One of the things that makes the idea of working as a photographer attractive to so many people is the premise that you can pay for your vacations with the photos you take. Of the thousands of working photographers out there, however, a mere handful actually support themselves with their travel photos and they've worked very hard to get to where they are.
Don't let that opening paragraph discourage you. There's no reason to think that you can't sell some of your travel photos. How many depends on knowing how you plan to sell them and shooting with that in mind. Fortunately, there are several good markets for just about any kind of photos you take, so you don't have to choose just one. Let's take a look at some of the possibilities:
No matter what your opinion on stock photo agencies, they're here to stay. They get top billing in this article because you can upload just about any kind of image. That doesn't mean that just any image is automatically going to sell hundreds of downloads; it means that you don't have to look very hard for potential stock photos while you're on vacation. Landscapes, famous places, open-air markets, crowds of people and many other vacation highlights can provide opportunities for stock photos.
This market is one of the staples of famous travel photographers. That's not necessarily good news for beginners. Many of the top magazines have a go-to list or staff photographers that get the best assignments. Some don't accept submissions from freelancers at all. Nevertheless, this is a market worth trying. If you can write, too, the odds of selling an article with your photos as illustrations are much higher. Grab a current copy of Photographer's Market to find the right publications for your photos and don't be afraid to submit them.
Photos of Locals
If you're personable and professional, you can take photos of shopkeepers, street merchants and other local residents to the individuals themselves. It's all about taking the right approach and if you're a KeepSnap member, the process is easier, because you can hand them your professional business card and let them view their photos online, then purchase the ones that they choose.
Two words of caution with this one: First, when you're dealing with professional people, don't just shoot them and then offer to sell them the photos. Develop a rapport. Second, when you're in a foreign country, be aware of local customs and laws regarding public photos.
Photos of Tourists
While you're visiting popular tourist attractions, offer to photograph other visitors at those sites. A selfie in front of the Taj Mahal is one thing, but a well-composed, perfectly exposed photo by a professional is a memento many people will be willing to spend a few dollars for, especially when they can look at the photos and decide which ones to buy after they've returned home. This is another reason I recommend KeepSnap; you give prospects your card and there's no pressure for them to buy anything while they're out having fun. This is a definite game-changer for photographers.
Your own Travel Blog
Blogging about your travels gives you two opportunities to make money. First, you can direct people to whatever platform you use to view and purchase your work. Second, you can use the monetization techniques that blog owners have been using for years, such as running targeted pay-per-click ads. It's important to keep in mind that you only get out of a blog what you put into it, and promotion has as much to do with your success as the quality of your photos and writing.
Brochure Photos, Postcards, etc. for Tourist Attractions
When you're browsing the gift shops of tourist attractions, pay close attention to the mementos they have for sale. A surprising number of the more out-of-the-way spots will be in need of better quality photos and printed products such as brochures, photo books, postcards, mugs, hats, etc.
I once had a friend mention that the photos I took of the interior of a historic building in the Nevada desert were much better than the ones in their gift shop. When I sent a few samples to the site's proprietors, they agreed and the door was opened for some ongoing business. Don't miss out on similar opportunities when you're on vacation. Get a card and leave yours.
These are only a few of the possible ways you can make some extra cash with your vacation photos. I've left out many of the more obvious ones, such as photo books of the places you visit and probably skipped some that you may have already tried. The point is that, for a photographer, a vacation our outing can be both enjoyable and profitable. Don't forget about the enjoyable part; be sure to put the camera away occasionally and relax. Your family will appreciate some quality time.
In closing, I'll make one last point: In order for any of these ideas to work, a some preparation is going to be needed before you go. Know your equipment. Make sure it's all in good working order and that you have plenty of batteries and memory cards on hand. Do some research and find some of those out-of-the-way places that could be both fun and profitable, and last, but not least, sign up for a free KeepSnap membership now, so you'll have your cards and credentials ready before you leave.
See you out there!