I have been in love with photography since my grandmother handed me a camera when I was 6 years old. But I never imagined that something I loved so much could turn into a career, allowing me to travel all over the world and see my images in magazines, newspapers, and websites across the globe.
When I left my job as a trial lawyer to spend more time with my daughter, I started writing and taking photographs for local publications. Then I discovered stock photography, where an agency licenses your work for you. You upload your images, add keywords to help people find them, and the agencies do the rest. It took my work in a totally different direction.
Suddenly those travel and nature photos I took purely for the love of it were earning me money and appearing in books and calendars. My work was also discovered by local galleries; I have even had it shown in museums in New York City.
A few years ago I took an amazing trip with another stock photographer friend to Iceland, Sweden, Russia, and Estonia just to shoot stock photos. We saw geysers and volcanoes…cruised on the Baltic Sea…visited museums…sampled wonderful food…and photographed it all.
With an internet connection I was even able to upload photos while I was on the cruise ship. Someday, my daughter will earn an income from those images, because they will continue to sell for many years. My stock photography portfolio is my nest egg as well as a legacy I can leave behind.
Recently an image I uploaded back in 2009 was licensed for $400…and in the same month another of my images was licensed for $750 for one-year, exclusive use. I get 50% so two photos alone earned me $575. Most licenses are for less than that, but they add up.
It’s easy to upload images to stock agencies. Some of them license images for me nearly every day. I also license images directly to clients both from my own website and by sending out queries to publishers.
I still shoot assignments, but shooting stock, coming up with concepts and planning my shots for upcoming trips is what has really helped me grow as a photographer.
Now that my daughter is grown, my husband and I can pick up at a moment’s notice and travel more, so I am continuing to build up my stock photography portfolio in order to help fund my eventual retirement.
That’s the great thing about stock photography…you can get into it at any stage of your life, and when you retire, you can keep at it from anywhere in the world. And the best part is, most of the time, it doesn’t feel like work!
Even when I’m not traveling, I take images of everyday things here at home and upload them. Some of my favorite photographs were taken right in my backyard. As a stock photographer, you can find opportunities anywhere.
Photography has given me so many opportunities and so much joy, getting paid to do what I love.
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