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From Pixels to Payments
by Shannon Caster
Cameras—admit it, you probably own more than one. If you’re
like me, you have a digital camera (maybe even two if you’ve
upgraded anytime in the past ten years) and possibly one on your
cell phone. My count? Two digital, one on my cell phone, one on
my husband’s cell phone, and if I dig deep in our moving boxes,
I’m sure there’s one of those antique cameras that actually
requires film. Point is, we own them so it’s time to use those
cameras for business.
At first it seemed obvious. If the family headed out for an adventure,
I took my camera to capture my kids in all their ice cream spilling
glory. Then it occurred to me; if I was taking a picture of Multnomah
Falls anyways, why not get paid to do it? Along with a thousand
other people at the waterfall that day, I grabbed the perfect spot
and took a high-resolution picture. I wanted to make sure the photo
would be large enough that it could be cropped and scaled as needed.
With one quick camera adjustment, I was ready to go. Picture of
the kids, then picture without the kids. Hey, it’s digital
so what do I have to lose?
Back home I looked over the pictures, decided on a few that were
sharp and clear, and began researching. Should I write an article
for a travel magazine? Local newspaper? Children’s magazine?
There are plenty of markets looking for excellent articles with
supporting photos. I opted for The Christian Science Monitor.
After choosing a unique angle for my article that fit within their
guidelines, I began writing. Instead of reiterating facts about
waterfall height, location, hiking trails, I went for the not so
obvious. I wrote about undercutting, the process that makes the
large pool of water at the base of waterfalls. I had the article,
the photos, and now I was ready to make the sale.
I’ve since made numerous sales to publications that purchased
my supporting photos. And most of the time, I get paid more for
the pictures than I do the article. It’s a nice way to boost
my sales and my paycheck.
Then the other day I rediscovered the need for my camera. I was
running the usual errands around town when I saw a sign at the hair
salon. The sign mentioned this salon recycled hair to ExcessAccess.
Huh? Of course, I had my stylist’s full attention, so I asked
her about it. Sure enough, they recycle hair clippings and send
them off to a company that turns them into hair mats. The mats are
used in emergency situations to clean up oil spills. My brain started
to click. I quickly took out my phone and snapped a picture of the
sign. Now I had the company’s name and website so I could
do some research at home. Later that day I struck inspiration again.
While at the store I saw an old diagram of a Model T engine with
the crank start handle, complete with tips on how to start the car
and not get run over. I got to thinking about the differences between
starting a car with a turn of a key and actually having to open
the hood and flip levers, chokes, and crank handles. Once again,
I whipped out my cell phone camera and took a picture. While these
pictures weren’t exactly high-resolution, and not exactly
something I would sell, they would be the perfect reminder of my
article topics and angles. Plus I had all the information I needed
like websites or names of individuals in writing, well, in pixels
I’ve since sent off my articles on hair mats and Model T
engines and I’m waiting to hear the good news. Sure I’m
optimistic and with my cameras providing me more photos to sell
and ideas for researching, I just might treat myself to a camera
upgrade. It has been three years after all.
© Copyright 2008, Shannon Caster
Shannon Caster resides in Portland, Oregon where she can be found
reading at the park, watching her kids at sporting events, walking
her dogs, or writing on her laptop. Shannon frequently writes for
children, parents, educators, writers, and any other audience willing
to listen. Shannon welcomes visitors to her website at www.shannoncaster.com.
Other articles by Shannon Caster :
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