To wrap up our month on stock photography productions, we would like to feature the lifestyle images of age fotostock photographer, Stuart Pearce.  Since he moved from the front of the camera (as a model) to the back (as a photographer), Stuart Pearce has been shootings families, couples, business and more in his island home of Mallorca.  His images of people are relaxed, happy and warm;  as though he was photographing his family...  Stuart's specialties also include yacht and travel photography.  You can see more of Stuart's work at age fotostock or at www.stuartpearce.com.

 

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Imaginative, Loyal, Spontaneous

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: As a child, my family and I were often used as models in the very early days of stock photography. When the opportunity arose to be behind the camera instead, I knew I’d found what I’d always wanted to do, made better by not having to smile for 8 or more hours a day.

Q: Was it a good decision to become a photographer?

A: It was the only choice, photography has given me freedom and taken me to the 4 corners & 7 seas of the planet. I’ve met some amazing people, some famous, some just very funny and many less fortunate, but nonetheless happy. I’ve shot countries, yachts, houses, food and people and still enjoy the great variety of my work today as much as the day I started.

Q: Are you more technical or intuitive in your photography?

A: Much more intuitive, it took me years to get the hang of the technical side and I’m sure there’s still a great deal that I could learn.

Q: What’s your favorite lens and why?

A: Canon 24-70mm f2.8, not too wide, not too long and has always been my workhorse.

Q: How do you achieve the warm and natural feeling which characterizes your lifestyle images of models?

A: I try to find models that can act as well as model; this helps add authenticity to my images.  Although directing models has never been easy for me, I know what I want, so I direct the first few shots and then usually there’s a lot of adlibbing from there on, which produces the best and most natural shots. The lighting I use is an unusual amalgamation of hmi, halogen, natural light and flash, arranging them all so that it’s not too noticeable. On exterior shoots, I only use natural light, much easier!

Q: How do you get your subjects to sign model releases?

A: I have always paid my models and the precondition is for them to release their rights to my images.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I choose AGE over 20 years ago because of Alfonso, who has always been passionate about our industry, as well as supportive and fair.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: Best advice shooting interiors; “smack it with flash and leave it open for a fortnight at f8.”

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I’ve been a photographer for a long time so I’m probably unemployable, but I do like observing people, so perhaps a freelance window cleaner.



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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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One of the first steps in preparing a shoot is to find the models.  Depending on your background and your budget, these might be professional, amateur, family, friends or even people off the street.


Should I work with professional models?

The value of a professional model has less to do with their good looks and more to do with the ability to pose naturally and communicate different emotions clearly.  Working with a professional will ensure that you get the good images quickly and frequently, since their experience enables them to anticipate what you want, avoid unflattering positions/expressions and come prepared to work hard during a shoot.  Modeling fees vary by country/city, so you can contact a local model agency in your area to find out the cost.  If you are just starting to shoot model-released people pictures, you might prefer to practice first with friends or family.

What if I can’t afford to pay a professional?

Working with free or low cost models is something that some stock photographers have made into an art form, by dedicating specific sections on their websites to attracting and instructing potential models to be.  Generally, photographers that work with amateur models will offer free images/prints for portfolio, the promise of payment after a certain number of successful test sessions or some other exchange.  To avoid future hassles, be sure that the model clearly understands what they will receive and what is expected of them (more below).

What to keep in mind with amateurs?

If working with amateurs (including family members and friends), you must explain clearly that they will need to sign a model release.  A model release (our standard releases here) is a legal agreement between you and a model that you may use their photos for commercial/editorial purposes around the world.  They should understand that their photos will be seen on the internet and sold for any use (excluding sensitive, derogatory, pornographic, or illicit uses) both now and in the future (even if they are no longer your girl/boyfriend/wife/husband!). 

Also keep in mind that amateurs might not know how to pose for photos.  YouTube has a number of videos on “Model posing” or “modeling tips” that might give them ideas, although be aware that there’s a big difference between fashion modeling and stock modeling.  You should be prepared to direct them during your photo-session.  To do that, you´ll need to know what photos you´d like to make and how to communicate that to your models.  For example, maybe you want a photo of an senior couple on a sofa that communicates security and comfort.  You should tell them where to sit, explain the feeling of security that you´re trying to get, encourage them to smile, look at each other/or the camera, and keep talking to them until they relax and begin to seem natural in the situation you´ve created. To achieve this with amateurs/nonmodels, a photographer must have the ability to connect easily with people, put them at ease and inspire confidence. 

If you´re still not really sure how to choose your models, don´t worry, we´ll be posting a top 10 dos and don´ts for models list next...


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Our next age fotostock photographer in the 10 x 10 series is Iolanda Astor.  Astor's images explore a world of texture, contrast and gestures, finding the potent moment when shadows meet the light.  In the stock photography industry, predictive and white lit images are the most commercially successful and the market doesn’t seem to pay enough attention to fine-tuned artistic sensibility, but at age fotostock we do appreciate a solid creative vision.

 

See more of Iolanda Astor´s work at age fotostock or at her personal website. 

 

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Sensitive, observant and obsessive.

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: I guess because I like to watch things (almost pathologically), tell stories, and create feelings & emotions ... and due to the direct influence of my father, a great amateur photographer, who bought me my first camera when I was three. I studied photography at the Institut Fotogràfic de Catalunya (Photography Institute of Catalunya) and I worked professionally in video, film and television.

Q: Any special artistic influences?

A: I’m sure there are many, but they come without trying.  I don´t really mythicize. I like to watch everything around me; if you keep watching, you see such interesting, everyday things. Undoubtedly, I am most moved by light, but also by people and their gestures, strange situations, forms and abstractions of nature ...

Q: What’s your favorite lens and why?

A: I don’t have a favorite, although usually I work between 35 and 135mm. If I had to choose a single lens, I would pick the 35mm for its versatility.

Q: Are you more technical or intuitive in your photography?

A: Definitely intuitive, although I believe it is important to master technique in order to forget about it. I prefer a photo that excites me, whether it’s technically perfect or not, over a technically perfect postcard. I have a problem: I do not like “pretty” pictures.

Q: What’s the Image that you are still hoping to make?

A: I don’t think I’ll ever make it. You could say that I am eternally unsatisfied, photographically speaking, of course.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: Because I’ve known of age for many years and knew people who worked there and could speak for its professionalism.

Q: Do you promote yourself through social networks (facebook, twitter, blog,...)?  Is it helpful?

A: The truth is that I don’t use them.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: Among the worst, to make my photography more commercial… a disaster. And among best was when Alfonso Gutierrez told me to be true to myself in my photos.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I've already done other things, but right now I don’t know ... I'd have to think about it.



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You might finish your shopping the night before Christmas, but image buyers don´t!  Image buyers preparing for Christmas campaigns have already started looking for photos.  What will they find?  Your fresh images of sandcastles and bikinis or your one year old images of the children opening Christmas gifts? 

This photo was sent at the end of August.  Good job, Franck!

Our expert photo-researchers recommend submitting your seasonal images 3-4 months before the actual season, so that they appear on our website right when the buyers are looking for them.  It’s not easy to plan and shoot so far ahead, and in some cases, it might be impossible or too expensive, but there are many seasonal images of objects or models which can be made in advance and released into the market right when the buyers want to buy them. 

The following calendar can help you transform from a procrastinator to a strategic planner:

JANUARY - Submit for Mother's day
Photos of gifts, homemade cards, hugs, kisses & other affectionate moments between mother/grandmother and children, spending time together (cooking, playing, talking, sports, crafts) portraits of mothers.

FEBRUARY - Submit for Father’s day & a Birthday Party
Like with Mother's day, photos of gifts, hugs, kisses and affectionate moments between father/grandfather and children, spending time together (sports, talking, playing, cooking, etc) & portraits of fathers.
Also, you can shoot a kid’s birthday party or one for a senior with photos of balloons, candles, cake, gifts, games, surrounded by family or friends etc.

MARCH - Submit for summertime
Show models with summery clothing/sandals, preparations for the summer like putting sunscreen on kids, sunglasses, drinking water, etc.
Also, make images of couples/families preparing and enjoying vacations.

APRIL - Submit for summertime
Photos of a family on a picnic or outing in a park, relaxing on a picnic blanket, details of the picnic food.

MAY - Submit for “Back to school”
Photos of children preparing/going back to school and details of school materials of all kind. This subject was fully covered in this blog entry.

JUNE- Submit for Autumn & Halloween
Photos of people dressed in fall clothing, hats, scarves, etc.
Also photograph pumpkins that are finished or being carved, children in costumes, candy for trick or treating, autumn fruit.

JULY - Submit for Thanksgiving
Photos of traditional food like the turkey, pies, etc and a family eating together at a table full of food. 

AUGUST  - Submit for Christmas and Winter
Photos of Christmas ornaments and tree, gifts, mistletoe, hot chocolate, gingerbread cookies and other traditional foods.
Shoot excited/happy kids, adults and kids opening gifts, playing with new toys (the kids at least).

SEPTEMBER - Submit for New Year
Photos of champagne, toasts, clocks striking 12 o’clock, people kissing each other and dressed for a party, lists of New Year’s intentions, illustrate the most common intentions (quitting smoking, diet, etc).

OCTOBER - Submit for Valentine's
Photos of couples holding hands, kissing, hugging, talking & giving gifts, hearts, chocolates, romantic gifts, ring boxes, love letters or a kid’s Valentine.  Make portraits that convey happiness and excitement.

NOVEMBER - Submit for springtime & "Operation Bikini"
Images of spring cleaning, cleaning equipment and products (natural)
Also, you can shoot healthy foods to get in shape for the beach and people exercising.

DECEMBER- Submit for Easter
Easter eggs, baskets, chicks, rabbits, sweets, stuffed animals, spring flowers such as narcissus, children with flowers, bright colored clothes, etc.

Nowadays, any photographer who is serious about making a living in stock, must plan strategically to make the right photos at the right time.



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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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