Imagination and Originality

posted on 1st of july, 2012

Imagination and Originality

As the stock industry over-saturates itself with the same types of images and concepts, it will be key to come up with new ideas in order to stand out and maximize portfolio potential. Using your imagination to produce original ideas is therefore an important part in your stock career.

Sure, it's easy to say "use your imagination and be original." But it's the difference between being a trendsetter or someone who's behind the curve and always playing catch-up.

First of all, I think the problem many people have is understanding what STOCK imagery is all about. You see STOCK images every day so you should have a grasp of what Buyers are looking for. Stock images are used in junk mail, online ads, and magazines and newspapers. If you are constantly exposed to stock images in use, then why is it difficult for many Contributors to produce images geared toward the industry?

I'll give you a real example. Recently someone posted pictures of their newborn baby. The photographs were fantastic and demonstrated talent on the part of the photographer. However, the images were typical baby portraits. In the critique I said the database was saturated with the same old boring baby portraits. The result from that comment had three people UN-Liking me. Doesn't matter; it was obvious many people missed the point. If you do what everyone else is doing, you are not going to stand out. And since you are familiar with stock images because you see them every day, then you should know that virtually no one buys baby portraits.

In my post I also suggested to keyword search on CHANGE DIAPERS. As I write this blog, the result of CHANGE DIAPERS is 35 images. And of those, how many do a good job of COMMUNICATING THE CONCEPT of changing a diaper on a baby? Are we now UNDERSTAND STOCK? If you have a baby for a model you are sitting on a gold mine but why does everyone upload the same old baby portraits? Yes, you should make those fine baby portraits and send them to Grandma (which also improves your skills as a photographer) but where is the IMAGINATION and ORIGINALITY of creating images for the STOCK INDUSTRY?

Do we see where I'm going with this? BABY is but one of thousands of every day situations of life. And BABY is a topic from which hundreds of situations can be experienced. Exercise that imagination and start creating images for all those possibilities!

Imagination is one thing, ORIGINALITY is another. Most of us may be limited to shooting items on a kitchen table or pushing furniture around to make a small space in a room, but again, there are still many possibilities and situations that could be created with limited resources. However, time and time again people browse through the database and do what everyone else is doing. I'm guilty of doing this too and I have many images with poor sales because I didn't think outside the box.

Here's an example: A while back I uploaded an image for an assignment challenge. I worked hard on it and used four different photographs that were merged together. Here is the result:

Every now and then I will test my images against the competition and I discovered this image in the database:

Well, there is no law preventing people from creating their own image that was conceived by someone else, but the point here is this: The stock industry is too competitive to be a follower; it is the trendsetters who will be rewarded. I was kind of flattered my image was duplicated and probably more annoyed that all the keywords were copied word-for-word. Again, the stock industry is too competitive to be lacking initiative.

IMAGINATION and ORIGINALITY are topics that probably should be covered in greater depth, but the quick overview provided here will have to suffice. You see stock images every day so you should understand what STOCK is all about; it's not portraits or generic architecture, it's CONCEPTS and HOW THEY ARE COMMUNICATED VISUALLY. Take the time to let your imagination drift and run and come up with ideas; despite the stock industry becoming super-saturated, there are many subjects with virtually no coverage, such as CHANGE DIAPERS. I think this happens because people are too busy doing what others are doing. Do you need someone to create a picture of CHANGE DIAPERS before you do it? Be a trendsetter and blaze new trails with ORIGINALITY!

Comments (9)

Posted by Jdanne on July 17, 2012
Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

One of my relatively well selling photos is a cob corn [imgl] 16022750[/imgl]. There are 5,288 cob corn images in the database, so it's really neither unique nor any kind of a trendsetting image. I even didn't expect ANY sales BUT it sells better than most of my other 400 photos!

Might be this is the exception of the rule or the truth is somewhere between: It's excellent to have trendsetting photos with a lot of originality and imagination but it's also not wrong to have "standard" bread and butter photos, too.
Posted by Wisconsinart on July 16, 2012
Thanks for sharing, Wisconsinart. But I sort of have mixed feelings about you posting the image that copied you. Obviously I understand that you would not like that, but you mentioned you were guilty of doing it yourself. Did those contributors that you copied or imitated post your image side by side with theirs?

I would say I've copied concepts more than creating an actual duplicate. After all, shooting someone using a laptop isn't exactly new. The point is unique images generally sell better and you'll do better if you don't follow the herd. Everyone says the stock industry is over saturated but I don't believe that because there are way too many subjects/concepts not yet covered. I have pages and pages of new ideas written down but no time to shoot 'em.
Posted by Calyx22 on July 15, 2012
Thanks for sharing, Wisconsinart. But I sort of have mixed feelings about you posting the image that copied you. Obviously I understand that you would not like that, but you mentioned you were guilty of doing it yourself. Did those contributors that you copied or imitated post your image side by side with theirs?
Posted by Kittycat on July 09, 2012
Great article. Thank you for sharing
Posted by Grisho on July 06, 2012
Useful, as always.
Posted by Cleaper on July 06, 2012
Great blog - thanks for the kick up the bum! A while ago I wrote down quite a few ideas of new concepts to try and set up and shoot but I haven't got round to doing them. Maybe I should! You are right - it is one thing to understand stock but it is quite another to actually have the originality and creativity to come up with great stock images. I certainly have a lot of work to do! Thanks again for a great article.
Posted by Mike2focus on July 03, 2012
Great article, WisconsinArt. The creative people are going to be the successful stock "photographers/designers" of the future. Gotta tag on "designer" to your photography title now :-)
Posted by Kikkerdirk on July 02, 2012
Nice blog! Creativity is key to success in microstock!
Posted by Arvacsaba on July 02, 2012
Great article. This gave me the motivation to realize one of my crazy ideas.... thanks :D

Comments (9)

This article has been read 1829 times. 4 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Ibreakstock, Wisconsinart.

About me

My greatest passion is landscape and fine art photography. However, stock does provide a challenge in itself. I enjoy coming up with new ideas and concepts and learning new techniques. In the end, each compliments the other. The things you learn from one can apply for another and you grow with the craft. I have over 30 years experience with different kinds of art and freelance endeavors and have yet to become tired or bored with finding new ways to exercise the creative side of me. Thank you for visiting my profile and I hope your time here will be a reward in itself. I am located in Wisconsin... [Read more]

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