Saturday, April 25, 2009

A stockphoto Idea Generation Exercise

A week or so ago I wrote an article on coming up with ideas for stock, How to Generate Effective Ideas for Stock Photos
, something I think about a lot. I am always feeling like I have used up all my good ideas when suddenly I come up with a new one, or several new ones. Then I have a brief period where I am confident that I will always be able to come up with more ideas…followed again by more doubt. With all the amazing images out there how can there be any ideas left to do? Well, maybe there aren’t any really new ideas, but somehow there are always ideas that are new to me and will be fresh with my execution of them, something I know in my heart even when I am feeling my most doubtful.

In that article I mentioned a couple of exercises for coming up with ideas, and I had a new “idea exercise” occur to me this morning. Yesterday I was feeling stressed by the economy and by the fact I hadn’t made an image in a while (making images is like therapy for me…or maybe more like an addiction!). I was at my computer using Bridge to browse through my archive of uncompleted images. One image caught me eye: A business man with a stressed out expression as he sat at his cluttered cubicle. I had created the image with the intention of putting a dog cone, the kind that is used to prevent dogs from chewing on themselves, around his neck. I had never finished it because I had never gotten around to finding one of those cones. But I was feeling really in-tune with his expression. Was there something else I could use besides a dog cone (I don’t know the technical term for that apparatus). I look around my studio a bit. I found a blue funnel for pouring liquids into a container. That would do! I quickly shot it with available light and used Photoshop to turn it grey and strip it into the shot. It took about an hour of touch-up work, adding shadows and so forth, but the image was done. And my stress was greatly relieved!

That experience came into my head this morning and I have used it to come up with an exercise for stock ideas. The exercise is as follows: Grab a pen and paper. Sit quietly, close your eyes, and get in touch with how you are feeling. For example, this morning I am up early and everyone else in the house is asleep. I awoke this morning from an unpleasant dream. The cumulative result is that I am feeling a little lonely.

The next step in the exercise is to run through some mental pictures of what that feeling looks like until a image comes up that feels like it might work for stock. For me, I fairly quickly pictured an aerial view looking down on a man standing alone on an empty street.
Now quickly write down that visual. Now go back to your “mental movie”. When you come up with another intriguing visual, write that one down too. If you don’t write your ideas down they will disappear as quickly as they came!

After coming up with one or more visuals you can choose to play with it a little to see if any of them really do work as an image ideas for you. For me, the man standing alone in the street morphed into a person standing on a street corner at an intersection; a solitary person with a decision to make. I no longer have time to be lonely this morning because I am excited about creating this image. I already have thought of a location and am busy working out the details. This image might convey loneliness, the way forward, decisions, or even possibilities. It is a great stock idea because with the addition of a headline the image can convey many different concepts.

No matter what you are feeling, there are millions of others feeling the same way. If you can capture that feeling in an image you will have a successful stock photo, and hopefully, a feeling of accomplishment and success!


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Great post, John!

I love how you take whatever experiences you have and find ways to translate them into compelling imagery.

You're like a living, breathing idea machine! And you're a great inspiration to me.

John Lund said...

Thanks Shalom. You inspire me too. Without you my blog might not ever have happened!

Justin said...

Hey John,

Just started following you on Twitter and checked out your blog. Really digging it and think you have just inspired me to think more about what I can do with my photography.

On a side note, the link in this post to "How to Generate Effective Ideas for Stock Photos" is incorrect. the domain is inserted twice.

Thanks and I look forward to reading more.