The secret to my $20,000 stock photo success...

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I put this photo in an online stock agency where it was picked up by National Geographic for the cover of one of their magazines. Since then, it has gone on to earn me an upwards of $20,000…

The secret to my $20,000 stock photo success...

What’s the secret to my stock photo success?

Well, the upload part was simple. I did it the way every photographer does it when they sell their photos as stock.

But creating the image and having access to the scene in the first place took some work. It’s a testament to the power of friendship.

I travel the country with my husband Andy. Whether we are in Amish Country in Ohio, the hills of the Palouse or the mountains of Montana, we enrich our lives (and my photos) by making friends.

As a result, we have awesome friends everywhere we go… and limitless photo opportunities with our friends as models and/or guides to the best places to get good pictures.

It’s a two-way street. My friends feel a great deal of pride in seeing pictures of themselves or their farms published in books, calendars, and magazines. And I provide hot coffee and cookies during frosty adventures.

Later we gather for dinner (prepared by me if possible), swap amazing stories, and I prepare a slide show to show them what got from my shoot.

I then follow up around Christmastime to deliver gorgeous prints and I always send them calendars and books at Christmastime.

It starts by showing up!

By this I mean, when I receive a call from my friend Mark saying, “We are moving logs down the mountain tomorrow. Thought you might want to know…. we’ll take off from the pens by the hay yard about 8”… you can darn well bet I tell him I’ll be there.

The next morning, I wake up and it’s 38 BELOW… yikes! But do I roll over and think I won’t go because it’s just too cold? NO!!!

I layer up… pack a thermos of coffee and some cookies… activate some hand warmers, put them in with my batteries, and I show up. Not on time, but early.

The very last thing I want to do is be a bother or accidentally do something dangerous. I want to be there early to see the lay of the land… where to position myself, safely, and with the best view.

It allows me to capture unique images like these…

20,000 stock photo success...

20,000 stock photo success...

Of course, I’m proud of these images. But people and friends make life so much more fun, too. And photography gives me that.

It gives me an excuse to talk to people and make these friendships. And an excuse to do more and see more with my life.

When I visit my old hometown of St. Louis, I always stay at an assortment of properties managed by this one Airbnb owner, Karen. She and I are friends now and we always try to have lunch or coffee when I’m in town.

Karen’s in the know and always gives me the latest rundown of beautiful places with a view, fantastic eateries, and when to go to the local farmers’ markets. Both of our lives are richer because of our friendship.

My odds of marketable images and stories increase tenfold because of these relationships I build with people.
This might be more time than some people want to invest, but, for me, it pays off in so many ways.

Besides, how can a person ever have too many friends?

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