When I attended the Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop in Miami in 2013, I was no stranger to photography. I had followed my dad around the yard, starting with my Kodak Brownie, from the age of four.
What I wasn’t aware of were the numerous ways I could make money with my pictures, once I learned to capture moments rather than snapshots with my camera.
From fine art and greeting cards to restaurant menus, photos for travel articles, and stock photography, instructors at the workshop were willing to share a myriad of income streams photography could bring—to increase both my paycheck and my quality of life.
Below are a few things I’ve put into practice along the way.
My very first media trip was visiting St. Simons Island, off the Georgia coast. One morning, just as the sun was coming up over the horizon, the sky turned the color of fresh-picked tangerines. The waves were lapping lazily at the shoreline. People were wandering alongside the tide, dipping their feet in the water, venturing out to their waist, diving into the day ahead.
I could hear the sound of cameras all around me, their shutter buttons one continuous click. I took a deep breath and decided to wait.
What happened next was magical. I watched a lone runner racing toward me, just as the reflection of sunny skies reached the beach. I followed him with my eye, held my breath until he was a silhouette. I gently pressed the shutter button, knowing I caught a moment that would appeal to people.
I was right. I’ve sold that image four times as fine art, several times on stock photography sites—even a popular photography magazine featured it in an article about “capturing light.”
Adapt to Change
I remember spending time on Jekyll Island a few years ago, celebrating my birthday. I’d seen several amazing photos of Driftwood Beach in a coastal magazine earlier that year. Images of a sandy shoreline with impressive dead trees, bark stripped clean by the elements, branches reaching up toward the sky, a burst of warm sunshine rising over the horizon, peeking through the cloud cover at sunrise.
I wanted to capture the same type of picture—I planned on enlarging and framing it on my apartment wall as a gift to myself.
Imagine my dismay when I arrived. There was no sun, just a dark and dreary morning, the sky overhead a dirty, dish-water gray. I wanted to stomp my feet like a kid—I was so frustrated. Instead, I studied the scene and decided to overexpose the expanse of beach and trees, aiming for a different result.
What I ended up with was a series of eerie impressions, a slideshow of natural longing, beauty, even despair. I’ve sold the set several times as fine art and won a 1st place ribbon in a local art show for it. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d just given up and walked away.
Look for Details
I love photographing many different things—there is so much that interests me. A field of flowers, mountain landscapes, groups of people, platters of food, downtown architecture, and abstract images have found their way to the printer.
As my photography improved, I started to concentrate on tighter images, eliminating busy things that added nothing to what I was trying to convey. I paid attention to framing, the rule-of-thirds, lighting, and other minute details that all-of-a-sudden mattered to me.
Close-up pictures of flowers, abstract patterns in the exterior walls of a building, tables with food and wine set just-so, paths that lead to the mountain or seagrass that pulls me toward the shore seem to be what I want to photograph now.
I have clients who buy prints for their homes, their shops, even their restaurants.
Stop Taking Snapshots
Anyone can take a snapshot. That’s what I was doing from the time I was 4. It takes a lot of practice to capture a moment, to make a memory that elicits emotion when someone looks at it. Photographs tell stories—just like the written or spoken word does.
What story do you want to share with the world through your lens?
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Three Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]