Thursday, April 14, 2011

Creating A Stock Photo Illustrating Man Made Disasters

Picture of a fiery mushroom cloud exploding over the distant horizon of a long road stretching ahead, an indication of disaster ahead.
A negative stock photo such as this fiery mushroom-shaped explosion over a road ahead, can still generate excellent sales.

Picture of a Nuclear Accident
The recent tragedy of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan got me to thinking about how I could make an image that could be used to bring attention to the dangers of radioactive accidents and other man made dangers.  I wanted the image to be dramatic and iconic. While it was the nuclear accident that first prompted the idea, I also wanted this stock photo to work for other man made disasters as well. For radiation concerns a mushroom cloud would make perfect sense…and a fireball and explosion can represent all kinds of man-induced destruction. Such an image could be used to draw attention to everything from Nuclear power plant dangers to Predator drone missile strikes, to terrorist bombings to gas pipeline explosions.

The Long Road To Disaster
Having the fireball exploding over a road that stretches out into the distance can show that we are headed towards such disasters. Having the event happen at sunset can indicate that the end is near. In addition, the fiery clouds of a sunset can work to make the explosion fit more naturally into the environment.

Road Trips, Fireballs and Stock Photos
Having worked out the basics of the image in my mind I went to work searching my archives for the necessary raw materials…a fireball from a public “fire” performance, a long stretch of desert road from a road trip, and a sunset image from another road trip (road trips are great for stock photo raw materials).

Creating Stock Images: The Right Stuff
Creating the image was actually relatively simple and once again affirms my belief that Photoshop is easy when you have the right stuff (photos) to work with. I was able to build the mushroom shaped fireball explosion by using bits and pieces of a fireball photographed at a night performance that included the liberal use of fire. I used layer masks and the “Lighten” mode to blend the pieces together and composite them into the sunset. Next I put the road image into the sunset picture, again with layer masks. I used both “curve” and “Color Balance” adjustment layers, with masks, to create an orange reflection on the road. The Photoshop work took me about three hours to complete.

Negative Stock Photos And Images That Sell
Conventional wisdom has it that negative images don’t sell. While it is true that for the most part negative stock photos do not sell as well as positive pictures, in some cases they can sell quite well. One advantage this image has going for it is that there isn’t a lot of competition for it. To further bolster its potential market I crafted the image so that it can work as a horizontal, vertical or square.  There is plenty of room for headlines, mastheads and body copy. The image is simple and powerful and is a quick read as a thumbnail, something very important in today’s Internet-centric world. I chose to submit this stock photo to Getty Images as a Rights Managed picture and it has been accepted for inclusion into the Stone collection.

1 comment:

donfarrall said...

Really nice John, Wish I had done it.