The junkmail lesson of the day: No matter what you sell, sell it with a smile!

Many photographers take photos of people, but not too many make the images with a market use in mind. Yes, taking pictures of people is great and if the models are professionals, all the better, because usually they know better than the photographer what to wear, what expressions to make, in what context their images will fit and above all, they know how to smile… But do stock photographers know these things as well? To be honest I would not swear on it.

Let’s analyze some interesting spam ads that I received during last week. This one of the family is a great shot, although the background cleaning to accommodate the text was done pretty drastically. The family is natural looking with what looks like natural smiles. Also, the styling is consistent and looks appropriate for the surroundings.

And what about this couple? Again, a really big happy smile just like one on your first date. A nice blurred background, good styling with ordinary clothing and a great couple become a picture that can be done easily at home on an overcast day if you have a good window with natural light. It’s difficult to see the setting, but that doesn’t matter, because you only want the atmosphere the happy smile is creating. Again, there is negative diffused space, created by the graphic designer, but certainly an image with great dynamics that makes one tempted to call eHarmony without delay!

Medicine and chronic diseases, like diabetes, require regular control and thank God that today almost every chronic disease, from hypertension and asthma to diabetes has devices to monitor these conditions from home. The models here show that good control of their illness boosts their self-esteem and makes them confident in the future, hence the smile. The photo was shot from slightly below in order to give the models a predominant position, and well-lit from behind with great reflector in front to open up the foreground. Nothing to complain about.    

Some people don’t need a ton of cash to live; they only need enough to raise the family. Here is a picture that says it all. The negative space was artificially created with a brush of blue but the mother and kid do the job beautifully with a great smile. Sounds familiar? Nice neutral clothing and a very affectionate hug help emphasize the idea that she does need time to take care of her children. And all revolves around a natural smile.

The vendors that used these images had a clear idea in mind and looked for images that fit their idea. The images were carefully selected to match their products or services; in other words, they were looking for images that expressed the sentiments they needed to “wrap” their product around. They were not looking aimlessly, but were searching for very specific images. Those images are not that difficult to do, you just need to stop puttering around and start thinking about what you are going to produce next. Are you producing a product that the market will be able to use?


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People may think that I’m crazy for loving spam; isn’t everyone fighting spam with sophisticated anti-virus tools? I was too, until I wanted to see the commercial stock images the advertising market is using.  I concentrate on these subjects when I want to shoot commercial stock instead of wandering around taking pictures without planning, strategy or purpose. Let’s talk about taking pictures with a market segment in mind.

We all have older relatives or friends and here is relatively easy image that contains all the elements of a good seller: the right age, a frontal view, excellent modeling with a natural, self confident expression, good lighting, and plenty of negative space for text and titles.  In summary, an excellent example of an image that covers a very clear market need.  Isn’t that what stock photography is all about? Covering the needs of the market with images that are ready to be used? Otherwise it would be assignment photography...  The images in this post came to me as spam and weeks ago, before I developed my love for spam, my filter would have deleted them before I got a glance. Thank goodness that that I did…



You might think that none of your friends or relatives would like to pose for you and appear in an ad like this one. Yes, I know, people have prejudices, personal pride or are too shy to face the realities that we all have to accept… but are you going to give up so easily? Well, you shouldn´t!  Why don’t you take a more anonymous image? Below is an example of an unrecognizable senior person that fits the add beautifully, at the same time fulfilling the basics of great advertising photography with a frontal view, good lighting, carefully selected depth of field to emphasize the idea of the image, and again, negative space. What more could you ask for?


 
If you are not ready for retirement yet, but eager for a more social life, what about this one?


Here is another great advertising image. These models might be pros, but you could produce an image like this with close friends willing to pose in exchange for a weekend barbecue.  They don’t have to be a paramount example of senior beauty; they only need to be believable and healthy.  This image shows a luminous, natural atmosphere, confident expressions, and classic clothing. All in all, it’s an excellent example of an image that covers a very clear market need.

Many photographers seem to have lost direction and their only drive is to complain and give up, just because a bunch of young talents have proved that by organizing and industrializing production, they can sell masses of images at peanut prices and still be profitable. The solution is not to attack those who have accepted the challenge and profited from the digital revolution, but to change your production of images and to shoot what the market demands.  It is difficult to sell images that the market doesn’t want. See the light?  Now if you´ll excuse me, my spam filter is blinking...

 

 


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Rights Managed photo YA4-1052055 by John Banagan caught the eye of our editors this week.  Why?
It’s natural, surprising and it has negative space.

NATURAL - The woman is real-looking and gazing at the camera with a quiet, natural expression.  She isn’t smiling a big, saccharine-sweet smile.  Most photographers tend to produce models being stagey or stocky, but it’s the expressive and natural models that connect as authentic and real with clients. 

SURPRISING - Stock agencies are full of standard spa and beauty images. Most of them are the “same old same old” approaches to the subject.  The bold, contrasting colors and almost snapshot feel of this image stand out.  When you look at over 35,000 new images a week from photographers, it’s nice to be surprised!

NEGATIVE SPACE - Negative space is the “empty” space in the top half of this image.  Generally speaking, it’s the area where the subject is not, and where there is an absence of distracting elements.  It gives designers an ideal space to include text and other design elements for advertising and magazine images.  If you don’t leave negative space in your stock images, you are limiting their commercial possibilities.

Is there any downside to the image?  Well, the model’s hair might be too “natural looking” for some clients.  A quick pass with the comb would have smoothed it down a bit more.

But that’s our opinion. 


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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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