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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Here´s a post for all of the fifty-something stock photographers out there.  Hold on! I´m not talking about anyone´s age.  “Fifty-somethings” are the photographers who manage to get 50 images on sale in any stock photography collection and then suddenly they stop sending more...

What´s wrong with 50?

If we take the age fotostock collection as an example, and assume that you have 50 rights managed (RM) photos in stock, the following occurs:

  1. There are 16,865 age fotostock RM images for every 1 image of yours.

  2. There are 196,039 RM, Royalty Free (RF) and Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) images on our website for every 1 image of yours.

So the chance that your image will be seen, first in our collection, and secondly, on our website, is comparable to:

  1. The odds that you are an albino of some kind: 1 in 17,000.

  2. The odds that the asteroid "2002NT7" will strike the Earth on Feb. 1, 2019: 1 in 200,000.

If you are albino and you already have an asteroid shelter built, than those odds might sound good.  If you are a photographer who would like to earn a living from your photography, you’d be better off playing the lottery.

As we tell new photographers and have told many of the old ones, you need to have an image presence of at least 1000 images to expect regular sales, since they are competing to be seen among close to 11 million images on our website.  If you only have 50 photos now, you might make an occasional sale, but please don´t wonder why your images don´t sell. Whether your 50 are in our collection, or anywhere else, just start shooting and make that 50 grow!


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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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