The obvious things aren’t always the most important things when it comes to travel photography
Knowing how to use a camera is important, yes, but it’s not the most important thing.
Being able to travel to exotic destinations is important, but again it’s not the most important thing.
The most important thing you can work on as an aspiring travel photographer is building a community.
Build a community around your work
In a world where we have become trained to let social signals influence our decisions, being the leader of a community made up of like-minded people puts you head and shoulders above the competition.
“Everyone is a travel photographer.”
Yes, it’s true.
Everyone has a camera and the ability to broadcast images to the world instantly in their pocket these days.
So instead of fighting it and looking at it as competition, you should embrace it.
Invite other photographers, creators and anybody interested in the visual arts (even if they are yet to pick up a camera) to join a community that you have created.
That’s not to say make it all about you though.
Choose your poison
Where do the people who you want to have influence over hang out online?
Once you have put some thought into it you should create an account on your chosen platform.
It’s best to choose one that encourages engagement and conversation. For example, Instagram isn’t the best social media platform out there for having conversations (although as a photographer you should definitely be on Insta as well!).
Twitter is great, so are Facebook groups (not pages) and even YouTube. You’ll often find people talking to each other in threads and comment sections.
And you should encourage it by replying to every comment.
If you can, make sure to ask a question in every reply so it’s something more engaging than simply “thanks, I appreciate it”.
Remember, it’s not all about you
While your account might be a personal one where you share your own photos and experiences, it’s important to find a balance between that and encouraging engagement from others.
Follow other travel/photography bloggers/vloggers to see how they do it.
Facebook groups are particularly great for encouraging engagement.
You can do things like weekly photo critique threads where you ask people to share their best work and have others, as well as yourself, (constructively) critique them.
There are plenty of other ways to get people actively participating within your community, that’s just one example.
For more ideas, you can download a full 5 week Facebook groups engagement calendar here.
Why community is so important…
Like I said before, social signals are king nowadays especially when it comes to conducting business online.
If you can demonstrate your work is good enough to gather followers and solicit likes then that tells potential clients a lot.
The most genuine way to gather followers and establish yourself as an authority in your field is to be the leader of a community.
When you pitch to potential clients you can show them the social proof that your work is marketable and that there is an audience for it.
After a while, you’ll start to get people and companies approaching you for travel photography work through word-of-mouth that comes from people within your community talking about you and, hopefully, how much you have influenced them.
But most importantly…
You will meet new people, make new friends and create a network that will last your entire career if you want it to.
As much as your community gets inspired and learns from you, you should be inspired and learn from them in equal measures.