The question we hear all the time is, “What kind of photos are most needed this year for your market?”
Among some of the advice given to photographers by agencies these past few years about trending topics are youth and technology, healthy lifestyle, candid-looking shots and multicultural images around the world, logical conclusions to illustrate our current way of life.
While each market tended to need images with models that largely reflect their particular societies, images portraying diversity are steadily making their way in. Compact cameras and mobile devices make street photography more and more possible, capturing the everyday life of every city and portraying their unique socio-economical traits.
Unless photographers only want to restrict the licensing of their images to editorial uses, it is precisely these images portraying people that require model releases. Read about one of our photographers’ experience in approaching models in our blog post The Importance of Release.
How can one truthfully show diversity in stock photography? The first step is to define the term.
Diversity does not only encompass ethnicity and culture. It also includes gender, socio-economic status, religious and political beliefs, physical abilities and age.
Mixed-race and same-sex relationships and families have become more common in many countries over the years. More people have taken to the streets to voice out their political views. The successful working woman is now widely recognized and accepted. Men not only work in offices, they also partake in household chores and share the responsibility of looking after their children.
Once these terms are defined, it’s time to look around and observe the surrounding to get a real picture of the present society. Challenge stereotypes in photo sessions. Seek out a variety of models of different ages and ethnicities, but keep the mix natural. Consider how the images can be used commercially for the target industries or markets. Refer to current advertisements and other online uses to see what works and what doesn’t.
With increasing demand for images with an authentic feel, rather than relying on model agencies, a more daring photographer might approach interesting models on the streets. Carrying business cards would come in handy for such purposes.
It would also be an interesting exercise to imagine oneself in the role of buyer in order to assess the commercial value of the images taken. For example, would an advertising creative choose this image for a bank or telecommunications ad? Can a website designer use it to describe an organization or company? Or is this image suitable for selling a product or brand?
Most importantly, the end result should be a believable image. It’s not just about putting a mix of people together, it’s how good and natural they look together in the environment they are photographed in that will make it work commercially.
Keep in mind that society and technology change continually, clothes and styles go out of fashion and market needs adapt promptly to these changes. Refreshing your images on a regular basis to reflect current social trends might not be such a bad idea to reach potential buyers. Above all, be open, be spontaneous and get those releases signed!