Splette's Travel Blog


As you may or may not know, I am making a living and pay for my travels with my science illustration work. It’s not exactly making me a rich man. So, I am always looking out for alternative ways of making money. No, don’t worry, I have dismissed the idea of smuggling cocaine in my anus across the Colombian border… But it has always been my wish to generate some income from my traveling. Writing has never really been my thing (despite this blog), I am more of a visual person. And I have taken tons of photos this year. So, I was thinking of offering some of the nicer ones on a stock photography site.

There are two major players in the stock photography business: istockphoto and shutterstock. For my work I have bought images from both of them on numerous occasions. Some of the photos are outstanding. Others are alright. Naturally, those sites don’t let anyone upload any photo but there is a quality control in place. In the case of Shutterstock it looks like this: You register as a potential contributor to the site and submit ten photos. They need to have a certain resolution, at least 7 keywords and so on. But above all, they have to be of high quality. ‘Quality’ is defined by a number of technical properties (focus, grain, exposure, white balance, chromatic abbreviation, etc…) and also by the composition. Is the subject of the photo of any commercial interest for the customers? If more than three of your ten uploaded photos fail these criteria, you have to wait 30 days before you can try again and submit another10 photos. This is why it’s a good idea to check the forums first and get some opinion from experienced contributors about the shots you plan to submit. So, I picked the ten photos, that I though have the best chance to get accepted and uploaded them to the forum:


As you see, the response has been underwhelming. Apparently even my nicest photos have little chance to meet the reviewer’s high quality standards. It’s one of those moments when you realize that you are not as good as you thought you are. A valuable lesson, nevertheless.

My question to you: Does any of you have experience with or suggestions about selling travel photos? Stock images might not the be the way to go but perhaps there are specialized websites with lower barriers to offer these kind of photos on? Or entirely different ways of making money from travel photography? If none of this works out I might just use them for Wikipedia.

Update #1: I just bumped into this funny website: http://moneyfortraveling.com. They sell e-books & videos that teach you how to make money while traveling. Well, at least they are making money … ha ha

Update #2: Looks like I might have a chance with Shutterstock after all. An employee from Shutterstock contacted me and seemed interested in my scientific animations: “Dear Thomas, I am the Director of Video Acquisition at Shutterstock. I wanted to thank you for signing up for an account with us.I recently viewed some of your clips from your website scistyle.com and I know medical animation like yours will connect with our customers. I especially liked the animation 1:33 into your 2010 Showreel. ” I called him back and hope to have a few clips ready to upload to Shutterstock soon…

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