Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Interesting Life

A more interesting life leads to better photography

It occurred to me today, as I ran across this stock photo (while adding meta data), that one thing you can do to increase your success as a stock photographer is to lead a more interesting life! How do you lead a more interesting life and make it apply to your photography? Well, I would say the answer to that is DO SOMETHING! Do anything. Action always takes you somewhere…and even if you later find out it took you in a direction that wasn’t quite the one you wanted, that in itself could help point you in the direction that you do want to go in. I would contend that going in the wrong direction, and finding out what the right direction, is, beats the heck out of doing nothing and getting nowhere.

The stock image that I just uploaded to my site is of a man falling through the sky. If I hadn’t decided to go to Bonaire I wouldn’t have shot that background image through the window of the aircraft. If I hadn’t gone to Buenos Aires I might never have rented a gymnasium, hired a gymnast, and created a shot of him dismounting from the parallel bars wearing a suit (and then been able to Photshop the composite together)! The more interesting my life has become the more interesting both my photography and my archives of interesting raw materials have become.

Making your life more interesting is an investment…and as far as investments go it is hard to imagine either a safer investment or one that has a better return. Like anything else, to get the most return you will have to have some follow-through. For example, a few years back I decided to do a stock photo shoot in Buenos Aires with two of my good friends. We decide to shoot in Buenos Aires because we wanted to, because we wanted to have an adventure, because we wanted our lives to become more interesting. It wasn’t cheap. Actually, at the time, it was the most money by far of any photo shoot I had ever done. And the pay-off has been huge!

That first time of undertaking a produced stock shoot outside the borders of my own country opened up a whole new world for me. I have now done “produced” stock shoots (as opposed to just grabbing whatever shots opportunistically came up) in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Thailand and India. My life is more interesting, I am making money off of all of those shoots, and I have a wealth of raw materials for my compositing that I otherwise never would have had. I have friends I can turn to in each of those locations. In Argentina I even feel like I have a whole second family!

Not only can leading a more interesting life lead to better photography, stock photography can lead to a more interesting life! Under the guise of shooting stock I travel, I rent animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, I meet a ton of new people (models, assistants, producers, photographers and everyday people we end up interacting with), and I am forced out of my shell and my daily humdrum existence. Even this blog is a result of my stock photography career! I wake up every morning and am thankful for my life as a stock shooter!

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