Insatiable, inexhaustible and globetrotting, travel photographers have a thirst for adventure! Passionate about travel and photography, they travel the world, fixing their lens on the wonders of our beautiful planet.
Travel photography has the power to inspire you to explore new horizons. Throughout their travels, the photographers seek to immortalize the present moment to tell and share their experiences through images. And, who knows, maybe inspire you to join them on their adventures.
The role of the travel photographer
The role of the travel photographer is to create and share images that capture the essence and atmosphere of the places they visit. By sharing their experiences through photography, they give audiences an insight into the different cultures and lifestyles of the places they explore. They do this by documenting different aspects of a destination, such as landscapes, monuments, people, flora and fauna.
Their images are used to educate viewers on various subjects such as history, geography and ecology. They can also accompany their images with stories, travel tips and personal anecdotes to help the public better understand certain aspects of the destinations they present. In fact, the travel photographer, whether freelancer or salaried, can be hired by agencies, travel magazines, hotels or tourist organizations to promote a specific destination.
Travel photos are used in various paper formats, for brochures, guides or advertising campaigns, but also online, for websites or Instagram accounts. From catalogues to animations on social networks, travel photography has a wide range of applications. Travel photographers must therefore pay particular attention to the final format of their photos.
In all cases, the role of professional travel photographers is to create attractive and compelling images that encourage people to visit particular destinations by highlighting their attractions. A true visual storyteller, they therefore play an important role in inspiring, educating and promoting destinations.
Qualifications required to become a travel photographer
For a photojournalist specializing in travel photography, the demands are many and varied.
Travel photography is about discovery and exploration. Travel photographers thus need to be curious and open-minded about the different cultures of the countries they visit.
Travel photography is also about going beyond first impressions and capturing authentic moments. With this in mind, the travel photographer – always accompanied by their camera – must be in the right place at the right time to take quality photographs. They must sometimes be intrepid and venture off the beaten track to capture original and evocative images that reveal the true nature of the places they visit.
Aside from a pronounced taste for adventure and new experiences, travel photographers are also organized and methodical. Travel photography often involves managing itineraries, travel schedules, permits, as well as various reservations (transport, accommodation, catering, etc.). Travel photographers should plan their trip as far in advance as possible to maximize their time in the field.
A good travel photographer is also a photographer with a wide range of photographic techniques. During their travels, they are guided to photograph the different aspects of their visits, taking pictures of landscapes, buildings, people or animals. The travel photographer is therefore a real “Swiss army knife”. They must be able to multitask and master a wide variety of photographic techniques. From landscape photography, to portrait photography to wildlife photography, the travel photographer’s many technical skills are not crosscutting, but rather complementary.
Finally, an excellent ability to adapt is necessary. Indeed, traveling and working as a travel photographer can come with challenges such as harsh weather conditions, logistical constraints or language barriers. To overcome these obstacles and continue to produce quality images despite everything, the travel photographer must demonstrate a good dose of adaptability and resilience.
Open-mindedness, curiosity, spirit of adventure, authenticity, adaptability, organizational capacity, planning, and resilience: these are the qualities expected of a travel photographer.
Become a travel photographer with Spéos
Spéos offers several professional photography courses allowing you to specialize or improve your skills in photojournalism and photo reportage – most of which are accessible at Baccalaureate level:
From the point of view of the independent photographer:
> Professional photography in 1 year – Photo reportage specialization
> Professional photography in 2 years – Photo reportage specialization
> Professional photography + video/3D – Photo reportage specialization (training in 3 years)
From the agency’s point of view with Magnum Photos:
> Creative Documentary Course by Magnum Photos & Spéos
From the magazine’s point of view with Polka:
> Photojournalism by Polka & Spéos – 5 months in Paris
The training at Spéos covers all stages of creating and producing a photo report or photo documentary:
- Researching information: staying informed and researching subjects that may be of interest to newspapers and magazines, contacting editorial offices to submit reports, requesting authorization in places to be photographed, etc.
- Shooting: knowing how to visually represent news: framing values, shot, use of natural or artificial light, search for the best point of view, optics, sensitivity, appropriate diaphragm values and speed; be able to produce information through a visually well-constructed and readable image, which transmits the emotion of the photographed event; know how to synthesize in a single image or in a series of images the action, the actors, the context and the stakes of the event.
- The choice of images: learn to edit your own work by building a coherent story with the right choice of images.
- Image processing: knowing how to correctly caption photos.
- Storytelling: learning to tell a story in photos: a photograph must show, inform or provide proof; write a synopsis or text illustrating the photo report.
- Managing your own archives: adopting image classification and storage media techniques to properly preserve and use your own image archives.
Photo training at Spéos allows you to learn the profession of professional photographer and to specialize to become a photojournalist.
Essential technical skills in photography are acquired and developed throughout the photo courses provided by Spéos: photo editing, post-production, mastery of computer software and the creation of a professional portfolio. Training at Spéos also allows aspiring photojournalists to develop their sensitivity and visual signature.
Essential point of the Spéos teaching method: students who follow photojournalism or photo reportage training all follow courses in learning photography in the studio. The goal: to learn to control light indoors and then be able to better manage it outdoors.
Opportunities, careers and perspectives
Today the majority of travel photographers choose to work as freelancers, and therefore generally have several clients. They sell their photos to travel agencies, magazines, websites or other media.
In some cases, travel photographers can also be hired directly by tourist offices and tourism organizations as employees. They then produce promotional images of the destinations on several media, brochures, guides or advertising campaigns.
Travel-related brands, such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or equipment manufacturers, may also need a photographer to create visual content.
The choice of supply and potential customers is vast. It is up to the photographers to find their balance and learn to work for several clients at the same time. Be careful though: as with any business creation, you sometimes have to wait 1 to 2 years before making yourself known and being able to build customer loyalty. Travel photographers must project themselves on a long-term vision in order to develop their photography activity. Rigor and perseverance are therefore required to find a place in this environment.
Application and contact
Registration is open all year round and is subject to availability. Do not hesitate to contact Spéos if you have any questions. And at any time, you are welcome to visit the school, just make an appointment!