While traveling in Tanzania, I met a British couple on their honeymoon, which included a beach vacation and safari. They had saved up for this for a couple of years and thought it was probably the most expensive vacation they would ever take. But it was definitely worth it, they said. When they told me they’d paid $10,000 for two weeks, I was stunned. I’d just come back from a diving trip on Mafia Island, a spice tour on Zanzibar, and two safaris in the Selous Game Reserve… and I didn’t pay anything. That was the first time I realized how great it was to earn money from making videos and be living the lifestyle of a millionaire in my early thirties. I probably would have had to spend about $5,000 per week for all of the trips I was taking, especially including the domestic flights and free meals, not to mention the free sunset drinks… I had quite a few of those. (Gin and Tonic is the favorite drink in Africa, by the way. The quinine in the tonic used to be the preferred treatment for malaria.) Yes, I was getting paid very little at the time — a mere $500 for a short video — compared to what I earn now. But when I added the price of all the trips I was enjoying, I probably earned a lot more than most people my age, back home staring at their computer screen all day. Nowadays I get paid up to $4,000 for a 3-minute video and an average of $3,000 per video. And I still get all the perks. Pretty nice deal if you ask me. Next winter (which is their summer), I’ll be working on Fraser Island in Australia … I try to follow the sun! I created two videos for my clients there and stayed in their exclusive eco-resort for a whole week, with an elaborate breakfast and dinner buffet every night. For the videos I got paid $4,000 in total — the price per night, including breakfast and dinner, if I’d have had to pay it was $350. I also received free drinks and would rather not guess how much I drank there, because company was great and the beer and wine was plenty. In addition to the hotel stay, I also participated in a sunset dinner cruise on a sail ship, which would have cost $250… I flew over the island in a helicopter followed by a lunch on a solitary sandbank, carrying a price tag of $530… I also filmed from a small airplane, which would have cost another $120… Naturally I also participated in several guided bus tours to the main attractions on the island, which people paid $75 for… Add to this the flight from Melbourne and my virtual paycheck for this job was $8,000. Eight thousand dollars for a three-week job, if you add the time for editing and preparation, is not a shabby salary at all. You can see where this goes and how the money adds up. It’s also an escape for me. And an excuse not to have a “real” job. Again, I didn’t start out making $3,000 per video. Back then it was more like $500. But with a little time and experience, you can charge more. And either way, the perks are the same. Recommended minimum equipment for the budding travel videographer:
- Velbon Tripod with fluid pan-head (a photography tripod doesn’t work well for video)
- DSLR or video camera with HD video mode
- Two spare batteries for your camera (video eats up a lot more battery power then taking photos) Generic Spare Batteries (check compatibility with your camera!)
- Two spare 32GB SD cards (class 10 – because the minimum writing speed needs to be higher for video)
- Your laptop with Windows Movie Maker or iMovie pre-installed.
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