Friday, December 30, 2011

Weird Stock Photos That Sell!

Weird Stock Photos That Sell
I thought it might be fun to look at some really weird stock photos that actually sell reasonably well. Fairly often I come up with stock photo ideas that, after execution, actually strike me as weird, ill conceived, or just plain dumb. Yet some of these less than stellar images actually end up selling. In this blog post we will look at three such examples of weird stock photos that have sold multiple times resulting in over a thousand dollars in royalties each into my hot little hands.  I will speculate on why these images are selling, as well as delve into what made me create the image in the first place.

Picture of a woman in a superhero costume, cropped mid-thigh down, while standing on a conference room table.
A super hero costumed model standing on a conference table in an office in Bangkok has actually sold quite well!

A Super Hero, A Tight Crop, And Eighteen-hundred dollars
At a photo shoot in Bangkok I somehow got the idea of having one of the models dress up in a superhero outfit. I shot the model standing on a conference table cropping at mid thigh. I shot that crop as a alternative to the full length shot of the model because the full length version just wasn't working for me. The upward angle seemed to severe and the ceiling didn't make for a great background. I hesitated to send this image in because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what anybody would use it for! Lo and behold, in the last three years the image has been licensed over ten  times for a total (to me) of over eighteen-hundred dollars. Go figure!

In impromptu pose results in a new perspective and a stock photo that sells well.
A New Perspective And Thinking Outside The Box
My friend Paula Zacharias and I were photographing models in Buenos Aires. We had completed all the usual stuff, people in meetings, at outdoor cafes, using cell phones, you get the idea. I don't recall why I asked them to undertake this pose, and to this day I can't figure out what people use it for, but it has brought in over a thousand dollars in the last three years. Perhaps it is being used to advocate a new perspective, thinking outside the box, or maybe it is advertising a product that makes business less arduous. Hey, if any of you ever see it used let me know!

Clouds form a huge hand and finger pointing overhead in an image that can be interpreted as anything from cloud computing to a message from God.
Clouds form the shape of a hand point a finger in an unusual stock photo that can be used for concepts such as cloud computing or religion issues.

Cloud Computing Or A Message From God?
I think I saved the best for last. Yes, I am a little embarrassed that i created this odd image, but hey, it sells! For what? Again, I just don't know. Perhaps it points to cloud computing, or has some sort of use in the realm of religion. What ever it is used for, I just can't put my finger on. But sell it does and has also earned me over a thousand dollars in the last several years. Perhaps the message here is that it isn't a bad idea, when shooting stock photos, to stretch into the realm of the silly, the oddball or even the outright weird. In the long run a little bit of "coloring outside the lines" can really pay off!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Advice to Photographers From Industry Leaders

A pair of gypsy hands hover over a glowing crystal ball in anticipation of answers for the future and the way forward.
 Eleven photographers and industry luminaries offer advice for photographers in the upcoming year.

I hire fun people.  It has to be fun.  If it’s not fun, I can’t do it.  I do get nervous and that’s not fun.  The work usually suffers for it though, so if I feel the nerves coming on I over prepare. Then, it all works out OK. 
 Annabelle Breakey Interview  (Photographer)

The popular advice tells us to choose one thing and to do it well and to do it for the rest of your career. Come on folks. Most of you came into this business wanting to make pictures of a wide variety of subjects. Yet photographers choose to do this OR that. I believe it is time to do this AND that AND that AND…  To manifest love by encompassing and manifesting your many passions.
Ian Summers Interview (Creative Consultant)

“Doom and gloom” have been words used to describe our industry for the longest times. And every creative field echoes the same sentiment. We have been and still are a huge financial industry in all areas of photography and we will continue. I believe that photography, as an art form, will never die. As technology advances in our industry, new opportunities are being created. More people enjoy photography and more institutions display photography. As for all creative fields, it is a difficult road, but we should be optimistic that we are in such a great profession. Our artists should remain enthusiastic and optimistic because they are doing what they love, which to is the essence of life
Jerry Tavin Interview (Founder, Young Photographers Alliance)

After all these years, the most precious thing we own is the potential that at any moment something incredible might happen.  It’s the potential that drives the bus. Thomas Edison said everything he ever found he found while he was looking for something else.  Stay alert.  It’ll be fun.  You’ll see.
Walter Hodges Interview (Photographer)

There are a lot of shooters cranking out quantity and sites are increasingly seeking to get out from under this inundation of content. It is not good for customers, or agencies, to be hosed down with endless images of a high-production but low-creativity nature. And while ‘more unique images’ appeals to the creative in me, if your few gems are hard to find or positioned out-of-place then they will not sell and you will starve. So you need to know your market and get better exposure than the competition. 
Lewis Blackwell Interview (Director of Strategy, Image Source)

To me, there is no better way to get ideas on style, body language and trends than to sit at the mall and people watch. Authenticity is king at your local mall! You can observe the body language of people using their hand held devices, what people are wearing and how they are wearing it.  Are you doing a shoot involving teens? - hang out by the food court. Are you having trouble picking wardrobe? - hang out by the banana republic. Are you doing a baby boomer fitness shoot? - go early and check out the mall walkers. Are you doing a mother / child shoot?- hang out by baby gap. 
Jim Doherty Interview, (Senior Art Director, Blend Images)

The thing that makes the best stock photos in my mind is a connection between the subject and viewer, easy read, and clear concept. People aren’t just smiling in front of the camera but they are living in front of the camera and the photographer is just documenting that. It is not as easy as it sounds though. A stock photographer needs to be able to look at the scene they are shooting and ask themselves “What is the point? What is the Moment to capture in this set up?”
Siri Berting Interview  (Photographer)

Keep your photos fresh, if you don’t have assignment work, work on personal projects.
Jessica Mirolla Interview (Freelance Art Buyer)

I had burned out of managing disinterested parties on photo shoots for production outlays that were taking longer than I felt was wise to break even.  I found that I could not cut costs further and still forecast an adequate income; nor could I maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle as I squeezed the expenses whilst raising my crews’ stress to unnecessary levels. I chose to stop, take profit on my royalties, and change what I was doing.
Shannof Fagan Interview (Photographer)

It is very hard to speculate where tomorrows stock industry will be showing it's strongest returns so staying involved and on top of our research for all the models of stock is a daily investment of our time.
Jonathan Ross Interview  (Photographer, Founder of Spaces Images)

I believe we, in the future, will see buyers getting bored by the microstock look. And this will probably make personal branding more important, if not necessary, if you want to succeed in the industry.
Yuri Arcurs Interview (Photographer)