This photo is one of the first iStockphoto results searching the keyword business and sorting by number of downloads. It’s a perfect stock photo, I can say a business cliché: a young, pretty, happy, successful business woman with a notepad, white isolation let the designers manage it easily in their layouts. I’d really love to have the craft, equipments, models and so on to shoot like this!
I'm using this image like an occasion to start to explain something different. The microstock production is growing fast in quantity and in quality and I assume that also the buyers/creatives/designers are growing in numbers, in typology and in expectations. So I’m sure that someone, for example to create a corporate business website, is tired to use just clichés and wants something different than formal dressed men handshaking and young women internet connected in a marvelous nature location.
I’m not saying, of course, that these clichés are now nasty – if more than 14.000 buyers downloaded that photo… you know, Market is King – but it’s like the TV broadcasting: if you transmit only reality shows, people will be involved in watching reality shows. The same in stock photography, if agencies promote mainstream pictures, many buyers will download those images. It’s a question of mood and manner, laziness, leaking of times.
This post would modestly be an invite to the microstock agencies and their photographers to give space to all the nuances, to give customers more choices, to promote the differences.
I could suggest some “directions” with a couple of examples and you can add as many others as you can imagine:
- correlated concepts, lateral meanings. Not only the direct image is a powerful tool to represent a concept. Talking of business informally during the lunch is the title I'm giving at this photo
natural looking models. It’s an ongoing trend, we have listened many times during last year, buyers are looking for photos without the stereotyped and conventional looking people
ironic, funny, contrary representations. You can be inspired looking at the gorgeous work (not made for microstock but for higher priced kind of stock) made by John Lund with his Funny Animals, here an example Elephant in the Room. – Picture Of A Business Meeting With An Elephant In the Room Being Ignored. Another Photocase example, my title is Time to market
- dirty, chaotic. Maybe someone is not looking for a perfect white background. What do you think about a business man under an heavy muddy rain, changing a tire of his car: I’m a problem solver, nothing could really stop me
fine art, low commercial value, visionary. Let’s give the clients a possibility. If the image is technically at high level, perhaps there isn't the reason to say that is not RF stock oriented or its sales potential is too low: let the market decides, not the inspectors…
Just finished my article when I've found the vision of a Creative Director about the stock clichés, Paul Boag on boagworld.com, with some similar consideration and many other suggestions, coming from a designer side, to avoid clichés by using illustration, a better image integration in the design of a webpage, stylization, typography, images with punch. Must read here Stop Using Stock Photography Clichés.