I love traveling. I love traveling to remote places and exotic islands to do wedding shoots. But sometimes the places I work at can be quite remote. Sometimes I have to travel to a big city, transfer to a smaller plane to fly to a town, be picked up in a jeep and driven for hours along an unsealed road to a remote location where a wedding is going to take place. It can involve traveling all day, having non-working amenities and dealing with local bugs and flies.
I remember one wedding I had to shoot at a National Park in the Pilbara Region, Western Australia that made me really appreciate all the little things I had back home.
I was happy to do the shoot as I’d never experienced the outback and had heard so much about it. It was only a small wedding and very casual – about 40 friends and family, but they were all local. I’m obviously not local, so had to spend a lot of time traveling.
First I had to fly to Perth and wait around the airport for four hours. Perth domestic airport is not like Singapore airport where you can swim in the rooftop pool or watch a movie on the big screen theatre they have. There’s limited shopping and expensive airport food. Although I must admit, it was very clean. When we finally boarded our plane, it took us another 2 and a half hours to fly to Karratha. Karratha airport is basically a large shed and we had to walk down the stairs of the small plane and across a steaming tarmac to get to it.
Karratha is a mining town and very small. They had just put in the first traffic light when I went there and I hear they now have at least six of them! Although I was told that you wouldn’t dare have a wedding in December because of the heat and cyclones, the Bride and Groom couldn’t have it any other time because of work commitments.
It took us only minutes to drive to town to get supplies and then I was taken to my motel as it was getting dark and it would be another two hour drive to our location. Like most motels, it had the basic amenities. A basic shower with the standard hotel style low flow shower head that you always hate to see, a toilet, bed and an old, wall mounted TV. But sleeping away from home is never the same as being in your own bed. The water pressure from what the motel’s brochure said was a great shower head was disappointing – they’re never as strong as the one at home (although I must admit, Karratha had good water pressure) and the water is never the right colour!
Being in the remote outback of Australia meant red soil everywhere. On my skin, on my equipment and on my clothes. Because of all the gear I have to carry, I travel as light as possible. That means I don’t get the luxury of bringing my own pillow with me or changes of clothes for when I get hot and sticky or covered in red dirt, like now.
At that time of year, the heat was almost unbearable and we left in a convoy for the two hour trip to Millstream Chichester National Park. There was an isolated Homestead where the wedding was going to take place, but all the seating, food, shade cloths and trimmings had to be brought with us as the Homestead had nothing except a beautiful backdrop for photos and museum like pieces of history.
Times like these, I really appreciate the city and its sealed roads. The red dirt was a cloud ball of dust behind us as the second half of the trip was on an unsealed road. The locals were used to the travel and lack of signal for their phones and laptops. I wasn’t. They were used to not breathing in the flies and keeping up their fluid intake. I had to be constantly reminded.
Yet, despite the remoteness, the flies, snakes and spiders, the wedding was spectacular, the Bride radiant and the setting perfect.
The following week, as I sat back at home, surrounded by cool breezes and connected to the internet, I looked at the most beautiful photos I had taken that day. Shooting in remote areas and being on the road for days on end, certainly gives me an appreciation for all the little things in life I have back home.
I love making money in my sleep! I will spend days doing what I love (photographing) and then upload my best pictures to microstock agencies who will sell my pictures around the world for me while I sleep or do other things.
“Where can I sell stock photos online?” I hear you ask? I’ve listed a few of my favourites that I’ve had success with. Check them out!
iStockPhoto – iStock pay a base royalty rate of 15% for each file that is purchased and downloaded. This can go up to 45% if you become an iStock exclusive contributor. This means that you put your photos on iStock and make them your exclusive royalty-free agent. This means you can’t sell your royalty-free stock files anywhere else. You sign an exclusive contract (which you can always cancel with 30 days’ notice and good reason) and earn between 22% and 45%. They have a royalty schedule which explains the sliding scale used to increase your percentage earnings. The iStockPhoto website is very informative and helpful. The two main sections I love to use are the Help section (located on the top toolbar) and the Learn More section (located on the side bar of the Help section or at the bottom of each page of the site.
Shutterstock – Shutterstock is one of the most popular microstock websites. It’s also one of the most difficult microstock agencies to get photos accepted into. But don’t give up! It’s a very rewarding experience when you do get accepted as you know that they haven’t accepted just any photo. Your photo has potential to sell and earn you some good money. Here are some tips on getting accepted by Shutterstock.
Try choosing more than the required 10 photos necessary for submission. Choose photos that have commercial value, such as iconic monuments or wedding photos. Submit these photos via a website link to the Shutterstock critique forum before sending them to Shutterstock. It’s really important at this point to not take any critiquing personally. This forum is designed to help you get accepted. And just because you have a beautiful photo of your baby son smiling at you, remember, it may not be a commercially viable option for Shutterstock.
Use the critique to reduce any noise level and improve your photos technically. Once you have your 10 photos technically perfect, upload your photos to the Shutterstock server according to the rules. These are downloaded from the Shutterstock homepage. Once you have been accepted (and remember it might take a few goes), smile, sit back and reap the rewards!
123RF – There are a few ways to make money from 123RF.
1. You can become a contributor and earn straight commission when a buyer downloads your content.
2. You can become an affiliate and refer buyers. Then when they clink on your link and purchase, you earn referral commission.
3. The third way is when a contributor joins and starts contributing. A bit like Chinese whispers!
As a sole contributor, you will earn up to 60% of the credit price and up to .43 cents per download. Through the referral system, you earn 15% of the retail price of whatever the buyer purchases and when a contributor joins and starts contributing, you earn 10% of the referred contributor’s commission.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to earn money through photography and these are only a few. The important thing is to keep opening yourself up to different opportunities, keep learning and keep shooting! Who knows when you will get that perfect shot where everything falls into place at the right time enabling you to sit back, smile and live the photographer’s dream.
I love to take photos. It’s my passion. It’s my dream. It’s my life. I also have something called wanderlust. I’m a creative person and a change of scenery gets my creative juices flowing. So being able to travel to satisfy my wanderlust and to be able to take photographs at the same time is so perfect, it sounds like a cliché. But it’s true when I say that I am living the dream! I am living the freelance lifestyle and loving it!
Many people are always wanting to know how I fund my travels as a photographer. It’s an enviable lifestyle – being an independent photographer who can pick and choose which assignments to take on, traveling the world doing something I love and selling enough photographs to earn a living. As a wedding photographer, my job allows me to go to many places around the world, staying in exotic locations – some I’d never even heard of, and doing things in a way that suits me.
My job as a wedding photographer means I go where the assignment is. It can be Bali, Thailand or Africa. But the contract pays for my flights, my accommodation and of course I get to attend beautiful weddings. Don’t get me wrong! I work hard for my money. But you know the feeling you have when you do what you love most and it really doesn’t seem like work at all? That’s me.
It also gives me the opportunity to explore the world at leisure. While Friday and Sunday are becoming more and more popular for getting married, most weddings still happen on Saturday. If it’s a morning or lunchtime wedding, I’m on the go from very early. But this leaves me free time to explore whichever city I’m in afterwards. It’s been great to finish a wedding in the early afternoon, walk down to the markets in Singapore and haggle with the locals. The time then becomes my own. If the wedding starts later and goes well into the night, I have the opportunity to add on a few extra days to my itinerary and keep traveling the country while I’m there. It also enables me to add a range of photos to my private collection.
I also supplement my income by selling my stock photos online. They are what I call ‘doing business while I sleep’. These are the photos that people buy online while I am sleeping. It makes for very easy repeat business. I only have to upload a great photo once and then I keep getting paid over and over for that one photo. I sell stock through microstock agencies like istock Photo, SmugMug, Alamy, Shutterstock and Fotolia. It certainly makes life easy if I decide to take a few weeks off traveling and spend time at home. There is still money coming in while I catch up on ‘home duties’.
Sometimes it’s not easy being away in remote areas or experiencing a taste of the not so nice local life – like getting nail fungus in Bali
But the beauty of my job is that I can take photos anywhere in the world. And having the freedom and flexibility to do what I want to do when I want to do it is pure creative bliss!