On my way to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Boston, I dreamed about being free to explore the world instead of being cooped up in an office building. I thought longingly about leaving behind the piles of paperwork to head out for adventures on exotic tropical islands. I looked forward to learning skills that would help me fulfill those dreams. I was excited about meeting others with similar dreams.
It was a step in my journey towards making a life rather than just a living.
Even with all of the daydreaming on my flights, I never imagined that a snapshot taken en route to the workshop that day would be published in a national magazine.
A stopover in the Toronto airport gave me a chance for a walk to stretch my legs, have lunch, and recharge my batteries.
Composing a quick photo of the scene right in front of me provided entertainment during the short wait for my samosas and salad. My iPhone recharged on the café counter with a fork and a knife on a paper serviette in the frame to suggest the setting.
The image was uploaded to my stock agency, Alamy. After adding a straightforward caption, “iPhone charging on table with cutlery at airport restaurant” and keywords ranging from airport to technology, the photo appeared for sale on the agency’s website.
I hoped it would be a useful stock shot to illustrate traveling and technology. I certainly didn’t anticipate that it would be published in a magazine read by over a million people.
As it turned out, this simple image of a routine chore was just what one photo buyer wanted.
The photo was licenced by New Yorker magazine to illustrate a humor article “What Your iPhone-Charging Location Says About You.” It was exciting to see my image published by a major magazine. The photo credit put me another step closer to achieving my goals while earning a bit of cash to pay for lunch.
Stock photography is an easy way to turn a few minutes with a camera here and there into publications and earnings. There’s a constant need for stock photos of almost everything.
As much as I love photographing my specialites, wildlife and travel, I’ve found it also pays to take advantage of the more mundane day-to-day opportunites.
There’s no way to predict which photos will sell or when. At home or on the go, the following strategies increase the odds of capturing those casual shots that might be just what a photo buyer is looking for:
- Keep a camera handy and ready to shoot. Experience has taught that I’m much more likely to take a photo if I don’t first need to dig the camera out from deep in a closet or my carry-on luggage, replace the battery, or adjust the settings.
- Be familiar with the basics of camera operation so a fleeting moment becomes a stock photo rather than a missed opportunity.
- Be observant. Saleable stock shots, like a smart phone recharging, are often right under our noses.
- Fill the gaps in coverage. Many stock agencies have thousands or even hundreds of thousands of images of smart phones, but very few of phones charging in a restaurant. Sales come more often when a photo is one of a few on a topic, rather than one of many.
- Make sure there are no logos visible in the photo.
- Keep it simple. In the airport café, the tight framing of the shot kept the image uncluttered and excluded recognizable features of the restaurant. The gray mouse pad made a neutral background that didn’t distract from the phone.
Here’s to having photo fun while building up a portfolio! You never know where those photos might be published.