Adventure Photography: Essential Tips to Get Started

A guide to adventure photography, including what gear to use, tips and tricks, and an introduction to some of the best adventure photographers in 2023.

Do you like adventure photography? Of course, you do!

In this article, I’ll explain what it is and what’s the difference between travel and adventure photography. I’ll also give you some ideas to start or improve your shooting skills.

It’s also important to have goals. That’s why I’ll also discuss the best gear and suggest some of the best photographers for you to follow.

To wrap things up, I’ll answer some of your FAQs about adventure photography.

So, let’s get started so you can create some stunning photos to share your adventurous life in the best possible way.

What is Adventure Photography?

Credit: Ray Bilcliff

Adventure photography is a mixture of outdoor photography and sports photography. It involves capturing action photos of extreme sports practised in the great outdoors.

It’s also considered a branch of travel photography. This is because you need to go out and explore the world to find the perfect shot.

Adventure photography requires many skills and a lot of passion. That’s why most outdoor photographers specialize in one or two sports.

For example, photographer and film director Jimmy Chin has been a professional skier and climber for over 20 years on the North Face Athlete team. This is why he knows how to get the perfect shot in the mountains.

How Do I Become an Adventure Photographer?


To become an adventure photographer, you need to go on adventures and start taking photos.

That’s the first step you need to take because practice is vital to mastering adventure photography. To start, you can use the equipment you already have.

However, as you improve -especially if you want to become a professional, you’ll need to invest in camera equipment.

It may be helpful to take a workshop. This way, you can get the best tips from a professional out in the field. Most of the best adventure photographers organize them.

They can be expensive, so you can start with free online photography courses. This isn’t mandatory, though. You don’t need a specific course or certification to become an adventure photographer.

Once you have the necessary skill set and equipment, you can build your own business and start marketing yourself.

A strong social media presence with lots of followers helps you get brand deals. To gain recognition and visibility, it’s also helpful to participate in photo contests.

Keep in mind that it may take a long time for you to be able to make a living from adventure photography.

What Gear Do Adventure Photographers Use?

Credit: Ruslan Khimrad

This list covers some of the essential equipment for adventure photography. However, depending on what you want to shoot, you might need an underwater camera cover, an action camera, a drone, and other expensive gear.

The Best Cameras for Adventure Photography

It doesn’t matter if you use DSLRs or mirrorless cameras to make adventure photography. The most important things are the sensor size and dynamic range.

Also, the autofocus system and stability will help you to make better adventure photography and videos.

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  • Sony A7iii – This is a mirrorless camera with a 24MP full-frame sensor. It has a fast, accurate 693-point hybrid autofocus and a 1200-zone evaluative exposure reader. It also records 4k video, and it’s weather sealed.
  • Canon EOS R5 – A 45MP full-frame mirrorless camera capable of recording 8K video. The 5-axis image stabilization compensates for up to 8 stops of camera shake. This makes it great for shooting adventure photography.
  • Nikon D850 – This is a 45MP DSLR camera. It has a fantastic dynamic range that renders all details and colors. The auto-focus is accurate and consistent. You can also use the app to shoot remotely or easily upload your work.
  • Canon EOS 6D Markii – This is a full-frame DSLR with a 26.2 MP sensor. It’s compact and practical to carry. It performs well in low light and has a consistently accurate autofocus system.
  • Nikon D5600 – If you’re on a budget, this is an excellent crop sensor camera. It has 24.2MP and records 1080i HD video. It’s the perfect camera to start with adventure photography.

The Best Lenses for Adventure Photography

The best lens depends on the type of images you want to shoot. Some projects call for a wide-angle, and others a telephoto. Here are some of the best choices recommended for outdoor photographs.

  • Tokina 10mm-17mm f/3.5-f/4.5 – This fisheye lens is great to capture the underwater world.
  • Sony FE 24mm-105mm f/4 G OSS – This zoom lens is a perfect all-round to use on a mountain adventure. You can capture stunning landscapes as well as climbing photography. The same zoom range and aperture are also available in Canon lenses.
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4 – Adventure photographer Krystle Wright swears by this lens when she’s only carrying one. Of course, she often needs more variety when she’s out on assignments.

The Camera Bags for Adventure Photography

  • MindShift Backlight Elite 45L – Designed with the contribution of photographer Dan Carr. The ultralight ripstop cloth makes it very light yet durable and waterproof. It has a big capacity and many removable parts to make it more compact when necessary.
  • Lotus – This camera bag from F-stop is compatible with all their inserts. It also has multiple pockets outside for extra storage. It comes with a large rain cover, and it’s produced with weather-resistant materials.
  • Shimoda Action X 70L – The 70L is the largest one from the Shimoda Action X series. You can get a different model if you carry less gear. They’re all expandable roll-top bags. Also, the straps are comfortable for carrying heavy equipment on long adventure trips.
  • Kashmir UL – The UL stands for Ultra-Light. This F-stop backpack is perfect for all-day adventures. The compact design makes it suitable for short torsos.
  • Guru Gear KibokoThe 30L model from this series is specially designed for a super-telephoto lens. It has excellent capacity and is durable to protect your gear in any weather and adventure.
  • Everyday Backpack by Peak Design – It offers quick top access to your camera and dual access on the sides. It also has configurable dividers to adapt to your cameras and lenses. The pack is made from recycled weatherproof materials.
  • MindShift Rotation 180There are three sizes available. So, you’ll surely find one that’s just right for you. They allow quick access to your equipment without needing to remove the backpack.
  • Tilopa 50L – It has a 50L capacity which makes it ideal for long trips. It’s compatible with all Pro-Large and Pro XL f-stops inserts. It’s durable, weather resistant, and comfortable to carry.
  • Shimora Explore V2 – These packs are compact and lightweight. There are three available sizes. They all have many removable protections inside to distribute your gear as you want.

The Best Tripods for Adventure Photography

  • Peak Design Travel Tripod – It’s very compact and lightweight. You can get it in aluminium or carbon fibre to fit your budget. It’s best when paired with a ball head.
  • Fotopro X Go Max – This is an excellent carbon fibre tripod with a budget-friendly price tag.
  • Gitzo Mountaineer Series 3 – This is a carbon fibre tripod with a centre ball head. It’s strong and durable with a quick and easy setup.
  • RRS Ascend 14 –  It’s a top-of-the-line compact tripod. It’s made of top-quality materials and hand-assembled in the US. The price is not for everyone, though.

Any lightweight travel tripod will do the job, but the above models are particularly adept for outdoor use.

Must-have Accessories for Adventure Photography

  • Memory cards
  • Backup hard drives
  • Camera cover
  • GPS messenger
  • Portable battery
  • Filters
  • Camera strap
  • Remote shutter

4 Handy Adventure Photography Tips

If you’re looking for your next idea or some tips to improve, check these out!

Tip 1: Plan the right time for your photoshoot

Credit: Eberhard Grossgasteiger

Many of the adventure photography shots are done in the early morning. Some extreme sports are best done at dawn – for example, surfing because of the light offshore winds.

Another good example of the early birds would be the shot of the sun rising from the top of a mountain. Of course, there are opportunities for the night owls as well. It’s all about the scene you want to shoot.

In any case, adventure photography is weather and time-dependent. You need to plan your shots carefully.

Tip 2: Tell a story

Credit: Branko Zuniga

Adventure photography is more than just beautiful photos. You need to communicate passion and emotions.

This is why many photographers are also speakers and writers. They often dedicate their work to promoting a cause or helping the environment.

Tip 3: Try long exposures

Credit: Giacomo Grattoni

Adventure photography is mainly done with a fast shutter speed. This is because you’d typically want action shots where you freeze the subject.

If you feel like experimenting, try using slower shutter speeds . This allows you to capture smooth clouds on top of a mounting or do panning photography.

Tip 4: Experiment with the composition

Credit: Evgenia Kirpichnikova

You can create a good scene by using a few composition guidelines. Some of the most popular techniques are the rule of thirds or leading lines to direct the viewer’s attention.

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Once you master those, you can move on to more advanced skills. You can use light and shadow, textures and colors to compose your photograph. Don’t forget about the golden triangles or the golden spiral.

Choose the ones you find best to create more appealing photos.

Who Are Some of the Top Adventure Photographers in 2023?


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Jimmy Chin.- He’s a professional mountain athlete and artist. He combined his two passions to make award-winning films. He does adventure photography for National Geographic and other publications. Commercially, he’s worked for brands like Apple, Bose, and The North Face, amongst others.

Chris Burkard.- He’s a travel and adventure photographer passionate especially about surf. You would typically associate surfers with the tropical beach. However, Burkard specializes in cold outdoor photography. He loves to shoot in Iceland, Russia, Switzerland, etc.

Krystle Wright.- She’s a professional photographer and director. Amongst other publications, she works for National Geographic. She will parachute from an aeroplane or dive deep into the ocean – whatever it takes to get a great shot.

Johan Lolos.- He started travelling and photographing Australia’s great outdoors. Then, important publications picked up his images. Since then, he’s been dedicated full-time to outdoor photography.

Rachel Moore.- She loves the ocean, whether for surfing or deep diving. Her photographs are fun and show her passion. She’s planning to circumnavigate the world with her husband for her next project.

Jill Heinerth. – She’s a cave diver and underwater explorer whose images show us an unknown part of nature. She has more than 11 million followers on Instagram and wrote a book called Into the Planet sharing her interesting story.

David Doubilet.- He’s an underwater photographer. He aims to capture images that make people care about the ocean and our relationship with nature.

Jody MacDonald.- She’s sailed around the world shooting the most amazing photos. She’s also done a variety of extreme sports, from kiteboarding to surfing. There’s no limit to what she will do to capture a good photo.

Keith Ladzinski.- He’s a world-renowned photographer and director. He’s won multiple awards and worked with famous brands like Apple and Google. He’s been nominated for an Emmy award twice thanks to his work as a photography director.

Beth Wald.- She’s an award-winning photographer. She dedicates her work to at-risk environments and cultures. She has climbed the mountains of Tajikistan and Nepal to document the effects of climate change. She also travelled to the Amazon to make portrait photography of the native tribes who suffered to survive.


How do I start adventure photography? 

The way to become an adventure photographer is to start shooting. First and foremost, you need to get the necessary skills. You can only get that with practice. The next thing is to have a great idea of what you want. Which sport and environment do you want to photograph? Get to know it and find an interesting way to capture it.

How much do adventure photographers make?

Adventure photographers make money from different sources. That’s why their income is very different. It depends on how diversified their business is, how popular they are, and the clients they have. Well-established adventure photographers can make from $2,000 to $10,000 per month.

How do adventure photographers earn money?

Adventure photographers can sell images on stock photography websites or as fine-art prints. They also offer workshops and online courses. They get hired to go on assignments and do brand deals with their blogging and vlogging.

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