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How to Shoot Stock

Lesson 3 from: Utilizing Adobe Stock: From Shoot to Sale

Mat Hayward

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Lesson Info

3. How to Shoot Stock

Next Lesson: How to Submit Stock

Lesson Info

How to Shoot Stock

How to shoot stock. For best results, avoid those clichés. The businessmen shaking hands in front of the white backdrop. There's a market for it but there's massive amounts of that content out there. Be more creative than that. Natural and authentic. Real people doing real things. That's real after so convey that in your images. Minimal post-processing. Sounds funny from a guy that works at Adobe but really less is more when it comes to stock. You're way better off, have much more opportunity for sales if you submit the clean color, sharp version of your file. If, heaven forbid, the end user wants this effect on that image for their project, they're able to do that so it matches their project exactly. Same with black and white conversions. Don't submit black and white. The designer can convert it to black and white if they want but they can't do the opposite. We don't want you to send both variations. Just send that clean color version, less is more. Here's just a quick snippet of a vi...

deo that I did on a shoot just showing how I go about shooting and trying to capture authenticity in a staged environment. Rather than posing a static shot and just taking a photo of people saying 'cheese' in the camera, we're gonna set up the scene. We've got Chris and Ellen at the front door. Dom and Sarah are ready to greet them. I'm gonna shoot from behind Chris and Ellen real quick and then I'm gonna run inside, get a different angle, same scene but the photos are gonna look completely different. Then we're just gonna have that moment unfold. We do the same thing with food. We set the scene. We didn't completely assemble these meals. We've got beautiful dishes planned but we've had the ingredients isolated and then asked the models to interact with each other while putting the dishes together. Those scenes were authentic. They were fun and that's conveyed in the images. (upbeat funk music) (laughter) (camera clicking) (laughter) That's good. Please stop. (shouting in crescendo) (upbeat funk music) You all ready? Alright, I asked everyone who likes to play with fire? One person gave a maniacal laugh. (maniacal laugh) (upbeat funk music) That's just kind of an example. Again, it's a staged environment. They're professional models. We were really laughing and cracking up and having a good time. That's the differentiator I think. Hopefully that makes some sense. Again, you don't need to hire professional models and rent nice locations. Use the stuff that you have available to get started. When I do go into a formal stock shoot, I like to be as organized as I can going into it. I will always create a shot list. It's usually more detailed than I need it to be. I'd say around 100 percent of the time, I go off the rails and we'll deviate from the shot list. I'm not glued to it but it's a great guide for me. If I do get kind of stuck creatively, I can go back and reference. I'm like, 'oh yeah, let's get this shot.' 'You guys go wash dishes and play and have fun.' That's just something that I think about. I try to get as much out of a shoot as I possibly can. As many diverse looks, different outfits in different scenes. A few examples of the shots from this. We set 'em up as different couples. And then in different shots. Here, she's looking at her tablet drinking tea. Then we bring Chris in there and it's a whole different mood to this shot, right? The detail photos we get in there. I had 'em working out, running up and down on the street. Chris was doing push-ups. We did portraits and things like that. Lots of different photos, as many different looks as I could possibly get. You don't wanna take the same picture. If I was just to stand here and go (imitates shutter sound) and fire 25 frames and you've barely even moved, I would wanna submit only one of those photos. That's not 25 unique images. You want to provide something different, right? A different look potential customers can purchase so each image adds its own unique value. Focusing on authenticity, I've mentioned this before and I'll probably mention it again 'cause it really is important as opposed to just saying 'cheese' in front of the camera. Real situations. Utilize available resources. If your grandfather has this shed and a welding tool, take this photo for crying out loud. This is a great stock image. This is authentic and real. That's not a studio setup. Emphasize space for copy. The end user can download the image. They can crop it. They can edit it and do whatever they want to. Leave space for them to add text to that. That's a big advantage and customers really appreciate it. Consider potential uses. If you're gonna take a photo for stock, think about how it can be used. Make sure there is a need for it. I always like to ask with this picture. Do you guys have any idea? How can this picture be used? I'd be interested in your opinion. I could see PETA using it. PETA for sure, yeah. People who are pro-vegetarian. Look, it's a little life. Or, on the other hand, it could be like, hmm, this is gonna taste good in a couple of years. Right, maybe an alternative restaurant, like really fresh. (laughter) Pay attention to the expiration date on your eggs. I don't know (laughter). Who knows, the sky's the limit. I see it like 'new beginning' or something. Were you gonna say something? I'm sorry, I just- No, it's okay. Like a new beginning, fresh start, like a start up company. There's any number of things. This picture I think has lots of different potential. There's a pile of dirt and a rock and you take a picture of that. Eh, maybe there's not. I'm gonna talk about rejection reasons. You submit it for review. It can be a tough pill to swallow when you get a rejection that says it's just not aesthetically appealing or there's no commercial use. That does happen and so just think about if you are shooting for stock. If you're just shooting for personal pleasure and if you have content that's stock, great. If you're shooting for stock, really have it in your mind if I was a customer and I was gonna use this, what would I use it for? If you can't answer that, then maybe you move on to something different and put your effort elsewhere, right? Again, representing diversity. It's not just gender or age or race. It's a diverse world that we live in. I love this photo, like whoever took this. I think this is a brilliant shot. This shows strength and determination and is totally different than the average tennis shot, right? Think outside of the box and represent diversity wherever you can. Plan for the holidays. Again, ah, Santa guy. The major holidays are big booms for stock sales. All the major ones, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine's Day. Also the lesser, maybe Chinese New Year or anything that's not mainstream Hallmark card stuff but there's markets for that as well. When I say plan for holidays, you don't wanna take pictures on Christmas morning and then post them on December 26th because people are not buying Christmas photos for their advertisements on January 1st, right? That's gonna go up the next year. If you submit on December 26th, all the people that do what I recommend doing and uploading your Christmas content in October, their stuff is gonna push yours deeper into the search and you're gonna have less chance of a sale. If you're shooting on Christmas Day, the actual holiday, then save that stuff 'til the next fall. That'll be relevant for the search. I like to post two to three months in advance, fresh, new holiday content. There is always a new market for that. So keep it in mind. It's kinda fun too to set up a Christmas shoot in October or whatever, just gonna get a little bit silly. Or Valentine's Day in December. It's like we're the weirdest family every. (laughs) Our neighbors are extraordinarily confused. (laughter) You wanna avoid oversaturated topics. This was in Maui. This was from my porch. Of course, I'm gonna take this picture, this beautiful scene. But this isn't stock. I didn't go to Hawaii to take. Okay, I take that back. It is stock but there is a plethora of sunset photos out there, right? Flowers, sunsets, common subjects that everyone likes to take pictures of. You're literally competing against hundreds of thousands of similar images that are wow. We'll take it. We'll accept some of this content but it's moderated with more strict attention to detail. It really needs to say 'wow' as opposed to 'oh, that's a good photo'. A good photo of a sunset doesn't compete against the incredible, right? Does that make sense? If you think about Adobe as a company, really we serve I'd say the majority of creatives in the world. Most designers on planet Earth are using an Adobe product in one form or another. If you are Creative Cloud members, you've no doubt seen ads for Adobe Stock. We've got a big audience and we have a really smart marketing team. This diverse range of customers provides a diverse range of needs. Whatever you're passionate about photographing or taking video of, whatever you're passionate about, create content in that market. It's gonna be better than if I was to take it where I'm not so passionate about it and then expand. The sky's the limit. There is a diverse range of need that we have. This is just a sample of the types of content that we're looking for. Architecture, food, industry, lifestyles. Very popular, sells quite well. Science and sports and tech and transportation, travel, environment, business, graphics. I mean again, don't put yourself in one box. You can shoot whatever you want. There's likely going to be a market for it.

Class Materials

Free Bonus Materials

Getting Started with Adobe Stock

Ratings and Reviews

TS Gallant

I have been blindly trying to contribute to Adobe Stock and, honestly, floundering. This was eye-opening (and hopefully game-changing). Before, I was rarely submitting because I thought "well, they won't want this" or "this is too generic" or didn't even submit because I had wasn't inspired in any way. After watching this I was FLOODED with ideas and have filled several pages in a tablet with ideas to photograph. It's almost 2am right now and I don't even want to wait until I sleep! THANK YOU FOR THIS CLASS!

a Creativelive Student

It was really great having someone who works in the Adobe Stock department, at Adobe, teaching the class. Mat knows his stuff! Thanks for making a seemingly overwhelming subject simple.


Excellent class... informative and entertaining.

Student Work