Playing with food

I was helping a friend get better with their food shooting for stock with some critiques, so I thought this might be useful and relevant. Remember a bunch of posts ago, we covered a little about what you are trying to achieve with your stock photo. I broke it down into a few easy steps that help turn a decent photo into a decent selling photo.

I did some shots last night over supper that will help illustrate my workflow, and how I go about doing things. I used a softbox plus my on-camera speedlight, but I could have easily gotten sale-able photos just using the speedlight. The fundamentals remain the same though. So here we go.

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More flash

This past week had me shooting a mineral collection at a local technical school. I have a sideline in stock shooting rare earth minerals, metals, and gems. This time, I got a lead on some good industrial minerals through a contact I made years ago. It’s important to keep in touch with people. What I do is provide them with royalty free images to use in their coursework in the geology department in return for access and property releases so I can sell the images.

When I began my photo business years ago, I initially focused on industrial and mining photography. With that in mind, I pursued many companies, institutions and agencies for access, clients and nifty things to shoot. After a while, I found that I had a large and still growing library of industrial minerals. When I later began my foray into stock, that was a ready-made niche market to exploit.

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Being humble, there is always someone better

One of the most enjoyable things about photography is that there virtually are NO LIMITS to how you utilize your imagination with technologies available to you. You can take stills, interactive gif’s, movies, audio, music, whatever. There’s a million things people have not yet tried and it blows my mind every time one little door is opened by someone who doesn’t see the limits.

Conversely, in the (micro) stock world, there is almost always someone better. Whether it’s better technical quality or imagination, odds are that when you start your journey, someone took a better picture of what you’re trying to achieve.

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Angles and food setups

Here’s where things can get pretty subjective. We look at different setups for a number of reasons. My top two are correct lighting and buyer appeal. Both are things you want to have in every stock photo you submit. Otherwise you’ll have a bad photo, or worse, a photo that does not sell.

With the near endless diversity in the food niche, you can create pretty much anything and everything. When it comes to stock though, sometimes you don’t know if a good idea will translate into a top seller. Starting out (which is what this is all about) you should have a primary motive for making the food, like I do (I’m hungry) and the secondary reason should be stock. Sounds kinda silly, but stock is a tough market, and doing things “only” for stock will very often lose you money. Therefore, it makes sense to already be doing something, and if a stock opportunity presents itself, take it. That way, you are making a little “extra” money for something you were already doing.

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