You want to shoot stock? Then you better be creative, prepared and a very hard worker. That’s just the beginning. There’s a whole bunch that goes into shooting stock. You have to understand concepts and how they appeal to photo buyers. Once you have that all figured out, you need a great big bunch of wonderful people to make it all work.
This post is a little case study. It gives you just a little flavor of what you need to make a stock photo shoot a success.
First you need a good photographer. Rich Legg is a very good photographer in Salt Lake City, UT. He makes a living shooting stock. In March of 2010, Rich marked a milestone in licensing his 100,000th image on iStockphoto. He is ranked in the top 100 worldwide of the thousands of contributing photographers with the agency. If you want to do the same, you’d move your career ahead by a mile simply by looking at the images found at his blog, Leggnet.com.
Next, you need a whole lot of friends. And Rich is fortunate enough to have many. The Salt Lake City, UT photographic community is one of the warmest, friendliest and most enthusiastic groups I’ve ever seen. I’ve spoken to camera clubs, PPA chapters, SMUGS, PUGS, you name it – all over the world. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more engaged, friendly, passionate group than the one I met at Pictureline when I spoke there. This group of talented folks offers a tremendous talent pool to draw from. (I’ve written about the Salt Lake photo community before here on Photofocus.)
When Rich needs models, props, locations, technicians, second shooters or whatever, he’s got them. He’s got a tremendous camera store to support him in Pictureline. He’s got a great friend in Nicole Young (an occasional contributor here at Photofocus.) All of these things matter. While much is made of photography being a solitary pursuit, that’s not true for most stock shooters.
The last thing I’ll mention on this list (and certainly not the last thing you’ll need to master) is leadership skills. Watch this amazing video and you’ll see that Rich is a natural born leader. He’s someone people are eager to follow. He’s a great guy with a big vision and he’s able to sell that vision to others in a way that causes them to buy into his big idea. This yields a very successful formula. Rich’s pictures prove it.
Shooting stock is very different today than it was 15 years ago. Regardless of what anyone thinks about microstock, it’s here to stay. Photographers like Rich have learned to make it work for them. Stock photography will continue to morph and change over the next decade, with or without iStockPhoto. But no matter how much the industry changes, the traits I’ve outlined here will be important.