Monday, January 11, 2010

Circling Vultures, Story Of A Stock Photo

Bing used my stock photo of circling vultures for its search engine background. The image is handled by Getty Images.
Circling Vultures, Bing And Getty
Yesterday Bing was using one of my stock photos for its background image…a shot of vultures circling overhead. Getty Images handles the licensing for that particular image. It will be interesting to see how much they licensed it for. I can pretty much guarantee it will be for less than I think they should have licensed it for!

Negative Images Can Sell Well
The picture is a good example of a negative image that can sell well, as well as one that cost almost nothing to create. The only cost, really, was my time. I photographed the vultures as they flew over my studio (hmmmm, wonder if that is significant…), one at a time, then used Photoshop to composite them together and create the sun flare.

Composition, Flexibility and Body Copy
I paid careful attention to the composition (Bing has cropped in just a bit) so that it would have the flexibility to be used for both verticals and horizontals. I placed the circling buzzards off-center to allow both for visual interest and to provide a clear area for body copy…but here it works well for layout of the search engine.

A Central Place For the Eye to Rest, and an Iconic Message
The sun flare was added using Photoshop’s render>sun flare filter. That does two things; it allows for the eye to have a central place to rest, and it adds to that subconscious, iconic sense of impending doom that we all carry within from watching those movies where the desperate, dying hero, crawling through the dry parched desert, looks up into the sun and its’ accompanying lens flare, just before being rescued.

The Photoshop sun flare filter helps add the iconic feeling of doom to this image of a businessman crawling through the desert. This stock picture is handled by Blend Images.

State of the Stock Photo Industry, Sand Dunes And an Oasis
At any rate, the photo is graphic, reads well as a thumbnail, carries an iconic metaphorical message, is flexible in its composition, and cost virtually nothing to create.
It might also be a little to close to home as it is also a great metaphor for how so many of us professionals view the current state of the stock photo industry. But just because the vultures are circling doesn’t mean we are doomed. There may yet be an oasis just over the next sand dune. I am betting there is. It is an oasis sustained by creativity, good business decisions and, perhaps, SEO.

An oasis in the desert (I shot the Gobi desert in Mongolia, the palm tree was photographed in Brazil) is an iconic image for hope and salvation. Image handled by Getty Images.

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