Choosing and directing your models in a lifestyle shoot is only half of the game in stock photography.  You must also find a good location and props for the images.  If you try to work in conditions like those detailed in the "Love it not..." list below, you´ll be fighting an uphill battle.  Make it easier on yourself by preparing the most advantageous setting posible, following these tips from our own experience.  

Here are some examples of luminous, domestic settings that we love.  Notice the absence of distracting elements and also notice how a few simple props can create a feeling of "home."

Mother Helping Daughter with Homework

Businessman arriving home with groceries

Young family snuggling together in bed

Boy with a crown in his birthday playing with cars on a table

Young couple celebrating a new home

Woman working on laptop at home

Love it!

Luminous locations and natural light complemented with minimal flash fill and reflectors. 

Continuous source lighting such as cool lights (fluorescent) or LEDs.  When you need a little more light to open up shadows and to create volumes, these lights allow you to see the light available to you and don´t heat up like other lights do.

Natural environments with simple details to create an atmosphere, without excessive clutter in the scene. 

Even, balanced tones and pastel colors in your models' clothing which can be easily distinguished from the background but which do not appear dark in the luminous setting. Clothing that is more neutral in style (something that will not go out of style next year).

The newest models of technological devices if used as props.

“Neutral” props that could be found around the world (a houseplant is better than an expensive looking Italian vase). Props that are incorporated into the scene in natural, non-distracting ways.

Lots of angles, frames and photos to give our editors more choices, rather than long elaborate preparations which result in few, static shots.

Actively explored negative (copy) space above, below, to the left and to the right of the subject.

Spontaneous ideas and moments that a location inspires. Don’t limit yourself to a strict schedule and linear way of thinking.


Love it not…

Locations that are unknown or not easily available to you… will you know how to direct your models properly in the environment you are shooting?  If you don’t, you better bring a guide or find an environment that you do know.

When a photographer has rushed through a list of topics and/or locations at the expense of exploring each idea with different angles, lenses, models, props, etc.

The same lens and point of view during the entire shoot. 

Sweating the "small stuff."  Don’t obsess about very little things like plugs, cables, etc. that can be corrected in Photoshop, at the expense of progressing in the shoot.  We are more interested in your ideas.

Dark or extremely distracting backgrounds that make it difficult to easily and clearly see the model in the photo.

Elaborate lighting setups that limit the photographer´s mobility and slow down the entire production.  We aren´t a fan of tungsten/halogen lights because they get very hot and consume a lot of energy. 

Strobe or studio flash lights are more difficult to work with because you can´t see the light that you must use. This increases the possibilities of overly bright spots and renegade shadows, and slows down the work pace considerably.

Lighting that creates dark shadows and areas on the model’s face and body.  

Clothing with obvious logos or distinctive designs such as Adidas shoes or objects that are protected by copyright or trademark, such as the Rubik cube.  Big no-no.  

Women (or men) in unnecessarily revealing clothing that will offend more conservative markets and limit the photo’s overall marketability.

A model wearing the same clothes during the whole shoot.  If clothing is not your thing, check out the styling links below or hire a stylist.

 

There´s a lot more to know about location, lighting and styling, so we´ve included this list of additional resources.

Lighting Lifestyle Stock Photos!

What are Continuous Lighting Sources?

Portrait Photography using continuous lighting (video)

Styling tips by Yuri Arcurs

Production Values: How to Shoot Commercial Quality Images (on styling and props)

 


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Things aren't always what they appear to be. So it’s best not to take them for granted.  What could be more well-known than the Statue of Liberty?  Well, let’s see…

Choose which of the following ladies loves cheesecake and shops at B&H Photo. In other words, which of the following statues of Liberty is the “true” one, located in New York?

Replicas Statue of Liberty by age fotostock photographers

Answer: None of them.

These replicas are located in: Georgia, Tokyo, Paris, Chicago and Las Vegas.  If confusion can occur with a famous face like Lady Liberty, imagine how easily it can occur with less known places and things!

A complete image description, including location information, is absolutely essential for images of geography, nature, botany, zoology, research, industry, medicine, science, world locations or travel, etc. Even images of street scenes, common people, street furniture or equipment and so on, will often benefit of some information about where they have been taken. See more in our complete keywording guide.

You may think this kind of information is not relevant for images which don’t fall in the World Locations topic, but keep in mind that many potential clients will need to know this information. If your image doesn’t have it, they will probably buy another image that does have the information. If you’re lucky, they will take the time to ask us for the information, and we’ll ask you, and by the time the client gets your answer, if you’re really lucky, they’ll still want to buy the image.  To put it simply: Specific location information = a more complete caption/image description = better chance of sale!

There's another reason that accurate location information is important.  Imagine that a happy-go-lucky British photographer on a whirlwind tour of Spain makes a mistake and captions an image "Plaza de Sol in Madrid" when it really is "Plaza del Rey in Barcelona."  Later, an ad agency in Chicago licenses and uses the image for an printed travel piece on Barcelona.  When a savvy customer complains, the ad agency is not happy.  And "not happy" in the U.S. might mean "going to court."  If there is litigation, the buck will stop with the source of the inaccurate information, the photographer.  Caption errors can produce unhappy clients or worse, lawsuits, so it´s very important to maintain accurate and complete caption information.  Here´s how...

7 Ways to keep track of detailed location information:

  1. For $200 or less (depending on your camera type), invest in a photo gps unit that will allow you to “geotag” your photos.

  2. When out shooting, carry a small notebook and jot down notes about the places being photographed.

  3. Take a photo of any informative signs or maps to document the information.

  4. Try to carry a detailed map of cities/areas where you are shooting so that you can trace your route, and know the streets/neighbourhoods/etc where you shot each image.

  5. Use Google-earth for the same, to pinpoint addresses or road and building names.

  6. Search Wikipedia for additional information on places and buildings. Do not copy and paste entire entries! Choose only important, concise details.

  7. If you have photographed a place, caption your images as soon as possible, while your memory is still fresh.

What’s your secret?  If you have a tip for how to keep track of location info, we´d love to hear it.   


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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