Shantanu Starick's Incredible Story of How He Managed to Spend No Money for Two Years

What is the value of a photograph? What is the right price for an hour of your work? Those are questions we tackle on a daily basis. Each of us has a different pricing structure depending on the type of job, overhead costs, difficulty, length and reputation. Two years ago, photographer Shantanu Starick decided to abandon the idea of money as a form of compensation and went with the unique concept of shooting for trade, and made/spent no money since. Instead of asking for X-amount of money for each job, all he asks for is a place to sleep, something to eat, and transportation.

For over two years Shantanu has traveled the world trading his services as a photographer. In a recent article, we shared some of his unique images spanning the globe. One day he shoots for a startup company in Los Angeles and the next day he shoots a wedding in Ireland. All without making any money, but also without spending any. All transportation is covered by the clients, who also take care of any food and shelter needs while he shoots the project. Once in a while Shantanu trades his services for additional personal necessities such as shoes and clothing.

What Shantanu realized on his journey was that once he removed money from the equation, the clients were more open for ideas, less stressed about the work, and the whole work environment changed. What used to be a contractor versus a client became a friend helping a friend.

Have you ever traded your services as a photographer/videographer/retoucher/editor for something that is not money? Tell us about the experience in the comments below.

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Noam Galai's picture

Noam Galai is a Senior Fstoppers Staff Writer and NYC Celebrity / Entertainment photographer. Noam's work appears on publications such as Time Magazine, New York Times, People Magazine, Vogue and Us Weekly on a daily basis.

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This was so inspiring that now I am planing too to trade my services after my graduation (doing my bachelors in Film, giving my thesis this January). Although i have been doing this but in breaks, I do believe in travelling , it always opens up the gates and make strong connection, money is the biggest barrier of all.But i have experienced at times, if you quote less than others or just do it for free it will put an amateurish stamp on you, but TRADING is another word for doing it for free :D

I have traded video work for chiropractic work for over 2 years now.

All he is doing is eliminating the middle man. So what he doesn't go out and buy food or clothes, he has the clients do it for him. Money does exchange hands, just not his. He however is accountable for the taxes he has accrued. just because he physically didn't handle the money doesn't excuse him from taxes. How is he going to pay the IRS, with cheese sticks?


I have done one significant trade, but it was done after, not before. I decided to change the counter tops of my kitchen to granite. During the installation I made a time-lapse of the entire process. When it was done, I took the finished time-lapse to the owner of the shop and asked if he was interested in this video? Of course he was and I suggested that I could use a new granite top for my wet bar and would be willing to do a trade.

Made the deal and now I have a wonderful granite top wet-bar.

((where did all the tax accountants and lawyers come from? I think you missed the message.))

these ppl are actually interested that's why they are asking real world questions , no1 wants to die 80 years old in a wedding because they cannot afford their retirement or an accident happens to them and they dont have those rainy days money on the side.

This video (and an article like it about working while you travel) has convinced my fiance and I to eschew a honeymoon and finance a 6 month trip while working on the road. She being a chef and myself being a photographer/filmmaker, we plan on bartering and working our way around the world after our wedding before beginning our "real" life together in St. Louis. I'll be blogging/vlogging and sharing my trip and we both will be building our skillsets and gaining some (hopefully) fantastic experiences!

Remarkable and inspiring, I'm sharing this with my social media network.

Let's not forget that in most cases, it's also illegal to work one country as a citizen of another. Whether the work is paid, bartered, or free, there are laws set forth to prevent this.

On my last trip in central Europe I traded portraits for transportation and a place to stay. Worked out pretty good. This way you don't get clients, you make friends. :)