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.


LGBT community lifestyle photography

LGBT community
LGBT woman on beach in the Florida Keys.

In today’s world the LGBT community is being recognised and embraced with companies using powerful images to draw viewer’s attention.

I worked with this great couple, love, laughter and togetherness being the main ingredients.

The Story of Our Camping Shoot with LGBT community

Being only a 2 ½ hour drive to Key Largo we are lucky enough to explore the Keys quite frequently. Key Largo is where it all starts but for me it isn’t The Keys until Islamorada.

This time we took a trip further south to Bahia Honda State Park an area of unspoilt natural beauty and a few hardy tourists for a spot of camping. I had booked a site facing the beach, these pitches are hard to get hold of, it took an evening of hovering over the ‘book’ button at midnight a year ago to secure this one.

We had an early start, our friend Greg drove us, towing his 17 foot Boston Whaler boat. An hour into the journey disaster struck, a bang, smoke, sparks flew from the trailer. Fortunately travelling in the right hand lane Greg expertly brought us to a safe stop on the grass verge. It wasn’t good, the axle on the trailer had snapped.

Now two grown men pause, silent for a moment, scratch their heads, the cogs turning in their minds, then we were on our phones. Amazingly after a flat bed pick up for the boat and trailer and a roadside repair in a service station we were back on the road again in less than 3 hours and on a Sunday!  

The girls joined us at the campsite around 5pm and we photographed them around the location in various activities until the sun went down. Lots of giggling produced perfect, unforced fun moments and a shot on the beach when they just sat together turned out to be such a carefree, intimate moment that I just happened to catch in the camera. The weather started to turn, clouds loomed but we hopped in the boat and let the girls loose on the waves, the speed and exhilaration that followed was exciting and another opportunity to catch a candid, real moment.

We spent the evening at the campsite enjoying the breeze from the ocean and lighting the bbq (that took most of the evening!) We woke in the morning to a beautiful view, we pitched a shade shelter on the beach and after a stroll eating breakfast watching the waves lap the shore. We explored around the Park from the ocean taking the boat out, snorkelling and lobster hunting. The one we found happily took part in a photo shoot then returned to the sea!

We had to leave the pitch at 1pm so packed up and got on the road heading north feeling hungry. Planning to stop at the Keys Fisheries in Marathon we were disappointed to find it closed for annual cleaning that day but found good alternative at the Island Fish Company close by. A night in a hotel was needed to refresh us for another day on the boat starting early next morning launching in John Pennekamp State Park a great place for hiring paddleboards, kayaks, boat trips, diving. We launched and spent the morning exploring the mangroves and a snorkel over the coral reefs. Hungry once more we stopped at The Shipwreck Bar and Grill in Key Largo recommended by a park ranger for the best burgers around and they truly were!


The shoot was a success with a number of positive images showing real life events enjoyed by the LGBT community.

Aerial photography, making smooth water.

Aerial photography
80ft motor yacht cruising at speed in open sea.

Sometimes using experienced professionals is the only way. These images were created using aerial photography, utilising the skills of an experienced helicopter pilot often hovering 3ft off the water at speeds of 40 knots. By using a gyro stabiliser it allowed me to create the the illusion of smooth seas while enhancing the movement of the beautiful yacht through the water. Knowledge coupled with experience and coordinating skills allows me to create powerful images using aerial photography.

When this job came in I was very pleased to be back working in my speciality, photographing aerial shots of moving boats and yachts. Once known as the ‘Boat Photographer’ in Florida who created many covers for yachting and boating magazine my passion of dangling from a helicopter has not diminished. Since being back in Florida I have branched out to shooting film clips and purchased the newest, up to date equipment. The gyro stabiliser  being one piece which I use constantly when creating short movie clips.

I use the same contractors Ocean Helicopters . They use professional pilots who are frequently flying photographers and used to their demands! For these images my pilot was able to get me as low as 3ft travelling at 40 knots. Using hand signals I directed the crew and talent on the yacht. I prefer this as an instant command rather than rely on a walkie talkie or mobile to relay instructions as this causes delay and sometimes a missed moment.

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.

German Stern magazine cove image

We recently found this image usage on the cover of German Stern magazine. I am glad the conceptual message of stress has been conveyed in this image. I would often make a picture only for the aesthetics, it’s back in the office while key-wording that the concepts for an image come to light.

The image was created in the Outerbanks in North Carolina, USA. The sand had the beautiful patterns, that had been crafted by the wind after an amazing storm a few days before.