Friday, October 16, 2009

Maximize Your Stock Photo Income: Making Your Photos Flexible

The Challenges That Art Directors And Designers Face
One way to help maximize your income from stock photos is to remember the challenges that art directors and designers face when using your images. In short, make your images as flexible as possible. Things to keep in mind are cropping, room for copy space, and readability at thumbnail size.

Billboards, Transit Posters And Campaigns
In the process of creating my concept stock shots I do my best to create them in such a way that they can be cropped both vertically and horizontally, which of course usually means every other crop can be achieved as well. This can be particularly important if the image needs to be used in a variety of media and formats, such as billboards, transit posters and brochure covers. Providing this cropping versatility means less chance of having your picture eliminated from those high-paying (at least in RM) campaigns.

Thumbnails, Square Crops and The Ideal Image
Another similar concern is to create images that read well in thumbnail size. That insures the image can also be used extensively for web uses. The “thumbnail test”, whether the image reads easily and quickly at thumbnail size, is important for anther reason as well. Virtually all images are now found on the web, and they have to be readable at thumbnail size, or even stand out at thumbnail size, in order to be selected in the first place. There is something to be said, as well, for square crops, which are even more visible as thumbnails since they fill up more “real estate”. I actually think the ideal image is a square image that is easily and effectively used as either a horizontal or vertical.

Headlines, Body Copy And A Balancing Act
Another plus to incorporate into your stock pictures is copy space; areas for putting headlines and body copy. All of this attention to cropping, to readability and to copy space, becomes a balancing act with cropping for impact. When I was shooting assignment work I would often have art directors remind me that cropping was their job, and that I should give them more room to work with. It took me a while to learn that lesson, and it is a lesson we should all keep in mind when making stock images. You want your image to have impact, but flexibility as well. I recall seeing a complaint from an art director on twitter complaining “so many stock shots have the heads cropped off”. Something to think about as we make our images!

The Integrity Of The Image

Now I am not saying I always succeed at these efforts, but I try my best to incorporate them. Ultimately the integrity of the image is the most important thing, but if you can massage it in these directions you are maximizing your income potential from stock photography.