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FAQ


FAQ


Christian-Schaffer-Camera-Gear-1.jpg

What programs do you use for editing?

Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop & Premiere Pro

How did you get started/learn photography?

I bought my first digital camera in Hawaii when I was 19. My friends dared me to enter a swimsuit contest in Waikiki Beach and I ended up winning because I was the only girl wearing a full coverage suit in a sea of Brazilian bikinis. True story. The prize was $300, so I splurged on a digital camera. It was a 3MP pocket camera, and I took it with me on a 22 mile hike along the Na Pali Coast that weekend. I’ve pretty much always owned a camera since then.

I didn’t become fully invested in photography until about 4 years ago when I began working as an assistant for some local photographers. Until then, I had been working full-time in the corporate world and photography was just a hobby. When I was 27, I realized corporate life wasn’t for me and decided instead to spend a year backpacking around the world. It was during that time that I really fell in love with photography and story-telling.

I’ve never taken a formal photography class or workshop. Just about everything I know stems from personal experience, experimentation, and most importantly - the advice of friends and mentors I’ve been lucky enough to learn from along the way. I also have a BBA degree in marketing, which has been really helpful in building my own business as a freelance creative. 

How do you make a living on the road?

I am a full-time photographer and creative, so I’m able to work remotely. In a lot of ways, my work actually benefits from full-time travel and living on the road because it allows for diverse shooting locations, fresh perspectives, and greater flexibility in avoiding less than ideal lighting/weather situations. Being mobile means my office and home are always with me wherever I go.

The majority of my income stems from brand partnerships. Partnerships vary, but essentially it means a brand is independently contracting me as a photographer, social influencer, model or all three. I generally work with brands in the travel & outdoor adventure space, as well as some luxury brands. I also work with tourism boards and destinations, which pairs pretty well with road life.

Most of the brand partnerships I have now began with a specific campaign. Every campaign is different, depending on my role. An example of a campaign would be a three month contract with an outdoor gear brand where I am given x amount of gear and pay in exchange for x amount of photos, videos and/or social posts. 

How did you start working with brands?

My first paid job was promoting the Galaxy S6 for Samsung. Samsung’s PR agency reached out by email and asked if I had any upcoming trips. I happened to be hiking the John Muir Trail (241 mile hike through the Sierra backcountry) later that month so I pitched the entire trip and they said yes. It was pretty good timing.  

My next big client was Eddie Bauer - a brand I love and still work with today. From those two campaigns, I built a small commercial portfolio that garnered new brand partnerships and additional work. I have pitched on a few occasions, but I would say 90% of my work comes through my network: referrals, word of mouth, former clients, and/or social media.

How do you afford to travel so much?

For the work that I do, travel is often part of the job. Oftentimes, travel expenses are covered by the agency or brand that I’m working with. This is especially true when working with tourism boards. Other times, I am paid a flat fee that is meant to cover both my rate and any related travel expenses. In those cases, I just factor estimated expenses into my final rate.

When I’m traveling outside of work, I find ways to keep my expenses low. I shop at grocery stores rather than eating out - I use apps to find cheap gas - basic stuff.  I would say the real key to my financial freedom has been in keeping my overhead low. By that I mean, I have very few personal expenses beyond food, gas, insurance and my phone bill. I don’t pay rent. I don’t pay utilities. I don’t have a vehicle loan, credit card debt or student loans. If I can’t buy something and pay in full upfront, I don’t buy it. 

I don’t have a trust fund, and my parents aren’t paying my way. I’m debt-free and financially independent because I’ve learned to live with less. It’s a really beautiful, minimal way to live - if you ask me. But it isn’t for everybody. If you’re interested in learning more, you can sign up for my mailing list or check back in the next few weeks. I’ll be writing a few posts on what the last 14 months have been like living on the road, rent-free.

There is one thing I should mention, though. My Mom works for the airlines so I can fly standby for free. I’ve definitely taken advantage of this many times, but when it comes to work or trips with hard deadlines - I always end up buying a regularly priced ticket. But I feel like it’s worth mentioning here…working for the airlines is a great way to see the world :)

Do you travel alone?

Yes and no. I’m probably an introvert in the sense that I need time alone. Being alone is how I recharge, and it’s also when I do my best creative work. With the exception of my closest friends, I really prefer to travel alone or just with one other person. The people I travel with most are the ones who I can be myself around. People who are willing to engage in deep conversation, but who can also be comfortable in silence. I’m also kind of a kid at heart - I love to dance and be weird and totally silly.

How do you meet people on the road?

Some of my best friends today are people that I’ve met through social media. Instagram has been huge in making connections with like-minded people and becoming part of the outdoor community. Before Instagram, I made friends all over the world just by booking hostels instead of hotels. Keep an open mind, and always trust your gut.

What is the best camera if you are on a budget?

This is a tough question, as there are so many good cameras out there! I personally LOVE Canon. If I were just starting out, I would test out the Canon EOS Rebel lineup (my first DLSR camera was the Canon EOS Rebel T1i).

Do you sell prints?

Yes! You can check out my print shop here. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to email me about custom printing at info@christianschaffer.art

Do you sell presets?

I don’t sell presets. For the most part, I edit every image from scratch. 

Do you offer workshops?

I don’t currently offer workshops, but I’m considering it! I would love to hear from you if it’s something you are interested in.

Can I assist or intern with you?

I’m not currently working with interns but that may change in the near future! The best way to hear about possible openings is to sign up for my mailing list here.

Do you have a music playlist?

Yes! I have a public Spotify playlist with some of my favorite artists and songs. You can check it out here. A few of my favorite artists are Ben Howard, Gregory Alan Isakov, Lana Del Rey, RY X, Angus & Julia Stone, Cigarettes After Sex, Dustin Tebbutt, Phoria, Charlie Cunningham & Christian Löffler. 

What are some of your favorite books?

Do you have additional gear recommendations (Camping, Vanlife, etc)?

Yes! I recently created a page on Amazon where I am slowly adding all of my favorite go-to gear for photography, editing, camping, road life, etc. You can check it out here.

Where can I follow your adventures?

Links to my social profiles: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Travel Journal