• Apr

    How to Make Money From Your Travels: Shoot Stock Photography


    One way to make money from traveling is to shoot images for sale along the way, but not just any images, but images for stock photography. In the old days the best selling shots would have been verticals (magazine covers). Today that’s changed with the advent of the web, but you still want to shoot in both formats, regardless.

    To shoot for Stock Photography, many factors need to be considered, such as placement of the image and room for type. It is also important to shoot tight, rather than trying to get too much information into the frame. One last observation, stock photography demands high resolution image files, at least 2000×3000 pixels (18MB files and as high as 50MB or more). Another option is some of the higher end point and shoot cameras, such as the Canon G12. Note that one downfall of these cameras is they tend to perform poorly under low light. For better results, you’ll need a DSLR.


    This sunset shot is a good example of an image that would work well for stock photography because there is plenty of room for type at the top of the image.

    Natural Light

    Light, along with composition, is a key element that can make the difference between a successful photograph and a dud. Learning how to play with light can make your pictures burst with color, create a soft ethereal look or a dark moody appearance. Natural light is available to you in many forms, such as the bright light during day, but many photographers choose not to shoot at these times because the light creates areas of high contrasts from bright areas to dark shadows.

    This can cause problems with digital cameras because the image sensor can only record a limited range of contrast. To compensate for this problem, adding a fill flash or a reflected fill from a piece of white foamcore diffuses the light, reducing overall contrast and lightens the shadows. To be able to use light in this way, study your camera manual for a section on exposure compensation or fill flash. (this will be discussed in greater depth in the Flash photography section).

    Shoot Images on Cloudy Days

    An easier approach when photographing people on a bright sunny day is to look a large shady tree. Why? Light under the tree is soft, diffused and hides skin flaws. It is also cooler, making it easier on everyone. Another interesting option is to shoot images on cloudy days. The light is diffused and the softness makes bright colors pop out in a scene.


    This photograph of an old mill was taken on a cloudy day. Notice the overall color quality and softness of light.

    Shoot at Sunsrise/Sunset

    A favorite time for many outdoor photographers to shoot is in the early morning or evening, as the sun is rising or setting. The sun creates a sidelight across your scene and also adds a lovely golden glow. Turning the face of your subject into the sun produces a nice effect and minimizes on shadows under the nose or eyebrows.


    This shot was taken just after sunset. Note the soft quality of the sky, the depth and the sharpness of the reflection in the water.

    Unusual Lighting

    Look for the Unusual. Atmospheric occurrences, such a fog in the process of rolling in from the ocean or streaks of sunlight in though clouds, sometimes known as “Godlight,” can create compelling imagery. Bracketing exposures can produce will give you a variety of images to choose from and can produce unusual effects.

    Many people shoot from a standing posture and as a result many images look the same, but for something different, shoot from a variety of angles. As an example, one of the most common pictures of Stonehenge is from eye level. But a more dramatic image would come from shooting up through the columns or even from an aerial perspective. Shoot from an ant’s eye view or through rippled glass or use filters to add the interest in your shots.

    Shooting Fireworks

    While fireworks shots can be dramatic, obtaining good results is often a matter of trial and error. The digital camera is perfect for this task because you can quickly see the outcome. To shoot Fireworks, set your camera to aperture preferred mode and as a starting point, use a setting of f/2.8 at 1/30th of a second as a starting point. From there, experiment with different combinations of aperture and shutter speed.

    One option is to position your camera on a tripod in the relative direction of the bursts, but the problem there is being able to move the camera to a new position quickly if the fireworks go off in different locations. And be aware, that when you set the shutter speed for longer exposures, the light from the fireworks can burn in the exposure.


    This image was shot on a tripod at around 10:00p.m. Experimenting with the shutter speed can produce excellent results. Note that the exposure was a bit too long, accounting for the image “burning in” on the top left.

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