Stock photography and how we make it work

Stock photography and how we make it work
Woman in silk dress in the sea, used as book cover.

Developing concepts and ideas for a stock shoot pays off when you see the published work.

For us stock photography is producing and creating a curated collection of innovative still images and motion clips which are fresh, dynamic, compelling unbranded and released. The content is distributed by our agents to fulfil the needs of creatives who are looking for immediate images. This post explains a bit about stock photography and how we make it work.

OK, so we know what stock photography is but how is the content created, what is in demand, where do you shoot, who do you photograph and when do the photos get selected by licensed stock agencies?

Also stock video clips are making a huge impact on the market these days. Look closely at TV advertisements, how many can you spot which are mainly a bunch of video clips strung together as opposed to a full production? Thus we shoot video clips too.

The journey of a still or motion clip is basically the same from ideas to production to revenue in the bank and this is how we do it.

  1. Research. We research topics, keep up to date with latest trends, seek and meet interesting people (old, young, in between, active, individuality) seek advice on photo requirements from creative advisers and take note of interesting and suitable locations. It’s important to think of a concept for the shoot beforehand then build the storyboard around that.
  2. Planning. Sometimes a shoot is planned in fine detail with a production plan, models, crew, travel and budgeting but sometimes it is a walk on the beach with the camera, yet even this simple pastime has been given some thought, for example, the time of day, the location, what to wear and whether we need props.
  3. Production. Getting the right shot takes many, many captures and much patience from all involved. The lighting, camera exposures, props and talent adjusted and tweaked. Then the talent, be it a friend, relative, new talent starting out or a pro has to sign a model release…otherwise the pictures will be worthless. This needs to be agreed beforehand. Even dogs, cats, homes, offices, boats require a property release.
  4. Editing. Back in the office the photos are edited with a fine tooth comb leaving the best to be distributed to the agency for their selection.
  5. Key wording. Generally about half of the edit will be selected, these then get cleaned up in photoshop, removing logos and a little colour adjustment, uploaded to the stock agency portal where the metadata and description is completed using those conceptual keywords and phrases, these have to be good to get the images found, selected and sold.
  6. Selling. Images are now live and ‘for sale’
  7. Revenue. It could be 3 months before we see any revenue..it could be as little as a dollar or enough to book a plane ticket to a nice location for the next production.

That is stock photography and how we make it work for us.

Companies are asking us to produce in house libraries of content for their social media and advertising requirements. If this interests you contact us with your needs, we will be happy to help you. hello@garyjohnnorman.com

 

Aviation photography, creating engaging portraits for the aviation industry.

Student pilot standing with his light aircraft on tarmac in Barbados
Student pilot standing with his light aircraft on tarmac in Barbados

Aviation photography, creating engaging portraits for the aviation industry.

I want to build a portfolio of aviation photography to target future clients in the aviation industry. My thinking is to transfer my skills I already demonstrate in shooting luxury yachts for the marine industry, coupled with a wide repertoire of experiences shooting environmental portraiture. I can produce some stunning, forward thinking images, connecting people with their craft to ensure realism that make future clients sit up and take note.

Aerospace businesses needs to have believable aviation photography showing real people in real environments looking experienced, knowledgable but friendly to encourage their clients to trust and believe in them.

To put my claims to the test I met up with a young pilot in Barbados who is currently training for his licence. His knowledge, confidence, and energy  in this environment was remarkable, he will do well with a future of air craft ahead of him. I wanted to make the viewer feel his pride and positivity.

With his help it was quite straightforward, through the Light Aircraft Club, to gain access to a ramp and a small aircraft on the runway very early one morning as the sun came up. The only rule we had to follow was not to shoot towards the main terminal so a little time was taken to manoeuvre the aircraft into position, following this rule and making sure the light would be in the right place.

The fact that this young man really does fly the plane was an important element to capture, I wanted to show the connection and confidence he has with what he does e.g checking paperwork, safety checks. With a model this would be difficult to do as they would not be familiar with actions around the plane. I first asked him to lead me around the plane showing me what he would really do before he got in, how he gets in and demonstrating using headphones and flight maps etc. This gave me an overview of possible scenarios to shoot. Using my skills in directing people as to where to stand, how to stand, using props and body posture and communicating with the pilot I was able to get the shot.  More images from the collection here.

Eating in Tulum, Mexico.

Nachos with freshly made salsa and dips with lemonade
Nachos with freshly made salsa and dips with lemonade

Food often plays an important part of our shoots and I thought it was a good time to reflect on eating in Tulum and the great food on our recent shoot in Mexico. We arrived in Tulum on day two of our two week shoot in Mexico.

The cultural downtown is mainly one road lined with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and bars. This is where we decided to look for a place for eating in Tulum.

Driving along the street we observed it is rustic where locals eat and people go about their business. The cooking is traditional and often on view to the public. No shiny aluminium kitchen appliances but food is freshly prepared with fresh ingredients. The juices are delicious, the coconut water comes in the coconut, the service is exemplary.

After a couple of drives up and down the street we settled for El Vegetanario, a vegetarian restaurant on the roadside where we could park the car full of equipment in view of our dining table. We chose this place not because we don’t eat meat but because it was such an inviting, colourful place, with friendly welcoming staff. Our first discovery was complimentary fresh, crispy nachos and spicy dips to nibble while drinking the local beer or lemonade. We chose homemade carrot soup and mushroom burgers, the flavours of both were remarkable without the grease and we left with a healthy feeling.  Prices are cheap US $7 per person for a meal and fresh juice or beer.

When we didn’t eat out we had our lovely talent cook with us. One morning our male model prepared breakfast, a feast of scrambled eggs with peppers, toasted slices of baguette piled with avocado and proscuitto and tomatoes basil with olive oil. A delicious feast that we lovingly named the breakfast after him, the ‘Mauricio breakfast’!

Business portraiture around London.

Businessman in the city casually engaged in business on the go.
Businessman in the city casually engaged in business on the go.

In the summer of 2015 I spent time in central London observing city workers conducting business in the streets and squares around their offices. Business men and women seemed to bring the office outside, standing under monuments or conducting meetings under the canopy of a shady tree on a park bench. It’s become an escalation from the coffee shop and temporary work spaces into the public spaces where we now find formal and informal business being carried out.

Business portraiture is breaking away from the suited businessperson cocooned in a stuffy office and becoming an on the go, action figure grabbing a few minutes in the day wherever they find themselves, moving forward to connect with colleagues or clinch the next deal.

Where we do business can now be visually hilarious and whimsical. The curious spaces that we now find ourselves conducting business stems from our technological driven world and that has given us a license to escape the ordinary and find extraordinary environments that we work. The oddity in today’s era has come about from being unconstrained from time and space, somewhat due to technology and some through the choice about how we want to live our lives.

With my observations as visual references I engaged a friend to replicated these images for some business portraiture around London.

Silver sea

Mature woman in red stands in stormy ocean
Mature woman in red stands in stormy ocean

The joy of my job as a lifestyle photographer is producing my own shoots. I enjoy having an idea in my head then capturing it in the camera. I had previously made a similar image in the same location in Key Biscayne. This is a favourite of mine, it is away from the skyscrapers in Miami allowing for a clear horizon and shallow water making it easier for models, crew and photographer working in the water.  This time I wanted to use a mature female model with natural, long silver hair standing in the sea, hence the title Silver sea. The idea was to see how the long hair mimicked the gentle waves breaking on the surface of the water.

When the wind chose to change direction and stir up the calm seas and clouds gathered in the sky it was looking like my vision would be abandoned. However, with perseverance and patient talent we waited for a gap in the cloud and took a few shots. What transpired was powerful and engaging. I could not have planned the weather, in fact usually I plan around it. Yet this time the stormy weather made the shot. The contrast of the woman’s red costume against the greys of the sea and sky and the strong wind blowing waves through the woman’s hair make the viewer entranced and curious.

Superheroes

Superheroes with capes on the beach
Superheroes with capes on the beach

A big kid at heart, Gary’s favourite things are trains, planes, boats and the sea.

Where he can he incorporates these elements into his work along with a bucket load of fun!  We took some creative kids to the beach with a cardboard plane and lots of imagination, soon they turned into superheroes.

For this shoot we cast some street talent, there are some very naturally talented young people out there and we wanted the kids to play spontaneously. We found these three through a friend, also a model so she recognised the potential and the qualities needed in them. In fact, they took direction when needed really well, were extremely enthusiastic , not to mention a lot of fun. The shoot was themed around role play with the emphasis on girls in stereotypically boys roles too. Girls want to be pilots, astronauts or superheroes too!

One way to create a genuine imagine is not to prop and style too much. We provided the props but let the kids try them out, build, create and style themselves. In this shot they ran around the beach chasing each other then did this….. We just made them do it again for the camera.

A fun shoot…but exhausting, kids have so much energy!

Girls with dreams

Girl puts robot head on boy in the woods
Girl puts robot head on boy in the woods

Girls with dreams came to life when we took a few kids and some junk, mixed them up with some creativity, sprinkled some imagination and topped it off with a bit of fun.

We wanted to capture the belief that ‘Girls with dreams become women with vision’ and to show that boys AND girls can have the same ambitions and dreams.

Big brands have been using advertising to spread a message to blur the gender stereotype that often shows males in for example, the mechanical or science industries . The  Verizon’s Inspire Her Mind commercial highlighting girls and science and countless others show that female empowerment has become a significant focus in corporate marketing

For this shoot we cast a few kids aged between 4 and 10, both male and female. Wanting a large play area outdoors to enhance the children’s creativity and imagination we revisited a location we were familiar with belonging to a friend, this wooded area is  her back garden! The kids were local people who knew each other so a good relationship from the start. We made a few props and to start with briefed them that they were to build a robot. Then it became apparent that kids are best if left alone to explore and discover. They made the scenes better, interacted with each other and equally shared the ‘ inventer’ role and the robot role between boys and girls. In a candid way of shooting we watched and clicked away the real things happening. Sometimes it was necessary to get them to repeat something really good…they were happy to oblige!

This shot started a the girl building her robot in the garage then taking it to the woods. She ‘pretended’ to direct it left, right, straight ahead with simple commands. Malfunctions with a loose head meant she had to keep making adjustments which is when this was captured.

 

Creative process.

Creative Process

The creative process I use today is the same as when I began studying photography many years ago. Poking around my parents loft I found an image created at university in 1987. I graduated 25 years ago with distinction and this is one image from a series, the creative process I use today is the same.

Start with what you know and love

This was my first college project. I remember building and painting the lightbox for the subject, in this case the gutted fish. Lowestoft, my home town is traditionally a fishing town. All my family were fishermen and wives – hence the fish theme. Blue is my favourite colour and light is what I play with all the time in my image making.

Today I work with the same creative process. I start with an idea I am confident, passionate and/or knowledgable about. For me this is boats and water. I build the scene around it. People, props and location. Working outside requires an element of timing in order to get the best light. Light is the final part of the process, be it natural light or artificial.