A lot of people want to model but think they cannot because they are not tall, thin, or have beauty pageant looks. The thing is, there are so many different types of modeling these days the possibilities are open to quite a range of people. One such genre of modeling that is accessible for a plethora of looks is stock photography modeling.
How it Works
Stock photography modeling allows a model to use his or her talent of showing expression and embodying different personas in everyday scenarios to promote a product or service. A photographer or photography company will hire a model with certain themes in mind, capture one or more looks, then upload the best photos to a stock photography website (such as istockphoto, Getty Images, and Shutter Stock). It is on these websites where companies can purchase the photos that best suit their brand. After purchasing photos, companies will typically use them for their website, brochures, billboards, and any other advertising medium they see fit.
Because there is no way to know which company will purchase said photos or which specific brand is going to be promoted, logos are omitted from photos and themes are typically generic in nature. Also, because there is not always a sure way to know which, if any, of his photos will be bought, a photographer will often take and upload many photos with many different poses, expressions, and scenery in hopes of making as many sales as possible.
Know Your Role
Stock photography websites often have many rules, one of which requires a photographer to upload a model release for each model in every single photo uploaded. This ensures any company that eventually purchases and uses said photos will not have to worry about any legal infringements. If you are thinking of getting into stock photography modeling, be prepared to provide your signature each time you shoot, whether you are being paid or not.
Another thing you’ll want to be prepared to do during a stock photography shoot is provide multiple options of clothing and a myriad of facial expressions to go along with whatever mood the photographer is trying to create. This will require a bit of acting but, then again, so does most modeling. If you are banking on your one-trick-pony Zoolander face, this type of shoot might be challenging for you. On the other hand, if “acting” natural comes easy to you, you might be perfect for this.
As mentioned above, to be a stock photography model you do not necessarily have to look like a supermodel. This really depends, however, on the photographer or company hiring. Generally, however, people of average heights, body types, and sometimes looks are sought for this type of gig. Why, you ask? Well, for some companies and brands, reaching the every day person is the best way to sell a product. Companies that sell products to the average person know that they will be able to sell more if the consumer can relate to the people in the ad or commercial.
While some companies like Versace, Gucci and Dior succeed in using people they consider highly attractive, companies like Verizon and McDonald’s would end up alienating a lot of people if they only hired runway models and gorgeous celebrities for all of their advertisements. This does not mean stock photo models never look like runway models or gorgeous celebrities, but this type of modeling is open to more diversity.
The Fun Stuff
You are literally being paid to be a normal person. Sometimes a photographer will even buy food, tickets to a game or other things needed to create the scene for the model(s) involved. My stock photography experience has been a lot of fun and included the aforementioned perks and more.
Another thing about this type of work is it can become pretty steady if you find the right type of working relationship. My stock photography model stint lasted for two years during which I got paid to shoot at least once a week for the same photographer. I even got some of my friends hired to model with me!
Because you are signing a model release and are not being hired directly by the company whose brand you will be promoting, you never know where your photos are going to end up being placed. Keep in mind that photos can be edited. You might be asked to pretend to write an email on a laptop, only to find out that something sketchy was later photoshopped onto the screen. Or you might be asked to do a shoot that includes you looking out into the distance only to find out that the best photo from that shoot went on to be purchased by a company that sells STD medication. Awkward. If this is something that concerns you but you are still interested in stock photography modeling, ask if the model release will have a clause preventing photos of you from being used in HIV and STD ads, for starters.
Another unfortunate truth to stock photography is that your photo, if used, will likely have you represent a stereotype rather than the type of person you really are (or you might end up depicting a ridiculous scene that makes no sense, as seen here). Different types of looks sell best in certain parts of the world. Depending on the agenda of the company buying your photo, you may end up promoting something you are actually against. For example, I would hate for my photo to end up in an ad for a fast food restaurant but, alas, I would have no say in the matter. And if anyone recognizes me from such an ad, I might have some explaining to do.
And yet another part to this work that is not particularly appealing is the fact that as the model, you are essentially being paid on a work for hire basis. You will be paid a flat fee while the photographer might end up making a significant amount of money off of photos with your face in them.
One last thing to note is that, for better or worse, you will likely not receive credit for, and copy of, your work. If you are looking to make a name for yourself in the modeling industry, stock photography isn’t something you should make your main focus because no one will know your name (unless, of course, you’re Ariane, the overexposed stock photography model)! On the other hand, if you end up on a billboard about constipation, maybe this is for the better.
What experience(s) have you had in the stock photography world?