Monday, August 15, 2011

Unique Imagery: The Challenge of Stock Photography

Success in photography requires getting out of the trap of creating images that look like all the other images.

Unique Imagery: The Challenge of Stock Photography
One of the challenges of stock photography is in creating unique imagery. Over the long haul, if you fail to strike out into new territory in the creation of your stock photos your career will suffer. Failing to create unique imagery will lead to the cannibalization of your own images and is a likely road to burn out.

Shooting What You Want When You Want
I have had more than one friend who has produced stock like crazy for a few years and then given up on stock altogether after getting sick to death of shooting the same thing over and over again.  For me, one of the biggest reasons for being a stock shooter is that I can shoot what I want when I want. The opportunity of shooting a wide range of images, and the freedom of letting serendipity take me where it will, are both vital factors in my ongoing success as a stock photographer.

Growing Collections And Dropping RPIs
Producing the same kind of images over and over will lead to lower income. It is a proven fact that as collections grow the RPI of that collection drops. It only makes sense; similar images will be competing for the same dollar. In addition, with a drop in RPI, the collection as a whole will inevitably fall in the search results of most collections even further eroding your revenue.

Intangibles, Little Details And Second Rate Images
It can be very tempting to recreate those best sellers, whether they are your own or someone else’s. That will probably just result in more of those similar images. Looking at best sellers can tell you what kind of images are needed, but copying them practically guarantees that you are producing second rate images. The intangibles, the little details, that make an image into a best seller, are seldom present in the second go around. At least, in my own experience, I have a dismal rate of success of creating new versions of my own best sellers. I am much better off setting out into new uncharted waters for image ideas.

A Strategy For Making Stock Photos
Part of my strategy for making stock photos revolves around creating images that fill a clear need and are different from what else is already out there. Sure, I create my share of executive portraits, business meetings and so forth, but the real thrust of my work is trying to come up with unique, compelling images that stand out from the crowd of work already out there. I may not always succeed, but the journey is interesting and I have been lucky enough to find some rewards as well.

Unique Images, High Goals And The Health Of The Stock Photo Industry
It is a lot of work to come up with unique images. Such photos can be the result of incredible locations, inspiring models or visionary scenarios, all of which require more than the ordinary amount of effort. But in setting your goals high and striving to fulfill those goals, you can avoid burn out, increase your income and contribute to the health of the stock photo industry as well.


Dazeley said...

Absolutely agree, we have had ten years of people shooting more of the same. I also love the freedom of shooting what I want when I want.

Very best wishes


Diane Macdonald said...

Very well stated, John! I too have shot myself in the foot by trying to recreate an updated version of a bestseller or two!