Just thought I would share a new stock photo I have created for Blend Images.
As with so many of my images it has taken two years from the inception of my idea to the final execution. Why so long? I wish I knew! I think I get this belief that an idea is going to be really difficult to create, then I procrastinate. As it turns out, this image was easy to do.
Teamwork, Cartoons and Conflict
The idea came to me when I was thinking about creating a teamwork image. Teamwork is a concept that is always in demand. I have this exercise I do from time-to-time when thinking up stock ideas. I think of the opposite of what I am trying to achieve. So, when no teamwork ideas were coming up I switched to the opposite; conflict. The first thing that came to mind was a group of business people fighting. As I pondered that visual the classic comic strip, Dagwood, came to mind. When Dagwood would get into a fight the visual would be a cloud of dust with arms and legs and so forth sticking out. There was my idea! A stock picture of a dust cloud with arms, legs and faces protruding out of it could be used to illustrate topics such as business negotiations, conflict, and, yes, even teamwork (by showing the lack of)! As an added bonus, the image is inherently humorous and funny pictures tend to sell very well.
Models, Fists and Grimacing
To create the image I photographed several models making fists, grimacing, sticking their feet out and so forth. Next I needed a dust cloud. When I decided to shoot the dust cloud I was alone at my studio. What could I use to create that cloud? I looked around my shelves for inspiration, and found a compact of face powder that some model must have left at some point. That would work! I laid down a 4x5 sheet of white foamcore. I placed the compact with the powder in it down on the foam core.
I used a Profoto 7b power pack with two heads to light the set up. I used one head in a light bank that I placed on the floor next to the foam core. The other head was on a boom and already had a beauty dish on it left over from the model shoot. I aimed the beauty dish at the set.
As this whole endeavor was a spur-of-the-moment one, I had no assistant. So I grabbed my camera (Canon 1ds MKIII with a 16 to 35mm zoom lens) in one hand and a can of compressed air in the other. While looking through the camera I simultaneously fired the camera while shooting off a blast of air into the face powder. Hey, it kind of worked! I did it again. And again. Then I had to get up and leave the room so I could breathe!
By then the compact was empty of powder, so I scooped up the residue and put it back in the compact and shot several more times. I probably shot a total of about a dozen shots. By then the whole studio was a mess. My camera and lens was flesh colored. My studio floor was flesh colored. My eyes were stinging and I was starting to sneeze regularly. But I got what I needed.
Clipping paths and layer masks
Then it was simply a matter of using a clipping path to select the arms, legs and heads of the models and stripping them into the dust cloud (actually a combination of three different exposures). After stripping a given arm or leg into the cloud image I used layer masks to fade the part into the dust. While playing with the sizing and positioning of the parts I realized that the image was looking a lot like a suicide bombing…not good! By eliminating the heads of the models the image got back to looking like a good old cartoon fight.
The final step was a background. I needed something that would say “Business” but was still clean and simple. I tried an exterior wall with the “conflict” happening on a sidewalk…but it just wasn’t looking right to me. I went into my archives of backgrounds to see if I had something better. I spotted a stainless steel elevator that I had shot in the airport in Buenos Aires. I duplicated the single elevator to create an image that would work as a horizontal image. I dropped that behind the dust cloud fight and voila!
A successful stock photo
The first three people who saw the image all laughed out loud…a good indication that the image would be a successful stock photo. I submitted it to Blend Images for consideration as a Rights Managed image…and they liked and accepted it. The final steps in the process included using an ftp site to upload the image, the metadata, and the model releases (yes…I needed releases for each model). Now, in about six months I will know if I have a successful concept stock photo!