If the Circus Comes to Town… Grab Your Camera, Sell the Photos

If you live in a rural area, sometimes it seems the photo opportunities you read about don’t really apply to you because the market in your town is not large enough.

I live in a town of 2,389 people, and everyone already knows about the local museum. Magazines aren’t biting at the bit to get another photo of it.

But even our little town occasionally hosts an exciting event. Last summer, the Family Fun Circus came to town, big top and all. From the moment I heard the news, I was jumping up and down. A circus -- what fun! And what a photo opportunity!

I called the number on the poster to ask if I could take pictures. The manager suggested I might want to come and watch the big top circus tent being set up.

Never having lost my childhood fascination with circuses, I was there in the large local park early in the morning on circus day, dew still wet on the grass. Bundled up against the chilly morning air, I took photos of everything from the circus horses tied out to graze to the performers helping roll out the largest piece of canvas you have ever seen to the bright blue and red tent slowly rising in the air.

Going home and looking at my photos from the morning, I realized (a) they told a story and (b) probably very few people know how the process of getting the big top up and ready for a performance works.

I knew the circus was in the area for a couple of weeks, visiting a number of small communities like mine. So I contacted the editor of a large weekly regional community newspaper -- one that covers many of those small communities. I told her about my photos and pointed out the circus was visiting or had already visited many of the communities their paper covered.

She expressed an interest and I sent in 12 photos with captions, which ended up in a full-page layout. The standard rate of pay for photographs for weeklies here, I was told, is $10 per photo. Not a lot, but by sending in the story of the entire morning told in pictures, I earned $120. Our town also has a community weekly paper, much smaller of course, but they also published the pictures, giving me another $120 cheque.

My exciting circus adventure, which I enjoyed and would have done without pay anyway out of personal interest, ended up netting me $240.

Since then, I have had a few other photos published in the papers. For example, my daughter is on the high school basketball team and when her school hosted the area championships, I took photos of the gold and silver medal winning teams, which were from out of town. I sent the pictures to their hometown papers and was paid $10 apiece for them as well -- again for photos from an event I was attending anyway. And those I even took with my iPhone! (I had run down the battery on my good camera experimenting with some action shots during the game.)

Be aware that there is a regional market for photos, along with the large city and online markets. That could be where your breakthrough is waiting for you!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]