Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wrestling With A Stock Photo Strategy

Sumo Wrestling,Sumo,David and Goliath,Business
Sumo Wrestlers and Trapeze Artists
A good example of the approach I am currently taking to my stock photography can be seen in a recent shoot based around a Sumo wrestler. The idea originated from a shoot I did a few years ago. I had photographed flying trapeze artists to illustrate concepts such as teamwork, risk and skill. During the process of digitally compositing the trapeze picture it occurred to me that one trapeze artist about to catch another very heavy, overweight trapeze artist could be both humorous and effective in illustrating “the impossible”, risk, and the need for assistance.

Large and Proud, Funny and Compelling
Thing was, I was too embarrassed to ask an extremely overweight person to model for the shot. I even wondered if such a photograph would be insensitive or demeaning to people with weight problems. I don’t remember exactly what triggered the idea of using a Sumo wrestler, but as soon as the idea hit me I knew I had to do it. Sumo wrestlers are both the epitome of large, and are proud of their size. That solved all of my above concerns. Using a sumo wrestler would also emphasize the size difference and make the image all that much more funny and compelling.

An Imposing Force and A Kitten
My producer contacted a sumo wrestling association and we secured the services of a three hundred pound plus Sumo Wrestler named Americus. A very imposing fellow, but also very nice and enthusiastic about our photo shoot, though we did have to clear our shot list with the director of the association. The principle image was the trapeze one, but we filled out the list with ideas such as the wrestler as an imposing force, about to wrestle a small business man, holding up a small kitten, walking a tightrope and a number of other conceptual ideas.

A Day To Shoot, Ten Days To Image
The photography took a day to shoot and I spent the next ten days or so putting the digital composites together. Eventually I got bored and moved onto other projects. I still have more scenarios to complete with the sumo wrestler but they involve additional location photography. Someday I’ll get around to them.

Blend Images And A Rights Managed Collection
In the mean time I placed the images with Blend Images, a stock photo agency (in the interest of full disclosure…I am one of the founders of Blend) specializing in the celebration of ethnically diverse business, lifestyle and conceptual images. The sumo stock images are part of Blend’s new Non-exclusive Rights Managed stock photo collection, though a couple of images were deemed more appropriate the royalty free collections.

This shoot embodies a lot of my stock strategies. The images are primarily for Rights Managed collections, I base a shoot around a strong concept and add to the shot list as many related concept images as I reasonably can, and I try and find the best possible distribution for the images.

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