Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cherry blossom

While in Japan last February hundreds of pictures were made for an international stock agency working out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

A stock agency is like a library.
They basically have a very large computer stocked with thousands of images.
Clients from all over the world are newspapers, magazines, publicity companies, book publishers and anyone needing images.
They access through Internet the image library of the stock agency, make their choice and download the image to their own computer.
Next, they publish the image and are automatically billed for this by the stock agency.
It is an electronic and automated process that works very well.

It is a limited group of photographers who supply a stock agency with images.
A stock agency employs editors who have a look at images before they are entered into the database.
Only images that are really stunning, strong and convincing are allowed.

As a photographer, stock photography is a very exciting thing.
It is exercising the basics of photography.
How to tell in one image an event in a totally convincing and appealing way?
A good stock photo must be timeless.
Must tell a story that can be understood by most people worldwide.
Must be aesthetically attractive.
Must be technically perfect.
Must have an adequate caption.

This is the only way to have a chance that an image is selected, published and making money.

An example of stock photography is an image showing the cherry blossom in Japan.
This is a good subject.
Many people worldwide have heard of the cherry blossom in Japan.
The chance that worldwide a magazine, a newspaper or any other publication needs an image of cherry blossom is high.
It is a subject that is relevant at least every spring.

Now, the question is how to show cherry blossom in one image.
In a totally convincing way.
So that immediately it is understood it is about cherry blossom.
That it is about Japan.
About spring.
About cherry blossom being special.

While in Tokyo the cherry trees were blossoming.
In a park a blossoming tree was found.
Many hours were spend photographing people together with the flowers of the tree.
Looking for the ideal image.

Many images were simply not good enough.
It was too hard to see the flowers.
Or the persons attracted more attention than the flowers.
Or the background was disturbing.
Many reasons for not having the best image possible.
These are some images that are good, but not the best.

Insisting and trying is the motto.
Eventually this image was made:

It really shows the flowers at the tree.
It shows it is spring: still cold demonstrated by how the two ladies are dressed.
It shows how special cherry blossom is: by the two hands reaching to almost touch the flowers.
This image is about people and their amazement about a phenomenon in nature.

Stock images are great to make.
Because it is about how to share our existence.
To come together.
Not to be alone.

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