A freelance travel photographer offers advice on how to save money, obtain stuff for free, and uncover additional sources of income.
The only reasonable place for me to reside as a freelance travel photographer who is always hustling to acquire new customers and establish contacts is in a major metropolis. Because all of the ad agencies and brand offices are located in big cities, this is where the majority of creative networking takes place. The only problem is that, as someone whose work and style largely include outdoor living, nature photography, and scenic settings, I need to travel outside of the city regularly to truly create my work.
Because the high expenditures of living in a city and the numerous expenses of travel don’t exactly lend themselves to a freelancing income, these two components of my business tend to collide. Fortunately, I’ve learned a few strategies for saving money on vacations, acquiring free goods, and finding new sources of income during the last several years. My trip photography guide may be found here.
1. Enroll in A Rewards Program
Whether you’re flying weekly for all of your big-name customers or just shooting images on your yearly vacation, travel is expensive, and points add up quickly. Look into which point cards are the best fit for you. Some credit cards may give you free airline tickets and upgrades, while others will give you free hotel stays.
If you fly frequently enough, you may be eligible for airline elite status, as Casey Neistat, a filmmaker and YouTuber, illustrates in this video. Find out what works best for you and get a rewards card as soon as you can.
2. Produce Social Media Content For Major Brands
Reaching out to brands and corporations in exchange for content is a simple method to cut down on some upfront trip expenditures. The material you create can be in the form of images and videos that the company can share on its social media accounts, or you can offer to post photos of their product on your Instagram if you have a significant following.
As a photographer, you have the power to create material that everyone desires, but as a trip photographer, you have one advantage: location. If you’re heading to India, you might require new luggage. Create a pitch deck for Herschel, Patagonia, Osprey, or anybody else who manufactures backpacks to show them what type of content you can provide in return for their products. They gain free social material, and you get free hardware as a result of this arrangement.
3. Make Use of The Free Wifi At Starbucks
You’ll need to find a Starbucks or other cafe with free and fast internet if you require wifi on your vacation for uploading video material, submitting picture work, or anything other than using Facebook. Because individuals prefer the convenience of having wifi in their room, hotel internet is nearly always rubbish and costs an exorbitant amount of money. They will charge you if you are over your bandwidth limit.
If you’re traveling in North America or several large cities abroad, you can almost always find a Starbucks within walking distance, if not within your hotel. Most Starbucks have Google Fibre, which is likely 10 times faster than wifi at home or work. Take a walk, grab a cappuccino, and upload your photos to a faster internet connection. It will save you money and time, allowing you to get back out and take more photographs.
4. There are Casinos!
I cannot stress enough how important casinos are, and it is not for you to gamble away your trip funds on your first night in town. Casinos are a must-see on any vacation, whether you enjoy gambling or not.
The key is to play for 30-45 minutes—this is when free parking normally kicks in, which may save you a lot of money if you’re traveling by vehicle or camper. It doesn’t hurt that you receive free beverages as well, but that’s only the beginning of the benefits.
Casino member cards are free, and they frequently come with a modest amount of credit to play for free ($5-$10). The bonuses pile up, much like the rewards cards stated before. Upgrades to hotels, free meals, and in certain situations, if you frequent the same casino chain, they may even pay for your airfare.
Do some research, pick a casino rewards program (my personal favorite is Total Rewards), and if you’re clever, you’ll be able to save money while having a fantastic time.
5. Use A Bulk Ticketing Scheme To Purchase Airline Tickets
Book a bulk ticket if you know you’ll be traveling for a short length of time (a year or less) and have a route planned for a journey around the world. These normally sell in blocks of miles and may save you a lot of money. You earn your savings upfront since you’re guaranteeing your business from the start, unlike rewards miles or airline loyalty schemes. Though it may seem like a large outlay at first, you will save a lot of money in the long term and will never have to worry about running out of money.
6. Barter Your Services For Food or A Place To Stay
While brand collaborations may have covered the cost of your gear and upgraded your ticket, there’s still something to be said about working hard after you’ve arrived. Find out how to contact local companies, then walk into stores and restaurants to market your photography services. Offer to take 10 images of their cuisine for them to publish on Instagram in return for dinner, to photograph an event at the hotel in exchange for a free stay, or to improve the photography of an Airbnb in exchange for a discount.
You have valuable abilities, and you may save a lot of money by exchanging goods and services with small businesses rather than asking for cash. I assure you that the only thing that tastes better than the lunch for which you traveled so far is the same meal for free.
7. Take Only What You Need, Including Your Photographic Equipment
Take only one carry-on bag and a couple of sets of clothes, and utilize your clothes to cushion your photographic equipment in your luggage. There are no luggage fees, no risk of losing your belongings, and no need to pay for an inflated airport cab to go to your hotel.
Yes, your 80-200mm lens could come in handy at some point during your vacation, but more than likely, when that time arrives, your massive lens will be locked up in the hotel safe. Pack a couple of compact adaptable lenses and a light mid-range camera unless you’re going to photograph anything particularly specialized, like a sporting event or a bird migration.
8. Schedule Freelancing Work Around Your Trip Plans Ahead of Time
Are you planning a trip to Banff? Someone requires mountain photographs. Are you going to the Dubai Fireworks Festival? Make contact with a fireworks business and offer to return images for their social media accounts. You’re searching for something that won’t take up a lot of your time but is solely relevant to the location where you’ll be. Think about special holidays and festivals, one-of-a-kind sites and monuments, and anything else that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. If the firm would have to pay for someone to come to where you are, simply being there saves them money.
9. Keep Track of Conversion Rates and Local Currencies
American dollars are more valuable in certain nations than local money, while they are worthless in others. Know what form of currency has the highest worth where you’re going so you don’t end up with money you can only spend at a currency exchange store. Because you don’t have any other alternatives, these places inflate the price. You must decide whether you should convert to local currency before arriving at your destination or purchase items in USD and then exchange them for local money after you reach. Figure out whatever option provides you with the best return, and have some cash on hand for something useful locally.
10. Use Stock Photography To Sell Every Shot You’ve Ever Taken
When you return from your vacation and have hundreds of shots, upload any images that you don’t sell to a company to a stock photo website. A strong portfolio of stock location images, whether you were golfing in Florida or sailing in France, may be a terrific source of passive revenue.
Take pictures of items that aren’t on Google yet. Avoid taking shots of the Eiffel Tower and instead focus on the streets, cafés, and flower markets. The nondescript (read: non-licensable) landscape is in high demand. Take a lot of images, post them to a stock photo source, and tag them correctly no matter where you travel.