The Pixel Trade: Man Traveling the World with Photos Rather than Money

Everyone knows that traveling is expensive. Some people say that photography is expensive as well (both creating and buying it). The two things should therefore be a natural fit, right?

Australian photographer Shantanu Starick thinks so. He’s currently undertaking one of the most ambitious photo projects we’ve heard of: traveling the world with photos rather than money. His website, The Pixel Trade, tells the visual tale of his incredible journey.

Starick is attempting to pay for all his expenses through the simple concept of trade. What he offers people in the places he visits is professional photography that’s driven by his keen eye for beautiful images. In return, he asks to be paid with food, shelter, and transportation.

Rather than seek out random clients, Starick asks each customer to introduce him to the next one. Here’s how he conducts his on-the-go business:

I start with 1 couple, I take photographs for any project they have, as I would a client: Portraits, products, music, architecture, weddings, fashion, anything.

The edited photographs are my part of the trade. In order for my journey to continue I ask to be introduced to a new trader during my stay. A friend, an associate, anyone that would benefit from having professional photographs taken. The pixel trade will continue, leading from one place to the next.

On his (gorgeously designed) website is a documentation of each trade he makes. Each entry contains the trade number, the season, the name and occupation of the client, a short blurb about the gig, one song recommendation by the client, the duration of the stay, and the resulting photographs:

Starick started the project about two months ago, putting his architectural studies on hold in order to see the world.

The journey has already taken him up and down the east coast of Australia, and more recent trades have taken him to other countries as well, including New Zealand and the United States.

It’s a fantastic photo project idea, and we definitely recommend that you follow along for the ride!

Thanks for sending in the tip, Willis!

  • John Nathaniel Calvara

    Amazing how people today can just buy digital art just to support this fellow!

  • TylerIngram

    I haven’t looked at his site yet, I am curious as to how he has gotten from Aus over to US with just trading photos. Wouldn’t think the airlines would accept that as payment. Definitely has me intrigued :)

  • Kaitlin Bledsoe

    Notice that in the article, he trades with clients (not necessarily airline workers), who then provide him with a sleeping space, food, or travel. IE should he do work for a wedding client, all he would ask is a plane ticket to say spain which would equal out the cost of the wedding photographs. :)

  • Guest

    The web site is not ‘gorgeously designed’. It’s pretty horrible in my opinion. Lots of wasted screen space an awkward to navigate. Someone has clearly put deisgn above function, but even the design is nothing to write home about.

  • Albert Zablit

    Interesting concept.

    Not a fan of the endless scrolling. Or many of the imagery.

    Perhaps a better, tighter curation (too many shots of the same setting or things drown my enthusiasm), and a more conventional blog form (instead of this heavy loading, link less turn-over page thingy they got going) would make it more appealing and easier to both get into and navigate.

  • rtfe

    in agreement but there is a large school of thought that says millenials want more things to do inside a website. those born after ’83 fall in this category and outnumber both the babyboomers and gen x generation. take a look at tumbler photo sites designed by teenagers and you will see a lot of doohickies and attention distractions, not simplistic easy to navigate. while the gen x crowd, born around ’60 up until early ’80s is the smallest generation compared to the two others, they are the ones mostly designing sites now…trying to project what millenials want. his site is all over the place and is hard to navigate, but that could be positive in one area in regards to the largest generation.

  • 9inchnail

    Or he could just shoot a bad wedding photo, cash in 18.000 bucks for it and pay for the whole trip. Why not shoot a boring photo of a river, sell that for 4 million and buy your own airplane?

  • Kamo

    Great way to explore the world, get new experiences and help people while you’re at it.

  • guest

    The website is not gorgeous nor is it actually practical. I would have been happy to read and look at his pictures but it is truly painful to navigate and is so sluggish that I gave up after trying to scroll past a few pages.

  • thetravelchica

    Very cool! Going to check this out.