Photos of Real People = Real Sales

Bride and GroomToday more than ever photographers need to look at trends in television and new media for inspiration. Both YouTube" and Reality TV shows are a cultural phenomenon that has made young adults from New Jersey overnight celebrities. Advertisers look at trends to create the next big campaign. Real life situations with real people is a trend we are seeing more and more of and one that stock agencies are getting many requests for. In most cases, designers or art directors looking for images do not want overly posed photos of people; they want natural looking shots; images of people in situations and settings that we all can relate to. Think of it as the fly on a wall perspective, to see but not be seen. You see this in television commercials as the camera pans around a subject or group of people drinking soft drinks or having a tailgate party for a local sports team, or a couple having a romantic evening sitting on a rooftop. These all are people in natural settings that avoid straight eye contact or dialog directed at the camera.

So, become the fly on the wall and photograph people in more natural realistic environments; less posed, less forced and more believable. Establish the shot and allow the talent to be themselves, both on location and in the studio. They do not always have to be looking at the camera with the over-used sultry look or the smile that shows they've completed all 10 stages of the latest tooth whiting treatment. Instead, have them look away, head down, interacting with another person as if you were not in the room. I was very fortunate to work with some truly great photographers in the 70's and 80's. One well-known celebrity photographer in particular would use a technique with his models or the celebrities he was shooting when he felt they were over posing or forcing their smiles. He would simply ask "Have you ever been to Europe?" In that split second, they would drift off to that special trip and that was invariably the shot; that moment when the person being photographed forgot about the surroundings and drifted to a special place. It was truly magical to see.

After speaking with several photographers about this, I'm finding a consistent trend. Top producers are no longer using just paid models from established modeling agencies as a sole resource for talent. They are self-casting, using friends and family as models and going to the gym, scouting the park and even the supermarket to find new raw talent. It's important to make sure you rehearse your pitch before you approach a perfect stranger. The last thing I want is for you to get hit over the head for what is perceived as an improper advancement. Looking for talent that has the ability to be comfortable in front of a camera and, more importantly, the willingness to ignore the lens is going to be additional work. And, once you get new people in front of your lens, it will take more time to direct them and to get them to relax. You will still have to pay fees and spend time clarifying the model release but it will pay off. The end result will be new images that are in demand, which equals an opportunity for greater sales.