How a Camera Pays for Exotic Adventures

I always loved photography. But it wasn’t until I got the secrets of turning photos into cash that I started making real money from my photographs.

With this valuable knowledge under my belt, I began to search for press trips that I might be invited to join (at no cost to me). That’s how I scored a visit to Borneo—a place I had always desperately wanted to visit.

Not scheduled to join the press tour for two days, I spent hours exploring the city of Kota Kinabalu, investigating the different neighborhoods, shopping at the markets along the water, and sampling new and exotic fruit. The pungent durian, an intimidating delicacy, is covered in a prickly porcupine armor you have to peel away before discovering the delicious white flesh inside. While the dark-purple mangosteen has a less intimidating shell and the flesh is equally as succulent.

I was there at the end of Ramadan, and the hotel where I stayed threw a magnificent feast featuring the foods of all the Malaysian provinces. Individual booths were lavishly decorated to reflect the culture of each province with the food offered. Dried palm fronds surrounded bouquets of tiny orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants peeked out of undulating gourds and wooly coconut shells, and wild, painted masks were secured to bamboo poles.

The variety of food was astounding; row-upon-row of colorful sushi, fried and marinated filets of fish, the traditional “laksa” soup (vermicelli noodles, spices, coconut milk, prawns, crab fingers, and curried chicken). And then there were the dessert tables laden with puddings, mousse, and French pastries. What a way to break their Ramadan fast!

In the morning, I rose at five to meet the fishing boats coming into port with their exotic offerings to be sold to local restaurants. My camera gave me entry into every nook and corner of the dock and I took full advantage of the opportunity.

I slipped and slid from one end of the dock to another shooting non-stop. The colors of the antiquated boats, weather-worn faces of the fishermen, their morning’s catch; what an unforgettable experience for a photographer. There were several species of grouper, in mottled camouflage patterns as well as a glowing coral, striped and speckled trout, sting rays and whip rays, shark and marlin, barracuda, octopus, mammoth crab and prawns, and Soon Hock—one of the five most expensive delicacies in Malaysia.

After two exhilarating days exploring on my own, I joined the press group and continued to discover Borneo.

Image: ©iStock.com/fototrav

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