Careers in 2019 are a crazy thing, with the traditional office becoming more and more are. Co-working spaces are more common than a 9-5 contract, and so many of us make a living without an office all together.
There are some incurable jobs and opportunities out there, and here at PlusMinus. We want to tell you all about them. We caught up with Travels Feature writer and sometimes photographer James Wong. Keep reading to see what being paid to travel and take photos is really like.
What does your day to day look like?
I supply travel features and guides to publications in Asia and the Middle East. I am generally working when those offices are open, no matter where I am geographically. If I am in my hometown, London, I am on my laptop super early. Come the afternoon I am out reviewing experiences to put into London specific guides.
If I am away on assignment, I will often have a schedule whereby I need to review activities during the day. Then I have the evening free to return to my hotel suite and write my notes up.
How far do you travel a month?
I probably go on about three to four trips a month within Europe. This month I’ve just completed travel guides on Tuscany, Paris, Aberdeen and Amsterdam. Then there are months where I travel further and focus on that particular region.
Such as when I road tripped across Texas, eating everything in sight (I still dream of Hop Doddy burgers and Jalisco Norte tacos, which were honestly the best!). I also explored the islands of The Philippines with my then housemate and photographer Tim Kershaw.
What do you photograph?
I often travel with a photographer, I have been really fortunate to work with some amazing talent including Matt Linden when I was in Taiwan. We did a shoot in my hotel suite, and then a motorcycle tour in the middle of a typhoon.
Sadly, diminishing editorial budgets mean I’m often asked to take my own photos. This is fine as I really enjoy taking them. I’ll snap anything from meals and markets to concert shows and my interviewees. If the photos don’t make it to the article then they often make their way on to the publications’ social media pages instead.
Why did you choose this career path?
As an entertainment publicist I was working with some of the biggest names in showbiz, but the only parts of the job I truly enjoyed were the travelling aspects. I found my old career unfulfilling. I used to count down the days till it was time to go on tour as that meant I would be overseas experiencing a new culture and working with new people.
When the red carpets rolled away and my artists were off duty, I would head out to begin REALLY enjoying the city.
Where is your favourite place on earth?
I had the greatest time in Cape Town, South Africa, where I got to see sights I never thought I’d witness. Like Boulder’s Beach which had hundreds of penguins flapping about in the sunshine. The first time I visited, I fell in love with Tokyo. I subsequently returned as a backpacker in 2013, and then again as an expat in 2016. I made some lifelong friends during that time as well as my fiancé, so I owe a lot to the city.
What would your advice be to someone who wants to get into photography and travelling?
My advice is not to let rejection get to you. In the beginning it will be tough; you’ll have a lot of doors slammed in your face. What separates a successful travel writer or photographer from one that gives up is the ability to keep getting up each and every time you’re knocked down.
Eventually those knocks decrease in frequency, and then they even reverse, i.e. knocking on your door. My other advice is don’t drink alcohol when flying, unless it’s in first class.