The Concept of Concepts for Amateur Stockers

I think everyone understands the "Concept of Concepts" when it comes to stock yet it seems amateur stockers have a difficult time putting that "concept" into practice.

Just browse through the database and look at what the high-end professionals are doing and you'll understand concepts. All you have to do is grab your camera, $20,000 worth of lighting equipment, hire three or four models, and rent a venue such as a resort pool or bank lobby. A few shots of people interacting in a bank setting would be gold in your portfolio!

You all "get" that and you all know what a fantasy it is at the same time to generate such a shot. It's not an easy image to create even if you have resources and location.

However, let's just back up a minute here. When you look at the portfolios of amateur stockers, you really don't see many CONCEPT type images. There will be generic landscapes and architecture, artistic images of flowers in the park, etc. Even when a Contributor is fortunate to have a model (usually a spouse and their kids), the images generally tend to be snapshots. There are plenty of smiling heads and cute baby pictures in the database and as such, they don't stand out from the competition.

Snapshots are not concepts.

OK, what is a "Concept?" A concept, in stock photography, is an image that COMMUNICATES to the viewer a specific IDEA. (Or... concept!) A well executed concept grabs the eye immediately and tells the viewer what the subject is.

Think in terms of this: Have you ever flipped through the pages of a magazine but stopped because an image CAUGHT YOUR EYE AND MADE YOU WANT TO LOOK? And without even reading the article or advertisement knew what the SUBJECT was about? That is essentially the bread and butter of stock photography. Grabbing the eye and telling the brain immediately what the message is. Execute the concept well and you make the viewer stop and look. An advertisement is no good if the viewer ignores the ad. A web page fails when a person surfs to another web site.

Fine, we all know that, but how do we, as Contributors, accomplish that? First of all, you have to recognize the difference between snapshots and concepts. When you begin to understand CONCEPTS and practice the craft of REAL stock photography, you will begin to see more sales.

Let's go back to the bank example. Getting models and securing a bank lobby is not going to happen, but if you sit down with paper and pencil and BRAINSTORM ideas, you might come up with ideas that will work. And it helps to be unique; the first idea that comes to mind might be a pile of coins. You can shoot that easy! And it communicates the concept of banking! Well, there are thousands of images like that in the database, you might as well go back to doing snapshots.

Play with the ideas in your head. Can you do the shot on your kitchen table? What props might be used? How about... taking a friend to an ATM machine and photograph their hand using the machine. Edit out the bank logos and you have a banking picture, no model release required!

Keyword search ATM MACHINE and there are only eight web pages of images when I do the search. Do you think you may have a chance to grab some sales with that type of CONCEPT? Especially if you execute the image better than what is available?

This is one of the many secrets of being successful in stock photography: Put the camera away and sit down at a table with paper and pencil. Just let thoughts drift through your mind as you conjure up a few subjects such as BANKING. When you have a basic concept in your head, start to imagine different objects, metaphors, symbols, whatever, that are related to the topic. Try to see the image before you ever set it up. Work through the logistics. Can you get a friend who will let you photograph their hand using an ATM machine? Do you have the skill to edit and remove logos and trademarks on the machine? If you know you can't do a shot for whatever reason, work around the issues and think of another way of doing the concept.

I know we would all love producing an image of a smiling bank teller and customer performing a transaction in a bank lobby, but there are still hundreds of ways to express the concept of BANKING that will work within your limited resources. All you need is paper, pencil, and imagination.

Does this help with CONCEPTS? Are going to submit snapshots of your smiling spouse now? Or will you photograph them repairing the car, doing household chores, paying bills, and creating other CONCEPTUAL images? Don't give up, either; some of your ideas will sit and never get sales, but others will.

For those of you who are not practiced with this and will find a blank sheet of paper a huge barrier, I will leave you with a small list of concepts you can think about:

Agriculture

Automotive

Aviation

Banking

Banking

Careers

Crime

Culture

Education

Energy

Entertainment

Environment

Family

Finance

Finance

Food

Freight/Shipping

Gardening

Government

Holidays/Celebrations

House/Home

Industry

Medical

Music

Nature

Phases of Life (Young/Old)

Relationships

Religion

Retirement

Science

Technology

Transportation

Travel

Photo credits: Markbeckwith.

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Awesomeshotz

Thanks Great Blog on Concepts

Laurasinelle

Thanks for sharing!

Anhong

Good article, thanks to share!

Paras90

very well written and very precise on things... This is not only applicable for photographers but as well as to videographers, architects, painters and to all artists..

great article! thumbs up!

rockpaperscissorsph.com

Davidwatmough

Article is great but some of us lack yhe skill set of manipulation in Photoshop. ........ the advice is obvious take a class . David.

Akulamatiau

Good article and good advice. Will try to keep that in mind the for next project. Thanks.

Nigelspiers

Thanks - your article really hit the spot for me - a very timely reminder.

Mrfiege

Lots of food for thought here. From someone who's just started out in stock photography this helps to remind me that I need to consider what concepts I'm trying to convey in my images. Thanks for the wake up call.

Martingraf

Glad I just lately did start with thinking about shooting with more purpose and think about a concept and luckily my spouse was patient to be my modell and try out a few ideas I had in my mind regarding business woman - wasn't too bad for the first try then - I have chosen 4 pics from that shooting and all 4 were accepted from DT. So yes, your blog certainly gives me some extra ideas.

Adeliepenguin

Nicely done, as usual:) Thanks for making effort.

Fpro

Yes, that is the core idea of successful stock, I have got the same message by discussing with some ******** pros that work for the major macrostock agencies. Lighting, exposure, etc are just the touch-ups, the brainstorm that went around before the shot is what catches the eye in a well executed image. Nice post, keep coming back with more interesting stuff. Cheers :)

Sobek85

Nice article

smartview27

Thanks for sharing !

Onime

this is a great categorization, thanks for sharing. :)

Dgmate

Wow this is very helpful!! Thanks

Plaincrazy

you always have great info and you write will. i really appreciat it I have not been uploading in long time cause i been working with this idea a bit when i can and i dont know but after reading it i come up with an i dea to try. it may not work but its an idea anyways i been looking at the blank page.rn

Nantucketphotoart

Thank you. You are bang on.

Enigmacypher

Your input would be great to have in the Continuous Stock Improvement thread.

Ewapix

What do you mean "only eight pages"!!!! How can I beat that???Joking aside - the blog is brilliant. Many thanks. I love concepts. I am always jealous when people come with great concepts and I wish I was so clever!Looking forward to the next blog!

TMarchev

Thanks!

Karenfoleyphotography

Couldn't agree with you more - and I think concept images are the most fun to produce. That said, however, sometimes designers really don't need "image of mechanism for applying opposing force to a previously unmovable object" - they just need a picture of a wrench. K-

Jdanne

Thanks for the info!

Cammeraydave

Thanks Mate, Well Said

19838623doug

Excellent read. Well Done rnDoug

Rigsby8131

Another great blog with excellent advice!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Lehmanphotos

Good tips, thanks for writing!

Calyx22

I'm definitely weak in the concepts area, but hopefully I can change that this year a little bit. Hope your concept ideas work out for you and thanks for sharing this.

Clearvista

Great Blog thank you :)

Silent47

You are right about concepts.Here are some examples from my port and all of them are made just with my camera a friend and an idea:Tell me what you thinkingrn  rn Deserted by society   rn1.This one is my friend siiting on the floor but made the composition very dramatic with another 5 photos from trips i made sometime  rnrn Online business deal   rn2.This is my brother in law and my wife's laptop rnrn Magic book   rn3.In this concept are 3 photos made individual  rnrn Finding ideas in dark moments   rn4.This again is my brother in law with a digital background and an bookrnrnetc..If you like to spend a few hours on a photo you will get good results so,Wisconsinart like always you are right to the point.God i wish to have your writing skills.Good job

Francy874

Wise words and very useful blog, thanks for sharing!!! Bye, Francesca :-)

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