"Do you need an assistant?" I get this question all the time, once people learn I am a travel photographer who regularly visits exotic locations and earns an income doing it. But why be an assistant when you can travel the world and take pictures yourself? Getting paid for your photos is easy if you know how.
In 2003 at the age of 45, I left my legal career. Since then I have traveled to exotic destinations like Morocco...Turkey...Thailand...and India, as well as closer-to-home locations like the Colorado Rockies, Utah's great national parks, and the Grand Canyon. The common theme throughout my travels has been photography. I make money from my pictures and it gives me the flexibility to pick travel destinations that suit my passions. Because of my love of history and architecture—for example—a couple of years ago I embarked on a trip to Northumberland, England, an area known for its coastal castles.
Over the past 11 years I have worked on quite a number of photo assignments, ranging from a simple shot of a cup of hot cocoa, to a rodeo clown, to a six-week assignment for a Frommer's travel guide about Puerto Rico. There are many reasons I love doing assignments. For starters, you're sure to get paid for your efforts. Magazine assignments typically pay about $500 per day plus expenses, though this will vary depending on a variety of factors.
Last November I turned 10 years old as a travel photographer (in human years I am now 55). Before that, I practiced law for almost 20 years. I changed careers about 20 years before I intended to, but being a full-time travel photographer has been a fulfilling experience; I no longer think of myself as a lawyer.
My former attorney colleagues and I used to joke that there were three kinds of closing arguments you could make to a jury: the one you carefully prepared, the one you actually delivered, and the one you wish you had given. Few things ever happen as planned. Nevertheless my "life" plan (the one I carefully prepared) was to practice law until I retired at 65; then I would pursue photography and maybe make a little money on the side.