“How a Cup of Coffee Changed My Life”

I used to work like a sled dog, traipsing around the planet as assistant to a tantrum-prone boss. Believe me, it was far from glamorous. I rarely saw anything of the countries I visited, I lived out of a suitcase and I missed every important family event for years.

Then one morning it all changed. I watched the steam rise from a cup of coffee…and decided to photograph it with an old camera I had lying around. The shot looked great, and I knew there must be a market for pictures like this one.

Before long, I was selling my photos. The trick is to use micro-stock agencies.

There is a big market out there for regular photographers to supply images to websites, advertisers, newspapers and anyone who wants an image of pretty much anything.

Sales trickled in at first, but the more I uploaded, the more sales I got.

Then one night my Grandma mentioned that she’d like to go to Alaska via cruise ship. She hadn’t gone on any big trips since Grandpa passed several years before, but she didn’t want to go alone. In the past, the thought of a cruise ship would have been a dull prospect, but I began to think what a wonderful time I could have with Grandma…and of the photo possibilities.

It would be expensive, but I could afford to go if I combined work with play. So, I told my Grandma we should do it soon. We were climbing on board within a month.

The photo opportunities were endless—I started before we even left the dock. While Grandma grabbed a quick nap, I snatched shots of sailing ships bobbing in the sun off the port side…a glass of champagne on the little table on my verandah—everything around me had potential.

I took my camera everywhere. Dinner plate…wine glass…napkin. I assumed the ports would be the best places for grabbing saleable shots, but the ship itself provided the most profitable images.

On the days that we cruised the open sea I used the time taking photos of the crew doing what they do. I walked the decks and took shots of the exotic décor, the fancy bars, bathrooms, pools, libraries and spas.

When we docked, I captured images of the port towns and shopping districts, and wildlife tours and nature walks rounded out the portfolio nicely.

The trip was amazing…I had to remind myself I was at “work.” I sold hundreds of images from that vacation through several different stock agency websites—and they’re still selling.

I’ve also sold images I took on trips further afield. I’ve traveled across Europe with my camera in tow, and sold images taken in places like Lyon, France. I even dug out old vacation photos I took with a regular point-and-shoot camera and sold those through stock photo sites.

And there are plenty more working vacations to come—Grandma and I are already planning our next trip.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, including travel photography, sign up for Fund Your Life Overseas, a free e-letter from International Living. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 5 Portable Careers.

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