Here’s today’s photo tip, on selling your travel photos as stock. — Lori Lori Allen Director, Great Escape Publishing P.S. Throughout this week, I’ll send you a series of interviews with successful stock photographers. Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a travel photographer named Holger Mette. Holger travels the world, making a living selling travel photos as stock. One of the best things about stock photography, as you’ll see, is that you can do it from anywhere. But – just like with travel writing – you don’t have to travel to get started. Lise Gagne, Shelly Perry, and Jani Bryson are all professional stock photographers who sell images they shoot at home.
Travel Photos as Stock: Think Iconic to Sell More
By Shelly Perry in Portland, OR Taking a trip is wonderful in and of itself, but it becomes even more satisfying when you can turn that trip into a lucrative adventure. I make money from my trips by selling my travel photos as stock. If you’d like to do the same, think “iconic” during your next big adventure. Now, let me back up and give you a little context here. Usually, when we talk high-selling stock-photo subjects, we tell you the more generic the better. Generic photos can meet a variety of needs and sell to a wider cross-section of buyers. But that rule doesn’t necessarily hold true when it comes to travel photography. There, what’s more important are iconic subjects. What I mean is those places, objects, activities, or traditions that are only found in a particular destination. Here are a few examples: ** ICONIC PLACES: What is a trip to Paris without the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, or Sacre Coeur? All of these are iconic places that shout PARIS when you see them. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Terra-Cotta Warriors instantly signify China. The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge all say New York. My point is: Capture those iconic buildings, landmarks, or other images we instantly associate with a place. Of course, if you’re photographing Paris, you’re not the only one who’s going to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower. Try to capture the most famous landmarks in an unusual way, from a new angle. And even if the images you capture are only locally “famous,” every place has something iconic that will likely sell. ** ICONIC TRADITIONS AND CULTURE: People eat croissants all over the world. But it would be difficult to argue that the croissant is not an icon of France. Have you ever seen cormorant fishing – where the fishermen use cormorant birds on leashes to catch fish? It’s a traditional – and I would argue, iconic – method in China and Japan that would be worth photographing if you ever have the chance. What other iconic traditions, foods, activities, and cultural events can you spot while you’re traveling? Take the time to familiarize yourself with these things so you know what to look for when you’re on the ground. ** ICONIC PEOPLE OR ANIMALS: When it comes to animals and people, try to get as location-specific as you can. Are there tribes of people or styles of traditional dress that would be hallmarks of a location? These are the subjects you want to try to incorporate into your travel photos. What location do you think of when you see an Elvis impersonator? Most likely it’s Las Vegas. How about monkeys relaxing in a hot spring surrounded by snow? It’s no doubt Nagano, Japan. Kangaroos and Koala Bears might well be found in some zoos, but they bring Australia to mind. British Royal Guards or The Gondoliers of Venice are hard to mistake. (Note: It might be difficult to acquire a model release from certain people, but go ahead and get the photos anyway. They could be used for your local newspaper or a travel article.) TIP: Some of these iconic things (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Pyramids in Egypt, for example) have been photographed thousands of times. So try and make your images as unique and unusual as you can. And don’t forget to do a little research before you go — some places require permits to photograph and some buildings are protected by copyright. A little research before you go will help you a lot in the long run. You can read more about that here. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]