Money Making Photography: How Henk Badenhorst Earned $20,000 from One Photo

When traveling to different places for work, I've always tried to take at least one picture that will eventually pay for all the expenses of the trip.

The key to success is finding the right image. One of the things I do ahead of time is check the images used in guidebooks, in-flight magazines, and the advertising inside and outside the city’s airport to get a feel for the kind of photographs that are popular for that particular destination.  But while it’s useful to do some advance research, finding a saleable image is not always about planning ahead. It can happen anywhere, anytime. You must be ready to spot the situation and have your camera in hand to capture the moment.

The following is a photo I took while in Barcelona that more than paid for that trip (and many trips since):

This image (which I took with a fisheye lens) has made more than $20,000 over the years, and it keeps on selling.

Here are a few tips for finding saleable shots in a new city:

**Shoot patterns, reflections, and the abstract

Modern, glass-type buildings and environmentally friendly architecture is good subject matter no matter where you are in the world. So I always try to head down to the city's financial district in search of images that can be useful for designers.

Keep in mind that some architectural designs are copyrighted if identifiable. So unless you’re sure that the design has not been copyrighted, it’s best to take only unidentifiable, abstract images of the structure. (They’re usually more interesting, too.)

**Shoot ”generic”

The following image of a winding road was taken on a 5-day road trip (after enjoying a refreshing beer on top of our hired 4x4). It ended up being the most popular image that came out of the whole trip – and paid for most of the car rental and accommodations:

The generic nature of this image made it saleable for a variety of applications. It could, for example, be used to depict nature, a journey, or the concept of being “on the road,”  while a "defined" location would have been more limiting.

**Think about backgrounds

This last example was taken on a trip to Mexico. While waiting for our transport from the resort to the center of town, I snapped this image of raindrops in a fountain. The image is crisp and the circles created by the raindrops are clearly visible. You can see how useful it could be as a background.

Start shooting with these tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to creating your own very saleable photographs.

[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.]