Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ideas and Execution In Stock Photography

Ideas are powerful and ideas on the Internet are even more powerful. 
Ideas are fundamental for the success of stock photography, but they are secondary to the importance of action and execution.
The Most difficult Aspect of Stock Photography
The most difficult aspect of stock photography, for me, is coming up with ideas; Ideas that fit the parameters for my success. The ideas I am referring to need to be ones that I believe will sell multiple times, that either have a clear strong concept or stand out enough that they will doubtless draw attention.  I have to be convinced that the images will earn an amount appropriate for the resources that go into them. The most money I have ever spent on a stock photo shoot was $12,000.00, but that shoot has returned me over $50,000.00. If I am going to spend a lot of money on the execution of an idea then I need to be very convinced that it is a smart investment.

Ideas And Diversification
Ideas can be simple, quick and inexpensive, or complex and challenging to bring to fruition. I try and balance them out creating a mixture of RM and RF, of dramatic concepts and photos as simple portraits. Since I can never be totally sure of what will sell and what won’t, I diversify as much as possible. I like to have images in many categories from finance to travel to lifestyle…though I have to admit I don’t do enough of the lifestyle imagery.

The Importance of Execution
While the ideas are the most challenging aspect of my stock photography, execution is the most important. If you execute enough mediocre ideas you will earn money. If you don’t execute then even your very best ideas will earn nothing.

The Importance of Quality
Another important aspect of execution is in the quality of the imagery. Again, I have to admit that sometimes I fall down in that area. I tend to get in a rush and sometimes take short cuts in not spending enough money on props, wardrobe and locations. All too often I also fail to give the images enough time before submitting them…then a few days later I see some detail that could or should have been done better, but it is too late.  With so many images competing for attention it is vital to make sure your images are better than the ones they are competing with.  That is something I still need to improve upon.

The Formula For Success In Stock Photography
Lately I have been hearing from more photographers who are doing well with stock photography. What seems to be a consistent thread with these photographers is that they consistently produce imagery and do so with ideas of what the market needs in mind, and a clear understanding of what will sell. Ideas + Execution x Distribution is one formula for success in stock photography.


Corporate Headshots said...

I tend to look at newspapers to get ideas for current interests for stock photos. Helps give you inspiration for coming up with new ways of approaching common subjects.

Anonymous said...

John: You are one of the masters of stock photography! Your work is inspirational!

Ronald Smith said...

Many people want to make a career in stock photography but they are unaware of the techniques. It is difficult for the beginners to make a start. Even I am interested in stock photos as I need them for website designing. And here I found nice information.

Anonymous said...

John, I truly enjoy your work and I'm curious to know what you think about iPhoneography. (combining the use of photography and applications on the i-phone/ i-pad) Is this a technique you could use for stock photos, or does photo shop offer a more direct approach? My friend Barbara was just honored for her iPhoneograpy at the New Era Museum in Italy. Here’s the link…

John Lund said...


The iPhone is another tool. I am using it and submitting stock images to Blend Images for their "Memento" collection. I also sometimes include iphone shots of "parts" for inclusion in my composite work.

For me the iPhone is a supplement and not a replacement for my other stock efforts.



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Commodity Tips said...

My point is that once you start to think, the ideas for stock photography are endless, which is a good thing because to actually make a living from stock photography, you are going to need a lot of photographs. Set up a small makeshift studio somewhere in your house, permanently if possible, that way you are ready when the still life ideas start coming.