Stock Photography: What Good is Making Money If You’re Not Doing This?

"What good is making money if you're not having fun?" Francesca asked with a smile.

Bonnie Caton here, writing to you from our Stock Photo workshop in Cotacachi, Ecuador (photos below).

As you read this, we’re enjoying body-melting spa treatments, Super-Learning Spanish classes, photo outings to local artisan villages, and captivating shamanic ceremonies alongside fellow photo enthusiasts.

And, of course, we’re learning to improve our photography in a country that even our most well-traveled friends have never visited.

That's just the kind of thing that photography allows you to do -- travel, meet interesting people, and experience places on a whole new level. Plus, if you play your cards right, you can make money from it, too…and even fully support yourself doing what you love.

Over dinner tonight, I asked attendees: What attracts you to stock photography?

Is it:

A.The residual income. The peace of mind that your photos can make you an income that's practically recession-proof.


B. The romance of making a side-income while living on your own terms and having adventures all over the world.

Half said "residual income." A steady stream of money coming in, even if photography isn’t your full-time “job.”

The other half, it seems, are in it for the fun and adventure.

I'm curious to know what you think -- are you more attracted to stock for the money? Is it the idea that you can work from anywhere, as often as you want, wherever you want, and with whomever you want? Or is it the prospect of well-funded adventures all over the world?

Take a second to answer the survey here.

The good news is that stock photography can do all of the above. It provides residual income AND the ability to live life on your terms, go where you want, get creative, and really indulge in life in ways that a "real job" won't let you.

Another thing I've found out from attendees here is that a lot of people think stock photography has to be created in a studio with a white background and fancy lights.

Not so…

Stock photographer Holger Mette, for example, quit working as a lawyer so he could travel the world, supporting himself with stock photography. Well, he's doing it with his camera and a backpack… and he takes nothing but travel photos.

They're good, stock-worthy travel photos, of course. But his background is in law, not photography. He simply learned what makes a travel photo into a stock photo, and the dollars started streaming in.

Stock photographer Shelly Perry, our instructor here in Ecuador, sells a lot of her travel photos as stock, too… many of them taken right here in Cotacachi.

Shelly says that to make a saleable travel stock photo, you need to look out for these three things:

** 1. Find the most iconic shots. Look for images that define a place, like Notre Dame in Paris or this angel statue in Quito, Ecuador, that Shelly sells through iStock:

Stock Photography

** 2. Shoot anything that's unusual about the place. Each day here in Ecuador, we eat a new, strange, and delicious fruit that you can't get in the States. And today, on the way back from the weaving village, we saw farmers walking their cows down the road. These sorts of things -- things you just don't see back home -- are the kinds of unusual shots that work well for stock.

Here's Shelly's stock photo of "tree tomatoes," a favorite fruit in this region of Ecuador:

** 3. Look around and find the cleanest composition. Take photos with no clutter or distractions in the background. You want your subject to stand out loud and clear, like this carved angel that Shelly shot in the woodworker's village. She sells this one on iStock, too:

We're learning so much here and improving by the day. I'll send some attendee photos and more travel stock tips in the next few days… like how to make money by spending a day at the spa with your camera -- details and photos on that tomorrow!

Hasta mañana,

-- Bonnie

Bonnie Caton
Editorial Manager, Great Escape Publishing

[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.]