What is one of the biggest, most important subjects in current events today?  Energy.  Making it, buying it and saving it.  And that topic, energy, is getting hotter and hotter, as the world observes the nuclear crisis in Japan and wonders about safe and sustainable energy sources for the future.

So, what is the reflection from the stock photography world on this subject?  How do stock photographers handle this subject in their imagery or as Enrique Algarra said, “express their ideas to the world with their images?”  Take a look below.  Search “saving energy” on stock photography websites and you will find these kind of images on the first page of results.  I know because I did.  Seriously, is this the best that stock photographers can do to discuss a matter as globally important and potentially commercial as saving energy?!

Is this the best that stock photographers can do?

I think that the stock photography and video community can do better than this.  And I know that advertisers are looking for better than this.  Take Carrefour, an important European supermarket chain, who sent this 2011 New Year’s greeting for Spanish clients.  Their emailer announces “Making 2011 a better year depends on the little things.”  The emailer and video (below) show a series of clips and still images of actions that save energy.  Where were these simple, elegant clips and images when I searched saving energy?  I am sure that we have images that are just as good, and even better, from photographers and providers, but they are buried by a vast majority that are trite and show no originality.

 

 

So here’s a challenge.  Think about energy.  Think about saving it and making it.  And create some worthwhile images about what you think.  And if you are ready to start with video, let yourself be inspired by the clips in this ad, and take on the same challenge.


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Our next featured age fotostock photographer, Enrique Algarra, is involved in photography at different levels.  As a professor, he is directly involved in the formation of the young, aspiring photographers of tomorrow.  As a photographer, his images show a curious, playful, unconstrained and at times almost obsessive vision of the world.  Algarra comments that he started taking photos at the age of 7. You can still feel the spirit of that 7 year old in his images that spy on strangely human mannequins, the moving legs of blurred passersby’s, and the odd places that can be found just around the corner…if you’re looking.  You can see more of his images here at age fotostock or in either of these personal blogs, www.enriquealgarra.blogspot.com or www.paquetesdefotos.blogspot.com.

 

Q: What 3 words best describe you?

A: I think Enrique, Algarra, and Photographer.

Q: What artistic influences are in your work?

A: I'm interested in film and photography and they give me ideas, according to my mood. Life is full of things and places to find inspiration.

Q: What is your favorite lens? Why?

A: In the seventies, I was a fan of the 20 mm because I really liked Pete Turner. Now I still enjoy the wide angles, but I’m just as likely to grab a fisheye as the 600 mm, it all depends on the day and my mood.

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

A: I’m not a photojournalist and I’m not trying to become a legend, so I have nothing planned. I’d just like to make at least one photo a day that makes me feel good.

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

A: I chose age fotostock for the proximity, and by that I don’t just mean that Valencia is close to Barcelona. I like to put faces on the names of the people who are on the other side of my computer screen working with me.  Age fotostock has always treated me very well, and I appreciate that.

Q: Based on your experience as a photography professor, what future changes await us in photography?

A: The changes have already come, and are here to stay. Professionally, the world has been digital for some time now, but even as files and cameras improve, the most important thing is to improve how we think, our ideas.  Photography schools must rethink their focus and develop different educational content.

Q: Are your current students the same as your students from the past or do you see changes?

A: The students are not at all the same.  They grew up in the digital world, and some things that have been very difficult for older photographers to learn are completely natural for them.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best way to learn photography?

A: At this point, I think you can learn digital technology quickly; it’s a much simpler process than classic photography, which is an advantage. However, everything that isn’t technique is as difficult to learn as before.  It’s a matter of bringing your own vision to the world through your images, digital or not, and developing a mature vision is not easy. You must try to understand the things around you in order to photograph them. Photography schools should not only teach color profiles and how to master the needed software, they must also prepare future photographers to be able to express their ideas to the world with their images.

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

A: My first teacher once told me that photography is like a puppy, if you take care of it, it will never abandon you. I took his advice, I don’t have a dog, but I've been taking pictures since I was seven, and the truth is that photography has been a good companion.  That’s in part thanks to you guys.

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

A: I would like to be anything that would free me from depending on the latest software, firmware or operating system and all those things that sometimes make you feel like a slave. I think if I became a writer I would happily use just a pencil and paper and I would be a little more free. But that must await for a different incarnation ...

Bonus Question:  I've heard your students talk about the so-called "Algarratype." Can you explain what that is?

A: In the past, when a student took a photo that was too “inspired” in my photos, the other students would tell him that he had made an "Algarratype.” But luckily, that doesn’t happen anymore, now I am copying them (ha ha).


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If someone is asking you "Do you know what the date is?" you are either:

  1. An unfortunate soul who has just bashed his or her head and is being checked out by a concerned bystander or medical professional trying to ascertain whether you’re really “with it” or not.

  2. A stock photo researcher who must provide their client with a quick and accurate response, if you want to make the sale.

At age fotostock, we find that it is becoming more and more important for clients to have access to accurate and thorough metadata information for images.  The ability to respond to these questions quickly and reliably helps ensure that the client will be satisfied and will return in the future.

As you surely know, much of this information is added to images in editing programs such as Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, etc.  In addition, each image has EXIF information, which is information that is automatically created and stored when the image is taken.  This includes information such as: camera make and settings, GPS information, and importantly, the date and time of capture. 

The date the photo was taken is the most frequent request that we receive from agents and clients.  In some countries, such as Brazil, publishing clients are required by law to check the date, in order to ensure up-to-date imagery.  Fortunately, nowadays virtually every existing digital camera captures that information and saves it within the EXIF file.  The information is there, all you have to do is… not strip it out! 

We receive and store EXIF information from the majority of our photographers.  However, some photographers make the poor choice (consciously or not) to eliminate that information by stripping the EXIF file.  At best, you will receive an “additional information” request from us one day for a client who needs details.  At worst, you will lose sales when the client opts for the “safer, easier” option of an image with complete EXIF information.

Please take the time to review your submission processes to ensure that you are not losing this valuable information.  If you are unsure whether your material is arriving to age fotostock with EXIF intact, please contact us and we’ll let you know.

 


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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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As some of you have already noticed, things are moving at age fotostock.  Literally.  Our pictures are moving.  Welcome to the next step in age fotostock.  Welcome to video!

age fotostock has now incorporated video into our offering of products.  We have put a tremendous effort into developing a platform where we can meet our clients’ needs at every level.  Now that includes motion.

So if you have been thinking about trying out the full potential of your DLSR camera (with HD capabilities) or if you have been working in video for some time, now is your chance to “get in motion.”  We would like to see the same creativity, depth of material and technical excellence in the age fotostock video collection, as we currently find in our image collections.  

We have opened with RF video only, but we will soon be offering RM and LBRF (Low Budget Royalty Free) video as well.  There is a place for each of you and we will be offering the same fair 50% commission.  

If you are interested, grab a camera with HD capacity and follow the guidelines below.  We will be following up with further instructions on how to submit in a few weeks, once our system has been fully adapted to receive and process your video.

Capture: Produce video clips in High Definition, preferably Full HD (1920 x 1080p). If you have unique clips shot in Standard Definition (SD), you can consult with us.

File format: You will have to send clips in the mov format (QuickTime).

Codec: You will have to send clips in codec H.264.

Clip Conversion: If your video archive is in a different format/codec, don´t despair.  There are many software conversion tools available for converting clips (format and codec).  We recommend MPEG Streamclip (developed by Square 5) which is free and works for both the Mac and PC platforms.  You can download this tool at: http://www.squared5.com.

Frame rate: The frames per second (fps) as you originally filmed it.  We will convert the fps if necessary.

Edited clip duration: Minimum of 5 seconds / maximum of 90 seconds.  If you have clips that are longer than this, you may consult with us.

Releases & Metadata: Keep in mind that we will need the same model and property releases and full metadata information for video as we currently require for photos.  Be sure to get those releases signed!

Knowing the industry, we’re sure that video will be subject to the same low pricing pressures as has happened with stock photography… it is our destiny.  In spite of that, we think that there is money to be made in video, just as in photography, and given the possibilities that modern DSLR cameras offer photographers; one can produce video at the same time and with the same camera that you produce still images. Get on board; we have a new offer for you!


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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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