A Month-Long Travel Video Adventure North of the Border

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on June 15, 2020 in Make Money

I woke to the sound of the Saint Lawrence River and the light of the morning sun shining into the RV. As the weather conditions were just right, I quickly set up my camera to film the vehicle against the shoreline, before sending up my drone to take aerial shots of the riverside road. Of the many locations I captured in my month-long videography adventure to Canada, the shore at Cap-Chat, Québec, was among the most spectacular. 

For the past 15 years, I’ve worked as a travel videographer, shooting destinations from the east coast of Australia to the safari parks of Kenya. Even so, the Canada trip was a rare treat. I’d been offered a four-week job filming the national parks of Québec and Ontario. And as a big added bonus, I’d been given a recreational vehicle to complete the assignment. 

I’ve always considered RVs the perfect way to see the world. You get to wake up to a new view and experience every day, while still having the comforts and convenience of home. Plus, the vehicle I was given for this job was large enough for several people, so I invited a friend to travel with me for the second half of the journey. 

The contract was to film at least 10 national parks and protected areas in Québec and Ontario and provide my client with a minimum of one hour of quality footage. My plan involved shooting video from the RV as I drove using a mounted GoPro camera, stopping to capture the most picturesque shoreside spots, and filming hikes to the most scenic points in each park I visited. 

After picking up the RV in Montréal, I set off for Saguenay Fjords National Park. I headed east to where the Saguenay River joins the Saint Lawrence River, then boarded a ferry traversing the Saguenay to the village of Tadoussac. I was able to shoot excellent footage of the crossing and the breathtaking cliffs using only my iPhone and a stabilizer.

When I started out in this profession, the barriers to entry for newcomers were significant, particularly in terms of equipment and technical expertise. Now, all you need is a decent smartphone and a basic understanding of videography. Modern smartphones include good internal stabilizers, so most footage will look like it was shot on a tripod as long as you don’t move your hands too much (or unless you’re on a ferry). All you need to do is shoot horizontally, keep your phone steady, and frame every shot like a photograph. Then record for at least 10 seconds and voila, you’ve shot professional-looking footage. 

Following another ferry crossing, I drove the so-called lighthouse route between the cities of Trois-Pistoles and Gaspé—hands-down my favorite part of the journey. The road winds its way along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, while lighthouses dot the shoreline in a host of stunning locations. 

Another highlight was Bonaventure Island, with its orange-colored cliffs. Hiking to the far side of the island, I found one of the largest gannet colonies in North America. The sight of thousands of birds living on the rocks next to the turquoise blue ocean made for great footage. After the island, I slowly made my way back to Montréal, where I met up with my friend, Ralf Schuengel. 

Ralf is an example of how nowadays anyone with a decent understanding of videography can make a little extra money from travel videos. He has a regular job in Germany but earns extra cash on the side by filming his adventures with his iPhone and posting the footage online. He’s attracted several thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel. Now, on average he earns about $250 a month from monetizing his videos, including our Canadian adventure, on this platform. 

On the second leg of the trip, we explored Omega Safari Park, Thousand Islands National Park and the remarkable Bruce Peninsula. Watching the waves pound the white cliffs of the peninsula, it’s hard to believe that it’s not an ocean. The water was a stunning array of colors, from dark blue to bright green. 

Our last stop was Toronto. While I had visited before, this time I really had a chance to tour this cosmopolitan city by the lake. We used bicycles to explore the harbor front and took a ferry to Center Island, with its sandy beaches and marvelous views of the city. 

At the outset of such large-scale videography assignments, the task can feel daunting. By the end of the trips, I’m always amazed by how well things work out, even if sometimes the weather does not cooperate. I truly love the travel videography lifestyle…every day is an adventure. Getting paid to explore natural and urban environments, and capture the beauty of these places at my own pace, is a true joy.

Monetize Your Travel Videos on YouTube

On YouTube, you can build a moneymaking videography channel…for free. But be aware, getting your channel to the point where you start receiving a passive income will take time and commitment. 

To earn a share of advertising revenue through the YouTube Partner Program, you need at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of public viewing time over the past 12 months. Once your channel has been approved to join the program, you need to associate a Google AdSense account with your YouTube channel to get paid. 

The key to earning from online videos is building an engaged audience. Shoot plenty of footage when you travel so that you can post content regularly. Use free editing software like HitFilm Express or iMovie for iPhone to develop engaging videos. And once you’ve got some quality videos and views, you can use your online portfolio to pitch for videography gigs from tour companies. 

By Tom Reissmann