October 21, 2012
Can you make it in Stock Photography without shooting those high demand images it seems all the clients need? You know the ones, the edgy, natural, de-composition imagery of young moderns exploring their world without fear, inhibitions or purpose. The image depicts a moment in time, composed with a gesture to illustrate an emotion we can all identify with and through that connection buy the product they have subtly put on left center stage. Can you have it both ways, a career creating your own personal images that seem to resonate beyond the art world and get into mainstream consciousness and yet will sell? I feel the answer now is no. Be prepared to work at other things as well as your photography in order to make a living. The internet has leveled the relevance of licensing your imagery. It has cheapened the photo experience and lowered the bar on what can sell (and the price it can sell at) and what should sell. Now in the web environment anything can get published. You have photo apps that can transform an ordinary image of a person or landscape or urban environment into an edgy combo of self interest and self delusion that makes the viewer believe that the image they are seeing was actually the purposeful intent of the photographer. We have on one hand photographers that believe an image must have a purpose and a subject to reveal, and on the other hand photographers that shoot in rapid fire mode always checking their monitor to see what they shot and after seeing it, never explore further the subject in front of them. They never have that nagging did I miss something moment, have I explored all the possibilities I can with this subject. With the dreaded back monitor, we see the image come up and that is good enough so they upload the images and manipulate them after the fact. Not to enhance the subject (because there was no subject to begin with) but, to cover over the lack of purpose in making the image. These broken connections between the subject, the image and the viewer become the new standard to exploit. We become more fragmented in our ability to see purpose and revelations in the imagery of others. It becomes more difficult to see their conscious choices to enhance and educate us on the chosen subject. When the minutiae of detail we see on the web becomes so vast that it drowns out good photography, we are on the threshold of selfish, delusions of grandeur. If you don't explore your subject and get closer to it and reveal something of its inner character, then you have lost the depth it takes to create emotional connected work. I know it is not all or nothing; just creating personal work and nothing else. I create imagery for stock photo clients and then create imagery for myself. Sometimes the personal work crosses over to mainstream media outlets but more often than not the clients have been conditioned to accept whatever trend is being perpetrated on them at the time.