I’ve always loved travel and photography. For most of my life, these activities were confined to vacations and weekends. Although I was very grateful for the jobs that provided my living and travel money, I never felt ready to return to work at the end of a travel holiday.
My long-term goal was to create a life that would allow me to replace meetings with adventures on exotic tropical islands, take slow walks through the forest instead of rushing through my days, and process travel photos instead of paperwork.
I spent a lot of time pondering how to do this while also keeping food on the table. Then, I attended the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Boston, the Ultimate Photographer’s Workshop in Santa Fe, and spent a glorious week chasing storms in Arizona with Great Escape Publishing. All of these events gave me new ideas, and I came home inspired.
Time challenges meant that I initially worked in fits and starts on growing my stock photography portfolio, submitting a batch of photos from my most recent vacation, then putting my camera away for weeks or months until the next one. Each time it would take longer to get my motivation back.
I resolved to keep up my momentum by doing something every single day, no matter how little, to move toward my goal. I set 15 minutes per day as my objective, but later found that the length of time wasn’t critical—what really mattered was the daily ritual of setting aside time to do what I love.
I’d edit a few pictures every night, or choose my best images for a stock submission. I’d read articles about travel destinations and make lists of captions and keywords while waiting in line at the bank or grocery checkout.
Later, I used my 15 minutes a day to edit, keyword, and upload several photos to my stock agency.
On days when I was too busy or too tired to do much of anything related to photography, I’d take a couple of minutes to read the latest Breakfast Stock Club newsletter. Articles about the successes of other workshop attendees and new techniques kept me inspired.
Over time, I built up my stock portfolio to more than 4,000 images, with corresponding increases in sales. My travel photos have been licensed for use in books, magazines, newspapers, advertising, calendars, greeting cards, travel guides, and brochures.
I found it is possible to turn a wild chicken into a magazine cover in only a few minutes a day (no animals were harmed in the process).
The charming cottage where we stayed on Kauai came with its own flock. They were entertaining to watch and photograph while relaxing on the deck, although the rooster’s habit of crowing in the early morning was not so entertaining. However, when the handsome rooster’s photo was licensed several times, I forgave him for waking us up long before the crack of dawn.
This month I left my job. Now I get to spend more time taking photos and planning future adventures. The only meetings are those when my husband calls me to see a woodpecker on our bird feeder. “Overtime” means taking an evening walk along the river with my camera.
I feel an incredible sense of peace sitting in my quiet home office with fresh flowers, a cup of tea on my desk, and my rabbit snuggled in his bed at my feet. I’m so glad I made time to do what I love.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Profit from Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]