An image tells a story. A stock image tells a story to us all. Some people might think that the word stock means something less-than art or means an image that lacks originality or high concept. As an artist, photographer, and stock agency employee, I have to disagree. A successful image shot for stock has to be accessible to the community, the world community if possible, but also has to do it in a way that is unique enough to separate one brand or idea from another. What harder task for the artist exists than fulfilling that spec?
Look at fine art images through the course of history. It’s only in the last century or so that art has been created for the pure enjoyment of color or line. Until recently, art was almost exclusively a means of communicating an idea or a set of ideas through images to a predominately illiterate culture. Art was a vehicle for the mystery of the hunt, a telephone to some incomprehensible other, or an image of who the boss is.
I don’t think the history of the stock photo has been written yet. We’ll wait and let the future viewpoint be defined. So think about that woman smiling, eating that salad in front of a white, seamless background. Understand that you and some person halfway around the world both understand the concept. You’re probably thinking about the best dressing for it now. What’s the difference between that image and a buffalo hunt drawn in charcoal in the depths of a cave? Is it perception? Is it distance from the act of its creation?
Check out these images and challenge yourself to see their value as vehicles for communication, the orchestration that guided the successful completion of the concept. The stock photo and the story it tells to us all.