With the release of our latest guide, Building Your Outdoor & Adventure Photography Business: Tips From the Pros, we looped around with 7 seasoned photographers to get their best tips for breaking into adventure photography. Take a look:
1. Alexandre Buisse: Always be a professional.
“It’s critical to behave professionally in all you do. This means you need to actually do everything you told a client you would do. If you told them you would email them later in the day with a proposal, emailing the next morning is not ok. Deliver files just the way the client needs, as soon as humanly possible (even if you know they’ll take over three months to pay you). The adventure photography industry especially sees a constant stream of people coming in, shooting for a few months, then dropping out after realizing how much work outside of making pictures being a pro involves. You need to make your clients really believe that you are in it for the long run.”
2. Morgan Maassen: Success means balancing business and art.
“While adventure photography is one of the greatest artistic endeavors one could ever aspire to, in reality it only accounts for about 10% of the lifestyle it entails. To secure, maintain, and finally grow one’s career and passion in this field, it requires an amazing balance of business and art. One must be prepared to hone their skills in emails, meetings, networking, and self-promotion, as these are all tools to help you get where you need and get clients to support your endeavors. Running an efficient business goes way beyond that too: packing well, having backup equipment, incorporating client needs into your passion, and being an efficient traveler all make or break the opportunities ahead.”
3. Alex Hibbert: Understand that demand for imagery has never been this high.
“There is a tough market for commissioned adventure imagery, so in order to succeed, you need a niche and to be truly excellent within that. Building a reputation as ‘the reliable guy/girl who delivers great work’ is the only way. Whether you seek the trickle effect of stock or the ‘by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ life of an assignment photographer, be determined, communicate well and remember it’s the image that matters, not the gear. Competition now takes on many guises and is complex, but take heart that demand for imagery has never been so high.”
Alex Hibbert is a polar expedition leader and photographer, and a Global Ambassador for Wolsey.
4. Lucas Gilman: Easy on the complaining.
“The best tips I have for aspiring adventure photographers is to be willing to share your work and your wisdom. Be outgoing and approachable. Nobody wants to listen to people complain about the state of the industry. There are platforms for that, but not if you are looking to grow your audience. And, have fun, it will show!”
5. Jody MacDonald: Don’t give away your work for free.
“There are a couple of things that I would tell an emerging photographer. One, which I know can be controversial, is don’t give your work away for free. I struggled with this when I was starting out, wanting to get my work seen by as many people as possible. But I’m an advocate for producing quality work and selling it for what it’s worth – something I believe is more than possible.”
“But ultimately, the key is to love the work. For me it’s less about the money and more about the passion and the love of it and the lifestyle. I place personal importance on that more than the cash flow. I’m a firm believer in that if you do those things, then the cash flow will follow.”
6. Tyler Stableford: Know how to write a good pitch letter.
“One of the biggest skills for any freelance shooter, and particularly adventure shooters who want to fund big trips, is the ability to write a good pitch letter, or a strong treatment, for a potential client. In this sense, strong writing skills are the first step to selling a client on your vision. So as paradoxical as it may seem, the pen is the mighty tool for funding your shoots!”
7. Ian Coble: Be Polite. It goes a long way.
“It may seem obvious, but always remember your manners. “Please” and “thank you” are phrases that seem to be forgotten by a lot of people these days. Bad manners and pour etiquette might not sink your ship, but they won’t get you any further along either. And if you haven’t discovered this already, the outdoor and adventure industry is incredibly small and tight knit, where everyone knows everyone else. Word spreads quickly in this circle and you don’t want to get a negative reputation for any reason whatsoever because it will stick with you. But if you’re a solid person to those you work with, good word spreads quickly too and it can open up a lot of doors for you.”
Want more tips to build your outdoor & adventure photography business? Be sure to check out our latest guide with more tips from pros to market your work, master storytelling, develop a solid workflow and attract the clients you want.