Ever wondered how there are so many good stock photos out there? And how they got taken?
Have you also downloaded one and had to settle “for almost but not quite right”?
Maybe you’ve got fed up looking for the right one and just settled for something free and second rate.
Well, ‘you’ can take your own.
If you know your way around a camera or even a smartphone you can take the image
you need to display for your business.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not against stock photos. They have their place.
But most small businesses often can’t afford to use the good ones.
So, they end up looking for free ones, which has a big cost in time, and then use them, more often
than not, for their online presence and a lot of these free ones are just not good enough.
In this article by Paul Suggett of the Balance. He uses the analogy of stock photography being
the “off the shelf clothing” and either your own or your photographer’s photos being the made to
measure that “fits you like it fits no one else”
Of course any Stock photo you use is not exclusive to you which can create other issues.
For more on that read Why stock images are bad for business!
But you can take a leaf out of the stock photography industry and follow these rules to take
your own purpose taken image.
Most *stock photographers use these following elements when taking stock photography.
Four Basic Elements of Stock photography
2. People (Model/S)
Let’s break this down:
Almost as important as the subject matter. Simplicity and Clarity are the keys here.
You want to ensure that the background doesn’t have distractions.
Choose a background that’s uncluttered and depicts the story that you want to tell.
For example, say you have a kitchen product, then use an actual kitchen or at least
have a background that looks like a kitchen.
The Kitchen needs to be a fairly bland kitchen with no other brands or appliances obvious.
Using contrast between the people, your subject and the background can give the image a
3-dimensional feel (without photo-shopping)
2. People (Model/S)
A vast majority of stock photos have people. People evoke emotion and interest.
In the Kitchen product example, ideally you would have someone using it.
Make sure they are posing naturally not as if this a family photo or portrait.
You want to convey the feel that you as the photographer are a fly on the wall and
not make it look staged.
If you are going to use the image for commercial or marketing use, ensure you get the model,
even if it’s your Aunt Amy, to fill out a model release. Just in case you fall out with the old girl
and she wants you to pay her in money instead of tea and scones later.
I will cover this issue in a later post. But it’s worth being flagged here.
3. Main subject
This is the main focal point of a stock image. You want it to shine out. Most products, and services are
meant to be used, worn or consumed. Like the Kitchen product show it in use.
But be careful! Don’t go overboard with the subject after all the story you are telling is what
benefit it will bring to your potential customer’s life.
If as another example, you are wine producer just taking images of your label or bottle is not
going to get you sales.
You could depict when is a good time to drink it. A Rose on a warm summers
afternoon, a Riesling matched with Thai food.
This is gives the opportunity to show your subject being used by someone who is really involved.
They should be showing some emotion maybe enjoyment or surprise.
Some images can work better if there is more than one person.
In the kitchen product example, they could be using it and interacting with someone else,
who looks amazed at the results or else could be helping or also using the product.
Remember it’s not a portrait you are after. Even if you have a piece of clothing or Jewellery,
much better to show how people wearing it being active even if it’s only reading a book.
*By the way I have defined a stock photographers as a photographer that takes images for
certain markets. They are not taking images on behalf of a specific client
If you have a product that you are considering taking your own images of then you may be
interested in this article Make sure your Product Image speaks for itself with this Photography Checklist.
At the bottom of that post is a link to download a checklist which will help.
Thanks for reading
Post any comments below. I’d love to hear them.
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