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 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.


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.

Elegant style in photography, how to capture it

Luxury travel vacations
Elegant woman on luxury yachting vacation

Classic postures coupled with clean, simple styling are the ingredients for an elegant style in photography.

Sprinkle these in to alluring locations, atmospheric lighting and the results are exceptional pictures.

When shooting in a luxury location or with a luxury product we aim to get the balance between high end and affordability to encompass various travel and leisure markets.

First, consideration is given to choice of model. Long elegant arms limbs and good posture, someone who just looks elegant in a comfortable way is ideal. Secondly, models are often asked to bring their own wardrobe. If you know your talent from previous shoots then you will have an idea of the styles and colours of pieces in their wardrobe and may be able to use some elegant pieces from their selection. However, we never totally rely on this. We will include one or two luxury items from our own collection or purchased especially for the shoot. Depending on the budget hair and makeup stylists may be onset or talent comes makeup ready. In our experience, for shooting lifestyle a subtle, natural look is perfect which most models can achieve themselves.

Finally, the scene has been set and the model is in place, stylist is happy with wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup. Now the skill happens through the experience, knowledge and eyes of the photographer using the light at the beginning or end of the day to breath life into the images.

In these two images wardrobe was quite simple but with an elegant feel and subtle tonal colouring, layering and accessories were a key element in the first shot which has proved to be a popular image and one of our highest sellers with Getty Images. The second image has a carefree feeling to it with the woman wearing just a simple cotton dress. Using natural fibres for wardrobe choices is another trick for this type of image, the way it feels, looks and flows is more relevant than you would imagine and the model feels comfortable too!

Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman

Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman

John O’Reilly writes about Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman . The photo was shot in Key Biscayne, Florida as part of a lifestyle shoot using senior models to explore the way they use time and gain fulfilment by taking themselves off for a journey on the water. Read John’s below.

Travel imagery offers a variety of advertising metaphors. This month’s Best-Selling photo on Image Source by Gary John Norman finds stillness in the rush

Travel is one part geography and one part psychology, it’s why imagery is so useful in advertising, tapping into our strangely deep expectations of what Travel can deliver. In pre-modern times there was the pilgrimage, Travel as religious journey to the Holy Land or shrines, pilgrims seeking forgiveness, repentance, a change in their lives. In the 18th Century there was the Grand Tour, the upper classes travelling to cities such as Venice, on an educational, cultural pilgrimage. And while contemporary Travel may actually be about Escape, a weekend break/stag or hen weekend/ chilling by the beach we still mentally file Travel and its imagery under Experience and Discovery.

So this month’s Image Source best-seller by Gary John Norman potentially ticks off a range of general ideas associated with travel, but Norman’s photo delivers some very specific visual cues for advertisers. Such as: Touch, as the hand glides over the surface of the water: or Flow in the blur of the water; and most of all Balance which really focuses the eye in this image.

We can now add geometry to the list of things Travel ticks off. Norman’s shot and crop provides a perfect symmetry, two triangles divide the image diagonally, either side of the arm bisecting the photo, the viewer drawn to identifying with the woman in the boat, leaning over. The foreground is all movement in the blurring of the water, rushing towards us, the background is the horizon the straight lines of the boat and arm. There’s order and balance in this vision of movement. It’s why this would be a highly effective Business or Financial Services image pitching stability. Or the business person or organisation being in-the-zone the calm in the chaos, in the moment. Equally it could work in the technology sector with metaphors around touch and flow.

Look up any quotation site and there’s a hugely rich set of reflections around the meaning, purpose and value of travel. Our idea, our vision of Travel has long survived the often grim reality of it, not least because no matter how unglamorous modern travel is, it still gives us a useful and productive sense of dislocation, of leaving something of ourselves behind. It’s why my favourite Travel insight comes from Canadian author Douglas Coupland’s novel Player One, where he mashes together the modern and the old in an ironic and true observation on contemporary travel, a plane trip exposes you to situations and landscapes unthinkable until recent history, moments of magnificence and banality that dissolve what few itty-bitty molecules of individuality you possess. After a plane trip, you need to rebuild your ego, to shore up your sense of being unique. That’s why religions target airports to find new recruits. I might just rediscover my balance with a quick peek at Gary John Norman’s photo.

By John O’Reilly link here.

Business environmental portraiture


Business environmental portraiture

Photographing people in their surroundings is intended to show their character and allow elements of their personality to show through. For successful business environmental portraiture other characteristics also need to be communicated in order to be successful. They are intelligence, professionalism, sincerity, and competence. It is also thought that by photographing a person in their natural surroundings, the person will be more relaxed and more likely to express themselves.

This business portrait shoot for Anglian Business magazine shows the subject at the office location but conveys information about the person being photographed. the silk fabrics draped on a table behind the subject suggest a textile industry and the richness of their colour is reflected in the choice of background I photographed my subject against. He is at ease in his environment and comfortable seated.

A Guide to Digital Photography workshop

Beginners guide to digital photography workshop






The first beginners guide to digital photography workshop was held on the 12th January it was a great event and we received an excellent testimonial.
‘I would recommend photography training by Gary Norman. He is a dynamic trainer with an engaging style and a massive amount of knowledge, that he communicates in a way that is easy to understand.’

More workshops are planned so keep an eye on the website here.

Improve your digital phone photography

The digital phone is a great device for creating images with a few techniques I am going to demonstrate and explain how to improve your phone image making. Many of the pictures being taken with Camera Phones are poor in quality, this might partially be a result of lower quality cameras – but it is also often a result of poor photographic technique.

Samples here and a link here to my notes if anyone interested in improving their photography skills please get in contact. I would be delighted to provide a 30 minute presentation with Q&A to individuals and clubs.