Nope – not for the stock market. I know little about it, and I suspect hat is because there is little to know (it is mainly randomness). No, I am talking about stock photography. What makes a successful stock picture?
You can define this in many ways, but I like the following way of explaining the needs of a good stock picture that feature a person. You know the type of image: happy business people shaking hands, happy business people smiling, that sort of thing.
Those images consist of four elements:
- Background: the non-distracting, simple, background and its contrast to the subject, its theme, and its colour,
- Person: the person, who is doing something (what?)
- Symbol: An icon, a thing that explains what this is about; tells us “where we are” (e.g. the businessman wielding a fountain pen as he is signing a contract)
- Involvement: the tying-together of the above.
That goes for stock photos, but it also goes for many other photos.
An exercise I recommend: run your recent photos of people by those rules, and ask yourself “how do they measure up? What is my background? What is my person doing? What is the symbol? What is the involvement of the person with the rest of the image? What could I have done differently, even better?” Frameworks like the list above help you do this in a repeatable way.
The majority of the pictures I take are of my girls and as much as I adore them, I find my photos to be a bit boring, repetitive. They are mostly shot while the girls are playing or eating something. I’ll have to rethink them!
So try to make simple pictures; get close-up; use selective focus; and capture the moment and emotion. Not just camera-aware smiles, but all emotions.