If you’re a photographer stuck at home due to COVID-19 and feel that there is nothing you can do, think again: there is a lot of stuff you can photograph while home, and picture libraries want it.
A recent list of picture needs distributed by Alamy presents freelance photographers with a series of subjects that can be photographed from the comfort of home. The recent list from the picture library is not much different from other lists shared by the stock photo agency, but it comes at a time when professionals may want to look closer. As so many freelancers have had their livelihood drastically changed, with assignments reduced or simply cancelled, it is important to look for alternatives.
We’re living through uncertain times, as the working life as we know it has suffered a major disruption, and many people are wondering where the money for their next rent or equipment payment is going to come from. Shooting for a picture library will not bring you money immediately, but if you’re stuck at home, it may be a good way to fill some of your time, refreshing your collection at the agency you work with, or simply exploring another option in terms of income, if you’ve never though about it before.
This crisis has revealed the fragility of the industry and will, no doubt, make many freelancers rethink their careers and play safe, adding new skills and options to their skill set, instead of putting all their eggs in one basket. A picture library may be a way to add a new source to your income plans, another way to increase the options in times like these.
Shooting while stuck at home
Creative content will continue to be needed long after the current crisis has vanished in the rearview mirror. Alamy is aware of that and its latest guide is a revealing list of ideas that will help those just starting to get a better grasp of the potential of photographing from home. Not all the subjects can be found at one’s home, but from within the different sections – LifeStyle, Food and Drink, Plants and Gardens, Technology, Objects and Still Life – dozens of images can be created.
By now you may have asked “what should I shoot?” Well, anything from “Robotic vacuum with cat – or dog – in the room” to “Woman with Hairy Armpits”, “Child eating rice pudding”, “Sticking generic reminder note onto fridge, different angles from behind etc”, “Authentic images of people actually eating” or “Mother checking on children sleeping”. These are just some examples of a long list published by Alamy, compiled under its #AlamyPicNeeds tag.
As Alamy notes, if you’re stuck at home, “unable to cover events or book shoots as you normally would then we’ve got just the thing to keep you busy”. The list shows dozens of themes that can be shot from the comfort of home, whether you’re in quarantine, lockdown or self isolating.
Shooting what the market needs
The suggestions from Alamy go beyond the “shoot at home” list, and the picture agency also created a second list for those who are not forced to stay inside and want to cover how Covid-19 is affecting their local area. The second list includes a series of subjects: “Empty supermarket shelves”, “Covid-19 pop up hospitals”, “Drive through coronavirus testing”, “Empty streets”, “Reduced levels of passengers on public transport”, “Empty/quiet landmarks and usual hotspots”, “Empty/closed bars restaurants” and more.
If this article made you curious about the subject of picture libraries, maybe you want to look further, and explore what you can do with your photographs or videos that have been dormant in your hard-drive for a long time. There are a handful of picture libraries to explore, to check if they meet your expectations and type of images. For example, I’ve specific flower photos with the Nature Picture Library and regular editorial content at Alamy (although I’ve not added new content to my collection there for a long time).
Picture libraries publish visual trends guides regularly to help photographers and videographers shoot according to the needs of the market. Keeping an eye on the requests from the picture library or libraries you work with may be the best way to always have ideas for your next shoot. Or you may have some stills or clips that fit a new request.
What should I shoot?
Next time you ask yourself “What should I shoot?”, remember to look at the Visual Trends 2020 guide from Alamy, a pdf document you can download and keep on your computer desktop for reference, or pay a visit to Getty Images website to check the Trends page as well as the Visual GPS, launched last February, as the next generation of industry leading global visual research.
Developed with creative challenges in mind, Getty Images Visual GPS helps you, says the company, “navigate through the crowded visual landscape, showing you what’s important to today’s consumers, what kind of visual content engages them, and what leads them to make decisions.” Image creators, both stills and video, can explore the visual guide to keep updated in terms of ideas for creating new visions.
An alternative to supplement your income
One thing to keep in mind with picture libraries, if you’re a newcomer, is that the idea that you upload some photos and just sit and reap the rewards is not there any longer. When I first started, with the Freelance Photographers Guild, in New York, back in the early 1980s, it felt rewarding, but in recent decades, with stock agencies competing, the appearance of microstock and the general reduction of the commission percentage paid to photographers, made it less appealing.
The reduction of Rights Managed Licensing of images (Getty Images, for example, is set to gradually drop their Rights Managed creative collection in 2020), recently announced, has not helped, especially those professionals coming from a time when RM was a key word added to most photos.
Despite all the negative aspects mentioned above, if you have images in your hard-drive that are only collecting dust but fit the needs of the market, try to send those to a picture libraries, after reading through all the information regarding submissions. Also, if you shoot images that have no cost associated to them, as is the case with many of the subjects that can be shot at home, why not give it a try? This period may be best used exploring this alternative to supplement your income.