Saturday, October 31, 2009

Assignments, Stock Photography, and a Rich Life

Getting out of your normal environment can stimulate ideas. This shot from my working vacation can be a travel photograph, or a concept stock photo about skill, balance and small business. But the most important benefit from this trip was recharging my batteries (internal...not camera)!

Shooting Assignments And Stock Photo Production
In a way, a photographer who shoots only stock and no assignments is putting themselves at a disadvantage when in comes to stock photography production. When shooting assignments you end up in places, and with access to people, that you probably would never even think of, let alone be subsidized to shoot.  So I have often asked myself if it wouldn’t help my stock photography career to shoot assignments. Ah, but then I think of all the wasted time associated with assignments. 

Estimates, Prep and Post
There are the estimates, that to do a good job, can take a least a day and sometimes several days to complete.  And if you do get the job there are the days of prep and of post, and the endless little changes the clients always seem to want, and the last minute additions that they don’t want to pay for…and the hassles to get paid.

Introducing Fresh Ideas
OK, I say to myself, I won’t return to doing assignments just yet.  But how can I introduce new and fresh ideas into my work that are comparable to those that would come in via assignments?

Expose Yourself To Something New
Well, I have come up with a couple of thoughts around that. First, I get out of my ordinary environment and expose myself to something completely new and different.  One way in which I have done that very successfully is by doing what I refer to as adventure travel. I have a friend and colleague who leads photo trips to some pretty cool places.  Places like India, Jordan, Myanmar and China. Every time I have taken one of these trips I have come back not only refreshed and with a whole notebook of new ideas, but also with photography from the trips themselves that have invariably paid back the cost of the trip and have each become their own little profit center.

Travel, Time, and a New Paradigm
Occasionally I have undertaken such travel by myself, but it is a lot more fun for me to be with like-minded people and to have the logistics handled by someone else.  In a way these trips are far more efficient for me as well. I avoid spending all that time in researching places and putting together the trip.  Instead, I just step out of my business world and into a whole new paradigm, and then, recharged, step back into my “real world” existence.

An African Safari, A Photography Blog And Great White Sharks
The other method I have for injecting some unusual ideas into my work comes as kind of a corollary to the travel. I keep a list of 100 things I want to do before I die (OK, I have never actually gotten more than about 60 things written down). Things like go on an African safari (haven’t done that one yet…but think of the cool stock photos that could come out of that…and I don’t mean photos of wild animals, but of camp life and so forth…), shoot photography for a world humanitarian organization, dive with great white sharks, start a photography blog (oh yeah, I did that one), Visit Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, anyway, you get the picture.

Dream Assignments and Stock Photography
Make a list of things you want to do before you die. Go crazy with it! Then look at that list with an eye for how you can accomplish those things and make them pay off for you through stock photography.  It is kind of like giving yourself your own dream assignments…and using stock photography to enhance your life in more ways than just monetarily. In the end, it is a full and rich life that I want more than a full and rich estate!


Gary said...

As a full-time stock shooter for 15 years, I have often looked up to you and your vision. Thanks for also now sharing your thoughts through your blog. Much appreciated and much enjoyed.


Alex said...

Great post John. You describe a classic win-win situation; if we make our lives interesting we should generate interesting images as a consequence! It is a simple idea but still one we need reminding of too so we avoid the ruts of boredom and mediocrity.

John Lund said...


I appreciate your comments!


John Lund said...


Your right, we all know this stuff but we all need to be reminded as well....