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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Have you ever taken a photo that you were absolutely positive would sell like hot cakes… and it didn’t sell…at all?  But then a random image you took of the back of an old box, broken glasses or some odd thing, has sold.  And keeps selling.  And you’ve wondered: What are those clients looking for?!


Well, we don’t promise a miracle, get-rich-quick, wish-list of ideas… but we would like to share some ideas, based on the requests of real age fotostock clients. 

If you are interested in receiving these photo ideas, follow age fotostock on twitter where you’ll find this first Production Tip: images in demand... a large pile of clothes on a white background (still).  We will be sharing these tips through Twitter only, not the blog, so click on through today.

Now the fine print.  It’s not just the idea or subject; it’s your creative interpretation and competent execution of that idea which will produce a good sellable image. Are you up for the challenge?


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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 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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Hello photographers!  Are you lounging seaside with your favourite model, sipping a deliciously cold and beaded glass of the local brew?  Or is it more like watermelon clean-up and sprinkler duty with the shrieking pack of neighbourhood kids?  (Your Johnny dearest might be among them, but they seem straight out of the Lord of the Flies!)

Well, wake up from your fantasy or nightmare, and get back to work!  A stock photographer should take advantage of the summer months to prepare images for the upcoming season.  And after the slow sale summer months, it’s a good idea to provide a fresh supply of relevant images right as the season kicks off.  One such topic which can be easily produced by almost any photographer is The Return to School.

Come August, September and October, children and youth of all ages will be returning to their nurseries, day-cares, schools, and universities… and we need photos for this moment.  The images can run the gamut from quite realistic to utterly creative and artistic.  No matter your level of originality, the images should reflect your style, and you should keep in mind the following 6 tips.

  1. Styling - As we mentioned in an earlier post (styling) it´s important to use a wardrobe which is not just specific to summertime.  You can make the images less season-specific by incorporating clothing like jeans, jackets, sweatshirts, etc into some of the images.

  2. More Styling - Alternating styles to include both classic and trendy/extreme clothing will open your possibilities of creating images that will meet both an immediate vs. long-term and trendsetting vs. conservative demand.

  3. Coming and Going – Show children going to school, walking, biking, in a bus or a car, hand in hand with big bro/sis.  Try to capture details like the hands being held, the backpack being carried and different perspectives like a frontal shot of the child arriving and a shot from behind or the side.

  4. Study Time – Show children and youth studying in different environments such as: the classroom, the library and at home.  The children should use schoolbooks and notebooks, as well as tools such as laptops, calculators, etc.

  5. Social Time – For many, this is the best part of school (for others, the only part!) so be sure to take photos of kids interacting with each other at school, in outdoor areas, and at home.  Show them talking, laughing, smiling, walking and studying together.  Add textbooks or a laptop to some of the shots, and change nicer, more formal clothing for a more relaxed, casual look.

  6. School Stuff – When you´re tired of keeping the kiddies under control, take a break and photograph common school materials such as books, computers, backpacks, notebooks, pens & pencils.  Warning! There are many boring studio shots of these materials!!  Please have mercy on your photo-editors and send in creative and evocative images of school materials by using lighting, composition, selective focus and more to create an original image.

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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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