How to Sell Travel Photos as Stock

Thailand Iconic food

Bags packed, itinerary planned, tours and hotels confirmed.

On a plane halfway between Portland and Bangkok, I’m sure I’ve planned an awesome Thailand Photo Expedition including elephants, canal boat tours, floating markets, a cooking class, hill tribe villages, dozens of golden temples, and bite upon tasty bite of dazzling Thai cuisine.

What I haven’t planned — and what I’m hunched over the tray table madly scribbling in my notebook — is a shoot list. That is to say, a short list of stock photos that I want to be sure to capture during my trip.

Travel photographer Efrain Padro, who sells some of his photos as stock through his own site, says that creating a shoot list helps keep you on track when you’re on a tight travel schedule — which we definitely are.

It also helps you focus on those shots you know you want to get. Once you get those, you’re free to be creative and enjoy shooting whatever you’d like.

So what do you put on your travel stock photo shoot list?

Stock photographer Shelly Perry says that if you want to take saleable stock photos when you travel, you should look for iconic shots — or as Shelly puts it, “those places, objects, activities or traditions that are only found in a particular destination.” She suggests looking for iconic places, traditions, and people or animals.

With those things in mind, here’s my shoot list for this trip:

Iconic Places

  •     The Grand Palace
  •     The Reclining Buddha
  •     Bangkok skyline at sunset

Iconic Traditions

  •     Hands in prayer
  •     Hands cooking Pad Thai in a street stand
  •     Buddha statues
  •     Tuk-tuks (small scooter taxis)

Iconic People/Animals

  •     Monks in their saffron robes (cropped to the hands or feet to avoid a model release)
  •     Elephants in the jungle

I’m also including a few detail shots on my list:

  •     Colorful mirrored mosaics
  •     Tropical drinks
  •     Tropical fruits and vegetables that we don’t get at home
  •     Market knick-knacks
  •     Food of all kinds

While you’re researching your next trip, think about the most iconic things you’ll see and do. Create a shoot list from that and you’ll be more likely to come away with stock-worthy shots. Also check on stock sites for some of the most popular images of that place and see if you can do a new take on them.