The Benefits of Being a Solo Travel Photographer

Traveling the world is something that we should all experience at one time in our lives. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone and onto a path of new experiences can be a truly daunting yet enriching life experience.

Photography has always been a passion of mine, and started out as more of a hobby rather than a career, but if you have the passion, the skill and the patience to become a travel photographer, then your job can take you all over the world.

The is no real secret to breaking into the world of photography, as long as you know your equipment, know your ability and have the confidence to execute the right shot, then you can go far and you can quickly find yourself in a new and exciting lifestyle.

First time traveling solo

Traveling solo can be quite a scary thought to get your head around, but it also means that you have the freedom to go wherever you please, for as long as you want. When you break into the world of travel photography, your assignments can take you to far off and interesting destinations, so it’s important to have the flexibility and freedom that solo travel brings. I initially thought that I would be lonely and become bored when I thought of traveling alone, but you
become part of a community of solo travelers. You meet many fascinating people from all different types of cultures and you become so much better off for doing so.

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Beautiful scenery in the mountains of Peru. To the right is a traditional market stall that sells
fabrics and dried flowers.

Traveling as a photographer

I cannot stress enough the benefits of traveling solo when you intend to take photos and take on photography assignments along the way. By taking photos, I do not mean taking selfies or holiday pictures, but rather, beautiful, rare and marketable photographs that can help to fund your travels and to spark your career as a photographer. As a photographer, you need to be flexible and patient, so this could either require moving around a lot, or staying in one place for
an extended period of time. If you travel solo as a photographer, then you can truly integrate into a community, or observe from a distance without the distractions that company will inevitably bring.

An archway to the unknown! One of the many beautiful walkways that meander through the
villages of South America. From here you can smell traditional cooking and hear the shouts of
little children playing football in the distance.

I discovered this beautiful salt lake whilst hiking in Chile. Swimming in this water makes you
feel light as a feather as it makes you float!

Better exposure to culture

When you are traveling solo, you will find yourself drawn to the different cultures and communities you encounter. It’s important to really get yourself stuck in with any group of people or community that you meet, as this will help you to get a better understanding of the world, and will help you to take more authentic and brilliant photographs. Think about this, if you are having your picture taken by a stranger, it can often feel awkward and can make the picture
seem overly staged and awkward; whereas, if you have your picture taken by a person you know, maybe mid conversation or whilst you are deep in thought, the picture will look more authentic, less posed and the quality will improve massively.

The key is to understand the subtle nuances of the community, as this will help you to understand how best to take the photograph. If you want to fund your travels through photography, then it’s important to ensure that you are delivering new and innovative images. Remember, there will be hundreds of people who are traveling just as you are, and who are looking to sell their images to different companies, or to be chosen for assignments, so it’s important to make sure that you are standing out from the crowd.

There is no real secret to breaking into the world of photography, if you have little to no experience, but feel confident about your work and about using a camera, then it can easily become your means to an end. In order to make yourself known against other competing photographer, you must first build up a
commendable photography portfolio, which will consist of your best photographs and work. This will take practice, patience and confidence in your craft.

After you have refined your skills, and compiled a portfolio, it’s important to make yourself known to all of the potential employers, websites, magazines and so on. Many freelance photographers make the mistake of failing to take out photographer insurance, which can protect you from anything from employers refusing to pay you, to people stealing your images to your equipment breaking, getting lost or being stolen.

These salt flats stretched as far as the eye can see in Chile, look for long enough and you
need to have a sit down!

A new friend we met whilst trekking through the mountains of Peru

Expect the unexpected

Once you have become an established travel photographer, the world is your oyster and you will find yourself being whisked away to far off destinations for exciting adventures. Whether you are trekking through the rainforest, capturing new and interesting animals and insects, or whether you are driving through the sand dunes of the desert chasing the sunset and waiting for sunrise, you will come to see that there is never a dull moment as a travel photographer. If
you’re traveling alone and are using travel photography as a means of income for your journey, then you will find yourself out of your comfort zone, really becoming part of the community, rather than being a distant observer.

In order to make it in the competitive world of photography, you have to exercise patience, show an understanding of the environment and community that you are operating within and also to be at one with the equipment that you are using.

Alice Porter is an avid writer who now works for Immigration Advice Service in the UK, advising travelers. Find her on Twitter.