Woman Climbing Rope. Photo of a woman climbing a long rope with a look of extreme determination. The woman is so far up the rope that the clouds are below her as though she is climbing up through a hole in the clouds. Black Woman Climbing Rope Representing Struggle, Strength, Hardship and Challenge. Muscular black woman climbs an endless rope up through the clouds with the camera looking down at her. A highly successful concept stock photo using PhotoShop, a photo-shoot, and some stock images and props.
Creating a concept stock photo to illustrate the concepts of struggle, challenge, strength and perseverance.
Inspiration in the form of a make-up artist
This image was inspired by the model. I first met Lisa Lowe when I hired her as a make-up artist. In addition to her cheerful and upbeat attitude, I noticed she had exceptional biceps. Turned out Lisa’s primary interest is fitness. She competes in international fitness contests! That got me thinking that I would like to photograph her in some way that showed off her fitness and muscularity---and of course, could generate some income for me! I decided that a stock image that made use of her incredible body to illustrate conceptual ideas would be just the ticket.
I mulled the shot over for quite some time before the rope idea came to me. It fit all of my criteria for creating stock photos: Dramatic, timeless, relatively easy to do, and very little expense. Further, the image could be used to illustrate the concepts of achievement, triumph, challenge, strength and perseverance both in a woman context and in general.
Props and a photo-shoot to create a great stock photo
A local marine supply had plenty of good thick rope and I was able to purchase about 12 feet of it for a reasonable price. I hung the rope from the ceiling of my studio and had Lisa sit on a stool as I shot down on her. I directed her to grab the rope and assume a pose emulating an actual climb. We tried a number of slight variations and different facial expressions. My assistant sprayed her with water from a spray bottle to give the impression of perspiration, particularly where her hair met her forehead. I wanted this to look like she was really working for a great stock photo shot.
Next we photographed the rope alone. The final building block was the sky, which I had photographed years earlier in Santa Fe. In one cloud shot there was a hole in the clouds. When I inverted the clouds and rotated them 180 degrees it left the impression that we were looking down through a hole in the clouds rather than up through a hole. I used the pen tool to create a clipping path around Lisa, then turned the path into a selection with a 1 pixel feather. I completed that process with five different shots of her, then composited the shots together to get the best-looking pose, facial expression and hair. I used layer masks to blend the layers seamlessly together. I used the liquefy filter for fine adjustments to make sure all the body parts lined up perfectly. I then created another clipping path to select the lower portion of rope (from the solo rope shot) and drop it into place. The liquefy brush again came into play to add ripples to the rope.
First rejection, then stock-photo success!
When I finished the image I sent it to one of my stock photo agencies who promptly rejected it.
What can I do to make it work? I asked. Nothing was the reply from the creative director, it just dose not work. I then sent the image to a second agency that I work with. They loved it, ran the image full bleed in their next catalog (this was back in the days of printed catalogs) and entered it in a juried exhibition in which it was selected to represent that agency. The best part though---it sells and sells and sells! It's turned out to be a great concept stock photo for my Gallery.