Stuff Happens

What does leaving my wallet at the bookstore yesterday, a flashing warning light on the car dashboard as I pulled out to drive back to the bookstore and an error in posting a payment to a bill have to do with stock photography? Typical everyday annoyances and frustrations make for great concept shots for editorial uses dealing with stress related issues and to illustrate products and services that supply solutions to common business problems.

Many of the ideas on the shot list below will have to be set up but some are very simple. To add to my suggestions just run through the day-to-day situations that get your blood boiling. Once you have an idea, create your own shot list of different ways to illustrate the concept. Check the collection. Have others already executed the idea in the same way? Can you expand beyond the obvious? Is there another point of view that you can take? A shoe as it hits a banana peel is a nice concept shot but what about shooting the banana in the foreground and a person recovering from the slip in the background?

Noise is a constant irritation. It’s invisible and a major cause of stress. Thus a challenge to conceptualize. The image here of the model pointing upward by Geotrac works on many levels. The concept could be irritation at noise from an upstairs neighbor or it could be exasperation at a leaking roof. Versatility of concept expands the usage of an image but sometimes one more element in a few of the shots will emphasizes one concept over another. If this model had covered her ear with one hand, the image would be perfect for the concept ‘noisy neighbor’. For inspiration read this article from a recent post on Salon

Frustratingly long lines and unavoidable crowds can be shot without any prior preparation except for being in the right place at the right time. I found a shot of the feet of several people standing in line in the collection but nothing about their body language suggested impatience. A tapping toe in the line or body language suggesting boredom or exasperation would heighten the message. Innocent enough encounters with law enforcement can ruin anyone’s day. Images of an expired parking meter or the inching over the speed limit that results in an expensive ticket will illustrate preventable nuisances. An image of a police car reflected in an rear-view mirror could exemplify the fate of a speeder for editorial commentary.

© Junial

See shot list below.

Shot list:

Waiting in line

Spilled milk (paint, any liquid) with people in the shot.

Shirt caught in zipper. Unzipped fly with shirt sticking out

Ruined meal with distraught cook standing by

Creative composition of burnt toast. Maybe a smoking toaster.

Small kitchen fire on stove

Screaming children irritating bystanders

Open full carton of eggs with several broken ones

Running from rain at a picnic or parade or other event

Broken egg on floor

Stuck in traffic

Rained out

Barking dog outside window. Irate homeowner inside looking out window

Noisy neighbors

Child temper tantrum

Trying to catch a taxi in the rain

Lost dog sign on a post

Leaking roof

Hole in a shoe

Big spill on a dress, shirt or tie

Inappropriate mobile phone use intruding on others

Dog or puppy tears up couch, unrolls toilet paper or chews on slippers

Missed the boat, plane or train

Fender bender

Broken high heel

Can’t sleep (images of sheep in a field should not be keyworded ‘insomnia’)

For this blog I looked for an image of rain on a picnic. None found. Rain on a parade? Only one series of images of a rainy parade in Japan. Go get wet.

Photo credits: Anita Patterson Peppers, Chrishowey, Fallenangel, Geotrac, Nikolay Mamluke, Kirk Johnson, Photoeuphoria, Robert Paetz, Johanna Goodyear, Vladimir Mucibabic, Melanie Defazio.

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Glad my blogs help you with ideas. thanks for the good words.


 Crying little boy 
I love drawing illustrations about your inspiring blog Ellen.

"Child temper tantrum" will be my next theme for a serie of illustrations...


Stuff really happens - Live Bookmark feed refuses to load this post... :( Great article, and really inspiring ideas! Thank you for the inexhaustible inspiration! :) (I'm not sure again, did I use a right word, but I just like to read your articles :))


You really do post the most helpful stock suggestions I've ever come across. Who knows, I just might get the hang of it one of these days :-) Thanks a bunch for the info.


Great ideas, as usual! THANKS!!! :)))


Wonderful article and ideas Ellen. thank you.


WOw! Great hints. I've already have in my mind some new pictures.

And anyway, you said: "Noise is a constant irritation" and I can add "especially for photographers" ;))


Sometime you don't have to set things up, like when I had car trouble recently! Great ideas...


Great guide!Thank you,sir!


Great blog! Really makes you get the thinking cap on.


Very interesting idea! Really how many ridiculous and funny cases we observe, because the angry person from is looked funny enough:)


Great article and ideas! Thanks Ellen.


This is a great list, ellen. I just woke up and was thinking maybe I need to go over your blog and try to extract some kind of inspiration for more stock. I'm at some serious brain fart right now..

Thank you for this. You're my muse now. :)


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