In today’s world of affordable photographic equipment that fits in your pocket, the lifestyle of an adventure photographer is within reach of anyone with a smartphone.
Now, to become a professional on par with the likes of Chris Burkard, or find work with companies such as National Geographic, takes a lot of time and effort. But, even on the first rung of that challenging climb up toward the ranks of pro adventure photographer, you’ll find yourself immersed in a bunch of perks.
All great journeys begin with that first step. Luckily for adventure photographers, every single step of the way can (and should) be stunningly beautiful. Your very first photo demands that you get out into this incredible world of ours. Go to a canyon frequented by climbers, summit a hill to discover new views, embed yourself on the shore of raging rapids, become a spectator of downhill mountain bike racing, or settle in for the sunset on some exotic coastline. The key to good adventure photography is getting out there and enjoying yourself. Make the Great Outdoors your workshop and enjoy going to work.
The more you appreciate the craft, the quicker your portfolio will grow. Before you know it, you’ll have an epic photography stockpile featuring daring abseilers, white-water rafters, and mountain bike madmen/women, each of whom you can reach out to and ask to share your work on social media. This, coupled with the inherent and almost universal appeal of adventure photography, will help grow your audience quickly. Not only do you get to spend your time working in amazing environments, but you’re also tapping into a type of content enjoyed by the masses.
As your social media audiences expand, so will your leverage on gaining access to otherwise off-limit opportunities. Your social media platform is a virtual portfolio that can unlock doors to the higher levels of adventure photography. Once you’ve accrued a page of cool pictures, show them off to the local climbing group and ask them to take you up on the ropes in exchange for a free shoot; offer a nature reserve some mentions on your platform in exchange for free entry; use your wall of wicked photography to gain backstage access at events. Sure, this method requires you to be outgoing and a little daring, but hey, that’s adventure for you! And snapping the world from these unique angles is a reward well worth the effort.
Once you’ve built a portfolio of intense images and have attracted followers, you’ll attain even more awesome adventure photography opportunities. Sooner or later, depending on the amount of time and effort you put in, event organizers and even companies will reach out to you with offers.
This is where the perks get serious. If a company is approaching you to feature their equipment or experiences, it’s time to realize that you have marketable content. Instead of leveraging your photography for freebies, you can now step up into the big leagues and charge money for the privilege of being snapped by your lens and featured on your platform.
As mentioned, the climb up to the level of freelance intrepid photographer is far from quick or easy. Just remember, the key to entering and progressing in this epic photography niche is to enjoy being out there snapping the shots. Appreciate the adventure you’re on and the rest will fall into place.