For years I had a job in green energy, where at any given time, the phone would ring with some disaster that had to be fixed RIGHT THEN or either people would suffer, or great financial loss would occur, or both.
It was hugely stressful, exciting, scary, and frustrating, and I was important. On a moment’s notice, I could be off to Washington D.C. to meet with the very top people in the land.
Then, one day, the owner lost his mind and quit paying people. The shareholders sued, and the roof fell in, so to speak. Just like that, it was over.
In order to get back into green energy I would have had to move—but I didn’t want to move away from my grandchildren. Newly broke, I decided it was time to take that Canon my husband bought me for Christmas two years before out of the box and follow my dream and go back into the photography I had enjoyed as a young woman.
So, I started from the beginning. I took a class at the local college on “Getting to know your DSLR.”
I heard that money could be made from taking photos for online stock agencies—often images of everyday items, events or places, so I took some shots. I sent what I had into a number of stock sites before applying to one of the bigger ones—Dreamstime. By the next morning, I was an accepted stock photographer! I got a sale fairly quickly, which spurred me on.
Thanks to my stock portfolios, a man who is setting up a private stock agency in another country found me. He needed 2,000 exclusive images. I’ve been working on that a lot lately. It’s a lot of generic household goods, fruit, veggies, etc. against white backgrounds, but I’m finding I’m even enjoying the whole clean look of those, and I know that getting very competent at that and good isolation techniques will pay off for me. Right now everything is fair game. My son walks in and I say, “Give me your watch and sunglasses, I’ll be right back!”
I have recently had some luck selling quite a few of the older images I took while traveling through Europe several years ago, with no thought at the time of photo stock sales. The money I’ve made from photography is going to good use…I’m about to buy new lenses and I’m lining up a trip to Alaska.
I’ve also got to visit and photograph Lyon, France. When I travel, I try to show people who may never get to this place the true heart of it and its people. We take for granted the instant news and ready availability of information, but what everyone sees is still in the hands of the image makers. We have an important role.
So, do I have any advice for people who are looking to start earning money from photography? I know some people stress the idea of “finding a niche,” but I say “shoot everything.” Take lots of pictures. Thousands and thousands.
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