person and keep your reputation in check. A bad reputation can follow you around in this industry! Clients move to other companies; other adventure photographers talk. If you go around being a sh***y person, it will catch up with you. Set a good example, follow Leave No Trace principles, and bring joy to others rather than tear them down!
How do I Network with Other Adventure Photographers?
EASY. Use Instagram. Half of my friends today come from the app. We started by commenting on each other’s photos, then one day we decided to meet up for a hike and explore. Obviously be smart with who you talk to online and don’t get yourself caught up in anything crazy. I actually wrote up a blog here about how to beat the Instagram algorithm where I speak more on how adventure photographers can be social on social media.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #6: Get Adventure Photography Clients
Again, to make all of your adventure photographer dreams come true, you need to sustain yourself. In other words, you need to make an income. You can read my blog about how to get paid Instagram sponsorships for some ideas of techniques I use for adventure photography and brand work.
I also want to note that while I do pitch brands, I am in a place now where brands reach out to me about my adventure photography services. You will get there too! All of this comes with growth.
A great place to start is building up your photography portfolio and doing a few jobs for free. Message brands you want to work with on Instagram. Again, this is just to build up your portfolio. Afterward, you will have a better idea as to how much a job should cost and what you feel comfortable charging.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #7: Treat Everything You Do Like Business
While being an adventure photographer is fun, this is my business. I love taking photos and traveling the world, but I still need to turn in client deliverables, answer emails and pitch larger projects. Every investment I make in my adventure photography affects the bottom line of my business.
I have a website, accounting software, social media assistants, monthly business expenses, and the list goes on. As with any career, to become an adventure photographer, you need to understand that you need to make a living and think about all your decisions in business terms.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #8: Set Goals
No business is successful without goal setting! I set long and short-term goals for myself every week, break them down into smaller tasks and use a calendar to stay on track. You can use this same goal setting technique to become an adventure photographer or in any other aspects of your life.
On adventure photography trips, I set goals for images and other content I want to capture to make sure I complete jobs to the best of my ability.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #9: Market Yourself
When you’re a freelancer, you’re your own accountant, marketer, HR rep, negotiator, and just about every other type of person who’s needed to run a business.
I want to bring your attention to MARKETING, though. The only way you’ll be able to continuously get clients is by putting yourself out there!
So what are the best ways to market yourself as an adventure photographer? Let’s talk about those!
This should come as no surprise, but Instagram is one of the best platforms for you to market yourself as an adventure photographer. It’s a visual platform and the money brands are pouring into it is only growing!
You should be using your Instagram like a portfolio. Post content on there that you like creating as an adventure photographer and will help you expand your business.
Many folks take LinkedIn for granted, but it’s a great platform to use as an adventure photographer! If you ever need a client contact, there’s a good chance you can find them on LinkedIn.
Make sure your profile is up to date and that you link back to your website and other social media channels.
If you don’t have a website already, you NEED to get one! Websites are a great way to talk about who you are, your work, and blog so you can pop up on Google Searches.
If you’re not into the whole social media thing, start by creating a website.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer Step #10: Have Grit
There will always be a level of uncertainty with being a freelancer. Contracts get canceled, jobs come down the pipeline that you weren’t expecting. All of this is okay and bound to happen! Either way, you need to carry on and keep fighting for your dreams.
How to Become an Adventure Photographer: My Final Thoughts
Those who keep pushing, are the ones who will become successful. If something isn’t working, try something new! If you don’t, you might miss out on opportunities down the line.
If you want to become an adventure photographer, get after it! The worst thing you can do is give up before you even get started. If you found this blog helpful, leave me a note in the comments! Good luck on your journey!