The sun was setting in Northern India as we crested the hill, making our way to Ranthambore Fort. Birds exchanged their evening chatter from the treetops, now turning gold in the low sunlight. Along the path, a bearded man appeared in a temple door, inviting us to remove our shoes and receive a blessing.
Monkeys scampered in front of us, going about their monkey business on the backdrop of a jade river and a forgotten temple, made more beautiful as nature wrapped it in vines, slowly reabsorbing it into the foliage.
And there I was, having the adventure of my life pretending I was on a photo assignment with National Geographic.
I never submitted any of the photos from that trip to publications, but they are selling in my stock agencies, making me a little side-income.
The income is nice, but honestly, that’s not why I travel with my camera.
I do it because I just can’t travel as a typical tourist. I can’t follow the guidebooks from landmark to landmark, dining in museum cafes and standing in long lines to see yet another Renaissance painting.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Renaissance paintings. But eventually you reach “museum saturation,” and you just can’t take any more.
Traveling with a camera and a purpose changes everything.
Every time I travel somewhere new, I make a list of things I want to photograph in that location. Monkeys are always on the list, along with people, food, temples, colors, patterns, details…and anything iconic about the location.
In Paris, that might be baguettes, croissants, the Eiffel Tower, and people walking hand-in-hand along the Seine.
In India, I focused on temples, monkeys, colorful textiles, people, and of course, the Taj Mahal, which is also now selling in my stock agencies.
Some people say that taking photos everywhere you go just becomes a distraction, and takes away from the experience.
But I disagree. When you have that list of things you want to photograph, it becomes your purpose. Your self-assignment. And suddenly your senses are heightened, because you’re searching for the perfect shot of each of the items on the list.
Everywhere you look, you see more colors and patterns. You find new angles and viewpoints. You connect with people you wouldn’t have approached if you were just doing the tourist thing. And it gives you a new way to experience a destination on a much deeper level.
On top of all of that, I get to collect a bit of income from the photos I took along the way. And I get to relive my adventures when I look back through them, too.
Personally, I like the ease of selling my photos in stock agencies, and the way it allows me to be a bit of an introvert, without needing to contact anyone personally and pitch my work. But you can sell your travel photos to magazines, online publications, or printed out as fine art, too.
All of the above markets are much more approachable and open to beginners than you might think. It just takes knowing which doors to knock on, and what to say when you get an answer.
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