My Top 5 Most Surprisingly Positive Photo / Video Shoots

Further to my Top 5 Most Disappointing Shoots, I figured that I might as well dish out my Top 5 most surprisingly positive photo / shoots. What do I mean about “surprisingly positive”? Well, basically photos / videos that I had little to no expectations which turned out to be strong sellers, until today. Let’s get started!

I’ll also try to figure out just why these shoots did so well – let’s get started!

5. Restaurant Facades and Terraces in Italy

During my travels in Italy I always made the effort to try to shoot the facades of restaurant terraces, ideally with nobody there in order to upload as commercial (then cloning out any logos). Overall, these have been huge earners for me.

I continued this profitable trend while in Spain and here’s my best-seller from there.

How much did I earn?

The above four images have earned me a combined $786.

4. “Look up, Jean-Luc!”

Ok, silly Star Trek TNG joke.

When I first started creating timelapses some of the tips I read were not to create sky timelapses as this market was already saturated. Being the stubborn fker that I am, I did it anyway (if someone says I cant do something I will do it just to prove them wrong, that’s the way I am).

So pointing up my camera on a tripod over 3 hours I captured this dramatic sky on a day with changeable weather and uploaded widely.

How much did I earn?

This clip has only ever sold at Pond5 but boy has it sold…earning me a whopping $391. So, try yourself and see how you get on.

3. Bliss by Alexandre

Inspired by Window’s Bliss background, I shot this in the Netherlands on a sunny spring day during one of my frequent cycling adventures.

How much did I earn?

It has done well at Shutterstock earning me $170. Strangely, very few sales at other sites.

2. Dutch Bitterballen with bad lighting & worse composition

Before sitting down to enjoy a portion of delicious Dutch croquets while in Utrecht, I naturally took a picture of my portion. Basically a snapshot to register the moment with pretty bad lighting and messy composition. In any case, I uploaded the image widely not really expecting much (if it was even accepted).

How much did I earn?

This image has sold 353 times earning me $262, which isn’t bad for a $4 investment.

1. Book Cover Sold at Arcangel

This is super recent and was pleasantly surprised to hear about a sale and even more surprised when it was a composite where they used just the background! Here’s the final image on the book cover.

So, the designer Ruben Ramo’s model picture (link where I interviewed him).

And my background…

How much did I earn?

As discussed in my August 2022 earnings report, I earned approximately $1,000 for the above license. Good job, designers!

Any lasting lesson from the above “surprises”?

Sure, I have just one:

  1. Shoot liberally! I know that this kinda goes against my usual advice to find a niche and exploit it, but sometimes it’s OK to take some snapshots and see if they do sell with little to no expectations. This can be a good test with little effort and if it does surprise you can go back and do more variations.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the above post. Until next time!


About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal, on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’ve devoted eight years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.

Most recently I’ve gone all in on submitting book cover images to Arcangel Images. Oh and also recently purchased a DJI Mavic 2s drone and taking full advantage.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography

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