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The Marvelous Story Of The Photographer Who Went 2 Years Without Spending Any Money

 | Pixel Trade

By Kishore Sawh on December 22nd 2014


Shantanu Starick has my attention. I mean, to the point where as I’m basking in the glow of my computer screen and hammer the keys, I am hearing him speak in his Australian accent, and visualizing him speaking. It’s so rare that a photographer does something truly novel that impresses me, but what he’s done simply beggars belief.

I remember hearing about the project as it was going to begin. He garnered some decent press for it, and it piqued my interest, but not having been done yet, it lacked a certain legitimacy that made me think it wouldn’t happen. The project’s premise was that Shantanu, would travel to all seven continents, no matter how long it would take, and not spend any money doing so; Not on travel, lodging, or shrimps on the bar-b. All of life’s bare necessities and all else including international air travel would be had via a barter system. Starick’s plan was to trade photographic services for everything, and that’s what he’s done for the past two years, and the business is called Pixel Trade.

shantanu-starick-pixel-trade-freelance-photography-slrlounge-business-1-2 shantanu-starick-pixel-trade-freelance-photography-slrlounge-business-6

In this address to a 99U audience you can watch below, which is also part of a trade, Starick speaks about what moved him into such an atypical direction, and the shove to make the move. He speaks at length on his thoughts on the rewards of specialization versus those of not marketing yourself as just good at one thing, and how fulfilling it can be.

In his instance, flying in the face of the way modern creative professionals work has paid dividends that don’t fit onto a typical balance sheet. Hearing from Starick about how the experience has changed his perception of our industry as a whole, and what happens to the creative process when money is removed/replaced is particularly interesting. And he hasn’t just been bartering with hippies or financially woeful couples, but with the likes of helicopter companies, Squarespace, and of course, 99u, among others.


Truth be told I may just, and very soon, offer my photographic services for something other than money. I’m 6 feet and one inch of slightly chauvinistic male, so the way to entice me is largely…food. Any takers?

See some of the produce Shantanu has put out since beginning Pixel Trade, and it’s beautiful, check out the Pixel Trade site. And of course 99U for lots of great and inspiring material.

Source: ISO1200

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    Oh, what self-restraint.

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  2. Jason Boa

    He’s doing it for free and enjoys a better living than most pros …. Hmm ummmmmm

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  3. Ian Sanderson

    It’s costing me money just to read the article and watch the video :(

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    Wonderful! Thank you.

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  5. Troy Barboza

    Amazing story and project, really a inspiration and eye opener for what we ask for services.

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  6. Khurt Williams

    “The project’s premise was that Shantanu, would travel to all seven continents, no matter how long it would take, and not spend any money doing so; Not on travel, lodging, or shrimps on the bar-b. ”

    Of course if you announce it and make it into a unique project, along the way people will help you because they want to be part of the project. He should have tried this without telling anyone why he was doing it.

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  7. Rafael Steffen

    This is a great inspirational video! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Jason Markos

    Very cool – wish I had the talent, and the courage, to do this!

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