Suppose a stock imaging house hired you to shoot a modern business environment. Would you include in your set costumes: (a) powdered wigs and quill pens; (b) bell bottoms and rotary phones; or (c) modern technology and current home décor trend pieces?
Clued-in photographers would choose C. Yet many stock photographers develop concepts as if stock photography is timeless, repurposing images without updating clothes, hair styles, and technologies.
When I'm looking for fresh material, the photographers we recruit are those who capture the latest social trends, styles, fashions, electronics, and demonstrate a clear understanding of the stock photography market's current image needs. The good news is you can follow three simple tips to freshen your work, maximize your portfolio's potential, and help your images click with stock agencies.
- CONNECT YOUR CONTENT
Periodic photo shoots are a must. They keep your subjects, sets, props, and scenes current. Conversely, update your online portfolio on a regular basis with these new images depicting the latest trends.
Another tip: Call stock agencies you regularly work with before a shoot to get their take on the project. See if your proposed content relates to projects or image expansions they are planning. Making such calls serves multiple purposes. It helps you determine if your shoot is worth the time, effort, and expense. It also gives you insight into exactly what the agency wants in terms of content, which greatly increases your chances for selling to them later.
- STAY ON TOP OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology, especially computers and electronics, are common photo props. But with six months as the average lifespan of most technology, photographers run the risk of an image seeming outdated quickly.
One way to overcome this obstacle is to attend trade shows. You'll find the latest technologies on display—Blackberries, iPhones, flat-screen televisions, and more—which you may want to use in your next shoot. Although, if you use these items, be sure to incorporate them into the larger story by demonstrating them in use, rather than simply focusing on the product and brand.
Another solution is to brush up on your Photoshop skills. Often a simple extraction of a cord at the end of a headset can update a photograph to fit current trends.
- FRAME THE MARKET
You can leverage individual client work for stock agencies, too. The trick is to conduct regular analyses of your clients' fields, and generate up-to-date images that can be repurposed for your portfolio. For example, if you're scheduled for a shoot with a computer manufacturer, research their past sessions, and see what kind of subjects, technology, and styles they typically use.
You can take it a step further by investigating the elements in competitors' campaigns. If you see something recently released, get it and use it in your shoots. This way, you stay in step with market trends, and keep your clients' work top-notch, as well.
Although stock agencies don't take directly the work you shoot for clients, highlighting it on your site demonstrates your most recent style and approach. Remember to upload all new images to your online portfolio immediately. Stock houses check online portfolios constantly, and a steady stream of new content will keep yours fresh and marketable.
By using the latest fashion, technology, and lifestyle trends in each image, you'll keep the agencies coming back formore—and the clients buying, just as much.
Stacey Goldberg is Director of Visual Content for SuperStock (www.superstock.com), one of the nation's leading stock photography providers and a subsidiary company of a21, Inc. She works closely with photographers to build SuperStock's portfolio and provide premium stock imagery for advertising and publishing worldwide.