Reader Listens to Heart, Publishes Photos in NY Times

Yesterday I told you about reader Elizabeth Chute, whose photos showed up in the New York Times and National Geographic Kids.

Today, scroll down to find out how she did it… and how you can, too…

-- Lori

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

P.S. Elizabeth is one of a growing number of success stories… people who have followed their dreams to go on to get published, make money doing what they love, and enjoy the freedom of a travel writer’s or photographer’s life.  If you have a success story to share, we’d love to hear it!  You can email it to me here.


An interview with photographer Elizabeth Chute

BONNIE: Elizabeth, congratulations on your recent success in photography! When did you first get started in photography?

ELIZABETH: I’ve always loved photography, and still remember my first Brownie Hawkeye camera.  It took me a whole summer to save for it!  But then life and family happened, and the camera got put to the side.

BONNIE: You mentioned in your email to us that a few weeks after starting the Turn Your Pictures into Cash program, you had a photo on the front page of a regional newspaper.  How did you go about getting it published?

ELIZABETH: I had approached two local newspapers about the possibility of submitting photos to them, but was shot down in no uncertain terms!  While they were only tiny papers (less than 3,000 readers) they basically said that unless I had been published by the New York Times, they weren’t interested in seeing anything that I might have.

But a new paper had started in an adjoining community, and was growing by leaps and bounds.  I took the chance and wrote to them.  They asked for a sampling of my work, and within a week I had three photos published on inside pages.  About two weeks later I had the front cover -- in color!  It was a beautiful autumn shot of a 5-year-old boy learning to BMX bike, and it paid $10.

BONNIE: I read that your photos were also published in the New York Times, National Geographic Kids, and a National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees.  How did you break into these more competitive markets?

ELIZABETH: Getting photos published in National Geographic Kids and National Wildlife Federation came about as a result of my affiliation with Photographers Direct, a “fair trade” stock photography site.

New York Times went via a very circuitous route.  The photo in question had been purchased from Photographers Direct by a media company, who worked with specific ad agencies, who wanted it for one of their companies.  The only problem was, they couldn’t quite figure out how to use the ad to convey the message they had planned.  As I had been in consultation with one of the ad executives (and she had mentioned the dilemma) I took it upon myself to do a mock-up of how I saw the ad, based upon her explanation.  Turns out she envisioned the same layout, and they basically used not only my photo, but the layout as well.

BONNE: Do you sell your photos anywhere else besides in editorial and advertising?

ELIZABETH: My photos are used by publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, ad agencies, etc. for purposes ranging from editorial, commercial, digital art, scientific (educational) and book covers.

The only site I use to sell them, other than my own, is

BONNIE: Are you able to now, or do you plan to pursue photography full-time?

ELIZABETH: Yes, I am working my way up to a full-time career in photography -- and enjoying every second of it!

BONNIE: Do you have any tips for people who are just starting out?

ELIZABETH: I purchased my camera (a very simple Sony DSC-H5) as well as the Turn Your Pictures into Cash program, when I was at a very low point in my life -- with money that I couldn’t afford to spend.  I was recuperating from a very severe accident.  Friends and family “humored” me, but thought I was wasting my time.  After all, I could barely move around my living room.  What was there to take pictures of?

And then, on page 151 of Turn Your Pictures into Cash, was the photo of a cup of coffee.  That simple picture changed my life.  My kitchen had cups -- and coffee.  So I set up some shots.  Could I duplicate the photo in the course?  Why didn’t the lighting work?  How could I get the steam to rise?  Was it possible to get the same effects in the original photo as I could by editing it with Photo Shop?

Turn Your Pictures into Cash was an exceptional guide.

From there I went on to a glass of water, a goldfish in a bowl, a can of Coke.  Believe it or not, that can of Coke placed 3rd among over 7,000 photos submitted by professional photographers from around the world.  And I shot it sitting on top of my microwave with one beam of track light providing illumination.

My neighbors got used to seeing me lying on the sidewalk, or under a bush in the flowerbeds -- all because I was trying to capture a moment in a bug’s life.

And while I was concentrating on taking pictures, my body healed and I was once again able to walk and climb.

So for people who are starting out, I would say, “Don’t ever let anyone take your dream.”  You might not do things the way others have, but as long as you follow what’s in your heart, your course is right for you.  Many of us hope to one day take photos in Rome and Paris.  But for now, there’s a world of magic on your kitchen counter or in the flowerpot on the front step.  Capture the miracles around you… and be filled with the joy of seeing the world through a photographer’s eyes.

BONNIE: Thanks, Elizabeth!

[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.]