Stock Photography Photo Essay - Panasonic G6 and the Obolisk

Images created with a Panasonic G6 plus Nikon 28mm and 85mm f/1.8 prime lenses. Used with two Metabones Nikon > m4/3 adapters, including a Speed Booster.

When I find a location that I'm interested in photographing to sell via Stock Photography Picture Library websites, I try to achieve a couple of things. Firstly, if it's somewhere I can get to relatively easily, I will photograph it in a variety of conditions and seasons. Secondly, on a given day when I'm there I'll try to get as many shots from different angles as I can, to produce a series of pictures that I think work well as compositions. It's impossible to second guess what picture buyers would want, so the best I can hope for is that I can come up with choices that might include at least one image that is 'right' for whatever purpose a potential buyer might want.

To this end I try to provide four images minimum. Wide-Angle, vertical and horizontal and telephoto, vertical and horizontal. For the pictures of this local obolisk, I wanted to show the monument itself plus the landscape 'context' that it's situated in. Plus, depending on whether the background is 'scenic' or not, I'll try to get a shot from as many different directions as possible. As you'll see from the album I also shot a panoramic multi-image stitch to show how the monument is located in what is an almost classic example of a typical lush green English agricultural landcape with rolling hills and fields. 

I see this as very much a kind of mini 'photo-essay' and approach it as such. This approach involves thinking of it, to a certain extent as a mini documentary project and I also try to envisage it as I would a commissioned job. After years of doing this I never actually consciously come up with any kind of shot list or even think about what I'm doing a great deal. I just happen to end up in a a lot of different places shooting my subject from lots of different angles and with different focal lengths. 

Depending on the light, how 'photogenic' the location and how inspired I'm feeling, I'll take a reasonable number of shots and edit when I get home. Obviously shooting hundreds of images of the same place is too many and one or two probably not enough. I do 'self-edit' when I'm in a location and try not to get too many similar images with only marginal differences between them. I do however like to get a decent selection that I can split between the various libraries who market my work. The great thing about digital of course, is that doing this is a lot cheaper than shooting film and to be honest when I was doing that I used to be a lot more choosy about what I shot than I am now. But for the most part, I do end up using virtually everything I shoot and very little ends up in the trash. In time we all get better at knowing what works and what doesn't photographically and if I didn't get close to a 100% success rate after all these years then I should probably do something else for a living!

It is also important for me when I'm doing this not to let any commercial considerations unduly influence what I'm doing. Though I'm obviously not unaware of the fact that I sell pictures to make a living, I've 'trained' myself to approach a subject in as close to an 'enthusiast' frame of mind as I can manage. My primary criteria for pressing the shutter is 'Do I like the shot?' And while I won't deny that I have taken images that I don't particularly like just because I think that they might sell, I actually do this a lot less than you might imagine. When anyone asks me, for example, 'I'd like to take pictures for stock, what should I shoot?' my answer is always the same. 'Whatever you enjoy taking pictures of.' Because, as far as I'm concerned, if you are taking pictures only for the money (hopefully!) it will show. If you hate shooting artificial 'lifestyle' and business images, with lots of happy smiling attractive people with expensive dental work as I do, then the chances are that the images produced will reflect that. 

Now I won't claim that I haven't done work that I didn't particularly enjoy just for the cash, because I have. I can remember one or two portrait sessions where I seriously considered an alternative place to position my tripod and one particularly awful wedding, but shooting for stock should be a pleasurable experience. Because if you get involved in it, there is an awful lot of boring, time-consuming and repetitive work that needs to be done with editing, captioning and keywording and uploading. And if actually going out to shoot the pictures wasn't a pleasurable experience, then most people would have little enthusiasm for it as a career choice, myself included. 

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