The importance of communication in stock photography

4 Oct 2018

Words by Christine Hogg.

Many photographers dream about earning a passive income through image library sales and although it involves a fair amount of work – such as careful planning, finding the right niche and effective pitching – it can be fun too. Stock and lifestyle photographer, Trevor Adeline, creates powerful visual stories of everyday life and gets to experience some awe-inspiring travel destinations and activities. Here’s how he does it:

For Trevor, one of the most important skills to have starting out, is communication. During his apprentice years, he worked and interned with some of the industry’s top players, and learnt that everything revolves around getting your vision across: First you have to communicate your idea to a potential client, then make sure your team understands what you need on set and, most importantly, the image you create needs to have a strong message.

Trevor Adeline photographs adventure stock photograph

© Trevor Adeline

Pitching

What inspired Trevor to get into stock photography was the idea that you could create the content you enjoy most. Many photographers have to balance creative fun with commercial viability but sometimes, if you play your cards right, you can have both. For instance, Trevor recently got to travel the Garden Route. He took photos of ziplining, mountain biking and paragliding adventures, as well as a luxury catamaran cruise and a vibey get-together at a beachside restaurant. To work on the fun projects, Trevor says, you need to learn how to pitch. “Put together a well-thought-out proposal (check Google for details) and shoot for the moon. Once you have niche content on your portfolio, those clients are more likely to get in touch, or collaborate on projects.”

Trevor Adeline photographs unity

© Trevor Adeline

Place to shoot

Once you’ve successfully pitched your concept, you’ll need a crew and a place to shoot. When scouting a location, Trevor says, he visualises how the story will play out. “I look for potential sets… and light. What is the best time of the day to shoot, do I need artificial light, what are the compositional components, colour palette, production requirements, and prop options.”

What gear to use?

“I generally try to keep it as light and mobile as possible. Daylight is always a winner, along with the shapers – this combination offers the most authentic look.” Although Trevor will sometimes bring out “the big guns”, depending on the client’s requirements, he feels that there mostly is no best gear to use. “We’re at a stage now where many cameras exceed their output requirements and many people take good photos on their cell phones. My advice is to spend a bit of time in your local photo rental, and play with the toys to find out what rocks.”

Shoot day

On set, Trevor combines a staged set-up with a documentary feel. This means that there might be a bit of directing and posing, but he says, concepts are best communicated through genuine emotion and, to achieve this, your models need to feel comfortable. “Orchestrating a day’s shoot can become stressful when timelines are tight, so simple hacks for me include: a relaxed enjoyable atmosphere on set, music, games, a schedule, detailed shoot plan and good food!”

And in general, he says, don’t forget to start small, keep your overheads low, have fun, network, hussle the phone and email, collaborate, and make friends. Also, styling can make or break, Photoshop is essential, and videos, gifs and cinemagraphs are great for marketing.

Trevor Adeline photographs adventure

© Trevor Adeline

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The Outdoorphoto Team

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