A common complaint among photographers these days is that that the cost of producing images has not decreased proportionally to the prices clients are willing to pay for their images. Let’s face it! People say that times in the stock photography industry are rough, but in terms of producing new images it is required to be more imaginative and determined than ever to make good images that differentiate and make you stand out from the rest, even while using fewer resources.

This Mind, Body & Spirit gallery shows a selection of images that have visual impact, but are low in production costs.  Although some images show productions made with models, there are others that concentrate on details, concepts and minimalism, putting conceptual value in the symbolic elements within the theme giving highly aesthetic results, and that are shot without elaborate settings and expensive organization.

If you are not ready to make big investments in production but still want to be shooting images for stock photography, we encourage you to follow the route of creating images with great conceptual value. Less money in big productions requires more creativity and imagination, but if your ideas and talent are there, you will do well!

 

 


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Last week’s article on ways that stock photographers are missing out on sales mentioned “Imagery that is not relevant” among the top 5 reasons for low sales results.  What imagery is that?  And the moment of truth…Is your photography relevant? 

Frequently, we publish 10x10 portfolios of photographers who know how to shoot relevant images and have a clear and well defined style of shooting.   Surely those photographers that still haven’t reached those shooting levels must be analyzing what differentiates their not relevant photography to those 10x10´s in order to improve their photography, right? Wrong!

Editing today is sometimes frustrating when the “point & shoot” without the backing of relevancy is repeated time after time. If there is no idea, no intention and no reason for clients to use your images, shooting is playing lottery: you’ll shoot a lot and fortune may smile once in a while.  If there is an idea, an intention and a reason for clients to use your images, shooting is making an investment:  you’ll shoot a lot and will earn more interest the more images you have in the bank.

Admittedly, many shooters today are not trying to run a business, but even if just shooting images in your free time and placing them with a stock agency one would expect some regular sales… otherwise, why shoot images anyway?  However, if you regularly shoot images with little relevancy like these below, it is clear that your photography has room for improvement.


 
Here are some solutions though, because relevancy doesn’t have to be the lost grail!

5 Steps to Relevancy

  1. Think about what your images can illustrate.

  2. Consider whether you have seen better images of the same or similar situations.

  3. Try to analyze what your images are missing compared with other, better ones, of the same subject.

  4. Find one that you like and that is clearly better than anything you have done and decide if your photography is weakened by use of the wrong lens, poor lighting of the zone you are photographing, lack of a clear point of interest, a bad camera angle in relation to the subject or bad cropping.   Now try to take your next shot “marinating in your mind” the image you like.

  5. Try not to be a combination of Ansel Adams, Henry Cartier Bresson and Richard Avedon together in one image.  Instead, focus on analyzing and practicing one distinctive style.

The lack of a purposely practiced shooting style directly impacts the quality of the images that I see daily. I know that in the end, it triggers certain shooters to take their photos on these non-exclusive pilgrimages, from RM to RF and LBRF and then finally ending at microstock, because at 14 cents, almost everything can be sold, eventually.

Now, leaving aside the question of relevancy, image editors sometimes find another problem. Indecisive individuals with good photographic practices that use their imagination, have good technique, know what can interest clients and resolve well many photographic themes, but, ooh la la, at the last moment the photographer’s dilemma appears: which one of the 20 shots below is the good one?  Maybe my agency can resolve the dilemma for me, the photographer might think.


And there is a reason for that though, because for some portals with a few more millions of images than age fotostock (and less sophisticated searching software), the good trick is to send 5 or 6 equals because among so many millions with basically the same keywords (Italy, Venetia, dusk, blue, etc., etc.) how else will the images be seen if no miracle occurs and the photographer isn’t one sending images every week?  Quantity of equals is the key.

However, at age fotostock, 20 equal images will be returned with a note saying: “edit your work tightly…”  Therefore, it becomes just another way of delaying your images appearance on the web… which is another way of losing income. Because the faster the images go live on the web, the more sale possibilities you have.


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Who said stock photography has to be all business teams and smiling families?  Admittedly, those images are the stock photographer´s bread and butter, but it´s okay to have a little fun with fashion for stock every once in a while too.  After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...

easy top 10 Hottest Style Musts

Let yourself be inspired by these "stylin" images submitted to our easyFotostock collection.


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Man portrait on his head dumb stupid

From the unstructured world of licensing visual content, generally called stock photography, due to the continued prevalence of photography stills, we are entering into another era of confusing descriptions of the products we license. Video, motion and footage are adding their doses of conceptual confusion.

In the history of stock photography, there have always been surreal definitions for the different types of licenses whose origins were simply “reproduction rights licensing.” Let’s review; we use Rights Managed, Royalty Free, Low Budget Royalty Free, Low Cost images, and even the most surreal of all “microstock”. Our industry has never been fortunate enough to clearly define what it actually licenses.

Imagine that we test the validity of the nomenclature for licensing types by asking the next door neighbor, maybe a used boats salesman, to give an example of someone who is quite removed from our industry. When he asks us what we do for a living, undoubtedly, we will need to enter into lengthy explanations describing that an image could be used for certain time, geographical area, etc. and others can be licensed and used as many times the buyer wants and even all possible intermediates. The funniest of all will be describing “microstock” because our boat seller will probably imagine that it refers to a smallish stock of something, completely opposite to the reality, in which microstock photography actually manages truly huge stocks of images.

For ages, something called “footage” has existed, which was defined as the raw, unedited material as it had been originally filmed. In those days of 35mm filming, a piece of film (with no sound) had 16 frames of 4 perforations in a foot of film (35 mm film had perforations on both sides of the frame) which formed 1 second of film. Footage was an obvious way of describing moving image material. Now in our stock photography world, some companies use the word “motion” to describe the licensing of moving images. To be precise in that case, the term to use should be “motion pictures” if we want to make sense, because the word “motion” is ambiguous enough to describe concepts of a legal nature, from football and even a song by Matthew West.

Nowadays, we license video which refers to the technology to electronically capture, process, store and transmit scenes in motion. Video, “I see” from the Latin verb “videre” refers to various formats for the storage of moving pictures that goes from analogue videotapes like Betacam and VHS to more modern digital video formats like QuickTime, MPEG-4, DVD, Blue-ray. However, most video we sell on the Internet today is in fact “video clips” which are short videos, no longer than a few minutes, if not only seconds each.

Furthermore, even YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share and view videos. If you have footage or motion pictures the point is that they will probably be digitized into video, so why not unify the names? I think it’s better to say “car” than “a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers”.


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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.

age fotostock Portraits

 

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!


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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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