Saturday, June 23, 2012

Shooting Stock For Your Book

This speeding convertible sports car headed down a deserted desert highway at sunset is a metaphor for freedom, success and journeys. 
If I had a portfolio I would have shot this speeding convertible sports car image for it! Since I only shoot stock I don't have to worry about a book. Getty rejected this image because it "looks like a product shot". Blend did accept it and it will be interesting to see if I am right in my expectation that it will sell well.
 Shooting For Your Book
As a professional photographer, or as an aspiring pro photographer, shooting for your book is a given. Eager assistant, working commercial photographer, or living legend, all photographers shoot for their “books”. What I have always found to be strange is that most photographers don’t consider the images they shoot for their portfolios to be stock photo material.

 A Fast Road To Nowhere
The same ingredients that go into a portfolio shot ( passion, production value, creativity and so forth), are the ingredients that make great stock photos. I think where a lot of shooters go wrong is in thinking that stock images should look like, well, stock images. In reality, shooting stock photos that look like what we all think stock photos look like is a fast road to nowhere.  In a market suffocating in sameness the images that stand out are the ones that have the best chance of earning significant revenue.

Portfolio Shots As Stock Photos
I believe that adding stock photography to ones photography business is a no brainer, and a great way to incorporate effective stock photography can be based around shooting for one’s book. It can be as simple as submitting that portfolio shot to an agency, or using the portfolio shoot as a springboard for stock. Once that portfolio image is captured a few additional variations, perhaps with a bit more obvious commercial application, can be added. It is almost like getting free images for your stock collection.

Fashion Magazines And Stock Photos
If you think your portfolio images are too “sophisticated” or abstract to make great stock images…think again. One good example to show how “out there” imagery can make for great stock can be seen in the work of  Elena Vizerskaya.  Elena’s work is about as “out there” as you can get. It is the kind of work you would expect to see in high end, cutting edge fashion magazines rather than in stock collections. Yet she is doing very well in stock…microstock no less!

Images That Stand Out From The Crowd
It makes sense though…with every passing day, and thousands of new uploaded pictures, it becomes increasingly important to produce photos that stand out from the crowd…images that can stop a viewer and compel them to read the advertisers message. Pictures like the ones we make for our portfolios.

Whatever It Takes
Next time you shoot for your book it might not be a bad idea to think of stock. And the next stock production you undertake, you might want to think a bit about your portfolio as well.  In either case doing whatever it takes to create images that you can truly be proud of is vital to success.


Jaak Nilson said...


I can see here
very often following information.
Please do not send cheesy stock images.

A prices are very often pretty high for such non-traditional stock images.
A market is oversaturated with similar sweet stock images. But agencies very often do not accept images " think outside the box".
For lot of countries such images with too happy, cheesy and smiling models do not work.


stephen simpson said...

As another month of lackluster sales goes by, re Elena, what does "doing well" mean? Enough to live well on?
70K/year? $120? $250? I'd love to be able to get an idea of just how many photographers are still "doing well" in stock.

thanks . . . SS

John Lund said...


I personally know at least a half a dozen stock shooters who make, after expenses, over $250,000.00 a year. They are all "traditional" stock shooters. Jim Pickerell has indicated that there are actually more photographers making over $100,00.00 a year in microstock than in traditional least I seem tor recall him saying that. At any rate, I know from experience that it is still possible to make a good living from stock...a very good living. As to how many are doing that...I have no idea.