Rounding the bend of a narrow country road, flanked on either side by hedges filled with thorny briars, I caught sight of the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland‘s most visited attractions. The Rock is an imposing fortress set high upon a rocky green mound, comprised of a 12th-century round tower, a Georgian cathedral, and a medieval monastery. I focused my efforts on photographing the crumbling rocks of the monastery and the old, moss-covered gravestones that dotted the vast landscape, knowing I could sell these photos later.
It’s hard to believe that only a few years ago I was I working a dead-end retail job…and had been for almost 27 years. There was a lot of thankless overtime, covering shifts for people who called in sick, and missing out on spending time with family at the holidays. And I took that stress home with me every single night…and finally I reached a point where I couldn’t do it anymore.
I always enjoyed photography, but learning that I could make money from it changed my life, and opened up a world of travel and adventure. In particular, the discovery of stock photography was a game changer. Sales of my photographs quickly took off on several stock websites and I began to make money from photographs of everything from architecture and food to landscapes and people.
I’d been invited to the Emerald Isle for an eight-day adventure as part of press trip—one of the unsung benefits of becoming a travel photographer—and I relished the chance to add a little green to my portfolio.
Walking through the village of Adare, known as Ireland’s prettiest village, I photographed cozy, thatched cottages, with their cheerful red and bright blue doors. The following morning, breakfast at The Good Room, a comfortable little café, was spent chatting with friendly, fresh-faced locals.
At the cliffs of Moher, I snapped some images of the orange-beaked puffins who make these colossal cliffs their home. Windswept and cheerful, looking out over wild blue Atlantic from on high, it was easy to see why this natural wonder attracts about one million visitors each year.
As soon as I arrived home I framed some my favorite photos to sell as fine art. Unsurprisingly, they began to sell immediately. From just 10 images, I made over $1,600.
A total stranger saw some of my images on Facebook and wrote to ask if she could buy “the charming image of your thatched cottage.” Another bought an image of an enchanted-looking garden I’d snapped while walking around Adare. I also sold a few images of the cliffs of Moher, and the centuries-old graveyards, strewn across the sweeping, green meadows of Tipperary.
A few years ago, this life was just a dream. Now, it’s my reality.
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