Two Faces of
of selling photos?
To get a clear picture
of this, take a magazine and tear out all the advertisements. The photos
that remain are what we call “editorial photography” [game
1]. (The ads are “commercial photography” [game 2].)
Most commercial photos are shot in studios or on contrived locations. They conform to the wishes of several parties: the client, the ad agency, and the art director(s) -- the photographer doesn’t have much say in it except to click the button.
Editorial photos meet the wishes of the editors of a magazine, book, or newspaper and/or, a photo researcher, but first and foremost the photo initially meets the wishes of the photographer. The editorial photographer has complete control of the image.
Commercial stock photos can be designed and produced by the photographer, but they are constricted by the dictates of having to conform to “what sells.” The photographer must tailor the photos to fit into commercial clients' needs, trends in the industry, and to appeal to a wide, general audience. The resulting photos are often called generic images because they can fit a variety of uses, appeal to a wide audience, and can produce multiple sales.
THE MARKETS DIFFER
Buyers in the
commercial field, range from graphic design houses, to corporate
art directors, to ad agency creative directors. There's much turnover
in these positions, so the ability to develop a consistent working relationship
with these markets is frustrating and difficult.
Rohn Engh is director
of PhotoSource International and publisher