'How Instagram changed my life forever'
FIVE years ago Mark Fitzpatrick hadn't touched a camera in years, and then his girlfriend was given one for her birthday.
Mr Fitzpatrick commandeered it and since then his world has changed from going over invoices to exploring tropical islands.
The Mackay man's photos have made him famous on Instagram.
Now he is sponsored by Olympus, travels around the world taking photos underwater, on the water and from all angles of tropical resorts.
He gets paid more than $400 a day, and all of his expenses are paid for.
Speaking at the Facebook Pop-Up Shop in Mackay Thursday night, Mr Fitzpatrick explained how he, a former accountant, used Instagram to change his life forever.
"My girlfriend told me about Instagram, a photo sharing app, and we saw a few people getting paid to travel and promote resorts," he said.
"I did a bit of research and went about creating my own brand."
That was how Mark Fitz Photography was created which now reaches 56,000 people on Instagram, 4800 on Facebook and 2300 on Twitter.
He was living in Gladstone at the time he started the account and the local tourism body, Gladstone Area Promotion Development Limited, asked him to take some photos of the Southern Great Barrier Reef for them.
"I did a lot of work for them and then a few other tourism boards started reaching out," he said.
"I was working as an accountant at the time but I was quickly using all of my annual leave and spare time so I had to make a call about doing this full time."
Deciding he would rather travel the world taking photos instead of doing tax returns, Mr Fitzpatrick became a full time photographer and 'influencer' 18 months ago.
"I am booked out up until June at the moment with trips every week or second week to places like Noosa, South Australia, Bowen, Northern Territory, Whitsundays or Tahiti," he said.
How he makes a living depends on how active he is on social media.
He has a package where the client pays for the flights, accommodation and expenses and then he charges a daily rate on top of that depending how many online posts the client wants.
And he is not the only local cashing in on online success.
Eimeo bag maker Claire Chapman of Small World Dreams also said: "Instagram is really where it just sort of went crazy for me".
"Instagram is where my tribe is, people who want to buy my stuff and there is a huge market out there for that."
And Ms Chapman has different stuff, hand-making every bag she produces from reused, re-purposed, and ethically-sourced materials.
"I have a lot of customers in the states, I have this one woman that every time I create a new bag she buys it... she has every single bag I have ever made," she said.
But it is not as simple and throwing something online and hoping people will buy it, it is about engaging, Ms Chapman said.
The Facebook Pop-Up Shop continues in Mackay this weekend at 9 Gregory Street for the Steam Festival by Split Spaces.
It starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm both days.