When Shooting Stock Photography Finally Pays Off

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a friend in Puerto Rico with an incredible story. She was walking through a gas station and noticed my face on a box. Without knowing, I had become the face of a brand. 

This story may seem pretty unbelievable but let me back up and explain how this happened. When I first got into photography about fifteen years ago I took pictures of anyone and anything around me and put many of these shots up for sale on stock websites. When I met Patrick I got him into stock as well and if we couldn't find someone to shoot, we would model for each other. Ten years later, after the "money shot" had been taken, all of that hard work finally paid off. 

I wish I could take credit for the photograph but I have to admit, Patrick was the true mastermind behind it. It may look like we are in some sort of swanky NY photo studio but in reality we were in my apartment and I was wearing my roommate's suit. The session was going fairly well until Patrick suggested that we add some money as a prop to the shot. We worked through a few different ideas like fanning the money in front of my face and throwing the money before we landed on the concept that will forever be named "the money shot." Patrick suggested that I fan the money out and hold it toward the camera. Patrick crouched low and used a wide angle lens to elongate the frame and make the bills seem larger than life. 

To be honest, I had forgotten about "the money shot" until two weeks ago when I saw it on the front of a major gas station incense brand. When I saw my face in a retail store, advertising an incredible product, I felt like all of the work I had put in ten years ago was finally paying off.

Do I feel like a celebrity? No, I'm still the same person I always was. But just because I don't feel like a celebrity doesn't mean that I'm not one. You don't always get to decide how famous you will become and in this case, it was a big surprise. The last few weeks have been whirlwind of emotions. Eventually I want to visit Puerto Rico to see it in person but I want things to calm down a bit before I make the trip. 

Over the last ten years Patrick has made considerable money on "the money shot" and the sales continue to roll in. As of today, he has pulled in over $9. 

Sadly, I have not benefited financially from this celebrity endorsement, but I feel like this has simply opened the door for me. My friends and family already call me Don and if this incense ever comes to America, I'm sure more brands will be asking for my endorsement as well. 

I've never gotten rich, monetarily speaking, from shooting (or modeling for) micro stock. But after this experience I think I might give it another shot. In ten more years, who knows where you'll see my face. 

Log in or register to post comments


Mike Kelley's picture

Honored to know you. Congratulations on this big success!

Anonymous's picture

Someday, you could become synonymous with a very popular photo blog! Maybe you could get big shot photographers like Mike Kelley to sign on! :-)

Alex Cooke's picture

I just want you to know you're now in my phone as the Don of Money.

Tom Lew's picture

Can't match Lee's looks.. but at least you can match his scent.

Michael Kormos's picture

We regularly vacation in PR. Next time I travel there with my wife, I'll be sure to bring back a pack of these :-) I might even let you buy one, at a premium, of course.

stir photos's picture

Hilarious! lol

Lee, I will want to purchase a copy of this stock photo. Please provide a link. Many thanks!

Oh, gods. I want to see detailed unboxing video and review of this product!

Jon Wolding's picture

I second this. But find a professional perfumer to lend their sniffer.

Mike Schrengohst's picture

9 bucks! What are you waiting for! Sounds like you need to get back in the studio and crank out some more money shots. At this rate by 2027 you could make 18 bucks and be on easy street! But seriously, I have photos on several stock sites. I was searching for some photos for a project and stumbled over one of my old sites. I have not posted anything on there in about 10 years. I did have a balance of $100 bucks that took about 5 years to earn. I used that money to buy the photos I needed for my project and cashed in the rest to buy a beer.

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

This is great!

Daniel Lee's picture

So when will these make their way to the Fstoppers Store?

I wish I could find these online. I want to give them to all my friends for Christmas.

Uwe Neugebauer's picture

Saul Goodman was created with this shot in mind!


You are the second photo/web celebrity I've seen used in this fashion.

A few years ago, I was shopping at Hobby Lobby in the picture frame section, when I saw many frames with the same picture of a father and son.

The father looked to be the spitting image of Pete Collins, one of the old Photoshop Guys and ex Kelby Media star. I contacted Pete and he said yes that it was he and his son, and IIRC he hadn't made any money from it.

Ben Pearse's picture

Superb, 5 stars, world class

Wes Jones's picture

Ahhh... the sweet, yet pungent smell of success.

Don't forget us minions when you hit the big time.....