Trading Pixels: Shantanu Starick

While many photographers are struggling with how to make a living from their craft, Shantanu Starick is just living. Since 2012, the Australian photographer has been bartering his services for food, shelter and transportation to his next destination in a project called Pixel Trade. When he began the project twenty-seven months ago, he set a goal of visiting seven continents without spending so much as a nickel of his own money. To date, he has made it to five of the seven and has completed 182 trades with restaurants, universities, fashion designers, ice cream shops, app developers, architects and music festivals. He’s even traded with companies like Squarespace and Vimeo as a  way to promote and perpetuate the project. For Starick, this is more than merely an experiment, it speaks to who he is. “Take a moment to realize how many times money enters your thoughts in a single day,” he says in an interview with Global Yodel. “Now imagine all that time opening for other thoughts or activities, like talking with someone or thinking of new ideas.”

I love this project for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that there are some really cool and inspiring things going on in the world, despite what we see on the news. The photos are terrific, but it’s the experiences surrounding them that are the real draw for me – many of which are framed by journal entries or brief interviews between Starick and his subjects. Removing money from the equation transforms a negotiation of perceived value into a conversation where the value is on the exchange itself – x service for y goods. I love the idea of a barter economy and am very much looking forward to seeing how this project evolves.


You see images and read stories from all of Shantanu Starick’s trades on his website. All images © Shantanu Starick.

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