The Life of a Stock Shoot

I’ve got a big portfolio update of new content that I can’t wait to share with my buyer friends, but I’m waiting a few more days to make sure a good bit of it has made it through the iStockphoto queue and search issues before posting.  In the meantime, I thought that perhaps as a buyer, you might be interested in a general idea of what goes on to create the content I have in my portfolio.

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Of course, it all starts with an idea.  Occasionally, I will sit down with my college ruled notebook and try to brainstorm some ideas for upcoming photo sessions.  This could be a new series of props and poses for my 3d guy, a setup based on an upcoming holiday, a life situation (like a family dinner) I haven’t illustrated yet or a note to create something around an interesting model who might have created a profile on my website.  This is just a list to use in the future when I need to go digging for a theme to plan a future shoot on.

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I try to plan out photo sessions with people about a month out.  I will pick one theme, say, the family dinner, and sit down again with my notebook.  I temporarily pick a location for the shoot, my studio or a location for example.  I then go through the people who have modeled for me or that have expressed interest, to see if I can come up with a group that “fits” the theme.   With those people in mind, I make up a rough shot list with basic ideas and sketches to see if I have enough ideas and content to fill 2 hours or so of shooting.

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If so, next, the models are contacted to check on availability or interest, and dates are shifted until everyone is available.  The location is confirmed, and emails sent to the participants with clothing, makeup requirements, details, etc.

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Between then and the shoot date, props are purchased, either online for hard to find things, or locally.  I have quite a bit of clothing already, so I check to see if some of that will work.  If not, it’s off to Target or Walmart for nice generic clothing, although sometimes, it is necessary to go to the mall or another specialty shop if something more particular is required.  I also take my rough shot list and re-do it, filling in the situational areas that are light on content, and doing more sketches.

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A day or two before a shoot, I will either gather equipment together for a location production in large rubbermaid containers, or prep the studio with lights and props.  I also send out a reminder email.

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Shoot day involves getting model releases signed first, 2 hours or so of shooting, working through the shot list, and then payments given to all the participants.

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Post production includes checking and scanning in all releases.  I shoot in RAW format, so I will do a cursory run through of all the images in AdobeCameraRaw, marking the ones where that particular shot is best illustrated, and technically, the image is sound.  I post process every image in Photoshop, cleaning out logos and skin issues, touching up eye whites, etc.  The images are saved at the best JPEG compression level and saved.

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I then import the finished JPEGs into DeepMeta, the iStockphoto bulk uploader.  Once I get a good number of a series in there, I will go ahead and keyword, categorize and add the imported releases to the lot of them, copying and pasting from one similar to another to save time, and then checking individually.  DeepMeta then is in charge of uploading the images and stitched model releases to iStockphoto.

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If all goes well, the content is inspected and searchable in two days.  If all goes as it has been going the last month or two, it can take up to two weeks to get new content online and searchable.

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I hope this gives you a better idea of what goes into one of my pieces of stock content.  You can see it does take quite a bit of time to produce a new series, but I hope it’s worth it to you!

2 thoughts on The Life of a Stock Shoot

  1. Thanks for sharing this work flow tidbit. It goes to show how good planning, imagination and a few bucks to get everything right can go a long way into a successful image series.

  2. Great article, I had trouble finding something like this by searching. I decided to just read through posts and fished my wish.

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