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A Guide to Sell Your Travel Photos

Renuka Savant
A sad, yet true aspect of traveling is the big, gaping hole it leaves in our wallets. But what if there was a way to earn some cash out of our sojourns? Let's see how it can be done.
If your photos aren't good enough, then you're not close enough.
―Robert Capa
On a holiday, clicking pictures is an activity that we often take for granted. We get a picture of the group on a memorable backdrop, we get one with a pal trying to swallow the Sun (or the Egyptian pyramids), and an entire series dedicated to the colorful cocktails we sip on.

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This reality is cringe-worthy in hindsight, when we realize that there was so much more to click, if only had we restricted the cocktail intake. Especially now, when you learn that these very pictures could have made you a miniscule fortune of sorts.
Yes, travel photographs can get you a sizable sum, as long as you know 2 very important things:
How to click them
How to sell them

Learn to Click Sale-worthy Pictures

1. Keep Your Perspective Unique

We're living in a world where 7-year-olds make merry by clicking pictures with their mother's iPhones. Stock websites are notoriously hard to crack, as there isn't a surefire way of knowing what may or may not be accepted.
Therefore, developing a keen eye for aesthetics may get you somewhere, but that 'somewhere' may not always be to your liking. The bottom line is to keep clicking neatly, as long as you're happy doing so.

2. Randomness is Valuable

So, a near-universal perception goes that a good picture is the one with the to-die-for view, vividly colored, and visually magnificent. But, there are scores of sale-worthy pictures that feature grazing cattle, seashells on sand and roadside stalls selling 'I Love New York' T-shirts.
Anthony Parkin, Director of Editorial Content at Getty Images once said that an ideal Getty image has a fresh approach, and manages to tell a story.

3. Clean Them Up

Always begin with the basics, which is working towards getting a clean image. Now, your pictures are not expected to possess the finesse of a professional, but they do need to stand up to some minimalistic requirements.
Digital photos are known to blow up any traces of dust, so employ your photo editing skills and essay a nice clean-up job. Depending upon the flaws present, you may choose to brighten it, darken it, or reduce the noise. The end result, as far as possible, should be a blemish-free image.

4. Fill the Frame

Another basic rule you need to remember while clicking is that the central piece of attention should be placed where it belongs, which is right in the center. Out of focus objects may seem quirky to you, but you'll probably find it pretty tough to sell them.
Let your central object swallow up all the space it needs in the frame. In case there are more, see to it that they take up equal space.

5. Let Your Work Speak

Our second tip mentioned the importance of allowing your pictures to tell a story. Well, appreciate this attribute, and let it reflect in your photographs.
Your travels always translate into several different stories―like the time you laid down on the grass after a long walk in the fields in Provence, or the time when you tasted the most delicious sushi rolls in Kyoto, or even the time when you felt vertiginous standing on top of a stairway in Santorini. These are the kind of pictures which are easy to sell.

Know Where to Sell Your Work

The foremost option for you to put your work 'out there' would be magazines. They may not be travel-related, but several publications do seem to accept pictures sent in by readers. The remuneration, however, may be none or minimal in the initial stages.
Travel portals are always on the lookout for fresh images which they can use on their site, so you may get some good opportunities here, depending on your quality of work.
Advertising agencies are another option, but your images need to be very sharp and crystal clear in order to get a go-ahead from them.
The Internet offers endless options in terms of avenues to sell your pictures. For example, fotolia and iStockphoto. Stock agencies are your best bet, as they specialize in a variety of subjects, and are welcoming when it comes to creativity. These agencies receive tons of pictures on a daily basis, so your chances at making the cut are slightly dicey.

Important Points to Keep in Mind

In the initial stages, restrict yourself to being an amateur, and refrain from splurging on expensive equipment. Stick to your regular digital camera for the time being.
Every agency has its own procedure to submit photos, so ensure that you go through their guidelines. They also have certain technical specifications which you have to fulfill. Don't be dejected if you don't get a response soon enough, or never at all.
Photo agencies receive tons of pictures on a regular basis. Therefore, your work may not have been scrutinized, or it may just not be up to their standards.
Photos of people or private properties need to be accompanied by a waiver form signed by the person/property owner, mentioning that they have no objection to their picture being sold.
▶This field is fiercely competitive, and you may never be able to turn it into a profession, unless you strike gold with an agency like Getty Images, or a magazine like National Geographic. Think of it like this; if you're getting paid 20 USD for an image that took 20 seconds of work, you'd rather just be glad about it, than quit your well-paying job.
Always remember to have fun while taking pictures on your next holiday. Because, it may or may not get sold, but it'll definitely find a permanent place in your personal photo album.