Turn Vacation Snapshots into Money Making Stock Travel Photos

Vacation season is here. Time once again to hit the road with family or friends to explore a new corner of this planet. This year when you grab your camera to capture the adventure, instead of just taking snapshots that will be relegated to a dusty corner of the family album, why not also capture images that can be put to work at a Stock Agency earning some extra income?

Images you sell for stock need to have two major traits. First, they obviously must be technically flawless; sharp focus, correct exposure, good framing and composition are all essential. Second, they must be the types of images customers want to buy. Stock agencies group images into sub-categories, which really helps to identify their buyer’s needs.

For travel images, the most obvious sub-categories focus around regions — name a continent, and it is a category. Think of the landmarks and icons, indigenous flora and fauna, and the peoples of a region. Images unique to a specific area — especially ones that capture the mood or feeling of place — are always in demand.

Image via Dreamstime.com

Art and Architecture are the next areas of focus. Here you want to capture the buildings, monuments and statues most closely associated with a place; the Taj Mahal, the Arc de Triomphe, the Washington Monument are all examples of this. Your challenge is to capture them in ways that haven’t already been done — literally — a million times. Look for unique angles. Search out dramatic weather conditions. Look for the second, or even third, most famous icon in a city instead of just the first. Anything that will set your images apart will help them sell better.

Image via Dreamstime.com

Cruising is becoming more popular, and so are images of cruises. Think ocean voyages as well as river passages. Look for ways to capture the ship or boat in easily identifiable locations and settings. Capture the people enjoying ports of call with the vessel in the background. Look for the many onboard activities unique to cruising and capture those with and without people in the scene.

Who doesn’t think of food when they think vacations? Which is why images of regional cuisine are popular. Here you want to capture dishes clearly identifiable with a region — not just another burger shop in a generic location. Capture the raw local ingredients that go into these dishes. And don’t forget to show people enjoying their food in fabulous settings.

Image via Dreamstime.com

Scenic Destinations describes the next category. The rock formations of Monument Valley. The fjords of Norway. The sandy deserts around the pyramids of Giza. These are the icons and landmarks most closely associated with a travel destination. Again, the trick is to create images that are not the carbon copy of so many others already available for sale.

Image via Dreamstime.com

Objects associated with a place also make great subjects. Flags flying over landscapes, or the currency of a place being used to buy unique souvenirs, are used a lot in stock. Capture the industry or export unique to a place. Look for local craftsmen or women — capture the end product as well as the process.

Anything having to do with the tropics will be another area of high demand. Sunrises and sunsets on generic beaches — include the palm trees blowing in the gentle breeze — as well as imagery specific to certain locales — like the cottages on stilts over the clear waters in Bora Bora — fit into this area. Give your images a little negative space, like open blue skies or empty clear waters, to allow room for designers to add their text — a classic stock technique.

Unique resorts and iconic hotels also make great subjects. Catch the sign leading up to the property or on the building façade to help clearly identify the place. The more off the beaten path you can find the resort area the better — less competition! Catch the imagery that is distinct to a particular hotel or chain — like the Peabody Ducks making their daily march into the fountain in the lobby.

Keeping an eye toward commercial appeal while snapping souvenir photos on vacation can result in images that keep paying well after the holiday is over.

Sometimes I eat pizza with a fork, but usually not.