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Industrial and Stock Photography: Alternate Means to a Creative End
New comeback kids on the rise for photo businesses.


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge


Michael Fruge



Fruge also uses a combination of many studio lights and experiments with many angles.

Recently, he made the switch to digital and is currently using Canon 30Ds and is a fan of the fisheye lens. "I like to show as much of the subject's environment as I can (when it is interesting)," he said. "Since the fisheye enlarges objects close to the lens while downsizing those farther away, it allows me to keep the subject as the center of interest while including all of the elements of his environment as background."

Hitting a home run with the atypical approach, his first client used him steadily for five years, up until they closed their doors.

"I really feel like I'm showing people a different side of industry that they would normally never look at," he added.

To supplement his income, he sells some of this work as stock in addition to his popular photos of local culture.

While stock and industrial photography may not be something immediately thought of as a means of income, it can serve you well, especially now, according to Fruge.

The shooter predicts a surge of jobs in these areas after a five-year slump.

"My observation is that the photo market says something about stock. Years ago, I could depend on a certain amount of income from advertising and stock. Then I saw a two-year drop off [I think] due to royalty-free stock," he explained, noting that he was forced to supplement his income by shooting weddings.

The digital revolution was another cause for the decrease in photo jobs, he believed.

"Clients would take their own photos of products with digital cameras," said Fruge. "Digital cameras gave companies confidence. They knew they got the shot."

Like many in the industry, this pattern "knocked" Fruge down. Frequent assignments taking post-storm photos for insurance companies and doing industrial annual reports and promotion materials dwindled.

He's resolved that the insurance company work will probably never pick up. In the meantime, companies relying on creative images to sell a product are becoming savvy to the fact that quality photos "reflect the technical skills and years of experience of the photographer."

Recently, he's gotten more inquiries and was hired to create an annual report for a gas transmission plant in Kentucky .

Ultimately, all his jobs can be repurposed as stock. Its resurgence is evident in higher prices as royalty-free images decline in popularity, he said. Royalty-free stock refers to unlimited use of the same photo by many parties. Even recent news coverage reported that the same stock photo was discovered in materials used by both the Democrat and Republican parties. Fruge said industrial companies were starting to see their photos in other stuff too.

"Now, they want to completely own their stuff. They want to buy all the rights," he said.

Sensing that the tide is turning, he is expanding his photo stock portfolio.

"What I'm trying to do now is photograph my stock [images] based on what's happening in the world, tied together with theme, such as global warming," he said.

He is experimenting with creative ways to document fuel, fossil fuel or ethanol using the local resources he has in Louisiana. The ubiquitous sugar cane fields will certainly be one option, (they can be converted into fuel), he said.


   







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