The question you should be asking


We often talk about how the best-selling stock photos capture realistic, true to life scenes.

Sometimes these moments happen spontaneously. However, — especially right now – you may find yourself setting up a scenes to photograph for stock in your home.

When planning a shoot, it can be tricky to arrange the props, background, models (including YOU!), and other details in a way that feels natural while still getting your message across.

It’s all about finding the right balance between subtle and obvious, between authentic and staged.

This is often easier said than done.

Check out these shots below:

 Both of these images show a woman working while her cat looks for attention. Any cat owner can attest that this is a very accurate scenario. But why include the flowers? Most people don’t work with a vase of dried flowers on the floor at their feet and they certainly don’t put flowers on their laptop while they type.

As the viewer of a photo, if you find yourself asking why something is in the shot, it’s a good indication that it doesn’t need to be there.

As a photographer you should keep this question in mind as you shoot. Ask yourself if everything in your frame really needs to be there. Does it help tell the story or does it distract from the main message?

I bring this up not to pick on these photos, but to show that the line between just right and overdoing it is pretty thin when it comes to designing a stock photo. It’s easy to add one too many props, include a bit too much in the background, or embellish past the point of being realistic.

This next image from the same series does a better job of sticking to the theme of working from home with a furry friend that wants to play. Everything in the shot complements and supports the main idea without distracting the viewer.

Just a thought to keep in mind for your next photo shoot!