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YouTuber Sam Evans on how to become a travel videographer

A man capturing a travel moment in front of a waterfall.

If you love travel and have a keen eye for great video making, your dream job is probably to do both, right? But how exactly do you achieve that goal? We sat down with video content king, YouTube and GoPro master and globetrotter Sam Evans to get the low-down on how to become a travel videographer…

Sam says the beginning of travel videography is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. Do you need a love of travel first? Or should a passion for video pave the way? For Sam, travel was always in the back of his mind, but it was a film festival in Year 10 that made him realise video was the path for him.

I’ve always had a massive passion for video and photos all throughout school and I used my dad’s handicam to make ‘Jack Ass’ style videos. But the first proper taste I got of filmmaking was in Year 10. I entered a film festival with a few friends and we ended up winning the film festival. It ended up getting screened at the Dendy in the massive cinema in front of a full audience and that was where it started for me. I was like “wow” and that feeling of working hard, creating something from nothing visually and then having it be seen and appreciated was quite a nice feeling.

Of course winning a film festival does not a travel videographer make, and it’s here Sam stresses that his use of social media while travelling propelled his career and got him noticed by brands:

I’d just left school and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so like most people in that situation I just went travelling to the classic Aussie hotspot, Bali. While there I started making little travel videos and posting them online and then I got approached by GoPro! They’d seen some of my stuff on social media and they said “look, we’d love to give you a camera and help you out where we can” and I said “sweet”. From there that relationship developed and they kind of nurtured me as a creative and brought me into their family and they’ve been really supportive which is amazing.

Sam still works with GoPro today, but since then has added some HUGE brands (such as Contiki) to his resume, and along with an online audience of over 350,000 and endless trips overseas to create ridiculous, wanderlust inspiring content, it’s safe to say he’s living the travel videographer dream. His love for seeing the world from behind and in front of the lens hasn’t diminished at all, and he says that capturing the world is special, simply because it’s real and relatable.

I think when people go and watch a movie in the cinemas it’s amazing, but of course it is because they have huge budgets. So even though it may feel real while you’re watching it, you know it’s got a certain level of fantasy or fiction. I really like capturing the world because people see it and think “I could do that!”. It’s also nice for me to just sit down and scroll back through the last couple years and have all the key moments of my life documented. It’s special to have that for yourself.

If you want to be a travel videographer though, you might want to hit the gym because A LOT of gear comes along with the gig. Sam carries a lot of high end tech on the road with him and it sure ain’t light.

Besides a camera, I’ve got a drone, a big DSLR camera which is amazing for the cinematic stuff, I’ve got 3 different lenses and I’ve got a second camera in case my first one dies. It’s not as big but it’s for worst-case scenarios. Obviously all this stuff needs cables so I’ve got a whole separate duffel bag full of chargers and cables. It’s a little bit of overkill but I’ve got anything and everything I need to make anything I want which is really handy” he says.

Is there anything he can’t leave behind though? Yep, his GoPro!

If I could only have one thing it would have to be my GoPro, just because I can go swimming with it, I can jump out of planes with it, and it’s so small you can take it everywhere (this isn’t a sponsored plug, I just genuinely love their product!)” Sam told us, “I’d recommend any travellers to shoot on a GoPro because it fits in your pocket and because you can’t really see what you’re shooting, so it lets you be more present in the moment when you’re capturing instead of focusing on what lens you’re using or settings. It’s just turn it on and capture.

Creating footage that captures gorgeous beaches and sunsets over mountains isn’t as simple as just filming them though; Sam also uses a range of programs for editing until it’s ~just~ right and ready to be uploaded to his YouTube and Instagram.

I edit videos on Adobe Premiere Pro and photos on Adobe Light Room and Photoshop. Adobe is the ultimate creative tool. But there’s also plenty of other great software out there for entry level consumers, like iMovie or Final Cut Pro.

While there is no ‘normal’ day for a travel videographer, Sam shared his process with us, saying he always tries to get up before sunrise.

If I’m on a location to shoot the night before I check out a nice spot for sunrise. I really try wherever I am to never miss a sunrise or sunset. I think a sunrise is always great to start the day with. It’s amazing, you wake up before the sun comes up and you go shoot and get an epic morning of content and then look at the clock and it’s only 7.30am.

Sam also said that like photographers, he tries to take advantage of the coveted ‘golden hour’, when the sun has just come up (or is setting) and the light is at the exact right level for the least amount of shadow.

But how do you know what to capture?! DW, we asked Sam to spill his secrets and he said he has three key tips for getting the best content: find a story to tell, get details, and be present.

With anything creative it always comes back to story telling. No one’s going to really be interested or give you their attention if there’s no story, and that’s especially important when you’re shooting travel content.

As for the details, Sam says that’s part of the storytelling process.

People like to see details. While it’s amazing to see big wide shots of landscapes and cities, people love feeling like they’re there and seeing things they wouldn’t normally see.

That all makes sense, but how can you ‘be present’ exactly?

Opening yourself up and being present is important because often when people are travelling they can get caught up in the ‘perfect shot’ or stressing about where they have to be or if they’re going to miss the train.

By now you’re obviously convinced Sam is living his best travel videographer life, so how can you live yours too? Sam shared some advice for beginners or those looking to make it big:

My biggest piece of advice, because it is such a saturated market, is to be original and be yourself. The reason people do well is because they’re original. There’s nothing more attractive than watching someone who is being themselves, rather than watching someone whose stuff looks like other famous travel vloggers. I love seeing original people so just be yourself, think outside the box and take risks, try new stuff and have fun!”.

Sam travelled on Contiki’s Spain, Morocco & Portugal trip alongside DJ TigerLily and Sam Earp. Dream team or what?

Check out more of Sam’s adventures through Spain, Morocco and Portugal here ?

P.S. Want to see all the amazing sights of Portugal that the gang saw? Then you HAVE to check out our new Madrid to Lisbon Independent Insider trip.