Saturday, January 8, 2011

Shopping Malls, Long Exposures and a Stock Photo

People on the move show the hustle and bustle of modern global commerce in this dyanmic stock photo of people in a shopping mall.
Using long exposures and compositing images resulted in a dynamic and energized stock photo of people on the move and shopping without the constraints of having model releases.

Shopping Malls and Stock Photography
On my recent trip to Thailand to shoot stock photography, which in my case is largely the capturing of raw material for manipulated and composited imagery, I found myself in a large mall full of bustling people. The mall was actually in Hong Kong where we spent a day before going on to Bangkok. This shopping mall really wasn’t any different than hundreds of shopping centers here in the U.S., but unlike at home, here in Hong Kong I had my camera with me…so while cruising through the buildings I just kept shooting.

Masses of Shoppers and Long Exposures
I was using mostly long exposures…the camera set to “B” (which keeps the shutter open as long as the shutter button is held down) and checked exposures by looking at the back of the camera. I was zooming the lens, spinning the camera, bracing the camera against walls…trying a whole bunch of different things to see what I would get.  An added bonus, by using very long shutter speeds the masses of shoppers would be unrecognizable and not in need of model releases. For me, one of the great things about traveling is that I have my camera with me and I am constantly experimenting. For some reason being in a whole different environment than my usual home one opens me up to explore the fun of taking pictures just to see what I can come up with.  If something doesn’t work…hey, no problem. If it does work…super!

The Hustle, Bustle and Energy of Commerce
Back home I perused through all those shots with a mind open for whatever ideas might come up. I liked the sense of hustle and bustle, of energy and of commerce that came through many of the images.  As I pondered the material it slowly came to me that I could do a series of images that portrayed concepts such as shopping, business, global business, and international commerce…images that were dynamic, different, and flexible in how they could be used and what concepts they could illustrate.

People on the Move and Commerce In Action
In the above picture I combined several of the long-exposure photos of people in the shopping mall with shots I made in the Hong Kong airport.  While there is no way to be sure whether it will be a successful stock photo or not, I love it and am hopeful that it will generate some substantial income. For me it definitely conveys that sense of positive energy, people on the move and commerce in action in an environment that is modern and upscale. I crafted the picture so that it works as both a horizontal and vertical crop, has lots of room for copy, and reads well as a thumbnail.

Shopping For Images
In a previous blog I wrote that it is important to love your images. I love this photo! I figure that if I love it others will too…and I just have to get it in front of the right audience, the audience, if you will, “Shopping” for (or searching for) images, for it to generate the revenue that will make it worth the energy and resources I put into it. And for those of you interested in such things, I somewhere between three and four hours of digital time in this "people on the move" or "shopping" picture.


M said...

What sort of ND filter do you use?

John Lund said...


I don't use any filtration. I do manipulate the hell out of things in Photoshop....


Todd said...

Why is it that when you wouldn't think twice about bringing your camera into a shopping mall at home in the states (to avoid harassment by rent-a-cop) when you're traveling and already have your camera out, it's not a big deal? It seems like I have more guts with where I whip my camera out too, when I'm traveling. Malls are great areas for long exposure moving people images like this, and shooting cool architecture, but I find myself too scared to try due to a few experiences I had in the past. I used to be a graphic designer working for a retail store chain. After setting up the front window display and marketing, we would take images of it with our little Nikon D40x and then send them to all of the other 90 stores in the fashion chain, for marketing direction. How to set it up, what it should look like, etc. More than three occasions, and in different malls, authorities or management came over to us and reprimanded us for shooting in the mall. We had to tell them we worked there, and that our store was the only thing we were shooting. Unbelievable.

John Lund said...


It has been so long since I tried to shoot in a mall here in the US that I had forgotten that security guys tend to interrupt the process!

Travel is just great for getting me excited about shooting everything!