“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
To say I have an unquenchable thirst for travel would be an understatement. I feel alive when I’m on the road. So several years ago, during a particularly grueling 24-hour shift at the hospital, I googled “travel photography.” That’s when I discovered Great Escape Publishing and signed up for the online course Turn Your Pictures into Cash.
That night, I pictured myself taking photos in every exotic, out-of-the-way place you could imagine. I visualized my photo on the cover of National Geographic Traveler. I could scarcely breathe. I was dreaming BIG.
The next morning, the grandiose ideas had faded, but an excitement for the future remained. GEP’s photography course introduced me to a lot of new possibilities, including fine art, portraiture, sports photography, editorial, travel, and stock photography.
I work for a living as an anesthesiologist and watch after my 89-year-young mother, so travel photography isn’t something I can do every day… but stock photography is.
I started photographing anything that caught my eye (fresh veggies from the garden, my mom knitting socks, the demanding squirrel I feed). I submitted these everyday pictures and travel photographs whenever possible.
My “ah-ha” moment came later while reading Bonnie Caton’s article in the “Breakfast Stock Club.” She recommended researching stock agency sites to see what sells and what they have a need for. So I tried it—and when I searched for anesthesia drugs, I knew I’d found my photo niche.
Contrary to the photos I saw, female anesthesiologists and nurses don’t hold gigantic syringes of drugs while wearing tight fitting white uniforms with plunging necklines. Nope—we wear scrubs. Makeup is optional.
Between surgeries, I’d photograph myself (well, just my hands—so no makeup needed) filling a syringe with anesthesia medicine.
I’d photograph the heart monitor when I worked in the cardiac room where unusual heart rhythms are treated.
These medical pictures are my best sellers by far. Even though no patients are pictured, the photographs tell a story. They are real.
I know I’m privileged to work in such an environment and to be able to photograph behind the scenes… but I encourage you to find a similar situation in your own life. What do you have access to that others don’t?
What you do for a living or for a hobby might be under-represented or misrepresented on stock sites—you could be the one to fill that gap. You can be your own model. And don’t forget to ask your loved ones and friends, too. Real people doing real things make for great stock photos.
If you’re wondering about the cover of National Geographic Traveler, they haven’t discovered me—yet. But my dream of being a photographer has already come true.