Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/2/2015 (2475 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINKLER -- Terrance and Esther Klassen always loved travelling, but their bank account was never as thrilled.
When they did travel, Terrance, whose sideline is photography, would make slide travelogues. "Photographers see everything with a frame around it," he said.
But then he started to see not just frames, but dollar signs on the back. He explored marketing his photos through the stock-photo industry.
Today, he submits photos to six agencies, including ones in London, New York, Barcelona, Singapore and Germany. The returns fund three to four trips a year -- and five trips last year -- for the couple, with trips lasting two to four weeks each. They have visited more than 70 countries and toured some countries several times.
"I supply stock-photo agents with images," Terrance said. Not a bad second career for the former lab manager at the Manitoba Clinic. Esther was a school teacher for 38 years.
Terrance's photos wind up in such places as calendars, travel brochures, car-rental ads, book covers, airline magazines, office walls and company annual reports. They occasionally appear in advertisements for new cars. "They take a mountain scene and put a car in it" using digital manipulation, he explained.
The couple have been at it for about 15 years, but kicked into high gear when they retired a decade ago. They work as a team. Terrance shoots the photos and Esther records exact locations and writes captions and keywords so prospective clients can find the photos online. That's important, because their photos compete with 56 million other images at the London-based stock-photo company alone. They have 18,000 images with the company, named Alamy.
Competition is fierce, and the Klassens can never predict what will sell. When they went to New York, Terrance shot the Statue of Liberty like everyone else. Even so, they sold three Statue of Liberty photos. He also shot the Twin Towers before the 9/11 terrorist attack. That also brought in money.
When he started, you could almost make a living from shooting stock travel photos. Photographers are paid when someone purchases one of their photos from the stock-photo agency. Top photos used in advertising will sell for $1,500 to $1,800. Terrance was averaging $150 per photo and would sell several hundred photos annually.
But the market has plummeted. Images have become so ubiquitous, with a camera in every cellphone and people posting photos on social-media sites. Today, the Klassens see an average payment of about $60 per image sold.
"The business has to be self-sustaining for funding travel, computers and cameras, but we couldn't make a living from it," he said.
They worked together photographing weddings for 27 years, shooting 25 a year. That's a lot of weekends, including meetings with the families before the wedding and afterward to review proofs. But if you consider yourself a photographer, said Terrance, someone has to see your work. He would critique his photos after each wedding and hone his skills.
One of their favourite travels was to Israel, both from a perspective as Christians and because they found it so exotically ancient. They felt as safe there as anywhere, despite the presence of rifle-toting soldiers. They did, however, pay to lock their rent-a-car in a compound because cars were being torched on the streets at that time.
They rate the French Polynesia, like Tahiti and Bora-Bora, as the most exotic, along with Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates was the most otherworldly. "It's like Palm Springs on steroids. Everything is lavish. Rolls-Royces, Mercedes, Cadillacs everywhere," said Terrance.
They had to be smuggled over a mountain range in the dead of night to illegally cross into Dubai from Oman. That's because they got caught in the international dispute between the UAE and the Harper government over Dubai's air-landing rights in Canada. The UAE responded by requiring Canadians to have visas to visit. But the Klassens had to get back to Dubai to catch their plane home.
Both are 68 and originally from southern Manitoba. They moved to Winkler from Winnipeg five years ago.
Without giving away too many secrets, a stock-photo company does have to accept you. Some insist you supply them with at least 1,000 images a year. The Klassens time their travels with popular festivals. Their basic strategy is to shoot where a country pays, plays and prays.
But when Terrance tries to explain to people it can be a lot of work, getting up early to catch the sunrises and devoting so much time to shoot photographs, nobody wants to hear that story.
How tough can it be to visit the world's greatest vacation spots and snap a few photos?