Don´t say cheese! Please say and do something different! For all of you photographers and clients out there who are getting tired of seeing yet another photo of a sacharine-sweet-smiling stock model, take a look at this gallery.
Stock portraits do not have to be predictable and generic. In your next session with a friend or a model, why don´t you explore some new expresssions? Ask your model to express different emotions, to go beyond just a smile or a silly face. Some of the initial images might be too posed or "forced" to work, but as your model relaxes, and you communicate with him or her, the true expresssions will emerge. Encourage natural acting and avoid overly theatrical poses and faces. Keep it real! An expressive portrait can be very effective at communicating a concept, or catching the viewer´s eye.
Stock models do not have to be all "pretty" people. One of the most frequent requests of our clients is for "real people." Real people might be less than perfect, they might be slightly overweight, they might not be young. Especially look for models with interesting, expressive faces like the people in this gallery. Avoid overly made up models, unless the make-up is integral to the shot (a goth teen, for example).
Let your motto be "Extraordinary images of ordinary people." Do not mistake our call for real, less than "perfect" models to mean that sloppy, less than perfect images of those models will be successful. Look for the best lighting for every situation. Be sure to create images with ample copy space (neutral space where the designers can add text and other design elements). This is especially important in your vertical shots. Consider how the photographers of the images in the "Portraits" gallery left copy space on the top, bottom or sides of the images.
Still in need of inspiration? Don´t just copy the micro and/or stock photographer of the moment who boasts in the forums of big earnings (if any of them still do). Look at portrait photographers outside the stock photo industry or go back to the classics, such as these masters of portraits: Julia Margaret Cameron, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman and Irving Penn. Their images might be old, but they have lost none of the visual impact and expressive force that first enthralled viewers. And learn an important lesson from those pioneering photographers; Don´t be afraid to experiment!