It was the Christmas Holidays—and I was spending it in a tent in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.
Because of the park’s isolation, changeable weather and rugged terrain, hotel options are limited. If I wanted to be in the right place at the right time to photograph, at daybreak when light is at its best, I would have camp.
On Christmas Eve our group was camping below the mighty Bariloche Peak, a jagged, 8,530-foot granitic mountain, hoping the next day would bring us good photography conditions. I woke up well before dawn on Christmas Day to get dressed, gather my camera gear and venture out. Nobody else joined me. I wasn’t surprised—I was tempted to stay in my warm sleeping bag too.
I clambered up the side of a small hill near our campsite…and waited.
Slowly, and ever more beautifully, the sun’s warm rays painted the clouds above the mountain pink…and the peak a dark salmon. Above it all was a tiny moon, getting ready to set.
The natural spectacle came and went within a few minutes—and I was able to capture it with my camera.
I would sometimes pick some of my favorite images and have them printed and displayed at a local art show. This picture sold more than once. There are so many different ways to make money from photography.
Living in these moments, having to work hard but in the end get the shot, is my favorite thing about being a travel photographer. Needless to say, not all efforts are well rewarded; but then there are many other things I like about being a photographer.
I decided to travel to Torres del Paine because (a) I wanted to see and photograph in Patagonia, and (b) I thought I could write an article about my experience and sell it to a magazine (which I did). Having the flexibility to set you own schedule, though scary at times, is awesome!
Most travel photographers are curious by nature. We want to see what’s on the other side of town, or of the hill, or of the ocean. This curiosity has lead me to learn about all kinds of new things—and not just about f-stops and shutter speeds. I’ve also learned about marketing, developing images, becoming a better writer and about designing and maintaining a web site.
A photographer’s life is a fantastic one—now get out and shoot something!
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, including travel photography, sign up for Fund Your Life Overseas, a free e-letter from International Living. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 5 Portable Careers.