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Author Topic: Are there any traveling micorstock photographers?  (Read 8789 times)

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« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2012, 18:13 »
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I've done a fair bit of travel myself in the past 15 years, over 50 countries. Everything from backpacking to commissioned photography. Commissions pay WAY better. Pure travel stock is a bit hit & miss and you'd better be doing it budget-level in order to make it worthwhile your time & effort:

Let's say 1 month of travel in Europe is around 1200 Dollars (Italy / France): Busses, trains, hostels, food, maybe a beer now & then, entrance fees,... Also: Do you give up everything back home (longterm travel), or do you keep your flat (if you only go for 1-2 months).

On top of this: What hourly rate do you charge yourself? As with every business plan, start from the back: How much money do you need a month? (pension scheme, insurances, tax,...) Then divide it by the amount of time you're willing to put in.
Of course, whilst traveling you might only need those $1000 a month. But in the meantime, your friends back home are actually saving money & paying into their pension scheme. And they're sleeping in their own bed, have their own kitchen & don't have to put up with snoring room-mates and dirty dishes.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for "travel Laos" on iStock. Bestselling image sold >100 times in 5 years. Not really that much, considering the low licensing fees in Microstock.
Personally I think Alamy is the better place for travel. But maybe that's just me.


ShadySue

« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2012, 18:30 »
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Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for "travel Laos" on iStock. Bestselling image sold >100 times in 5 years. Not really that much, considering the low licensing fees in Microstock.
Ha, I was going to point out that you're only supposed to keyword 'travel' on iStock if the photo actually shows someone travelling, but I see that the top pic you referenced shows someone 'actually travelling'.

It is true that some locations sell better than others.

Alamy is in many, many ways much preferable, if only they'd sell more of my pics  ;), but it's hard to find somewhere that hasn't been photographed to death over there.

« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2012, 19:18 »
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Holgs is on the boards here pretty often.  I've let him know about this thread.  He can probably give you some good answers.


Probably in here too often... !

In answer to what I think was the main question - yes there's other traveling microstockers - quite a few pop up from time to time here, and some of them far more successful in terms of revenue than I am. For the most part though I think most of those who shoot a lot of travel would agree that its in the bottom half of the microstock categories for return from images, and that over time that's getting worse not better. Its the sort of thing you do because you love it, not because it pays well.  

There's lots more microstockers who travel frequently, but don't shoot travel imagery. If you're looking at it from a business perspective, its a far more sensible way of doing things.

The difference between what I'm doing and what most people think of with travel is that I normally don't go home. My lifestyle is more nomadic than most people would be comfortable with. I'm back in Australia at the moment, but in the last 5 years I've spent a total of about 3 months in the country. I still call Australia "home", but the reality is I don't actually have a place here - when I go back its really to see family. The main reason I'm traveling isn't that travel photography is particularly lucrative, its that I still like traveling, and I still enjoy photography.

Doing it this way means that my travel expenses are much lower than those who go back and forth. I don't have a car, mortgage, phone internet etc. to pay for back at home, so there's no reason why I can't travel slower, spend extra time in places and actually make sure I get shots that will sell. Airfares are expensive, but then I've also had long periods where I didn't fly at all.

When I started doing microstock, it was more of a way of keeping occupied with something that could generate income than with the thought of it becoming a full-time activity. At that time, I'd quit my job, so spent more time doing microstock and photography than almost anything else, but I didn't really need the income to get by from day to day - I had funds for at least 2 years of travel and didn't have any expenses back at home that I had to cover. It was also a time when downloads seemed easier to come by, and when you were adding photos it was to a much smaller database of images with less competition.

A different approach to travel photography.  Your expenses become tax deductions; camper/RV is business equipment.  Maybe not make a lot of money but lose less money.   :P


Funnily enough when I first started microstock the reason I was looking for a way of earning income was to find a way of writing off having spent way too much on camera gear from my tax bill - the tax deduction didn't work out, but the result was a complete change in what I was doing with my life!

I've done something like Holger and met him a couple times.  My trip was much shorter though, just 26 months.  If you are good, work hard, and travel very cheaply you might break even.  Like Sean said a short trip to England will probably not net you very much since there are a million people covering those areas already.  


Especially true if there's dozens of other microstockers taking the same trip to England at the same time!

I think the big unknown that a lot of people want an answer for is whether its possible to start now and travel from microstock. Of course its still possible, but its also now much harder than it was. The increase in competition and reduced royalties in many places make it harder to build up a portfolio in the critical time when your savings are disappearing. I think Graham's advice is pretty spot on: If you are good, work hard, and travel very cheaply you might break even.

« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2012, 19:31 »
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I've done a fair bit of travel myself in the past 15 years, over 50 countries. Everything from backpacking to commissioned photography. Commissions pay WAY better. Pure travel stock is a bit hit & miss and you'd better be doing it budget-level in order to make it worthwhile your time & effort:

Let's say 1 month of travel in Europe is around 1200 Dollars (Italy / France): Busses, trains, hostels, food, maybe a beer now & then, entrance fees,... Also: Do you give up everything back home (longterm travel), or do you keep your flat (if you only go for 1-2 months).

On top of this: What hourly rate do you charge yourself? As with every business plan, start from the back: How much money do you need a month? (pension scheme, insurances, tax,...) Then divide it by the amount of time you're willing to put in.
Of course, whilst traveling you might only need those $1000 a month. But in the meantime, your friends back home are actually saving money & paying into their pension scheme. And they're sleeping in their own bed, have their own kitchen & don't have to put up with snoring room-mates and dirty dishes.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for "travel Laos" on iStock. Bestselling image sold >100 times in 5 years. Not really that much, considering the low licensing fees in Microstock.
Personally I think Alamy is the better place for travel. But maybe that's just me.

All good points, except the part about $1200 for Europe - I travel fairly cheaply at times, but that sort of budget is borderline for travel in SE Asia, but I'd hate to think of the lengths you'd have to go to to survive on this traveling in France or Italy!

« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2012, 20:39 »
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Ha, I was going to point out that you're only supposed to keyword 'travel' on iStock if the photo actually shows someone travelling, but I see that the top pic you referenced shows someone 'actually travelling'.

That's the beauty of Alamy: liberal keywording. And I do thinkn that "travel" should be the keyword also for landmarks. Why? Because I think many image editors / researchers for travel magazines (or travel sections in newspapers) will use "travel" as a search term, in order to bypass non-travel related images. After all, "travel photography" is kind of its own genre (or at least niche).

« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2012, 21:14 »
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Well,
I'm French and i'm traveling often in SE Asia, you can travel one month in asia for 1000, in France you must count about three times more.
Actually i'm in Thailand, for microstock, some area worth the effort if you have weather chance. I'm meeting some local people and ask them to be model too, but these pictures are not really selling very well, many people like to travel in SE Asia, but they don't care of Asian People in pictures...
You have to spend more money for luxurious hotel with pool if you want good sellers pictures, but that's not my way of travel and i hate luxurious places, i prefer local traditional ones. ;D
I think the best is to shoot what you like, i'm not earning many money from my travel pictures, but some are selling as extended licenses. I'm sending also many pictures to Alamy but i don't understand why i'm selling almost only Rf pictures!!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 21:17 by Smithore »

« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2012, 22:21 »
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I love travelling and submit travel photos which go a little way to offsetting the costs but I'd be hard pressed to turn a profit in under 2 years. These trips are not intended to make money, I'm going anyway.

I can see microstock as a great way to extend travelling opportunity. eg build a portfolio of 2000 photos. Set off into the blue yonder and submit as you go. When you run out of money return to reality and come home. The more time you spent in Asia and the less flights you take the longer you could go for.

I wish I'd had a DSLR when I did my round the world trip a decade ago, I have thousands of photos taken on Kodak Max 400 print film.

Some of my better sellers are travel style photos but taken locally. As pointed out in previous posts locally you have the advantage of knowing the best time/light, locations etc.   

Of course you could use Dreamstimes geotag feature to save yourself some time coming up with your own inspiration.  ;)   

antistock

« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2012, 02:38 »
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Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for "travel Laos" on iStock. Bestselling image sold >100 times in 5 years. Not really that much, considering the low licensing fees in Microstock.
Personally I think Alamy is the better place for travel. But maybe that's just me.

most of my sales for South East Asia are about Thailand.
Laos .. never made a sale so far, Vietnam just a few, Cambodia good, Malaysia good (mostly Petronas Towers and KL),
Singapore good, Myanmar zero.

it's a shame some countries are completely off the buyers' radar, myanmar is beautiful for instance but had no luck so far.
Laos too, and it's strange considering now the tourism is booming there especially in Luang Prabang.
 
i wouldn't bet making a living out of stock travel in expensive areas like europe or UK !
in most of the SE asia instead you can live OK with 20-30$/day and i've met a few rough guys living well below 20$/day !

said that, Thailand is still king for stock sales which is sad as the neighboring countries are so much better.

antistock

« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2012, 02:49 »
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All good points, except the part about $1200 for Europe - I travel fairly cheaply at times, but that sort of budget is borderline for travel in SE Asia, but I'd hate to think of the lengths you'd have to go to to survive on this traveling in France or Italy!

1200 euro in western europe in impossible nowadays, even the roughest hostels cost 20 euro/night without breakfast.
the cheapest fast food meal will be another 5-6 euros, cigarettes 4-5 euro, tram/bus/metro 1-2 euro...

last year on the other side i did 1 month in vietnam with a full inclusive budget of around 900 euro (no airplanes)
and if i wanted i could have saved a lot more but i'm getting old :)

« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2012, 03:50 »
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I'm off to Laos and Vietnam for 1 month at Easter. Can't wait. Its been more than 10 years since I was there last, I imagine alot has changed but also alot won't have.

I still remember the ride down the mekong in that "speed boat" to Luang Prabang. Boxed up sitting in a tiny spot between two planks of wood, a small car engine attached to propella shaft with no muffler for 8 hours.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2012, 04:07 »
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Europe is not all the same.

Accommodation is expensive in UK, very expensive in Italy, a bit less expensive in Germany.

Train and bus fares can be very expensive in UK if not bought in advance, but it you plan everything you save a lot (up to 70% less); of course you have to choose *exactly* the time of travel and try not to lose your bus, so a nomadic style is out of question here.

Flights with low-cost companies are quite cheap in Europe. Which is absurd, because up to a few hundred miles train should be the choice. But that's the way it is.

And regarding sales... from my experience major cities (London, Berlin) sell a lot soon but sales rapidly fall due to competition. "Minor" cities - not necessarily small - such as Glasgow, Coventry, Birmingham, Duesseldorf, Koeln don't sell much but will sell for a longer time.

In the end, I think I can recoup a 500 one week travel in any European country in about 2 years with a few hundred usable pictures. It used to be just 6 months when I started in 2007. 500 includes everything (accommodation, travel, food&drink).
I wouldn't call it "very successful" - as the OP - but still acceptable, especially since I would travel anyway.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 04:10 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2012, 05:25 »
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In the end, I think I can recoup a 500 one week travel in any European country in about 2 years with a few hundred usable pictures. It used to be just 6 months when I started in 2007. 500 includes everything (accommodation, travel, food&drink).
What do you mean by recoup? Just the 500, or also putting into the equation your own time (i.e. 7 days travel at xx/h + 1 day retouching & keywording). Following the equation time = money.
IMHO, travel photography (whilst it's good fun) is NOT the "dream job" that many people think it is. And it's hard work, with lots of walking. Working as a waiter you may be on your feet the same amount of time but earn way better money.

Especially since I would travel anyway.
Exactly That's what it is about. You gotta love it. And it's particularly fun when you're young & don't have a family/house/insurances back home.

antistock

« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2012, 07:44 »
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Europe is not all the same.

Accommodation is expensive in UK, very expensive in Italy, a bit less expensive in Germany.



what about Norway ? hostels in Oslo range from 30 to 50 euro/night in shared-room(dormitory) !

http://www.hostelworld.com/search?search_keywords=Oslo%2C+Norway&country=Norway&city=Oslo

70$ for a sh-itty dormitory room ??
with the same price in SE asia you get a nice hotel room with a hooker ! :)

antistock

« Reply #38 on: January 07, 2012, 07:47 »
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Flights with low-cost companies are quite cheap in Europe. Which is absurd, because up to a few hundred miles train should be the choice. But that's the way it is.

they look cheap but how much will you spend to/from the airport ? that's the typical ripoff ...

besides, the beauty of europe is precisely to see it from the train.

now trains are expensive and no smoking, there's no much fun like in the past apart on night-trains.

antistock

« Reply #39 on: January 07, 2012, 07:58 »
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IMHO, travel photography (whilst it's good fun) is NOT the "dream job" that many people think it is. And it's hard work, with lots of walking. Working as a waiter you may be on your feet the same amount of time but earn way better money.

all my friends who tried to come out with me for one day soon gave up !
and we only did a 3-4 hours urban shooting session on foot in a crowded third world capital.
yes you need to be physically fit and mentally alert.

on top of this their photos were mediocre.

how can somebody think it's a dream job ? it's fun for a while and you need to be crazy and nomadic.
and indeed even a waiter or a mcdonalds clerk is gonna make more money than you until you grow a large portfolio.

« Reply #40 on: January 07, 2012, 09:59 »
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what about Norway ? hostels in Oslo range from 30 to 50 euro/night in shared-room(dormitory) !

With a hostel, don't you lose an arm or two and get a drill through the head?

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #41 on: January 07, 2012, 10:01 »
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What do you mean by recoup? Just the 500, or also putting into the equation your own time (i.e. 7 days travel at xx/h + 1 day retouching & keywording). Following the equation time = money.

Just the 500 honestly, but I try to put a lot of other things into the equation to make it worth travelling - e.g. going to live gigs, visiting art galleries and modern architecture (architect is my other job), going out with girl friends, drinking beer, .... It's time well spent imo. We're all gonna die sooner or later, and at that point the equation time = money will mean nothing. All the rest will mean nothing as well, but at least I had fun.

Especially since I would travel anyway.

Exactly That's what it is about. You gotta love it. And it's particularly fun when you're young & don't have a family/house/insurances back home.


Indeed - except I am not so sure about the "young" part, being almost 40.


Flights with low-cost companies are quite cheap in Europe. Which is absurd, because up to a few hundred miles train should be the choice. But that's the way it is.

they look cheap but how much will you spend to/from the airport ? that's the typical ripoff ...

besides, the beauty of europe is precisely to see it from the train.

now trains are expensive and no smoking, there's no much fun like in the past apart on night-trains.

The cost (and boring time) spent to/from the airport is a ripoff indeed; but sometimes you can find an unexpected deal such as the 2.50 EasyJet bus from Stansted to London (instead of usual 10-15 with other buses or train)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 10:26 by microstockphoto.co.uk »


« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2012, 10:35 »
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Well, reading all these answers i was a little bit surprised, that travel photos aren't very popular. Maybe there could be a good idea to take photos of famous buildings and other objects and then in Photoshop make it isolated objects. Like this:
http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-78671p1.html#id=85458973
I think this type of photos should be quite popular in microstocks and could help earn a little bit more money from travel photos.
I guess after all we could conclude that travel photos won't make big money. But it can compensate at least part of travel expenses. And this is very good thing.
Personally i am interested in travel photo not because i expect to get rich from it - it's just that i'm already bored of spending most of my time near computer (i work with computer graphics, vector illustrations). And traveling a little bit with photo camera would be a good and interesting experience ;)

« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2012, 10:39 »
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...and get a drill through the head?

Most of the time you do get a drill through the head. It usually comes around 2-3am, in form of snoring room-mates who just came home from partying. Ear plugs don't usually help either.

« Reply #44 on: January 07, 2012, 10:49 »
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We're all gonna die sooner or later, and at that point the equation time = money will mean nothing. All the rest will mean nothing as well, but at least I had fun.
I agree. Downside being: if you look at demographic statistics you'll see that today's 30-40 year old generation will have to put money aside in order to have an OK pension time. Personally, I'd find it rather depressing if I had enjoyed a good life until I was about 50/60. To then find myself broke as a pensionist & not have enough money to do ANY traveling whatsoever (let alone go for a beer with my buddies in the evening). State pension = non-existant in 25-40 years from now.

Indeed - except I am not so sure about the "young" part, being almost 40.
Sorry I meant "young AND don't have a family/house/insurances back home".

« Reply #45 on: January 07, 2012, 11:04 »
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Well, reading all these answers i was a little bit surprised, that travel photos aren't very popular. Maybe there could be a good idea to take photos of famous buildings and other objects and then in Photoshop make it isolated objects. Like this:
http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-78671p1.html#id=85458973

Too much work & visually often doesn't work for many buildings. Editorial customers probably prefer the "real thing". Advertising customers -> could be problematic with releases. (UNESCO, London Underground, British Heritage,...)

I think this type of photos should be quite popular in microstocks and could help earn a little bit more money from travel photos.
I guess after all we could conclude that travel photos won't make big money. But it can compensate at least part of travel expenses. And this is very good thing.

So in other words: If you're shooting sill lifes for stock, and the props cost $10 per image, would you be happy to only make $9 back? (Sorry for the cynicism, but I had to ask :)
Thing is: If you do it on the side, during a holiday you would have taken anyway, it's OK. But serious travel photography takes time & effort. And that might not go down well with your partner/kids who want to go to the beach, visit museums & have dinner. (Dinner often interfering with the "blue hour" ;)

Personally i am interested in travel photo not because i expect to get rich from it - it's just that i'm already bored of spending most of my time near computer (i work with computer graphics, vector illustrations). And traveling a little bit with photo camera would be a good and interesting experience ;)

Travel is always a good experience. Get to see new things & meet different cultures. But don't underestimate the time spent on computers: cataloguing, editing, colour-correcting, retouching, keywording, and (in your case, see above) creating cutouts.

« Reply #46 on: January 07, 2012, 13:56 »
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I am based in Malaysia and I am shooting travel during my free time in SE Asia. Just back from Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Hanoi, lot of editing to do now....

@antistock interesting stats
''most of my sales for South East Asia are about Thailand.
Laos .. never made a sale so far, Vietnam just a few, Cambodia good, Malaysia good (mostly Petronas Towers and KL),
Singapore good, Myanmar zero.''

For me for sales best is Malaysia and Thailand, I ll see how Laos and Vietnam are doing.....

« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2012, 18:08 »
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I would say that if I had to keyword my entire portfolio, after 'landscape' and 'nature', i'd probably pick 'travel'.  And to be honest, they do sell fairly well.  But there's just not enough of the photos.  As everyone has said, you are at the mercy of the weather that 1-2 days you get to spend somewhere, so after a 2 week trip, I might only have 3 or 4 good photos.  Good thing its a hobby!

« Reply #48 on: January 08, 2012, 00:01 »
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i've been a traveling photographer for over 35 years now -but as others have said,  for me the travel is primary and i'd do it anyway; the photography sales alone won't pay for it.  so you need some other approach to supporting yourself - for me it's been a combination of database consulting, computer game design, ebay-amazon selling and photography - with varying emphases over the years

now, as i've recently started receiving socal security, i can use that as a supplement and  continue to travel while eliminating or reducing the other areas.

ShadySue

« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2012, 14:08 »
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I've heard that travel photos are very succesful in microstock,

I wouldn't say that "travel" photos are very successful, but good "location" photos might be.  ie., it may not be worth the expense to travel to England, say, when there are thousands of snappers living there who already have the entire island documented in stock.  Same as anywhere else.  There's likely someone who lives there that can take all the time they want to shoot good images, instead of your 1-2 days passing through.

But so often, they don't. Many microstock photographers don't ever leave their studios. I've just in the past few minutes discovered an experienced microstocker located in an interesting and understocked area, and not one photo in their port was taken out of doors. Kinda leaving a gap for travelling stock togs in their area. I've know at least two other cities which are undersupplied with at least one diamond iStocker living right in the city concerned who shoot only studio stuff.


 

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