Recently when my son moved into his new house, he demolished the ninety year old farm house that stood in his yard. He works for a large construction equipment company so he used a Hydraulic Excavator to demolish it. A friend hauled it away to a huge pit they had dug with the Excavator. He’d asked me to photograph all the steps of the demolition. What does this story have to do with writing? If you have read articles I’ve written I often say turn your lemons into lemonade. As I photographed the process I kept wondering where I could sell the photographs I was taking. I queried a farm paper about an article on recording the history of your farm for generations of grandchildren to come. In Canada we are losing a thousand farmers a year as farms grow in size and, in our farm community, farm homes are disappearing every year.
That evening, he phoned to see if I could take photographs of the gigantic fire in the pit as the debris burnt. I submitted photographs of the fire, the old house before they started to demolish it, and the demolition of the house to a stock company, which were put up for sale on their website less than 24 hours after they were submitted.
My grandson wanted photographs of the process to take to school for Show and Tell. Since I have a photo printer, I made him a set of six eight-by-ten prints. My granddaughter, who attends nursery school, got a ride in the rock truck that filled in the basement. She wanted a photograph of it to include with her brother’s photographs. When she had her turn for Show and Tell, it would be included. How are those photographs going to make me money? A local photography contest requires three action photographs. I hope to win it for the third year in a row!
As I was making lunch for my family and planning this article in my head, I came up with another place to sell one of the photographs. If I make the sale, I will have been paid extremely well for my effort, with a chance to sell stock photographs in the future.
On a few of the minus thirty Celsius days this winter, I took my camera along when I fed our horses and donkey. I was able to get photographs of the horses running through the snow, towards me for their oats. One photograph sold to a farm paper while a second newspaper purchased one to blow up for their front page cover. Yet another one is on a stock photography website.
A neighbor commented to me the other day she could not afford to feed the Blue Jays peanuts now. She looked when I said that I couldn’t afford not to feed them. Magazines and newspapers have purchased a variety of photographs I’ve taken of them. I also plan to have some enlargements made of the photos to sell locally.
You need a strong commitment to a freelance business to make it profitable. I started freelancing when I turned fifty and it’s been very rewarding. A retired physiologist often tells me that you need to keep your brain learning, no matter how old you are, to keep you young. I follow his advice, taking courses to improve my photography and writing on a regular basis. The networking you can do with the new people you meet can be very rewarding.
As you go about your daily routine think of how you can use photographs of what you see to either enhance an article or sell with a by-line. The longer you work at freelancing, the easier it will be to come up with new ideas.
I use the same positive attitude when dealing with people in our family business. People want to deal with positive people. A motivational speaker I have enjoyed working with always says “No Stinking Thinking”. Now remember – Think Positive.
Joan Airey is a freelance writer and photographer, specializing in agricultural life styles stories and photography. She writes for Farm Business Publications–Grainews & Manitoba Co-operator, Horse Country, and Agri-Post, and has been published in Reunions Magazine, CountryMile, and Canadian Teddy Bear Magazine. Her photography is available at http://www.canstockphoto.com.