Thursday, June 30, 2011

How To Shoot An Angry Mob, With Model Releases, For Free

Model released photo of an angry mob advancing by torchlight in a common cause and shaking their fists with rage.
By shooting each member of this angry crowd individually, during other photo shoots, I managed to get an entire angry mob with model releases...for free (at least in my mind)!

Stock Photo Of An Angry Mob At Night
This mob scene at night is one of those stock photos that ended up taking an incredibly long time from conception to execution. For one thing, I couldn’t wrap my head around the logistics of getting fifty or more people together, at night, with torches…let alone the idea of paying that many models…not for one shot anyway. But I did figure out a way to create this image without, in a sense, paying anything…well, sort of.

Angry Mob Models For Free (Sort of)
For the last year, any time I did a shoot with models I would include a few minutes to shoot each of them acting out their part in an angry mob scene (BTW, it is surprising how hard it is for some people to look authentically angry!).  In effect, since each "angry person" shot was added on to an existing shoot, at least in my mind, I managed to get all the models for my angry mob at night for free!

A Rioting Crowd And A Hundred Plus Layers In Photoshop
Of course, it took me two full days of Photoshop work to create this rioting crowd. But I also had the added plus of being able to pick exactly the best expression for each member of the group. I think one of the real strengths of this image is in the individual facial expressions. By the time I finished I had over a hundred and twenty layers using twenty-seven different models. It took me two full days for the Photoshop work, but hey, I did have a lot of fun putting it together!

An Angry Crowd: Rights Managed or Royalty Free?
So is this image an RF or an RM image? For me this is a Rights Managed stock photo. It would be difficult and expensive to re-create. Being a negative image, it won’t be one of those stock images that sells like gang busters. If an art director or designer decides that this image really works for their client then even an expensive licensing fee will probably still be a bargain versus shooting such a scene from scratch. Add it all up and to me it is a solid Rights Managed shot.

No Celebration And My Biggest Challenge In Stock Photography
I do have one regret…I didn’t shoot everyone celebrating! No happiness! What was I thinking? OK, for the next year I have to shoot everyone playing their part of a celebratory crowd. One of my biggest challenges in stock photography is thinking ahead, of getting past my tendency to focus on just one image. I am better than I used to be but still have a long ways to go. In the days gone by it was fine to concentrate on one image at a time, but in the leaner, meaner days of stock we find ourselves in now it is important that each of us think outside our own boxes...and one of my limiting boxes is failure to think past whatever is right in front of me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Stock Photo Odyssey and Building Website Traffic

Photo of a long empty highway crossing through the desert of the South West.
Building website traffic happens by building a great website.

Building Website Traffic
I have stopped trying to build traffic to my website. OK, that statement might be a tad misleading. I still want to have more traffic to my site, but I am shifting my focus to building the best site that I can. I want my web site to be as good as I can make it with the resources I have. Of course, the most important thing on any website is the content…so under my objective I need to be creating content that is unique and useful to my intended audience…people who need stock photography, (and to a lesser extent fine art prints, greeting cards and photo imprinted gifts and products like coffee mugs, mouse pads, calendars and so forth).

The Best Website
For me the “best website” doesn’t mean the coolest looking one . The best website is one that helps potential users of my images find those images and license them. If I can achieve my objective, develop a site that has quality content, is easy to find, easy to search, and easy to buy and license from, then the traffic will come. And with the traffic will come the monetary rewards that, lets face it, are part of my objective as well.

Photo Blogs And Name Changes
My shift in focus from trying to build traffic to trying to create the best website I can came about when I changed the name of one of my photo blogs. The blog was named “Daily Funny Animal Pix”. That name was killing me. I just couldn’t deal with putting a funny animal picture up everyday. The majority of days I did not put one up…and then I felt guilty. I felt guilty I was letting the readers of the blog down and not living up to a promise. Then I would beat myself up over it. Crazy!

Stock Photo Odyssey: A Photography Blog
I renamed the blog “Stock Photo Odyssey”. Now I can put whatever I want up whenever I want to. What a relief…I kid you not! With this new blog name I will still upload funny animal pictures as I come up with them, but I don’t feel the pressure to do it everyday. Also, I will be showcasing my stock work in general…sharing stock imagery that I find interesting for one reason or another.

Responsibility And A Better, More Active Blog
Now I don’t think the name of the blog is particularly important to anyone but me. If people like what they see they will comeback regardless of the name. But I feel so much better about the implied responsibility that I actually believe I will post to that blog more frequently. So the name change was really for me and I believe it will result in a better, more active blog, which in turn will serve the readers of the blog better and, ultimately, result in more traffic!

More And Better Content
I was mulling this all over when I realized that my attitude about my whole web undertaking was also wrong. Forget building more traffic…focus on building a better website (again, the primary element of which is more and better content). Guess I better wrap this blog post up and get back to making great and relevant stock photos!