Capturing the canals of Venice, shooting skylines in South America, and living a nomad life - how did Allan Hinton go from a mundane full-time office job to a traveling freelance photographer and influential digital nomad in just 3 years? We caught up with the man himself to find out.

Tell us your story?

I had always been a creative person and grew up wanting to be an architect, graphic designer or a photographer. However, somehow I went on to study business and then work in business in London doing the 9 to 5 thing, or rather the 9 to 7 thing. It wasn't my vocation and after 8 years, I finally built up the courage to take a year off from work and London life. I needed head space to gain a new perspective on life.

When I returned from my year away I knew it would be a financial struggle but I wanted to try to start a life as a freelancer. Luckily, when I returned, brands started to secure budget for their Instagram, social media and content creation campaigns. I had built up a big following on Instagram and could just about survive each month with money earned from the campaigns. Although I took my business background for granted I used lots of the skills I had learned over the years and even landed some consultancy clients.

Networking is important as a freelancer and with my background in the media and advertising world, I land many jobs via people I used to know in the industry.

Photography Allan Hinton | Venice, Italy

What's the best thing about being a freelancer?

Overall I think the best thing for me has become the reduced levels of stress and getting rid of the dread of having to wake up and go into a dimly lit office. Also, I am completely responsible for myself and I am more motivated by that. It always felt odd working for a client in an industry I had no passion for and working such long hours just to make someone else higher up the chain rich.

I really like the fact I can be a "digital nomad" and work from anywhere.

I am currently spending the next 3 months, at least, in Berlin but I think I'd like to try somewhere warmer when it hits Autumn.


What are the challenges being a digital nomad?

Compared to others I feel that I am quite relaxed when I go a number of weeks without any work (perhaps my years of traveling alone has helped!) but the thing that would keep me up at night is when it comes to proposals, in particular, quoting for work. I really wish I had a manager to do this so I could focus on the creative side of my job. I am getting a helluva lot better at this and have experience from my past but I still find talking about money the most tricky thing.

Photography Allan Hinton | Petra, Jordan

Tell us about your work.

I mainly shoot travel and lifestyle but also creative product photography too. Tourism boards are my main job provider but I have also taken photos for such a wide range of industries including banking, headphone brands and drinks companies for example. It keeps it fun!

I am so consumed in Instagram and I have been for 5+ years so I guess my inspiration comes from the talent I find on there. I also like to go with my instincts and to not be tempted to take photos just because I've seen a particular shoot do well on other accounts. I value individualism.


Photography Allan Hinton | Hallstatt, Austria


What's the main benefit of Instagram for your freelance business?  


I personally would not be where I am now if it wasn't for Instagram. The following I built gave me a head start in the photography world and allowed me to work with huge global brands very quickly as they tried to tap into my audience. I like to think that I work hard and do a good job with the photography. This has led to a number of jobs where clients have not only wanted me to share photos on Instagram but to share content for them (videos, gifs etc...) and that is a great way to earn extra money. Along with myself growing more of an understanding of image rights.

I like to try to have some sort of artistic standard to my photos. It's a competitive space and many "Instagrammers" grow based more on their storytelling ability. I care, perhaps too much, about growing my photography skills and quality but at least I hope that means I can gain additional revenue streams as clients hire me as a photographer and not just an "influencer".


Photography Allan Hinton | Mountain Chalet Ghilga

How well planned is your account? Did you always carefully choose which images to post?

I try to find a balance of being spontaneous and planned.

I edit and line up a number of shots in my camera roll and then place them next to each other to see how well they look in a certain formation.

The appearance of my Instagram layout is important to me. It has to have a certain aesthetic. You may only get one chance to convince someone to follow you once they land on your page and I believe the layout of the feed plays a big role in that.


What tips would you give freelancers who are new to Instagram?

If you really want to succeed on Instagram now, especially as it is now so competitive, you really have to be prepared to invest a lot of time in it. This includes interacting with the community, working on growth strategies and being prepared to advance on your photography style or at least the ability to create a unique and engaging story that makes you stand out from the crowd.


Photography Allan Hinton Photography | Uyuni, Oruro, Bolivia

Do you think the photography industry is in a healthy place right now?

I have only been in it for 3 years or so but I guess social media and the growth of smartphones have changed the space dramatically. Everyone has a decent camera on them at all times on their phone. People are gaining more inspiration on a daily basis (from the likes of Instagram) and the ability to get discovered more easily (via blogs, Instagram, Tumblr etc) if you have talent is a huge positive for creative people.


What's next for you?

I have recently had a number briefs in for travel opportunities. Sadly many are unpaid so I have turned them down (bloggers and "influencers" take trips for free still!) but others I am waiting excitedly for confirmation. Nearly all my jobs come in last minute. This keep things very exciting! I've really had to learn how to "live in the present" as I have spent three years not knowing what work I have coming up the next month or even where I could be living. I like it this way.

I will spend the summer in Europe taking personal trips to build content and practice my photography but I am also planning a huge 3-4 month trip to Asia and Australia to escape the European winter!


Connect with photographer Allan Hinton and see more of his work here.

Cover photo: Allan Hinton Photography