At one point during my childhood, I had over 100 pen pals outside of the United States because I longed to visit other countries and experience their cultures.
After attending college, my career as a biologist took me to some interesting places around the world. I studied salamanders in South Carolina, sea turtles in Costa Rica, insects in Belize, and desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert.
It was during this time that I also began taking film photographs. Like many photographers, I dreamed that someone would pay me to travel around the world to document the beauty of our planet. Little did I know, that “someone” would be me.
I have been a contributing photographer to iStockphoto (a “microstock” site that anyone can join) for nine years. During that time, my iStock portfolio has grown to over 6,000 images. While still expressing my interest in science through my photographs, I have also changed careers in search of my dreams to travel.
Most of the time, my adventures are tailored toward abandoned and strange places and locations with incredible biodiversity. When preparing for an adventure, I tend to extensively research the area where I am going so that I know where to find those subjects of interest. I do not shoot traditional stock photography so it is often a gamble if my photographs will sell or not. But the images that I capture are of my own personal interest and passion rather than financial goals.
I often bring my camera along if I am going out for day-long adventures. I spent one day on a tour boat in Philadelphia with family. It was a clear day and the tour would lead us to some interesting sites so I knew that was a prime opportunity to capture some unique shots of the Philadelphia skyline. I was right. The photo above has paid for all of my family to take the boat tour, visiting many sites around Philadelphia, and all enjoyed several great restaurant visits.
During a two-week adventure in Acadia National Park in Maine, I didn’t have the expectations that I would gather any top selling stock photos, but I wanted to photograph the beauty of the area for my own gratification.
A year later, and I now have this photo (left) that paid for the whole trip.
Whether at home or traveling, I often walk a lot. It provides me with opportunities to capture interesting subjects that would often go overlooked. I have a lot of photos of textures, but this one (left) has provided my income with a little cushion.
I suggest carrying your camera along as often as you can because you never know when you might find a winner.
I spent the better part of 2010 traveling and living off of the royalties from my stock photos. I lived in temporary locations here and there while photographing many sites and places that were of my own personal interest during that time. The excitement of traveling this way has encouraged me to shoot more than I had in the past.
It has taken me a while to get to where I am… but here I am, living my dream. Do not become discouraged with the beginning processes of stock photography. They are essential in the learning curve of the market and will help you in the long run.