10 Motivational Photographic Breakthroughs

Hey escapists of the 9-5 corporate routine,

Making money from stock photos is tough! As explained in my book, the Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography, back in 2009, I submitted a pitiful 50 images to a few agencies and was disappointed that there were such few downloads. I soon quit.

When I decided to have another go at stock photography in 2012,  competition was even tougher, but I had a better business mindset and made measurable goals. More importantly, I was committed to learning and improving.

Meeting small milestones keeps motivation high

One of the tricks I adopted on my second attempt was to set small measurable goals, such as:

  • Submit 50 images a month;
  • Post 3 images a month on contributor forums to obtain brutally honest feedback;
  • Watch 10 YouTube tutorials a month.

Easy right? I just kept at it for months on end, but sometimes it wasn’t enough since results were few and far in between. I needed more to keep my motivation high and that’s when I relied on measurable breakthroughs.


Just keep at it!

How do you know you’re close to a breakthrough? Well, it’s difficult to say but your intuition will tell you…also, your energy levels remain high, regardless of set backs.

The next 10 images will highlight key breakthroughs in my photography career. These gave me motivation to keep going when times were tough – a small boost of energy when I was growing tired. Without these ‘exciting moments’, it’s easy to feel demotivated and even give up. It’s important not to forget to enjoy your photography.

1st Breakthrough

Circa: Summer 2012

This image gave me loads of downloads at both iStockphoto and Shutterstock, giving me further motivation to keep submitting and improving my craft. It still ranks highly for keywords “woman + houses of parliament”

2nd Breakthrough

Circa: Late-summer 2012

This image, along with others of airplanes, has brought me many many downloads, thus giving me further motivation that I can make it in this game. Thereafter, I enjoyed taking images of airplanes and at airports which are regularly downloaded 

3rd Breakthrough

Mid 2013

My first extended license earning me $65! Never thought such a simple image could earn so much…and I was getting used to earning only subscriptions

4th Breakthrough

Late 2013

My first image to reach 100+ downloads of Rotterdam’s Central Station. This image continues to be regularly downloaded and is on my top 5 of best sellers

5th Breakthrough

Mid 2014

My first photography competition win. Even though this image has been downloaded such few times, it gave me the confidence to submit to more photograph competition. Although I’m yet to win a major photography competition, I’m desperately trying and have recently applied for the Travel Photography of the Year Competition 2017

6th Breakthrough

Sept 2015

My most downloaded image came from a trip to Budapest, Hungary during the height of the refugee crisis. The success of this image ignited my interest in editorial content. This image continues to be downloaded regularly and is one of the first results for the trending keyword of “refugee”.

 7th Breakthrough

August 2016

Staring sheep (higher version) (1)
Shortlisted to a major photography competition 

8th Breakthrough

January 2017

My first major Rights-Managed sale on Alamy earning me net $118.74 (I had previous sales for much smaller amounts)

9th Breakthrough

June 2017

Publishing my book gave me a great sense of accomplishment and the fact that I can help others achieve their goals is hugely satisfying!

10th Breakthrough…is yet to come

Future breakthroughs I’m fighting to achieve and I’ll keep working hard until I achieve:

The funny thing is that achieving even ONE of the above in the next few months will help my motivation tremendously. Once all those goals are all ticked, I’ll readjust and push to achieve more and more. What is clear is that sometimes it’s important to get lucky!

What are some of your photographic short-term and medium-term goals? Share with me!

Until next time and keep on rocking! Check out my new article on catching a special moment in front of Milan’s iconic Duomo cathedral. 


To purchase a copy of the Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography, click on this link!


  1. Great article! It is the small successes that keep us going to get the larger ones! Those big sales will come – they just seem to take more time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good article! I want to add the importance of own site. This can be a very simple site in which examples of articles in which your photos were used will be published.

    I often use Google Search to find articles with my photos. I make a screenshot of this article and publish it on my website.

    For example, my photo was used by Forbes magazine. I am proud of it) Viewing such achievements very well raises motivation. This shows that our work is used to make readers interested in reading articles. We do a good job!

    Liked by 1 person

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