Ben Davis has always taken a camera wherever he goes, but it wasn’t till just over a year back that photography started to turn into a side gig.
“Adventure has always been a part of me,” Ben, 22, explains. “Every weekend I always go out exploring, and taking photos, and then I started pitching for jobs.”
Tourism Queensland. James Boag. Tourism Tasmania. Southern Discoveries. Visit Gippsland… For the past year, Ben’s been steadily growing a client list outside his day job painting and decorating commercial high rises on the Gold Coast. When we talk, he’s on swinging stage attached to the side of a 40-foot building.
“I try to get photos done in my free time, but sometimes I have to ask my boss for a week off so I can go here or there,” he says. “It’s hard when it gets busy, but we’ve been able to manage it so far.”
The secret to Ben’s success so far? Flexibility, connectivity and speed. He travels light: A Nikon D800, a MacBook for edits, and a phone for socials. As a travel photographer, especially for tourism boards, he’s often required to send out pics, particularly on his Instagram, from far-flung locations as he goes.
Over the past year, Ben’s posted from a peak overlooking Lamington National Park in Queensland, the shores of Whitehaven’s remote beaches, high up in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park, and while gliding above New Zealand’s Southern Alps . “It’s pretty hands on,” he says. “I generally need to post one to two photos a day, so often I edit while I adventure.” This means wifi and data are key. “For me, data is really important because if people comment on my photo, or a tourism board shares a photo, I need to engage with the people commenting straight away,” Ben says. “I have to be really hands-on through my phone with that stuff no matter where I am.”
To get the job done Ben relies on a mix of 4G, hotel wifi and portable battery packs. Even then, he sometimes finds himself in a pinch. “I recently posted a photo in a pretty remote spot in Tasmania in Wineglass Bay,” he says. “I had one bar left on my phone, but I got it out.” Tethering is also crucial while travelling. “I often hotspot from my phone to my laptop to post photos on my social media platforms,” he explains, “and I use Dropbox or Airdrop to transfer photos to my phone.”
Internationally, roaming with a healthy data limit is critical. Ben learnt this the hard way when he was recently in New Zealand and got stung. “You’re using so much with photos,” he says. “I was going over and paying a lot of money for that.”
You live and you learn, and Ben’s doing both. He’s got a Sunshine Coast shoot coming up, and more jobs on the go. Want to do what he does? He’s got some advice, too. “The best thing is to have a media kit or a folio, a doc that shows what you’ve done, a bit about yourself and, obviously, photos of your work. And try to have a flexible work arrangement so when you get the call for a job you’re ready to go.”
Upsiders is a collective that’s about celebrating, inspiring, and empowering young Australians to pursue their passions via side gigs. If you’re an Upsider, Vodafone is on your side.
4 Minute Read