Thursday, September 1, 2011

Riding A Rhinoceros And WTF Stock Photos

Picture of a businessman riding a rhinoceros in a corporate office.
WTF? Sometimes images, such as this businessman riding a rhino in a corporate office setting, doesn't have to make sense to be an effective stock photo.

WTF Stock Photos
I often espouse the importance of creating images that are needed in the market place, images that have a clear concept. But I also like to punctuate my work with the occasional WTF! image.  These are “Why” stock photos…as in why would I make that image and what the heck is the message or concept? Who is going to use it and for what?

Images I Enjoy Making
My WTF images are ones that I enjoy making and enjoy looking at. They are ideas that intrigue me enough that I violate my rule of making images with clear messages. The idea behind them is that if they are interesting enough then art directors, designers and art buyers will use their creativity to figure out how to use the images. Further, if they live up to my expectations they will stop a viewer and compel them to read the copy…, which after all is pretty much the job of a stock photo.

Versatile Compositions And Making Images Usable
I created a versatile composition that can be cropped as a square, horizontal, or vertical. Something pointed out to me by Rahul Pathak of Lookstat (which offers a great way to analyze your sales), is that in an increasingly Internet world horizontal images have an advantage, but I don’t want to eliminate potential magazine covers or other vertical uses either. There is also room for headlines, copy and inset photos. I always try and eliminate all the variables that I can that can make the image unusable for a given situation. 

A Difficult Image For Art Directors To Use
Because this image, in my opinion, is a difficult one for art directors and designers to use, and because it did take a fare amount of work to create, I believe it should be a Rights Managed image. I am certainly not afraid to put images that take a lot to create into Royalty Free, but the chance of this image being used a lot strikes me as slim, and at the same time my gut tells me that there are entities out there that are willing to pay a decent price to use the image. Time will tell on that one.

How Can This Image Be Used?
So just how can this image be used? I can see a headline that says something to the effect of “Does Your Sales Team Have The Right Tools?”. This type of outrageous visual can be used as an example of what not to do in order to bring attention to what should, or could, be going on.

Getty Images, Rights Managed And Blogs
To sum it up, I have now submitted this “WTF” image to my editor at Getty Images with the hope that it is accepted for one of their Rights Managed collections. If someone sees it as a result of this blog and wants to license…so much the better (hey, it actually does happen)!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Creating Concept Stock Photos On Voting

Picture of a voting machine against a sky filled withs storm clouds and the winds of change.
A sky of brewing storm clouds represents change; Add the voting machine and you have a stock photo of change through the ballot box and similar ideas.

Stormy Skies, Money, The Flag And Voting Images
In this photo blog post I will finish what I started with my previous post on creating “voting” images. At this point I have now finished a total of four images, which for me is a pretty typical effort and approach to a given topic or shoot for stock photography. The three new voting images I am covering here are all of the same voting machine, but in three different situations. The first is against a stormy sky, the second is with money (one dollar bills) pouring out of it, and the third is against a sunrise and American flag.

Stormy Skies And Promises Of Change
Because one of the primary, and seemingly endless, promises from our wily politicians is of how they will bring about “change”, and the ideas that change through the use of the ballot box is a good thing, I wanted to create a voting stock photo that could center around the idea of change.  Having the voting machine situated against a sky that has half storm and have clearing seems to work on several levels. Depending on the headline and body copy employed, the image can illustrated change for the better, change for the worse, and change by the ballot box.

Voting For Change
To create the picture of  “voting for change” I used three different sky photographs layering them together and using layer mask to blend them together. Next I simply used the pen tool to silhouette the voting machine and paste it into the sky composite (I photographed the voting machine in my studio). I tried to composite the image in such a way that it can work as a vertical, square, or horizontal crop with plenty of room for headlines and body copy.  When I photographed the voting machine I used relatively flat lighting, bouncing a single strobe head off of the ceiling directly over the machine. That had the added benefit of giving the impression that there is light eminating from with in the voting machine…which adds a subtle “power” to the machine and therefore to the importance and strength of the “vote”.

In this picture money is flowing out of a voting machine indicating corruption, bribery and political scandal.
Introducing the element of money to a voting machine opens the door for concepts such as corruption, buying votes, and lobbyist excesses.

Money Flowing And Political Corruption
Next I wanted to address the negative aspects of our political process; the influence of money. For this image I just needed money flowing out of the voting machine. The introduction of dollars flowing form the machine can then illustrate everything from political bribery, to buying votes, the influence of lobbyists. The resulting image can be about buying votes, or making money off of the political process. Again, the photo has a clear message when combined with the right copy, and is ambiguous enough to fit many needs. Creating this image was simple enough. I found the money image in my archives from another shoot, the sky from my collection of sky images, and the same voting booth (or machine) pictures already pen-tooled and selected, to paste into the scene. I also pen-tooled the money and pasted it into place. Voila! Electoral Corruption!

Getting Out The Vote and the patriotism of voting are but two of the concepts illustrated by this photo of a voting macine montaged with a sunrise and the American Flag.
Corny, yes...but it will sell! This American Flag/Voting machine image speaks of patriotism, getting out the vote, and the duty and privilege of participating in a democracy.
A “Corny” Image People Will License

The final image is testimony to a couple of things. First, that I am not above making “corny” images, and secondly, that I am open enough to admit it!  This image of an American flag, a sunrise (or sunset), and the voting machine is all about getting out the vote, the duty and privilege of voting, and so forth, not to mention a blatant appeal to those easily fired up over patriotism. Yes, it is corny as hell, but I bet people license it!

The American Flag And Getting Out The Vote
To create my “Patriotic” getting out the vote image I simple photographed the flag, pen-tooled it to create a selection, then copied and pasted it into my sunrise image (interestingly enough, the sunrise actually happened in Mongolia). I then used a layer mask to fade the flag into, or out of, the sunrise image. Once again I pasted in the voting machine picture and played with the composition until I was happy I had a versatile image.  It was interesting to me that while I was making this image I was both cringing at the image itself, but also enjoying seeing it come together.

Voting Images And Time For A Change
After three days of voting images I am ready for a change! Now it is back to my “idea list” to see what else I can come up with. There still may be another few voting images in me, but I will wait until I talk to my editor at Blend before committing to any more of those. That brings to mind another of my favorite things about stock photography. If I want to stop and turn to other things…no problem! Now who wouldn’t vote for that?