I Pretended to be a Travel YouTuber for a Week… Here’s What I Learned

What comes to your mind when you think of a travel photographer or a travel videographer?

If you’re anything like me, then you have visions of nothing but ultimate luxury, beauty, adventure, and fame. And it seems effortless! Easy stuff right? All you have to do is travel the world and take photos for a living! But this past spring break I decided to do a little experiment. It decided to spend my spring break shooting a Go Pro travel video while in Costa Rica. And I learned what life is really like for someone who creates travel videos for a living… and let me tell you it’s far from easy. This is what I learned while shooting a travel video that you’re favorite YouTubers won’t tell you:

1. You have to have a plan

If you think you could just shoot a travel video on the spur of the moment without a plan… you’re so wrong. In order to create a video that will get people interested, you have to have a beginning and an end. You need to seem like you have a story to tell. Before my trip, I have to plan the entire introduction and ending to make sure that when I got back my footage made sense. The planning process also involved getting the rights to a song and deciding on a theme and style that I wanted to shoot so I could take my videos accordingly.

2. You always have to keep the shot in mind while on vacation

When everyone else is sipping Pina Coladas, you’re thinking: “How do I capture this moment? Should I move more to get a different background? There are people in the way, I should wait for them to move. Maybe I should face the camera this way instead? Is it in focus? Is the lighting too harsh?” You get the idea.

3. You’re constantly thinking about your camera

When you’re trying to shoot a travel video, your camera is absolutely everything and it starts to make you a little paranoid. When you’re not actually shooting something, your mind continually thinks: Will someone steal my camera? Is there something on the lens? Is there enough storage? Is there enough battery? Should I have brought another sim card?” It adds anxiety to what should be a super relaxing week spent in a tropical paradise.

4. You constantly have to keep the audience in mind

While pretending to be a travel videographer I learned that if you’re someone who makes a living traveling the world and creating content, it means making content all the time. And it can’t be half-hearted either. It means creating interesting, engaging content on all social media platforms. It sounds easy because we use social media all the time right? But it involves thinking of blog ideas and taking notes, shooting videos, making interactive stories in the moment, tweeting about your adventures, and posting on Facebook or Instagram. Doing all of this all day long is surprisingly exhausting.

5. It can be scary!

If you want to shoot a video that people will actually want to see you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to zip line, get close to wild animals, skydive, jump into freezing cold springs, and do all of the things that you’re scared to do, but will keep people coming back to view your content. This past trip I was so determined to get a shot of me petting the cow, but the cow ended up being super aggressive and almost knocking me to my feet into barbed wire, as he proceeded to rip the fence out of the ground.

6. You have to have a lot of patience

It takes a long time to get that perfect shot for a video, so you sometimes have to take it a few times just to be safe. Another thing that I learned, was that people act very different on camera. We tend to act awkward and stiff as soon as we know we’re being recorded. Which means that if you’re shooting a video you have to redo it over and over again to get someone to loosen up, relax, and act normal. And let’s not forget all the other hundreds of tourists that keep getting in the way of your shot… there’s nothing that will test your patience more…

7. You have to edit everything and it takes a looong time

Although editing can be fun once you get in the hang of it, coming back from vacation with 32 GB of video footage and having to edit everything is super intimidating. Organizing the timeline of the video, putting it together, and getting the video to match the beat of the music takes a lot longer than I was anticipating. If you’re a student with four part-time jobs like me, it could take months to get through editing.

8. You’re not really on vacation, you’re working

It’s your job to bring the audience along on the trip and keep them entrained. You can’t drop the ball and spend the day enjoying your vacation in private. There were many moments when I didn’t want to have to film or make a story, but that’s a travel videographers job. They have to get that footage even if they don’t feel like it.

9. Without Wifi, you’re screwed!

When you’re traveling to certain areas of the world, Wifi can be hard to come by. Even businesses that advertise that they have Wifi might not have working Wifi. It’s hard to keep in touch with your audience if you’re not able to share those moments with them throughout the day.

10. Everyone gets annoyed with you

When you’re trying to shoot a Youtube video, take Instagram stories, and take a perfect picture of you, basically everyone gets annoyed by you. You have to hold everyone up and reshoot something over and over until you get it right. Nobody likes that person who spends so much time on their phone on vacation!

What I’ve learned from this experience now that I spent a week pretending to be a travel videographer is that I have so much more respect for travel photographers and videographers now. It’s not as easy as it looks to travel the world and create perfect content all the time. It can be surprisingly exhausting. There’s a lot of little things you have to think about in order to create a video, and it takes a long time!

SO, with all that being said, would I ever consider being a travel videographer for a living? Maybe. Being a travel photographer and videographer for a week was surprising stressful, but I don’t think there is a single job in the world that is stress-free. If I was going to be a little stressed out, I guess I’d rather be a little stressed while I have a cocktail in my hand while I’m sitting at the base of a volcano rather than in an office! Personally, I think I’d be more of the traveling blogging type rather than a videographer.

What do you think? Have you ever shot a travel GoPro video or Youtube video before? Would you consider creating videos for a living? Or would you rather do blogging instead?

Photographer: Matt Rutski @mrutski17.

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