It’s time for another 500px Marketplace Success Story! This week’s story features the intense wildlife photograph Stare by Hugo, which was captured, if you can believe it, at a famous zoo in the UK dedicated to conservation.

Scroll down to read the story behind this photograph, and if you have you own Marketplace success story—the story of your first sale through 500px—send it on over to our Editor at!

Stare - Jaguar (Pardus onca) by Hugo | on

Stared Down by a Jaguar, My First Sale

by Hugo

This Jaguar picture was one of a series I took back when I was using a Sony system in 2012. I remember reviewing the images I had managed to take, praying I got a single sharp one in the sequence considering the deep gloom under the trees.

Thankfully, this one was tack sharp, and even being forced to shoot at f5.6 it proved to have a pleasing depth of field that made for a very intimate scene. I especially like the twisted whiskers and the way they intermingle. After finally uploading it to 500px, not only did I receive welcome feedback from the stellar community, but also to have the licence successfully sell were both really welcome.

Thankfully, the budget zoom lens (SAL55300) and mid-range APS-C body I was using at the time preformed well. However, as with most aspiring photographers, I am constantly saving up for ‘just one more’ lens/body/bag and so the income provided from the license sale is a real boost for the old piggy bank. We all know that saving for professional gear is like filling up a bucket with a hole in it—it simply never seems to be enough…

What surprises a lot of people is when I tell them that this photo was taken in the U.K. and the Jaguar in question is called Sovereign. I travelled down South to photograph him specifically, and spent most of the day looking for the right shots. As he is part of a conservation programme in a zoo in Devon, (yes, the one in the movie ‘We Bought a Zoo’) it is one of the few pictures in my portfolio of a creature in captivity, but I simply love it too much to exclude.

One day I hope to be able to be lucky enough to see one of these cats in the wild, but until then, it is a daily reminder that, despite the obvious appeal of exotic travel, some of your favourite pictures will always be taken on your own (comparative) doorstep.

As conservation is a big part of my photography, it was a real experience selling a photo of such an endangered animal. I plan to donate half of the sale of this licence to one of the charities I work with to ensure that we are not the last generation that can actually engage with these amazing animals. Habitat protection and genetic diversity are key to these big cat’s survival and I’m glad my photo sales can go even a little way to preserving them.

I have been photographing wildlife in earnest since I was twelve and it is one of my great passions in life. I have no retail aspects to my portfolio website and I had never really considered selling stock photos, but this picture demonstrated to me how possible it is for anyone, no matter their gear or situation, to make money from their photography.

I count myself very lucky to have been able to sell something ‘out of the blue.’ I only really joined 500px this year, but I’m looking forward to the next time I receive the email telling me that someone, somewhere, just bought a picture of mine. It makes it all worthwhile—not to mention helping a rather expensive obsession become that little bit more realistic!

A big thanks goes out to Hugo for sharing the story behind his first sale and this awesome shot of Sovereign. Click here to follow Hugo on 500px if you aren’t already.

Here are a few more of our favorite shots from Hugo’s portfolio, all available to license exclusively through the 500px Marketplace:

Progress - American Bison (Bison bison) by Hugo | on

Schooling - African Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus) by Hugo | on

Aura - Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) by Hugo | on

Duskstalker -  Lioness (Panthera leo) by Hugo | on

Sprawl - Leopard (Panthera pardus) by Hugo | on

To see more from Hugo, follow him on 500px, visit his website, or check him out on Facebook.