Shaking as much from the cold as from my barely contained excitement, I set up my tripod on the edge of the pier and pointed my camera towards the sky. The Northern Lights were silently dancing, dressed in green and purple silk above Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
Moments like these are what make me pursue my passion…traveling around the world and capturing the beauty of different environments and cultures through my lens.
I had always been told that following a passion or a hobby and making money online was difficult. I had to be a responsible person and have a good job, which in my case, was in the human resources department in a big company in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Just like many employees stuck in a cubicle, I had a gorgeous landscape picture as my computer desktop background. I would regularly change it depending on my mood, and make up travel stories in my mind…like hiking through the Pyrenees mountains in France, or exploring the jungles of Southeast Asia.
It only took an impulsive purchase of a small digital camera and a birthday trip in 2008 to discover a new passion that would completely change my life.
Carrying my camera everywhere I went, I snapped photos of everything around me. I had no skills in photography at all, since my background is in law, but I tried, learned, and experimented as much as I could.
As I slowly improved, I decided to put some of my images online on photography websites to sell as prints or stock. Imagine my surprise when a random stranger bought my first ever print, less than two months after I bought my camera. My first $50 was spent splurging on a nice meal and raising a glass to a new life.
It all went pretty fast after that. I took a trip to Ireland and Iceland for my birthday and loved discovering new places. My obvious choice was to combine travel with my newfound way of earning. After a long walk on the St. James Way in Spain, I finally sealed the deal. I left my job in 2009 and became a travel photographer.
With no income, I had to build my portfolio fast and start making money online. I spent all of my savings on travel, from Europe to Southeast Asia. I took as many photos as I could and posted them online on stock photography websites.
I also sold prints of my best images and created calendars and booklets to reach more customers. It only took me nine months to finally begin earning a small income that would allow me to live in Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand.
Fortunately, being an expat in an exotic country made it easy to attend gorgeous festivals…such as Yi Peng, the flying lanterns festival.
My photos of Yi Peng were sold as prints, but also bought as stock images and featured in magazines and on various websites such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian.
One particular image of the monks holding lanterns has earned me over $3,000 alone and is still a popular request.
Now, living in Granada in Spain, I make a full living as a travel photographer. I get to travel regularly around the world, go on assignments for tourism boards and really live the dreams I had just five years ago, staring at my desktop background in my cubicle.
Anything is possible when you’re driven by passion.
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