STOCK DIARIES - Kenilworth castle with the Sony A7r II

WHERE - Kenilworth Castle

WHEN - February 2016

WHAT - Sony A7r II, Metabones EF>e-mount SMART adapter,Canon 24-105mm f/4

HOW - Edited in Photoshop CC and iMovie on a Macbook Air 11"


Ancient monuments, castles and places of history are always popular places to visits, places to write about in magazines and on websites and are a pretty obvious choice as locations for stock photography. And those of us who do that for a living make sure that we make of the best of such locations close to where we live.

The wider the variety of those shots the better. Different seasons, with people and without, wide-angle and telephoto views all build up a good portfolio of choice for potential picture buyers. So when anybody asks me for advice on what to shoot for stock at a potential location, I always indicate that the way I approach it is as a 'picture essay'. So even though it isn't happening, I imagine that I have been commissioned to shoot a spread of several pages for an upmarket travel magazine. And these days I approach putting together stock video clips in much the same way. This time imaging that I'm shooting the 'filler' clips for a show where some presenter is visiting and talking about the place for some TV channel.

Some images can only be used for editorial features, particularly since it's obviously impossible to come away with a bunch of model releases, but there are still many opportunities for pictures that don't have that problem. However it is worth pointing out that different libraries have different ideas as to what image needs a release and what doesn't. But then I usually let them take care of that. 

I'll maybe visit this castle 3 to 4 times a year and over the years I have a lot of pictures of the place. But then I sell those pictures over a year and they can be from any of my visits. I've learnt over the years that it's impossible to predict what a picture buyer might be looking for, so I just take what I think works to provide as much choice as possible. Libraries will pick and choose what they want and not take everything anyway. However, they all seem to have different ideas of what they think will sell, so what usually happens is that I will have the whole shoot online, though spread across a few libraries. 


The whole reason for buying the Sony A7r II was to have a camera that I use to switch effortlessly between high-resolution stills and 4K video footage. And the Sony does achieve that pretty well. I set nothing special up for video. I keep the camera configured how I want for stills and when I'm ready to shoot some footage I just press the red video button. As I indicated, for the most part this is filler material, to make the place look good. 

For a lot of the locations I visit, hand holding is a necessity, hence a video enabled stills camera. Often tripods aren't even allowed in. So I'm become practiced in getting pin sharp images and stable video. And this is how stock photographers have to work. We get no special access and have to make do with what any tourist or visitor can get. And that works for stock photography, because location images like these will generally be sold to some print or web publication doing some kind of places to visit feature. And shooting footage or stills with drones or getting access to places the public can't visit, isn't usually what those feature writers want. Showing what it's possible for any visitor to see is usually what's required. And to be honest, being able to shoot in sunshine with blue skies is generally more important than any artistic interpretation. 

As I write often 'It's a rotten job but somebody has to do it!!' Which is my way of indicating that in fact I think I'm very lucky that I was prepared to put the work in to be able to make a living doing this. Which is a roundabout way of saying, for me, this is the best job in the world. But if you are considering doing it, remember all the editing, uploading, captioning and keywording that comes later. Not quite such an enjoyable experience. However since it's way more important than the camera I use, it has to be done. 

So there it is, my first STOCK DIARY. I'm going to be doing a fair few of these in the next weeks and hopefully give an insight into this particular kind of photographic career. Is it 'money for old rope?' Well read a few of these and decide for yourselves.