Rants From the Right Side - Guest- Miss Y on Stock Photography
One picture can say a thousand words. Now try it the other way around: One word can say a thousand pictures. I've been juggling those words around as I try to figure out what to make of the relationship between advertising and stock photography.
First instinct? I hate stock images and the way they stereotype and package people, emotions, moments... I hate how image banks slice up life into categories and neatly fit mostly intangible concepts into 'boxes' you can open with a keyword. Hi, welcome to the image bank. Please enter your
keyword(s) to access the image(s) we have decided appropriately fit your request.
But in advertising, let's face it, time and money are not on our side. We have tight deadlines, low budgets and high demand. So I'm not exactly at liberty to go out and take my own photos (like I did for university projects). Time, models, the right scenery, the perfect lighting...all hard to come by. So the remaining options are stock photography or a hired photographer. I would, if the budget allowed for it, go for the latter where I can at least cater directly to the concept.. I'm not actually taking the photo but I can make sure all the elements are exactly as I envisioned them.
But here's another problem. What's excruciatingly irritating, in this region in particular, is that stock images have become the norm to such an extent that even when the client allows for a photo shoot, he expects the images to be like those of stock photography...forced, fake and disgustingly perfect, lacking any real essence or emotion. I end up back at square one. The concept and layout become controlled by these 'alien' images that take the personal edge off the end result.
Like X so cleverly pointed out, this issue has been around for a long time but the way people perceive and deal with photography is evolving. There's an image overload, everyone's taking pictures (my grandma has a digital camera even though her TV is still one of those 12 channel, the remote is heavier than the TV kind of TVs). People know what real is, they love what real is (YouTube, reality TV). So why do we keep feeding them images that they just know aren't real?
Do advertising and stock images go hand in hand because we're selling stereotypes too or are we selling stereotypes because we use stock photography? I know there's no clear cut answer to this issue (Read this yesterday from Russell: " You get carried away with rhetoric and enthusiasm and forget that the likely scenario will be that everything will be a blurry munge like it was before, with this new element added in") but some blurriness would be nice.