Take a Few Tips from Someone Who's Been There

Do you ever muse about how nice it would be if people would just pay you to take pictures? So you could give up your day job… and start making money doing something you love?

Or maybe you're a traveler or writer first, but you know it's easier to sell stories when you have photos to go with them. And so you'd like to learn how to take better ones. You're ready to start getting paid to see the world. But is it really possible?

Those are the kinds of things our workshop attendees were thinking about last week in Austin… maybe you are, too…

And those are exactly the dreams our speakers set out to encourage and the worries they put to rest.

I mean, these guys all started out where you are. And today they're living their dreams. So for three days, they shared an amazing amount of practical advice, their secrets, encouragement, and inspiration, too.

They just laid it all out: Here's what you have to do to get from where you are to where you want to be. And here's how to do it fast. And here's how to have fun while you're at it.

I'm going to share here a few more of the quick tips I picked up from these guys.

But first, I just wanted to say that to my mind, the most extraordinary thing about our speakers -- and it struck me when I was sitting in the back of the room one afternoon -- isn't how "expert" they are. And they really are all accomplished pros. It's how approachable and genuinely interested in your success they are.

And you don't have to take my word for it. I've got the evaluations right here…

RICH WAGNER - Professional photographer

"Rich Wagner has a refined passion for photography.  He not only loves and knows his stuff, his passion resonates, and he really gets you to understand and appreciate whatever it is that he's teaching.  He was fun and lively, but his passion for photography was serious.  He's an awesome teacher!"  -- Valerie Lackey

Last week, while the workshop was still on, I sent you some of the tips Rich gave in his presentations.

But I remembered another comment I found interesting and hadn't really understood until he explained it. It's about "post-processing" your photos -- that means cleaning them up in a program like Photoshop.

He said that though you'll probably want to touch up your images if you plan to sell them as microstock, you don't need to do so for editorial. In fact, you shouldn't.

Even if there are big, black power lines in front of a beautiful building in your photo, leave them in. Because with editorial, you're trying to show the truth… and give a sense for what a place is actually like.

JENNIFER STEVENS - Freelance travel writer and editor (and author of our Ultimate Travel Writer's Program)

"Oh what's not to LOVE about Jen!  She's so warm and funny and human and gives incredibly practical advice and guidance.  Of all the presenters, she is super encouraging and 'you can do this!'  She's always super-positive about practical, specific ways to achieve success. She really acts like she believes in us.  And she's an inspiration!" -- Roni Java

Jen was in Austin with her husband, Patrick, (she's the writer, he's the photographer) to talk about the best -- and easiest -- way to put a photo-article package together.

One thing she talked about was getting to know the publication you'd like to sell to. Sure, one way is to subscribe to the magazine and read it regularly. Another way is to check out the magazine's website and read a few articles in the archives. (And you'll want to read the writer's and photographer's guidelines, too, of course.)

But if you want to get some deeper insights into who your audience really is, go to a publication's website and click on "advertise with us." Look for what's called the "Media Kit." That's the material the publication sends to potential advertisers with all sorts of information about the demographics of the readership. And there's also often an editorial calendar there as well. And that'll give you some idea about what they're covering over the next year and where your article idea might fit best.

SHELLY PERRY - Professional portrait and stock photographer, weekly contributor to The Right Way to Travel Photo Tips

"Shelly loves photography and her insatiable curiosity for telling stories through her picture subjects is reflected in their quality." -- Jane Jenkins

Shelly gave us loads of practical tips for stock photography, website building, photo processing in Photoshop and Lightroom, and more.

But one stock tip I thought was particularly useful was that when you're making images to sell as stock, browse the site you're selling on to see what's selling well. You can take inspiration from the top-selling photos. But don't try to reproduce those images on your own.  Instead, change it up, get creative, and make your shots different.

You'll want to capture the same elements that sell well -- like business people, diversity, or people interacting -- but you need to make your images your own.  This way, you'll not only avoid copying other peoples' work, but you'll have a creative edge with images that stand out from the pack. And you'll find that you'll soon develop a style all your own.

LISE GAGNE - Top-selling professional microstock photographer

"I definitely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, Lise Gagne.  She was so great.  She showed how true passion gets you through all odds." -- Valerie Lackey

If you have true passion for photography, you can sell your photos as stock, just like Lise.  From Austin, I sent you a few of her photo-composition tips. Proven secrets for creating images that will sell well on microstock sites (read it here).

Lise gave plenty of practical tips, but she also gave us some inspirational advice.  She said it really is possible to make a living doing what you love -- if you're passionate about it.

You just have to be curious, explore, keep a notebook handy and write down your ideas and what you've tried and what works and what doesn't. And don't get too discouraged, even in the face of frustration. Just keep trying. Believe in yourself, and you'll surprise yourself.

"This is more than what you can get from any other workshop that I know about -- there were so many professional and knowledgeable people involved." -- Rose Fuller

"The value is excellent.  I can't imagine a better way to jump start a career -- such sincere, energetic, qualified, and friendly lecturers, along with presentations by real world regular people with inspiring and attainable success stories." -- Vera Bosnel

"Anyone interested in making money with their photography would be overwhelmed with the great information presented in this workshop." -- Diane Watson

… I couldn't have said it better myself…

Have a great weekend,

Bonnie Caton
Staff Writer, Great Escape Publishing

P.P.S. Watch tomorrow's eletter for a lesson on how to manage your photos in Adobe Lighroom. Riley Caton, another great professional photographer we heard from in Austin, shares his step-by-step advice about the best way to organize and store all those digital photos you're busy snapping.

(Riley also contributed to our soon-to-be-on-the-shelves Computer Basics program. It has in it everything you need to know about computers as a freelance photographer or writer… but nothing you don't need. And it's all in plain, simple English… in a type large enough to read. Imagine that! More on this coming soon… )



Summer vacation is still a few months away, but some publications are looking for summer articles to fill their editorial calendars now.

Think about some summer themes you could write about, like:

** 5 Must-See Pit Stops on Your Family Road Trip
** Natural Wonders: Early-Summer Outdoors Escapes
** Kid-Friendly Paris
** Hit the Beach: Three Hidden Jewels on the [Your State] Coast

Now, sit down and write an article about a place or activity you know well in the summer time.  You don't have to include family or kid-themed activities… why not write about the best summer time retreats for couples?

If you have photos of the location from last summer, don't forget to mention them when you submit your article or query.


READER FEEDBACK: "It is PRACTICAL!! And the content aimed at helping you make money at something you LOVE to do is great.  Whether fine art, stock, or magazine photography, there's something for everyone." -- Nitza Rosario

[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.]