Stock Photography and the Photo Essay - Specific and Generic

When creating stock photography library images from a specific location, I always consider several things, the most of important of which are:-

  • Shoot images specific to the location. This is for magazines, newspapers, advertising material etc. that might be running a feature on the place.
  • Shoot as many generic images as possible that don't relate to a specific place and can be used for a much wider variety of puposes.
  • Shoot with wide-angle to telephoto lenses, so that picture buyers can have as much choice as possible
  • Treat the whole visit as a photo essay and approach the whole thing as if I'm a photo journalist commissioned to come up with the pictures for an extended article on the location. This obviously requires discipline and imagination, since I have no such brief.
  • I often assess whether or not to take an images by thinking of a caption that might go with a published picture or think of a place in article it might fit or a point in the text that it's going to illustrate.
  • As a stock photographer you have to get used to the idea that in almost all cases your images will be subservient to the text. It would be nice if people wrote articles around photographs, but unfortunately that is rarely the case. 
  • If you're working outdoors have a backup plan if the weather (and the light) changes for the worst. And take advantage of whatver kind of light is on offer. 
  • Despite all of the above try not to become predictable. I aim to shoot something 'experimental' or explore a new technique on every photo shoot.

Add in to the above the fact that, apart from material that is being sold via some of the current specialist smartphone libraries, images have to be aesthetically pleasing and technically excellent. In other words the whole thing revolves around having a professional, well thought-out coherent approach, which means that time isn't wasted and the gathering of content is focused. That way the results, after editing, will be attractive for potential picture buyers. After doing it for so long, all of this tends to happen by instinct, but I'll make the point again that it's important not to let yourself get into a tried and tested way of working and end up with your images all looking the same. Using different camera / lens combinations and different formats helps. (If you have them) Which is also useful as a way of justifying all the gear I have sitting on my shelf!!!

The above images were shot at Compton Verney, a stately home turned art gallery in the English Midlands. The images were shot with a Samsung K Zoom smartphone and a Panasonic G7 fitted with a Nikon 18-35mm zoom via a Metabones 0.64x Nikon G > m4/3 speed booster.