Ten tips for selling your travel photos to the tourism industry

Kathryn Burrington
Kathryn is a professional travel photographer, writer and blogger. Having worked in the travel industry for over 18 years, Kathryn loves sharing her passion for discovering new countries, cultures and cuisines on her blog Travel with Kat.
Kathryn Burrington
Kathryn Burrington

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Kathryn Burrington
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L'Ile Rousse, Corsica

Are you a travel blogger who enjoys photography? While travelling have you built-up a huge collection  of beautiful images from around the world. Have you ever thought of selling your photographs to the tourism industry through a photographic library or by approaching the tour operators themselves? And if you already have tried this, but without much success, are you wondering why your photographs aren’t selling?

Having worked within the industry for many years, as a photographer and a photographic editor, I would like to share some hints and tips on how photographs are selected and how you can improve your chances of selling your photographs to the tourism industry. And don’t forget the small independent tour operators who specialise in specific destinations. The Association of Independent Tour Operators has a useful list of UK companies.

1. Blue skies and sunshine

It may seem obvious but the aim here is to sell holidays and tour operators will want their brochures full of glorious sunshine and clear blue skies (maybe with just a few fluffy white clouds). Even a skiing brochure is full of photographs with brilliant blue skies. A moody sky with interesting cloud formations may create a much more artistic image that would look superb hanging in a gallery but in the main it won’t sell holidays.

2. Shoot a variety of subjects

Don’t just limit your photography to landscapes, cityscapes and the obvious iconic symbols of a destination but extend your collection to all the things that represent that destination. Images of traditional cuisine, flower stalls, shop window displays, smiling locals, interesting architectural details and so forth all make useful supplementary images. That doesn’t mean you should not take images of say, crumbling buildings if they are evocative and beautiful, but keep in mind that the aim is to sell the destination.


Apples, rue Montorgueil, Paris

Fish Benechin, The Gambia

Tour operators often send photographers on assignment to not only capture destination shots but also images of properties such as hotels, villas, swimming pools and interiors so if this is something you would like to do, build up a selection of appropriate images for your portfolio and then approach companies directly. Perhaps they would like to hire you to photograph some holiday homes in an area you are about to visit.

3. Create space for copy

L'Ile Rousse with text

When a designer is laying out a page they will sometimes want to use an image that has large uncluttered areas of uniform colour where they can lay text over the top so that it will still be clearly legible.

This is common on front covers of magazines and brochures but also on internal spreads. So remember to take some extra shots of that stunning view that intentionally allow for this.

4. Take both portrait and landscape orientation shots

Taking this one step further, where possible shoot both portrait (vertically) and landscape (horizontally) orientated photographs to give the designer the greatest choice of layout.

5. Leave space for cropping

Don’t crop in too tight to your subject. Designers are often working with fixed templates where the photographs are a certain shape and size so you should leave space around the main subject in your photograph to allow for it to be used in a variety of picture box shapes.

Holiday Apartments, Corsica

6. Wide angle lenses

Using a wide angle lens is great for capturing interiors or making swimming pools look large but be careful to not overdo this so that a pool looks Olympic sized when it is no more than a splash pool. For interiors don’t use a lens that is so wide that it creates distortions.

7. Photo enhancement

Most photographs can be improved upon after they have been taken by tweaking the levels, sharpening etc. The best software is Adobe Photoshop and even Photoshop Elements, which isn’t too expensive, will allow you to do basic enhancements. Lightroom is another popular choice by professionals. The tourism industry generally likes bright, saturated colours but, as with the sharpening, don’t overdo it; keep things looking natural.

8. When to use digital manipulation

While it is perfectly permissible to alter images for fine art purposes, photographs that are to be used within the tourism industry do need to be an accurate representation of the subject. By all means remove unwanted items from a photograph, such as rubbish on a beach, or even the odd person or two to make it look a little less crowded but never remove an object that is a permanent feature. While it is fine to remove something that is temporary such as a crane, scaffolding or a car, it is not OK to remove overhead cables or telegraph poles that are permanent structures.

9. Model and property release forms

The rules vary slightly from country to country and even from state to state within the USA but if possible always get a signed model release form from anyone that is recognisable in a photograph and this doesn’t just apply to professional models. For minors the form must be signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Likewise it is advisable where possible to obtain a signed property release form stating that the owner of a certain property, such as a building or even a pet, has given you consent to take the photograph of that property and to use it.

Sometimes this just isn’t possible but not having a release form will limit the saleability of an image to editorial purposes only and will entirely exclude some uses including advertising.

More information on property/model release forms can be found on various stock photography websites. Sample forms can be found on Shutterstock. Some photographic libraries require model release forms for ALL images in which a person is recognisable even if you cannot see their face.

10. Less is more

It has been said many times before but it is so often overlooked that I felt I should include this point; it is possibly the most important and applies to all areas of photography; be selective and super critical. When choosing images for submission or for an online gallery only show your very best work and only show a few variations of the same subject (see points 4 and 5). You may have many superb photographs but these will be hard to spot among a sea of mediocre images and even just a few poorly selected images can ruin an otherwise first rate collection. 


  1. Twitter:
    These are some great tips. I have travelled to most countries in Asia and have only recently understood the importance of taking variety of subjects in the photographs. And I also plan to expand the lenses I have, especially getting a good wide angle lens. Have been using iPhoto for photo enhancements. I know I need to invest in something more expensive like Photoshop for better editing features.
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  2. Twitter:
    maybe reach out to other photoblogs and sell your pics might do the trick? Or give it as free to gain reputation for longer benefit. Do you think that will work?

  3. Twitter:
    Hi Kathryn,

    You mentioned about how to take best images which get approval from tourism industry, but you didn’t mentioned the ways to sell those images. How can I do that?
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  4. Twitter:
    These are good tips. I didn’t know I could try to sell my vacation pictures, but really why not? I’ll take a look at some pictures of mine and see if I can do anything with them. I’ll also keep these tips in mind for the future. Thanks.
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  5. Twitter:
    The above mentioned were the great tips.Loved to read them.
    Thanks for the share.
    Sushain recently posted..Independence Day StatusMy Profile

  6. Twitter:
    Kathryn You’ve just given me all the more reasons to start a travel blog! :) I wasn’t aware that anyone could sell photographs for travel magazines and blogs unless they were professionals. Thanks for the great post!
    Kathy Mathis recently posted..Oscar Winning Actor Robin Williams diesMy Profile

  7. Twitter:
    That’s wonderful! While it helps to have formal training to become a professional, it isn’t compulsory. No one is a professional, no matter how much training they have or haven’t had, until they start selling their images. There are also many people who think of themselves as semi-professional and others that only sell a couple of photographs a year.
    As I mentioned to Aldo, competition is high, you have to be good but you also have to find the right market for your photographs. This may be within tourism or it my be more suited to editorial articles. Good luck with what ever you decide to do. Do let me know if you start a travel blog or look me up if you want any advice.
    Kathryn Burrington recently posted..Athens, a multifaceted diamond in the roughMy Profile

  8. Twitter:
    These are good and practical tips. Getting signed model releases is the biggest drag, but essential. Each outlet that purchases photo also have certain parameters to follow such as lpeg files only, must be within certain megapixals etc.
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  9. Twitter:
    Hello Kathryn,

    Nice Tips! Selling photographs can be a lucrative source of income if you know the basics of how to succeed in this business. However, you have to consider buying special equipment, like tripods, spotlights, lenses and a high-tech camera.

    Etsy.com is good place to sell your photos if anyone wants to try their luck :)
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  10. i was not aware of that thnx for mentioning these nice tips will try it soon thnx for sharing this lovely info will share it with my frnds too
    deepti recently posted..Free download tuneup utilities 2014 full :- pc softwareMy Profile

  11. Twitter:
    Hi Kathryn,

    This is what I’ve been looking for because many folks have said I should sell my travel pictures. I didn’t want to nickle and dime it through small time websites. I know I have some good ones and would dig going right to the tourist industry directly. Awesome, awesome share.

    i’ll keep in mind the notes about leaving space for advertising and also leaving room for cropping. I’ve some jaw-dropping sunset posts but know that as you noted, the blue skies and sun pictures- which beach I presume – sells the most holidays.

    Here in Fiji I have a bunch of those photos, and I’ve snapped more than a few fab photos in Bali, Koh Lanta, Phuket, Costa Rica, and from a few other tropical paradises during my world travels.

    Thanks so much for the nudge Kathryn.

    Tweeting in a bit.

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  12. How much these companies actually pays? Do you have any idea? I visited goa (India) this month and I have hundreds of cool pics about the place in HD. Can you suggest some sites?
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  13. Twitter:
    Hello Kathryn,

    I’m definitely a travel (and photo) freak – but working with photos doesn’t really interest me. Reading your entry here, I’ve come to new levels of inspiration that may turn out to be money spinners sooner than later.

    I appreciate the excellent write up and must commend the genius that is glaringly apparent.

    Make the day super great!


  14. MSI Sakib says:

    Hello Kathryn Burrington,
    You just gave awesome idea. I never thought of selling travailing photos. It can be a extra source of earning money for the people who travel much. I usually don’t travel much but from now I will be careful about taking awesome photos to make sell. Thanks for this great idea.

  15. Thanks for sharing informative article. Great tips! These tips really helpful for photographers to pave the correct avenue. I thought my photographer friends will definitely benefit from your article.
    Thanks for sharing this information with us.
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  16. Twitter:
    hey Kathryn Burrington,
    Nice Post ! thanks for sharing !
    I love this site [♥] comluv [♥]
    keep it up !
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  17. Twitter:
    There are some great tips here, Kathryn, many thanks, it looks like you are giving away a lot of education for free! A lot of these ideas can also be used for other styles of photography, too, such as the ones that adorn websites.
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  18. Twitter:
    Hey Kathryn,
    Nice post and believe me, I have no idea that we can sold our travel photo also and make money. These tips are so useful and give nice idea of selling pics. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.
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  19. Twitter:
    These tips are very useful and help us in selling our travel photo and we can also make money. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.
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  20. Twitter:
    Thanks for the tips. I have always wonder how people makes money by selling travel photos. Now I think I have some ideas how to do it. By the way where is the best place to submit the photos for amateur photographers like me? Do you think picture captures using iPhone will be accepted?
    IsmailNz recently posted..Sleeping Pandas At Zoo NegaraMy Profile

  21. You know what? – I never knew that we can sell photos online. You have shared really good tips going to help me out for sure. Thanks.
    Vikas Bhatt recently posted..Singham Returns Box Office Collection ReportMy Profile

  22. Twitter:
    Fantastic tips Kathryn, selling photos to companies can be a little daunting at times, specially if you think your photos just come up to scratch, thanks for sharing the tips, love the section of leaving space for copy, possibly one of the many thinks that we don’t think of when doing landscape photography.
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  23. Twitter:
    Thanks for great tips for selling travel photos to tourism industry.
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  24. Thanks Kathryn, for this very useful tips. Although I still have a lot to learn about photography, these tips give me a lot to aim for and info on what to shoot. :D

  25. Nick Dean says:

    I am glad I came across these great tips to get better shots while I am out and about. My only problem is, I am going to have to look for a wide angle lens in the near future. Great Pictures and advise here!

  26. arvind sohi says:

    i have some amazing pictures of hillstations of india is it possible to sell them to indian tourism.if yes then please help me how to do it??

  27. Nice information post. i never know that tourism industry are purchase out photos. thanks to share with us.
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  28. Great article, I nevwe we could sell our images to tourism industry. I love travelling and obviously clicking images and now you have provided me idea to sponsor my travelling expenses. ;)

  29. Hi Kathryn,
    Some really killer tips you have shared here. I liked the Less is More concept. Sometimes photographers try to capture everything in one photo which is wrong.
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  30. Hey, nice post.

    I am also trying to get into the photo editing business.

    Can anyone recommend a free photo editing program for now. I know about photoshop, but dont want to invest a lot of money yet.

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  31. those are some of the best tips miss. what do you suggest if someone do have a professional camera like me :P ??

  32. Twitter:
    Nice and Informative Article. As a travel and wildlife photographer myself, I find this as a good source of income or just enough money to support the travel costs.
    Frank Joseph recently posted..SBI PO 2014 Selection ProcedureMy Profile

  33. Twitter:
    I just finished using a service for my photos, and I wish I could travel and take pictures to sell to the tourism industry…or any industry. What a way to make money! I’m assuming the pictures in the article are yours?

    I found your point about not taking too tight of an image interesting. I know that I like to tweak my pictures, so I can see how this would definitely come into play with professionals!
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  34. I’ve actually sold a few of my photos to the Toronto Star a couple years back during a cross country Canadian train trip. It didn’t pay off the student debt, but there’s something nice about seeing your name published beside a nice looking photo.

  35. Twitter:
    people are among the better ideas miss. what exactly can you suggest when somebody carry out use a expert digital camera like me personally ??? BTW Thank you..
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  36. Twitter:
    I have found very useful your tips about photography directed to tourism. Although it is a pain to carry a backpack full of expensive lenses and photographic accessories, it is certain that this will add a plus to the end result of our work and will eventually give us more sales.
    Susana Paz recently posted..fotografos para una boda en Santiago. Notas.My Profile

  37. Wow I didn’t even know that this is possible! How interesting, I love photography and I make lots of fotos every time I am on holidays. Next time I am away I will definitely keep this article in mind. Thanks!
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  38. Ana Maria Ionita says:

    This article is extremely helpful, since I decided to become a professional photographer. I alway enjoyed taking pictures but I had no idea that I could sell them. Thanks a lot for the tips!

  39. I never think about the selling holiday pictures. I will try soon. Thank you for that idea.

  40. Twitter:
    Nice info. I think I will keep this in mind next time I go for vacation and may earn few bucks out of it.
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  41. Twitter:
    After reading that, I’d like to be a photographer too. Thank for these tips, every photographers should know that :) first
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  42. Komang Gede says:

    Adobe Lightroom is the best software to enhance the photo especially when taking landscape travel photography, tweaking colors and vibrance is a must, anyway the article that you posted is very helpful, thanks!

  43. Sohan-photo editor says:

    Great stuff but I just want to add with you that if you want to sell you images then you have to do some editing.

  44. Jayce Cairo says:

    Hi! These are really great tips! I totally agree with the first one about lots of blue skies and sunshine. I do a lot of traveling myself and I hate cloudy days. They ruin the mood and most of all: the photos.

  45. Artur Nikiforov says:

    Thanks Kathryn, for this very useful tips.
    I will remember some of your Tricks to sell my photos next summer.

  46. Thank you Kathryn. When I travel I also take alot of pictures. But again do not know how to take beautiful to sale. This article helped me a lot. I wil try to capture again.

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