Small Business will need billions of Stock Photos in the coming years!
Small business is anything but small in our economy. Small businesses represent over 99 percent of firms with employees. They generate almost half of the total private payroll in the United States and have generated sixty to eighty percent of all new jobs per year for the last ten years. It is also interesting to note that fifty-three percent of small businesses in the U. S. are home based.
Businesses need websites, and websites need stock photos
These businesses need photography, particularly in this age of the internet. Even if a business does not yet have a web site, it soon will. It is rapidly becoming, if it isn’t already a stark necessity. Over the next ten years it has been predicted that there will be over 15 billion more web sites. That is a lot of photography!
Conceptual stock photos, or descriptive stock photos?
There are two basic different types of stock photos that will be needed, conceptual and descriptive. Conceptual shots are useful for businesses that deal with such hard to illustrate themes such as financial services, insurance, banking and various non-product oriented businesses. Realistically, most business can use both. For example, if you run a dry cleaning business and you want to print out a flyer you might use a picture of a shirt on a hanger…or maybe something like a two people rolling out a red carpet…to indicate the service orientation of your business.
If you shoot pictures of shirts on hangars to fulfill those needs you might license a lot of them to dry cleaners. If you shoot people rolling out a red carpet your market suddenly becomes dry cleaners, bed and breakfast inns, even auto repair shops. A picture of a red carpet representing superior service can work for large, medium and small businesses alike. The market for your stock pictures becomes that much larger. When the stock photo in question reads quickly as a small thumbnail, you dramatically enhance your chance of the image being chosen.
You can shoot a shirt on a hangar for little cost. To shoot two people rolling out a red carpet is probably going to cost more and take more time. It will also be more difficult to shoot really well, and may need a lot more post.
Shoot the concept, shoot the story
A good way to approach this whole problem of what and how to shoot would be to shoot a shirt on a hangar (descriptive shot), a suit of clothes spread out on a bed (illustrating preparation), a model fixing his tie (again, preparation), similar shots with a woman model. Perhaps even the two asleep in bed, waking up, turning off the alarm clock, getting ready in the morning, fixing breakfast, washing dishes, a close up of dirty dishes in the sink, and, eventually, rolling out the red carpet. In other words, set up a shoot around a concept, and when appropriate, work through a story with your photographs.
Have a shot list, stick to it
To prepare for your photo shoot visualize each shot, each step. What props will you need? What wardrobe? How will you need to light it? Allow plenty of time for each shot, for the transitions between shots, and for wardrobe changes. Wardrobe changes can dramatically increase the number of selects you can get. But such changes can slow you down too. I always print out my shot list and check each one off as I complete it. If there is a clothing change I stop and review my list. I always have enough extra shots built in that if one shot just isn’t working, I can move on to the next.
Get the shot, but don’t over shoot
There is a fine line between moving on too soon, and not shooting enough. The trick is to know when you have your shot and it is time to move on. I have improved the efficiency of my shoots tremendously by slowing down and paying more attention to each shot rather than just firing away and then firing away some more because I haven’t paid enough attention to really know if I gotten what I wanted.
Take time to check your work
At least two or three times during a shoot, if at all possible, I will stop what I am doing and check a few shots on my laptop to make sure that my photos are in focus and the details are looking right. I’d rather find out problems during the shoot than after the models have gone home!
Slowing down yields more
Take the time to plan your shoot, create a comprehensive shot list, visualize the process of each shot, plan carefully for props and wardrobe, take your time, review your work, and reap the rewards. You be glad you took the time, and whether they know it or not, the small business that need your work will be glad too.