During my 10-plus years as a professional travel photographer, I’ve seen many wonderful things: the moon setting over Patagonia’s Bariloche Peak as the mountain turned pink with the sun’s first rays; the Alhambra in Granada, beautifully lit as twilight turned into darkness; the Jemaa-el-Fnaa, Marrakech’s famous square, coming alive with locals and tourists in late afternoon; the imposing, six-minaret Blue Mosque in Istanbul; and much more besides.
All of these shoots have produced unforgettable memories, nice pictures, and sales, yet some of my best selling images are the ones I’ve taken near my home.
In 2003, I moved to Santa Fe and began my career as a travel photographer, selling my images to editorial publications. (I now sell my photos to magazines, books, and newspapers.) Back then, I was starting from scratch, so I wasted no time in getting out and photographing the many subjects the State of New Mexico has to offer, from adobe missions to grand landscapes to cultural events. Along the way, I amassed a broad collection of New Mexico images, which I was able to market and sell to many local publications.
I love selling to travel publications because I get to photograph things I like (landscapes, events, architecture, food), and I do it on my own schedule. I then select and submit only my best pictures, and the bad ones (we all take them) never happened.
Here are three of my best-selling images from New Mexico, together with a brief explanation and some tips.
1. Dancing Señorita:
I photographed this beautiful dancer at the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration in Albuquerque. I was experimenting with slow shutter speeds to try to depict the dancer’s motion as she twirled around. The image has sold many times over, including a book cover. I believe a big part of the appeal is the blurred motion, making the picture more dynamic than a “frozen” image.
To do this, experiment with your camera and try different approaches to the same subject. Digital cameras are a fantastic tool for experimenting since you see your results immediately.
2. Black and White Ceramic Pots:
Santa Fe’s biggest yearly event is the Indian Market, where Indians come from far and wide to sell their crafts. This picture shows the traditional style of the Acoma Pueblo, a local tribe, and has appeared in many local publications. The image is simple and tightly composed (there is nothing else in the image but pots).
These types of pictures are perfect for detail shots inside travel articles. To get them, fill your viewfinder with your subject and take pictures of everything (food, architecture, souvenirs); all are good sellers.
3. Mountain Covered in Snow:
This is a picture of Santa Fe Baldy, the biggest mountain near town. I had to hike about two miles in snowshoes to reach my vantage point, but it was worth it. Although it snows in Santa Fe, big snow storms are not that common, making this image unique. The picture has sold many times in both horizontal and vertical formats.
Tip: Take a variety of pictures of the same subject, starting with vertical and horizontal formats, but also wide-angle shots, tight shots, shots showing empty space (for words), and so on. Editors will love you for this as it gives them layout options.
[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.]