Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your First Travel Photos

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to make a living by traveling? To be a roaming, world-trotting photographer? I receive a lot of queries about how to get started selling your photos. The tourism industry is flooded with ambitious photographers, making it difficult to break in if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is a concrete guide on how to get your first gigs for a travel magazine.

1. Understand what is requested

Look through every travel magazine you can find and try to understand what kind of pictures are used, and how they are used. Check out the opening shots, portraits, landscape shots, detail pictures, indoors and outdoors. When you need to cover five spreads there’ll have to be a lot of diversity in the pictures, but in the same time they need to convey the same mood and each contribute to the story.

2. Publish a great online portfolio

This seems pretty obvious, right? But to make a successful portfolio you need to put yourself in the seat of the editor you are approaching.It’s great if you are able to shoot weddings, portraits, studio, motor sports and kids. But the editors you are going to approach doesn’t care about that, he/she only wants to know if you’ll be able to pull of that Havana article. Show him or her that travel photography is your main focus.

Maybe the wedding shots fits better on a totally separate website, away from the travel, documentary and portraits? A good bench-mark could be to include three travel categories (portraits, stories and hotels, or whatever you want to specialize in) with no more than 20 pictures in each. Ads and editors are busy people and do not have time to look for the good shots. Just include your absolute best images and let every picture reflect your unique style.

Travel Photo 1

And with photography, practice makes perfect. If you regularly take pictures on your travels and trips, you’ll have noticed how much the quality improves over time. Maybe you’re now taking ten shots at slightly different angles rather than a one-click risk. Or use the crop function, maybe add a filter, adjust the lighting and contrast, or just let the phone do the adjusting. It’s easy to turn even a mediocre photograph into a work of art with the wide range of simple digital tools and applications available today.

3. Learn how to write

Yeah I know, this is a pretty big investment if you currently aren’t very good with words. But give it a shot. There are a lot of  decent picturest aken by journalists but there are much fewer great photographers that are also able to write. The magazines would much rather send one person to do the job. Another major benefit for you is that you’ll receive a larger honor if your name is behind both “text” and “photo” in the byline.

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4. Make _THE_ list

Sit down with a piece of paper and write down your goals. What websites and magazines do you want to work for? Small and big. Decide on thedeadlines when your first piece of photography should be published. When are you contacting the different editors? When are you doing your first trip to grow your portfolio? A well thought-out plan will speed up the process ginormously. Include every small goal along the way!

5. Start out small

As in many other occasions there is a catch 22. You need to have something published to get something published. Find a couple of large travel blogs and online magazines and contact the editors. Tell them what kind of pictures you can contribute with and ask them what they are looking for. Also approach any local newspapers and magazine with a travel section. That could be a great way in! It won’t get you rich but it will get you published!

sell your travel photos

6. Then grow!

When it is time to approach the larger magazines, it could be a good idea to actually visit them. Editors get loads and loads (and loads) of e-mails and send-outs from aspiring photographers so yours could easily be forgotten. To meet in actual person on the other hand gives them a face to remember. Send them an e-mail telling them a little about yourself. Ask if they would have time for a short meeting or coffee.

You could either bring your portfolio on a laptop or iPad. But even though we live in a paper-less society, nothing beats the feeling of a nicely printed physical portfolio. To put paper copies of the images you have decided to include on the floor is also a very good way for you to check if your images follows the same style.

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7. Invest on quality camera

In order for your photos to be accepted, you also need to invest in a high-end camera. To get into photography business, you need a lot of time to invest in this activity as well as a high-end camera. The label “amateur” does not imply that photographs made with a compact camera will be sold. We’re talking about people who have honed their photographic talents in their spare time but aren’t professional photographers.

8. Talk to them

Never be afraid to ask for advice. You could either try to guess what the magazines and newspapers have in the pipeline or you could just ask them what destinations they need photos of. Most of the time, editors will tell you exactly what they are looking for. It also saves them a lot of time if they don’t have to read through e-mail about locations that would never run.

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I got my first gig by asking the editor of the largest travel magazine in Sweden what they were looking for. After that, I teamed up with a fellow writer, submitted four ideas about New York suitable for that specific magazine. They accepted two. I’ve been working for them since.

Can you make money selling travel photos?

make money from travel photos

On average, each photo sold earns only a few dollars per month. To make a decent living, you’ll need to sell thousands of images! On the other hand, the benefit is that the same picture can be sold multiple times, producing consistent revenue. It may be worthwhile if you are passionate about photography and spend your free time with a camera in your hand. It is also not uncommon to snap thousands of images in a single trip, thanks to the introduction of digital technology.

Amateur photographers can sell their images online on a variety of websites. is one of the most well-known, with over 5 million photographs. The basic cost is $250, and the photographers get 70% of the proceeds from each photo sold: that’s a pretty good deal! You can sell your images in either exclusive (one photo for one person) or non-exclusive (many photos for several people) mode (your photo can be sold to several different people).

With a fee of up to 120 dollars per photo on the website, you may also make money with your travel photos. The more a photograph is sold, the higher the price becomes: if you have a successful photograph, you might earn a substantial amount of money. is another solution, although it is more selective than the other two (to register, you have to submit your application and wait for it to be validated by the site’s team). You will receive between 15% and 45% commission on the sale price of your photos, depending on your level of experience.

How to make money from travel photos on Instagram

This year, businesses are estimated to spend more than $1 billion on Instagram influencer marketing. With that type of cash coming in, it’s probably time to make sure your account looks good, your follower count rises, and the cash rolls in.

Sponsored posts by influencers, increasingly present on Instagram, can take different forms. This can range from a simple photo of the product to promote, through Stories, IGTV or Reels to contests in collaboration with a brand.

Not letting your fans forget about you is a key to success. As a result, consistency in publishing is crucial. You might forget to post, or you might be too busy during the day to publish at the optimal moment. You may use an Instagram scheduler (like AiGrow) to assist you schedule your posts days, weeks, or even months ahead of time to achieve a better result from your posts.

What is the best way to sell your travel photos to hotels?

Photography became into a creative stress reliever and a regular creative exercise routine for me. I had a lot of portrait, nature, and wildlife photography under my belt, but I was dying to photograph food. I volunteered to perform a test shoot for a well-known local chef in exchange for the rights to use the images, and all I wanted was to be able to do was post them on my website and go on.

Consider who you want to pursue. It is vital to target your efforts. You’ll have a lot better chance shooting for a single restaurant or boutique hotel than for a chain if you’re just starting out. This is how it began for me: Someone I used to work with but hadn’t seen in a few years contacted to introduce me to a chef in need of assistance. Instead of presenting him my work, I met with the chef and asked him some leading questions.

As a result of one thing leading to another, I’ve now done multiple shoots for him and we’ve become very good friends. Once we’d built a rapport, this chef was eager to assist me in expanding my network. A different chef spotted my work on my website and contacted me in the same way.


I’m in my late twenties who loves the freedom of traveling, the feeling of being anonymous in cities, vegan food, nature and the ocean. I feel the happiest when I’m on the move and in the moment.

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