How to find out what sells and what doesn’t with stock photography
So that section on storyboarding should have given you an idea of how to plan a simple, everyday shoot in a park but what else can you do? What subjects should you approach? What sells? Watch the following video and then read on for more ideas…
We will run through a list of possible subjects and how to shoot them but first we have to have a think! Once again, forward planning and forethought will go a long way.
Do your research
Start by visiting and familiarising yourself with the main agencies you will be uploading too. Become part of one or two forums or communities and start to participate.
If you can help people, do so. You should give as much, if not more, as you take from these forums.
Check out the old forum threads with titles such as “Show me your best selling images” etc. Use the search facility for this. You will find a whole heap of ideas and tips here.
Then go to each stock site and if available, search for a particular topic (as we will discuss in a bit) and sort the results by most popular. That will give you an idea of what is selling but as I said previously, don’t copy…get inspired or simply improve on those images!
In the following video, it is inevitable that the layout of each website may have changed over time but the concept and research possibility is still the same.
You should start to see that the potential for this business is not only overwhelming but virtually UNLIMITED! When I do this my head starts spinning with ideas and enthusiasm and it is worth saving a “comp” copy (watermarked, smaller version used by editors to place in magazines, blogs etc to make sure they work before buying) of each topic you are interested in shooting and saving them to a folder entitled “IDEAS” on your computer.
Set aside a well planned stock day and stick to one subject matter, you will be way more productive.
Subjects are easy to think of and covered in the next part but also think about concepts…this is fun and again can add a whole new set of ideas to your shoots.
What is a concept? Well, think of a subject…
A pen is an object. There are tons of photographs of pens against a white background or sitting on a desk on any stock agency. Add a concept and then you have a real image…
How about a close up of a person’s hand signing a credit agreement or loan application form with a really nice pen?
How about a similar image but this time signing a check to “Charity Inc.” or something (remember NOT to use an actual company and make sure the banks name or logo is not visible).
Again, hand signing divorce papers (maybe emphasise the absence of a wedding ring by showing a white band on a tanned hand where the ring used to be)?
Now add some concept of time to the image. How about the clock sharply in focus in the background with a slightly blurry image of a schoolboy rushing out the door on his way to school with his bag flying in the air behind him.
Or an elderly Gentleman walking across a clock face with the title “Time Flies”…
(For that kind of image, if you have any Photoshop skills you will do well. If you are new to Photoshop, learn it well!)
Getting ideas? There are a million concepts to think about adding to your imagery…
Health, wealth, fear, hunger, pain, happiness, distraught, sad, motivated, alarmed, shocked, intrigued, time, space, shyness, cautious, confident, eagerness, studious, experience, height, depth, zealous, spritely, fitness, keen, weird, fast, slow, romantic, entrepreneur, professional, efficient, deficient, poor, disabled…
Need more concept ideas? Try this “Stock Photo Concept Generator” (now an app from iTunes but still worth getting).
There you go, I bet your head is buzzing now?
Have I mentioned phrases? This is an almost never ending supply of ideas and new phrases are invented or revamped all the time. Go to a website such as phrases.net and gather ideas there. Find a cool phrase and try to build an image around it…
- A Drop in the Ocean
- A Scholar and a Gentleman
- Bull in a China Shop (may be a little hard to execute…illustration?)
- Act Your Age
- All Eggs in One Basket
- An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
- On The Tip of My Tongue
- …and so on!
Lastly, think of the future.
Think about not only what is trendy now, think of future trends. What will be popular in years to come? Where are the Olympics in 6, 7 or 8 years time? Go and shoot that place to death to ensure you capture that “pot of gold” when it arrives. Your images will have had time to mature by then and hopefully rise to the top.
What music is just hitting the scene? What are the kids doing and talking about? What is the next “big thing”. Where is the next best holiday destination?
I will leave that with you!
Topics and Subjects
When thinking of ideas for stock shooting, don’t just think of a subject! Break it down into categories and even sub-categories, you will find an almost endless stream of ideas once you do this. Then when you add concepts and context, it gets even better…
Next Page – Still life/food/objects