05 Jun 2009 The Secret Sauce of Shooting and Selling Travel Stock Photography

Newly crowned Microstock Celebrity Jack Hollingsworth has started promoting his upcoming stock photography cruise from Rome to Venice. I asked him if he could show us some of the shots he’s made on these cruises and give us a taste of the instruction he gives participants in a guest post. Here it is.

Face and Location stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
A beautiful face, looking at camera, shot in context of location will sell today, tomorrow, forever.
Matching colors stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
What makes this shot work is matching green background to green japanese house slippers. simple tactic. big results.
Cultural detail stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
You don’t always need to show the whole body (face) to communicate your stock message.
Venice boats with motion blur, Jack Hollingsworth
Sometimes all it takes is a little camera/motion blur to add iconic significance to a stock photo
Multiple elements of a stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
Three elements here: wall, musician, couple. It took me five minutes to find the wall, grab a musician from street corner, place romantic couple, frame right.. viola!
Iconic landmarks stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
Iconic landmarks, monuments, structures are the top-selling travel stock images
City Skyline stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
World capital skylines change monthly. There is a constant and growing need for updated shots like this of the Honk Kong skyline.
Negative space stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
More than often than not it’s the simple, quiet shot, with plenty of negative space, that is used to illustrate travel stories.
Tango dancers stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
The impact of this image is strong, defining late afternoon shadows of sidewalk ,tango dancers in Buenos Aires
White and Bright stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
“White and bright” is today’s picture aesthetic. When you find it, milk it (pun intended).
Iconic landmark with foreground elements stock photo, Jack Hollingsworth
Shooting iconic monuments with foreground elements is a simple stock technique for adding drama and uniqueness.

For the past 3 decades, I have been globe trotting – seeing the world through my camera lens. Commissions, stock and personal work (see a 3 minute, 900 image showcase of my work here called See The World).

I have shot and sold literally thousands of stock photos – many iconic images of this planet’s skylines, landmarks, monuments, architecture, urbanscapes, cultural portraiture, cuisine, local color, and lifestyle.

The ‘secret sauce’ in shooting and selling all this travel stock photography is seeing the world through cruising. That’s right…cruising. 30+ different itineraries, over 300 ports-of-call and thousands of logged nautical miles. I know what I’m talking about here. Whether you shoot micro, macro or both, if you focus on images that sell, you should be able to recoup your travel cost in 12-24 months (depending on how aggressive a shooter/editor you are). And do it all in pampered comfort.

Most cruises today do their traveling in the evenings, while you’re sleeping. You wake up, and voila!, you’re at the next exotic port-of-call, ready for action.

If shooting in groups is not your thing then do your own wandering, solo. Or hire a local guide and interpreter to take you on a ‘highlights’ tour. To me, it’s amazing how your frame of mind changes when you are cruising. You’re rested, alert, excited, and ready to go!

And, of course, you have a full ship staff at your disposal, each evening, to help you plan and chart the perfect excursion for your next photo adventure. I have found that most cruise staff are savvy and knowledgeable about where the best photos are.

Most modern ships are also equipped with internet and phone services. So you’re never out of touch. You shoot a full day, get back to your room, break out the laptop, download your memory cards, and begin to edit (after an absolute fabulously prepared dinner).

I am totally convinced that you can cover 2-3 times more location content by cruising. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, you can do it in style (it’s like have a floating hotel follow you around).

This is the ship you will be sailing on (background ship with 42 sails)If you do hit the high seas, then i strongly recommend that you pack light. Small camera bag, a couple of zoom lenses, a tripod, extra batteries and CF cards, an on-camera flash and maybe a fanny pack. That’s all you need. But don’t forget those pocket-sized model releases you’ll need for shooting people (model released imagery sells 10 times more than unreleased imagery).

If you are interested in setting sail with “Captain Jack”, then consider joining us on an upcoming cruise from Rome to Venice, July 18-29, 2009. $4205.00 per person. For the latest details and the PDF brochure, email me directly at tours@jackhollingsworth.com

Take it from me, photography through cruising is the ultimate ‘secret sauce’ to shooting and selling travel stock photography.

  • Luis Santos
    Posted at 19:44h, 05 June Reply

    wow… take me with you i will be you luggage boy… 😛 nice trip, nice journey, nice places, and more important ideas to shoot on great places.. you are the man… with all respect of course! this post get me thinking a lot, i love to travel but at first i looked only for simple things/photos, but now everyday when i got out i grow up, personally and of course on my photos.. that’s just life right?

    thanks for your delicious and enchanted post..!

    Posted at 19:54h, 05 June Reply

    amazing pictures!!! love the colors!!! congratulations

  • Luis Santos
    Posted at 19:59h, 05 June Reply

    Actually i won’t be able to go 🙁 i will be in Maldives that week.. cheers!

  • Tyler Olson
    Posted at 20:44h, 05 June Reply

    sounds like an amazing time. Wish I could join the trip!

  • Sean Locke
    Posted at 20:59h, 05 June Reply

    Great images, but I imagine for the normal shooter it takes a little more preparation than walking off the ship with 2000 other people after your eggs benedict. :).

    What would be useful is more info on how one can easily talk non-English (or language of your choice) people in the street, to understand and sign a commercial model release.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 21:53h, 05 June Reply

      That’s the point of the cruise. Jack mentors and provides instruction for the duration of the trip, and there are model shoots prepared in some of the ports. Reading this post back, that point doesn’t come across very clearly so I’ll ask Jack to revise. Valid point as always, Sean. Thanks.


  • Rahul Pathak
    Posted at 21:37h, 05 June Reply

    Gorgeous images and thanks for sharing your tips, Jack!

  • john lund
    Posted at 22:30h, 05 June Reply

    We are going to have to rename you “CaptainPhotoJack”! Great post. I can imagine how much more refreshed one would be each morning without the hassle of schlepping suitcases, sleeping in sometimes questionable quarters, and having a safe base of operations.


  • Josh Hodge
    Posted at 05:22h, 06 June Reply

    As the first poster said.. ‘thanks for your delicious and enchanted post..!’ Nice one, Cap’n Jack

  • mystockphoto
    Posted at 11:44h, 06 June Reply

    “CaptainPhotoJack” respect! Hope you and all your guests could enjoy the italian stages!

  • marlene ford
    Posted at 14:19h, 06 June Reply

    CaptainPhotoJack – love the name. Fabulous pictures, would love to do that trip, I imagine I would learn so much from such an fantastic and personable photographer. Great post Lee.


    Posted at 02:39h, 08 June Reply

    I’ve done a huge trip in Europe in 2007/2008. 3 months travelling.8 countries visited and over 30 diferent cities.

    Sad fact: all I had was my cell phone to tak pictures. SO I have over 500 photos from really amazing places but all in not ver good resolution… good enough for Facebook anyway…LOL

  • Karin
    Posted at 18:24h, 08 June Reply

    Fantastic! I hope Jack’s adventures into the microstock world shake things up a bit in terms of creativity. Some of the sites simply refuse to accept candid shots that have a hint of blur or shadow, even though it’s those very elements that turn the picture into a story. One of my motion photos was rejected four times by one site before a reviewer finally recognized the intention of the blur and accepted it, and then a few months later it was featured in another site’s blog as a great example of a travel shot. A little leeway with creativity and candid moments in microstock would be awesome.

  • Zbynek Burival
    Posted at 04:50h, 09 June Reply

    Interesting:) Im interested how you solve those trouble caused by insanely law restrictions – nowadays botanical gardens are claiming releases on plants, ZOOs on animals – I just wonder when will our Land Bureau start to require property release on trees from publicly accessible forests… Ppl are even more problematic, where I see the problem is that eg. US MR would be in many points illegal by local law here in central Europe, not to mention Asia or Africa. And in most cases I would argue validity of MR in english when most asian or african folks definitely do not understand what they signed.

  • DonS
    Posted at 22:20h, 09 June Reply

    Would it be too churlish to wonder how the receipts from photographers paying for cruises compares with sales from the micro portfolio?

    I’m sure such a cruise could be very enjoyable and worthwhile, but at the same time I can’t help thinking this public move into micro could simply be good business acumen aimed at generating money in other aspects of the business.

    On a separate note I’m pleased to see the reference to macro. I was just checking out the Insight Guide to The Silk Road (2008) only to find one of the images credited to istock with just one download. I wonder if it was a subcription deal.

  • Shannon Hudnell
    Posted at 19:08h, 10 June Reply

    I think it’s time to book a cruise! Even if I wasn’t doing the photos for stock, I would be taking pictures on the entire trip because that’s just the way I am.

  • Digital Photographer
    Posted at 18:36h, 19 June Reply

    Wow, just found your site. I love it subscribed to the feed. Now I have a lot of reading to do to try and improve my photos. I really like the couple with the musician.

  • blog articles selection about selling photography | My Stock Photography
    Posted at 09:34h, 21 June Reply

    […] The Secret Sauce of Shooting and Selling Travel Stock Photography (June 5th, 2009 by Jack Hollingsworth @photojack), a guest post on microstockdiaries.com about travel photography that sells […]

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