Simple Photos Gave Me an Income I Can Take Anywhere

I’ve longed to visit other countries and experience their cultures since I was a kid. I once had over 100 pen pals in different countries around the world.

After college I started a career in environmental science and it took me to some interesting places overseas. I studied salamanders in South Carolina, sea turtles in Costa Rica, insects in Belize, and tortoises in the Mojave Desert. It was during this time that I also began taking photographs.

Like many photographers, I had a dream that one day someone would pay me to travel around the world and take photos. I never thought this “someone” would be me.

I learned about stock photography early in my career—you might have heard about it. It works like this—when a newspaper, magazine, website or advertising company needs a photo of something they go to stock websites to find it. You can take pictures and upload them to these sites, and when one gets used, you get paid.

I learned about iStockphoto; a “microstock” site where I could submit my photos as I captured them. I joined in 2002 and I have been contributing ever since. My portfolio has grown to almost 8,000 images and today, stock photography is my main source of income. I’m still getting paid for photos I took 10 years ago.

With my new portable income secured, I was finally free to follow my travel dreams.

I had lived in Pennsylvania almost all my life, so I decided to set sail in 2010. I sold or gave away most of my material possessions and packed up my car with a plan to do a cross country road-trip to California.

I spent six months living in that incredible city. I spent my time soaking up the sunshine and capturing thousands of photographs around southern California.

Then I decided to go a beyond America’s borders – and I spent a month traveling around France shooting images and enjoying the laid-back European lifestyle.

I rented an affordable furnished flat in Paris for a few days that was located within walking distance from many great sites. Whenever I would walk somewhere from the flat, I would take a different route to capture different photos.

After my adventure in Paris, I took the TGV to the Lorraine area in northeastern France. I had some friends who were getting married there and I stayed at a B&B in the countryside. It had so many amazing flowers – and photos of flowers and plants is one of my favorite genres of photography!

My next French stop was a week-long stay in southern France. I took a four wheeler into the mountains to buy goat cheese from a small farm…I visited an abandoned town…and hiked up a hillside to visit an old fort and church. France was amazing.

The photo above is one of my more popular stock images from the trip.

It’s just a simple photo of roses framing an old stone wall, but it has sold really well. Flowers have become one of my specialties.

I hope to visit many more places this year. But whether I’m going overseas or taking a road trip, I always carry my camera. You never know when an interesting moment or subject will present itself.

Stock photography has provided me with the opportunity to combine travel and photography as a way of making a living—something I’ve always hoped to be able to do. I’m finally living my dream.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, including 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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