Howard earned a good salary as an I.T. engineer, but he knew deep down that this was never his calling. Howard wanted to be a photographer.
His nine-to-five was so far removed from his dream job that he thought he would never be able to make the switch. Aged 32, he decided he needed a change.
While vacationing on the island of Penang in Malaysia, he was awestruck by the colors in George Town. They were so unusual that he started taking photographs—lots of photographs.
One afternoon while sitting in a café in George Town, he met and photographed one of the town’s local characters, who asked to see the shots he just taken. After browsing through the images on his camera, he told Howard he had “the eye,” and that he should think about doing it professionally. This small piece of encouragement was all Howard needed to hear.
Three months later he quit his job, moved to Penang and opened a small photographic gallery. His work was unusual and entirely unique to George Town. Within months of opening, locals—as well as visitors to the island—were talking about his work. He started winning commissions from hotels around the city and in other parts of the country.
The photographs he sells allow him a good standard of living, and he supplements his income from his gallery by taking photos of every-day scenes and objects and selling them to stock photo agencies.
Above is a photo he sold recently that captures some of the color of Malaysian life.
His costs are low, too. His gallery space costs him $600 per month, and six years later he is still producing original works that now also sell internationally.
But it’s not just his new career he loves—it’s his new home. The exotic island of Penang nestles in the Straits of Malacca, on Malaysia’s northwest coast. From Malaysia’s best street food to smart restaurants, bars, state of the art shopping malls and movie theaters, it’s a slice of the exotic but with all the comforts of home at hand.
Penang’s lively street culture means Howard has no shortage of subjects to photograph. Most of its major events are anchored by religious festivals, but there is also a recently opened performing arts center, and events like the Penang Jazz Festival and the annual George Town Festival to look forward to.
Editor’s Note: Magazines, websites and advertising companies often need photographs of regular places and things. They buy these shots from online stock photo agencies. But here’s the thing—anyone can take these pictures, and then sell them through the stock websites. You probably already have these type of photos in your vacation albums. Find out if they could be earning you money, here.