500px https://iso.500px.com Wed, 08 Feb 2023 14:22:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.22 https://iso.500px.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/cropped-500px-logo-photography-social-media-design-thumb-32x32.jpg 500px https://iso.500px.com 32 32 114144695 The power of a background in portrait photography https://iso.500px.com/the-power-of-a-background-in-portrait-photography/ https://iso.500px.com/the-power-of-a-background-in-portrait-photography/#respond Wed, 08 Feb 2023 12:30:48 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40997 The right background is often the secret ingredient for elevating a photograph, whether you’re making fine art portraits or professional headshots.

The post The power of a background in portrait photography appeared first on 500px.

Ever since Irving Penn first started experimenting with white paper backdrops in the 1940s—and later, an old, repurposed theater curtain from the 1950s—portrait photographers have been pushing the boundaries of what backgrounds can look like.

Far beyond the scope of the conventional, artists on 500px have found new ways to use traditional studio items—such as seamless paper—or tried new materials entirely, incorporating unexpected flourishes like dried roses or colorful vintage fabrics.

While easily overlooked, the right background is often the secret ingredient for elevating a photograph, whether you’re making fine art portraits or polished, professional headshots. Inspired by the 500px community, we put together this list of ideas that remind us of the surprising and transformative power of a well-chosen backdrop.

Seamless paper

For solid, clean, matte backgrounds, start with seamless paper, as fabric tends to wrinkle. Keep in mind that if you’re shooting on white, you’ll need to light that background separately, usually about a stop brighter than your model. That way, you’ll avoid muddy gray tones.

Consider some neutral color seamless backgrounds for more versatility and richness. “For this particular shoot (above), I chose a brown Savage chestnut backdrop,” Faycal Marjane tells us. “The shoot took place in my small living room. I used a Godox AD600 with a 105cm diffused umbrella placed overhead and a reflector that the model held on her hand to light the shadows under her chin.

“My recommendation for photographers looking to achieve such an effect is not to neglect the power of a catchlight on the eyes and to carefully choose an outfit that will complement the idea of the pictures they are aiming for.”

Color gels

You don’t necessarily have to start with a bunch of different color backgrounds; instead, invest in a quality white seamless and some color gels to turn it any color you want. For a more low-key vibe, you can illuminate a black background with a gelled light as well. Overall, gels just give you a lot more versatility without breaking the bank.

Saturated color

If you pair a full-color LED light kit (or a gelled light) with a solid color background, you can also make that color appear even more bright and eye-catching. Caroline Gife, aka Photographies de Caroline, used this technique when making this portrait against a seamless paper backdrop. “I placed an orange studio background behind the model,” she remembers. “I placed an orange LED light between the model and the studio backdrop (towards the studio backdrop) to accentuate the color.”

Caroline then lit the model with green LED light to create contrast. Consider pairing cool and warm tones for that pumped-up, contrasty effect.

Painted backdrops

Popularized by photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel, Sarah Oliphant Backdrops set the gold standard for painted backdrops. But we’ve also seen photographers make their own using high-quality canvas at home.

You can even use linen, as Amirhossein Loloei did when creating this portrait above. “I bought linen fabric, mixed the color I wanted, and applied it,” he tells us. “I used acrylic paint and wood glue. In this collection, inspired by minimalism, I tried my best not to create a contrast between the background and the clothes to create a dreamy environment.

“I chose a color that is very delicate and conveys feminine, tender, and romantic emotions. After applying the desired color on the background, I created the texture with lighter and white tones. In the lighting, I tried to use soft light that is in harmony with the space.”

DIY backdrops

From tablecloths to bedsheets, you might have great background materials already sitting around the house. To create the portrait above, Anna Turková used a stretched bedsheet with natural window light and a reflector. “My advice is to follow the light and learn the basics of photography first,” she says.

DIY backdrops can also work outdoors. Inna Mosina used a sheer, billowy organza on a snowy day to create a dreamy, ethereal mood in the winter snow (below).

Vintage fabrics

Muslin and linen are always popular choices in this department. Either give fabrics a good steam or stretch them to avoid wrinkles, or use the wrinkles intentionally to create a natural, textured vibe. Consider other fabrics and materials as well. “I don’t like my photos to be ‘too perfect,’” Lisa Vlasenko tells us. “To give this photo a sense of imperfection—in contrast to the beautiful girl and delicate flower—I used a slightly crumpled background.

“For the background, I used a red silk fabric that I bought in a second-hand store in the linen department. I was so surprised by the saturation of the color and how it shimmers in the sun that I immediately bought it. When I saw the model’s beautiful long black hair and deep, dark eyes, I knew that the combination would be wonderful. For me, this photo is about the strength and beauty of imperfection. And because I took this photo with sunlight, it turned out quite vibrant and sparkling.”


Another alternative to a roll of seamless paper is basic cardstock paper—the kind you get from a craft shop. To make the portrait above, Rafal Wegiel taped up 20 pieces of 12×12-inch paper on the wall. He lit it with professional studio lighting—two speedlights with octaboxes for the model, one speedlight for the background, and a reflector below the model. This solution works best for headshots, as cardstock will cover less space than a traditional seamless.


Believe it or not, the film photographer Radostina Boseva created this portrait above using a concrete wall at China Beach in San Francisco. “The whole session was a collaboration with the local, super-talented florist Seva Design,” she says. “I wanted the florals and the plants to stand out, so it was clear that I needed to find a specific background.

“I was looking for a surface that had a bit of roughness but was also able to bounce back the light (film is light-hungry). Concrete does that. Also, I love the idea of the juxtaposition here: the rough texture of the concrete and the delicacy of the florals and the beauty of the model.”

If you’re shooting on location, do some scouting for walls and surfaces that will complement your concept and overall mood.

Further inspiration

When creating backgrounds for portraits, consider experimenting with three-dimensional objects. To create this self-portrait, Germaine Persinger hung flowers directly from the ceiling using string, allowing them to fall into the foreground and background (above). Angela Perez, meanwhile, used reflective gold fringe and gelled LED lights to create an electric vibe (below).

The best portrait backgrounds complement your sitter without pulling attention away from them, so think about your model, the story you’re telling, and the atmosphere you want to create. A romantic, painterly portrait will have a very different background than a bold and bright theme, even if they feature the same model. You can start by writing down a few keywords and putting together a mood board of inspirational photos to help you decide the perfect backdrop for your shoot.

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Prepare authentic photos of LOVE for Valentine’s Day 2023 https://iso.500px.com/prepare-authentic-photos-of-love-for-valentines-day-2023/ https://iso.500px.com/prepare-authentic-photos-of-love-for-valentines-day-2023/#respond Tue, 31 Jan 2023 12:30:59 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40991 We’re interested to see how brands reimagine Valentine’s Day for 2023 and also how photographers create visuals for this constantly evolving holiday.

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Ever since Hallmark coined the term “The Valentine’s Store” in a now-famous 1985 commercial, brands have connected with their customers in creative ways in the leadup to February 14th. According to estimates gathered over the years, 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Valentine’s week, sparkling wine sales spike, and 250 million roses are produced. In 2022, Valentine’s Day spending hit $23.9 billion, with the top five gifts being candy, cards, flowers, evenings out, and jewelry, according to the National Retail Federation.

Following years of change and uncertainty, we’re looking forward to seeing not only how brands reimagine and reinterpret Valentine’s Day for 2023 but also how photographers visualize an evergreen but constantly evolving holiday. This year presents the opportunity to try something new and put a fresh spin on familiar themes, with more room for creativity and experimentation. Consider these five ideas when shooting timely content for your Licensing portfolio.


In 2021, a survey from Bouqs, a flower company, revealed that 25% of respondents planned to buy themselves a gift for Valentine’s. There are a number of ways to visualize self-love this Valentine’s Day, from self-gifting to different forms of self-care, such as spending time outdoors or creating at-home spa rituals. Document your own self-care routine, or follow a model for a “day-in-the-life” style photoshoot.

(Research from wellness software brand Vagaro and OnePoll revealed that 73% of people were conscious of needing self-care in 2020, during the start of the pandemic. Over the last two years, self-care has continued to be a trending topic.)

For inspiration, consider fall in love with you, a 2021 campaign from the vegan silkwear brand NiLuu, which follows a woman as she takes herself on a date, buys herself flowers, and writes a love letter to herself. Or take a look at I Come First, a 2022 campaign from the Australian lingerie brand Bras N Things, in celebration of the “self-gifting” phenomenon.

Galentine’s Day

That 2021 Bouqs survey also found that 44% of respondents feel that Galentine’s Day is just as important as Valentine’s Day. First introduced in the popular TV show Parks and Recreation more than a decade ago, Galentine’s Day is a celebration of friendship, particularly among women. It takes place on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s.

Over on Twitter, mentions of Galentine’s Day in the UK rose by 37% just from 2020 to 2021. As Galentine’s Day has attracted mainstream attention, brands have tapped into the trend in creative ways: Hallmark makes cards for the occasion, and Party City first sold themed decorations to mark the holiday in 2019. Hallmark was inspired, in part, by research indicating that two in three women who buy products for Valentine’s Day do so to honor their non-romantic relationships.

Bring together a group of friends, small or large, for a photoshoot centered around friendship. You can take a casual approach and document a friends’ “night in,” or you could go all-out with the Galentine’s theme and related decor.

Much-loved pets

In 2020, a survey from OnePoll and Zulily found that 28% of Americans planned to spend Valentine’s Day celebrating with their pets. A separate survey of pet parents, this time from Skout’s Honor (a pet specialty brand) in 2022, found that 84.31 said “a day with their pets” would be the best gift, while 71.04% said a cozy night at home with their pets would be a perfect date.

Brands can also find ways to give back to animals this time of year. In 2021, Crook & Marker, a spiked beverage brand, made headlines by launching OnlyCans, a spoof on OnlyFans, featuring photos of shirtless models and adoptable shelter dogs. For every share on social media, Crook & Marker donated $1 to Muddy Paws Rescue.

Some ways to celebrate pets during Valentine’s Day include volunteering at a local shelter, making homemade treats for your furry friend, or heading outside for an adventure with your pet. After all, in 2019, 20% of shoppers purchased gifts for their pets for Valentine’s Day, with pet spending predicted to reach $886 million, according to the National Retail Federation.

Handmade gifts

At heart (pun intended), Valentine’s Day is a DIY holiday, but crafting has gained newfound momentum in recent years. In 2022, the arts and crafts store Michael’s released its first trend report, naming it the year of “mindful making.” Some key trends they predicted included “making together”—that is, family members and friends connecting over crafts—as well as thoughtfully personalized gifts and upcycled crafts (to reduce our environmental impact).

While they’re not Valentine’s Day-specific, these are all ideas you can incorporate into your seasonal photography sessions. “From construction to delivery, there are a lot of great images to capture during a crafting-themed photoshoot,” the 500px team says. Think about gifts, Valentine’s Day cards, baked goods, meals shared, and decorations.

Symbols of love

Sometimes, the most effective advertising visuals are also the simplest. Believe it or not, brands have been using the “heart shape” for more than a century; in 1868, Cadbury made the first known heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. In 1902, conversation candies were made into heart shapes; by 1911, “conversation hearts” had become a staple for Valentine’s parties and celebrations.

For still life/conceptual shoots, brainstorm classic symbols, such as the familiar heart shape or two clasped hands. If you’re working with models, candid gestures like hugs and embraces carry universal meaning. “Feel free to dig deeper to use symbols and gestures that convey compassion, empathy, and forgiveness,” the 500px team urges. “There are many ways to convey love, and getting creative with concepts can go a long way toward diversifying your portfolio.”

Prioritizing diversity

Last year, we briefly mentioned OkCupid’s digital greeting cards, made in collaboration with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists to celebrate inclusive love. Well, they returned for another year with more inspiring artwork.

From 2021 to 2022, the app observed a 10% increase in users who identify as pansexual; the number of users who identify as bisexual jumped by 250%, and there was a 29% rise in those identifying as non-binary. The idea is simple but profound, with OkCupid championing visuals that represent a diversity of experiences, beyond the narrow lens we usually see in commercial media.

When planning your photoshoots, consider what love means to you and the people in your life and community. Look at diversity from an intersectional lens, celebrating the everyday stories of couples, individuals, and families of all genders, abilities, ages, identities, and more. Think beyond the stereotypes and cliches, and get personal by highlighting what’s unique about the real people in front of (and behind) the camera.

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7 ways to make the most of your location and create content that sells https://iso.500px.com/7-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-location-and-create-content-that-sells/ https://iso.500px.com/7-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-location-and-create-content-that-sells/#respond Fri, 27 Jan 2023 12:30:03 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40988 In this guide, the team at 500px shares seven must-have tips for making the most of a great location in 2023 to help grow your portfolio.

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According to a new trend report by Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo, 2023 will be a year of exploration, with travelers interested in bustling city culture, rustic outdoorsy lodges, and unconventional “hidden gem” destinations.

For commercial photographers, who not only stay up-to-date on trends but also help set them, the new year poses an opportunity to expand your horizons and get creative with new or unexpected locations. You don’t have to travel far to find interesting spots; in fact, shooting locally, in your own neighborhood, can mean capturing unique images no one else has.

Browsing the 500px collection on Getty Images, you can find best-selling photographs from all corners of the world: the shores of Inle Lake, the waterfalls of Iceland, or the peaks of the Dolomites. You’ll also find everyday moments captured at home, in the backyard, or at a local sugar beet farm.

In this guide, the team at 500px shares seven must-have tips for making the most of a great location in 2023.

Do your research

Finding the perfect location starts with research, which can start online with social media and Google Earth. “Reading reviews can also help you make more informed choices,” the 500px team advises. “For example, maybe you find out that a waterfall you always wanted to visit is extremely busy on weekends and after work hours.”

Always be mindful of any potentially problematic locations; some landmarks, including the Hollywood sign, Pike Place Market, and the Eiffel Tower (when lit up for the night) are not acceptable for commercial Licensing.

Public art installations and places of worship are usually protected as well and will require a property release—or should be avoided altogether. If in doubt, one resource to check out is the Getty Images Intellectual Property Wiki; many locations will be listed here, along with info about whether or not they can be photographed for commercial stock image portfolios.

Of course, any privately-owned properties, including residences and businesses, will require a property release, so remember to get those signed and ready before your shoot.

Scout your location

In-person location scouting can also be a fundamental part of the research phase. Visit your location on a different day at around the same time as your scheduled shoot to get a feel for any potential problems, such as crowds, so you can plan around those challenges. Feel free to take test shots as well.

Are there any space limitations or lighting issues? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine any extra gear you should bring on location on the actual day of the shoot, from more versatile lenses to additional lighting sources.

Consider the accessibility of the location too, especially when working with models. “Pay attention to parking—or lack of parking—if it’s an area off the beaten path,” the team at 500px suggests. “From there, plan as needed: notify your model to arrive in suitable shoes or maybe ask a helper to come along to help you set up.”

Additionally, the team recommends finding at least three different spots within the same location to use for a shoot. That way, you ensure you’ll get enough variety and diversity throughout your session—and give yourself more opportunities to sell content.

Build a shot list

Your shot list is the culmination of all that research and location scouting, so write down any concepts, ideas, or settings you plan to incorporate. This list can include activities, locations within the location, props, poses, model pairings, wardrobe changes, and more. The more specific you can get, the better.

It can also be helpful to share your shot list with your models before the shoot so they know exactly what to expect. You can always improvise and include spontaneous moments on the day of the shoot, but having a solid foundation of “essential shots” will help you stay organized and focused.

Tell a story from start to finish

In today’s oversaturated visual landscape, authenticity in storytelling is an essential ingredient for successful advertising, so think about a beginning, middle, and end for your photoshoot—as well as all those candid moments in between. The team at 500px uses a basketball-themed shoot as an example:

“Instead of taking 100 shots of your model dunking a basketball in a hoop, capture the authentic ‘micro-moments’ that tell the wider story. Those could include the athlete putting on their shoes, warming up, and taking a break.

“Take a look at what you have to work with in your location; for example, see if you can utilize the bleachers or any benches for your model to get ready or take a break. Consider what angles you can capture to make the story more interesting. Maybe that means lying down to get a low angle of the ball being dunked, which heightens the drama of the action. Or perhaps it’s shooting from the bleachers to get the POV of the audience.

“Maybe it’s following all of your models to the parking lot where they will pack up their equipment in their cars (make sure you remove any intellectual property issues, such as logos or branded designs). Thinking about the story in this way can allow you to apply themes of friendship, community, travel, carpooling, or sustainability to your photos, which can, in turn, open you up to a whole new customer base.”

Incorporate the environment

Your location can be so much more than just a “background” for your shoots; in many cases, it can become a key ingredient for the story you’re telling. For inspiration, the 500px team suggests checking out Ernesto Perez’s super colorful yoga shoot, set in Miami.

Perez actually came across this location unexpectedly while practicing street photography; the colors caught his eye, so he decided to return on another day for a commercial shoot. At the time, he was stepping outside of his comfort zone incorporating such bright hues—but it paid off!

Renat Renee-Ell is another artist who consistently uses colorful locations as inspiration, selecting wardrobe and prop elements to create a cohesive palette. Her advice: “Think locally. If there is something in your area that you can’t find anywhere else, use it. People react to unique images.”

Consider a shallow depth of field

Sometimes, you want every detail of your location to be in focus—but sometimes you don’t. If, for example, you’re shooting in a cluttered spot (or even just a less-than-gorgeous location), you might not want your background to be visible. In that case, select a fast lens and open up your aperture to create some beautiful background blur. A shallow depth of field will turn unattractive or overly busy backgrounds into creamy swaths of light and color.

A shallow depth of field can be especially useful when shooting portraits; by throwing your background out of focus, you ensure all the attention is on your model. “Doing a quick lens change or aperture adjustment can help make your content more sellable and use your location in more ways,” the 500px team says.

In general, they recommend this technique for three reasons. First, it creates a clean, airy aesthetic and simplifies your overall composition. Second, adjusting your depth of field can encourage you to capture more diverse images (for example, background bokeh is often used to capture dreamy, romantic scenes where emotion plays a key role).

And finally, background blur can help you avoid issues posed by problematic locations: “If there are signs or branding/copyright issues in view, or if you want to avoid obtaining a property release, use a shallow depth of field to obscure the location just enough that it’s unrecognizable.”

Another tip: consider including plenty of negative space in your background, preferably to the left. Known as “copy space,” this extra breathing room will allow image buyers to add their own messaging or crop your images to suit various formats.

Tag your location

Accurate and thorough location tagging helps your content surface in customer searches, boosting the discoverability and profitability of your portfolio. Content buyers often search for location-specific content, so including that information can mean the difference between being overlooked and making a sale. As the 500px team told us just last month, they regularly receive inquiries from buyers looking for photos of very specific locations. Just like keywording and titling, location tagging should be an essential step in your workflow.

Not on 500px yet? Click here to learn about Licensing with 500px.

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How to increase your prices as a freelance photographer https://iso.500px.com/how-to-increase-your-prices-as-a-freelance-photographer/ https://iso.500px.com/how-to-increase-your-prices-as-a-freelance-photographer/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2023 12:30:41 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40985 While raising your rates can be daunting, it’s a fundamental step to building a sustainable business, and it’s something you’ll have to do.

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According to one survey from a few years back, freelancers working in creative fields lose a whopping £5,394 annually by working for clients for free (or for “exposure”). A separate study of creative workers in the UK found that 60% of those under the age of 30 had not been paid for all the hours they worked for the previous month. Further research suggests that there’s a pay gap in the creative freelance market, with women paid less than men doing the same job.

In other words: freelancers in creative industries are often overworked and underpaid. While raising your rates can be daunting, it’s a fundamental step to building a sustainable business, and it’s something you’ll have to do throughout the lifetime of your business. Let’s dig into some of the reasons why (and when) you should consider raising your prices and how to do it without losing clients.

It’s time to raise your prices if…

Your cost of doing business has increased
Buying new gear, renting equipment, and acquiring studio space are all potential reasons to reevaluate your pricing. If you’re outsourcing retouching, that’s something else to consider. You need to earn more than you spend in order to be sustainable, so if the costs associated with entrepreneurship increase, so should your prices. It’s good practice to go over your costs at least once a year and then adjust your rates accordingly.

You’ve gained skills and experience
Relatedly, if you’ve acquired experience, that’s likely a reason to charge more. Attending workshops, taking classes, and continuing your education are also part of your cost of doing business, so they should be factored into the equation as well. Adding more skills to your repertoire, such as advanced retouching or video work, can also significantly boost your rates.

You’re booking up too quickly and feeling burnt out
If you’re overbooked, you might not be charging enough. Consider taking fewer jobs that pay better, rather than filling your plate with too much work. Be selective, and only accept jobs that fit the level you’re at in your career. You photograph because you love it, but you also do it to make money, just as you would with any other job.

Another way to know if it’s time to raise your prices is through a bit of trial and error. Test the waters. If you’re giving newer clients higher rates, and they’re agreeing, that’s evidence that you’re in high demand and clients are willing to pay more for your services. And that’s reason enough to raise your prices.

Finally, while going through these tips, keep in mind that you can tailor them to suit your needs and your relationship with your clients. If you’re passionate about a project and the client simply can’t afford your rate, it’s okay to negotiate and meet them closer to where they are. It’s also okay to walk away. A compromise would be to negotiate on deliverables; you can keep the price the same, but maybe you offer slightly fewer extras, such as prints or retouching. Choose what’s best for your business.

Give plenty of notice

Transparency goes a long way in the photographer/client relationship, so keep the lines of communication open, and let your clients know in advance (ideally, months in advance) that your prices will change at a specific date. A polite, professional email will suffice in most cases. You can easily find templates online designed for this very purpose; if you go with one of those, just remember to tailor it to your client and your relationship!

If you list your prices on your website, you can add a note that prices are “valid through” a specific date; that way, clients won’t feel blindsided if you change your rates.

Note: Perhaps it goes without saying, but never apologize for raising your prices. Part of being a professional photographer is being confident in your value, and professionals raise their prices over time.

Understand why you’re raising your rates—and be able to articulate that

If a freelance photography client asks why you’re changing a certain amount, feel free to break it down for them. Show them why it’s worth making the investment; maybe you have a unique skill set that other photographers/creative entrepreneurs in your area don’t, or perhaps you offer extra services as part of your packages.

You aren’t under any obligation to “justify” your increased pricing, but people are usually more willing to pay when they understand what they’re paying for. Remind them of the value you’ve already contributed and let them know you’d love to continue to provide that high level of work for them in the future.

Consider charging for “extras”

Extra work should mean extra pay, but too often, photographers end up doing add-ons for free. Services like retouching, delivering extra photos or print-ready files, or making prints or albums all justify an increase in price. Your basic package price doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but you should always get paid for those kinds of add-ons, so make it very clear in your pricing what costs extra.

Market to the clients you want

Some clients always opt for the cheapest product, no matter the quality, but chances are, these aren’t the clients you want. As you grow your freelance photography business, it’s worth tailoring your portfolio to suit the clients you want to attract. It might be worth doing test shoots to show potential new clients what you’re capable of and then reaching out to them with a pitch.

In other words: aim high. If you want to shoot for your favorite brand, for instance, maybe you set up a shoot with their products and bring on a team of stylists to help bring your vision to life. Send out newsletters with recent shoots, and stay in touch.

Make a schedule

Finally, set yourself up for success by scheduling price increases at regular intervals, and let your clients know how and when this will happen. (If you’re unsure of when to raise your rates, the start of a new fiscal year is a good start.)

Tell new clients upfront that this is how you operate. For example: “My rate increases by ___ [percentage] every ___ [six months, year, and so on].” Even better, put it in your contract so there’s no confusion. As the cost of living grows, your income should grow to meet your needs. If you do this annually or quarterly, your clients will know exactly what to expect.

In conclusion

In creative industries, money can feel like a taboo, but that needs to change. Businesses must raise their prices in order to continue delivering great service. Go into the discussion with confidence, and think about the unique benefits you can offer your clients. The clients you want will understand that top-quality work is worth the investment.

If you’re looking for more freelance photography tips, check out our guide to starting your own business.

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Five Licensing trends you need to know for 2023 https://iso.500px.com/five-licensing-trends-you-need-to-know-for-2023/ https://iso.500px.com/five-licensing-trends-you-need-to-know-for-2023/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2023 12:30:27 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40979 Whether it’s maintaining mental health in an uncertain world or taking innovative action to reduce carbon emissions, here are the top trends for 2023.

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In the wake of the pandemic, how we interact with brands has fundamentally changed. Consider this finding from the IBM Institute for Business Value: in the past, consumers put a premium on cost, value, and convenience. But today, more people are now choosing brands based on how well those companies align with their values. In fact, “purpose-driven” consumers now represent 44% of global consumers, accounting for the largest segment.

Plus, they have influence: 58% of these “purpose-driven” consumers introduced friends and family to a new brand. They also do their homework, with three in four saying they do extensive research before committing to a major purchase. They follow influencers they trust on social media, and they’re up-to-date on emerging trends and movements.

With these shifts in consumer priorities, we’ve also witnessed a sea of change in design, marketing, and visual media, with commercial photographers illustrating what shoppers care about in real-time—whether it’s maintaining mental health in an uncertain world or taking innovative action to reduce carbon emissions.

Heading into 2023, these are the top movements and trends to consider. While you’ll find some overlap with our trend roundup from last year, these ideas have evolved and expanded, opening up new opportunities for creative photoshoots and collaborations.

Prioritizing mental health

The recently released 2023 Instagram Trend Report, which focuses on the topics that matter most to Gen Zers, shines a light on the emergence of mental health advocates working to make social media a better and more uplifting space. What’s more, Gen Zers have turned to their communities for care and support, with more than 25% saying that being with others is an essential part of their wellness routines, as is supporting others on and offline.

“One thing we can hope to have learned from the pandemic is an awareness of the importance of mental health practices to help us deal with stress and anxiety and care for ourselves,” the 500px team shares. “Show your own mental health practices, whatever they may be. Focus on capturing authentic, relatable moments.”

And people are increasingly realizing the significance of taking these mental health “moments” for themselves: according to research from Parade Media and the Cleveland Clinic, 46% of Americans say they’ve been able to maintain or improve their mental health by taking small breaks throughout their days. These breaks are five to 10 minutes long and consist of activities that relieve stress, including exercising, spending time outdoors, and socializing with others.

Championing real (and diverse) stories

According to a global survey from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, 82% of respondents say that inclusion and equality should be integrated throughout entire businesses to be meaningful, with 63% more likely to buy from brands that put in the effort to represent people like themselves. 81% say products should be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities, and 74% would like to see more diversity in advertising.

Photography continues to be one area where representation can make all the difference, so work with models from your community to highlight a diversity of lived experiences, identities, and stories. “Photograph real people and real moments,” the 500px team urges. Work with your models to create the kinds of visuals they wish they saw more of in advertising; by collaborating and incorporating their ideas, you’ll create a portfolio that feels more authentic and relatable.

Rethinking technology

In some ways, technology is baked into the fabric of our everyday lives. Research from the Pew Research Center reveals that while 73% of teenagers reported having access to a smartphone in 2014-15, that number has now jumped to 95%. Daily teen internet users have also increased during that time, rising from 92% to 97%.

Teens aren’t alone, either. According to a study from AARP, 75% of people over 50 agree that they rely on technology to stay connected. 2020 and the pandemic saw a major rise in smartphone and tablet usage among older adults, with these devices used for grocery shopping, online shopping, banking, and health/wellness services. 64% of 50-plus adults are interested in new tech developments.

From AI assistants to wearable devices, our understanding of technology—and what it can do—changes rapidly. When visualizing tech, be wary of trademarked or branded elements; identifiable logos and port and button designs, for example, will make photos unsuitable for commercial Licensing.

Instead, keep it generic, and focus on the story (and your models) more than the specific device; show families connecting around video games, or highlight the contactless shopping experience. You can always edit out logos in post-production or obscure them with careful framing while on set.

Reimagining the workplace

If we return to the 2023 trend report from Instagram, you’ll find that almost two in three Gen Zers have plans to use social media to make money in the new year. As experts predict that “side hustles” will continue to emerge and expand, consider ways to highlight the solopreneurs and small business owners in your community. DIY projects, eco-friendly items, and thrifted goods will continue to trend as well, so look for opportunities to showcase creators building brands around sustainability.

A separate report from Zapier, released in the summer of 2022, found that 40% of Americans currently have a side hustle, and 36% planned to start one in 2022. “Another product of the pandemic was the career change that many experienced, whether that meant going back to school, transforming a hobby into a profession, or moving from a corporate environment to start a small business,” the team at 500px says.

“Business photography has evolved well past board rooms with men in suits shaking hands. Working from home, learning a new trade, and collaborating with a team online are some ideas to start—think about how you and your family and friends are growing their careers, and showcase that.”

Creating a sustainable future

According to research from the IBM Institute for Business Value, 62% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to cut down on their environmental footprint—an increase from the 57% observed two years ago. What’s more, 50% are willing to pay a premium for sustainable brands. But there’s still more work to be done, with only 31% saying that their last purchase was made up of mostly or all sustainable products.

Brands can help consumers by educating them on their impact, offering transparency about their sourcing and supply chains (and disclosing their emissions), and providing solutions and incentives to inspire more sustainable choices in the age of climate change. As companies make these changes from within their own organizations, photographers can also take action by championing the ways—large and small—that consumers can make a difference, both in their daily lives and in their shopping habits.

“It’s easy to showcase the small things people are doing themselves to help, including composting, small-scale farming and gardening, recycling, and more,” the 500px team explains. “Get out there and meet some folks and organizations doing good for the planet.” Consider small businesses that follow a circular model, or look into renewable energy or rewilding projects in your area. By focusing on the people at the heart of the movement, you’ll discover untold, local stories that will resonate with buyers everywhere.

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Landscape photography tips https://iso.500px.com/landscape-photography-tips/ https://iso.500px.com/landscape-photography-tips/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2023 12:30:58 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40976 Whether you’re shooting flowing water in the mountains or sunlit sand dunes in the desert, you can use these tips to your advantage.

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Picture it: Yosemite Valley, 1861. There were no roads yet, but a photographer by the name of Carleton Watkins was there, alone in the vast landscape and surrounded by the sounds of the waterfalls. With him was a custom camera, equipped with a wide-angle lens. His goal was to show the rest of the world the beauty of this pristine wilderness.

Three years later, President Lincoln signed a bill banning development in the area and protecting it for future generations. In the intervening decades, many photographers would follow in Watkins’s footsteps, documenting Yosemite through angles, seasons, and eras he might have only dreamed of.

Today, landscape and nature photography are as rich and diverse as ever. Gear is more accessible, and awareness about the importance of conservation has risen. As the genre continues to soar in popularity, we put together this essential guide for landscape photographers, including those just setting out on their own, as Watkins did all those years ago. Whether you’re shooting flowing water in the mountains, misty twilight in the forest, or sunlit sand dunes in the desert—landscape photography is vast and ever-expanding—you can use these tips to your advantage.

Pack light!

While camera equipment has gotten considerably lighter than it once was, you still want to be mindful of how much you’re carrying. Bring too much, and you’ll be in pain and weighed down, which will prevent you from exploring and making the most of your trip. A purpose-built camera backpack can make the process much easier; do your research and try a few on to see what works for you. A camera strap or clip will help you keep your camera accessible when you need it.

With weight in mind, pack only the essential gear. A wide-angle lens is the go-to choice for many landscape photographers, with some opting for a 16-35mm for that larger field of view (Iurie Belegurschi, for instance, is known for his jaw-dropping wide-angle landscapes, many of which were made with a 16-35mm). Instead of packing multiple primes, go for a zoom.

If you want to mix it up with a short telephoto from time to time, a 24-70mm is a great starting point and an all-around workhorse camera for landscape photography. As for tripods, invest in the best one you can afford. Ideally, it’ll be very stable on uneven ground but also lightweight. A remote shutter release will also help you avoid camera shake. (It’s also a good idea to bring extra batteries just in case, especially in cold weather.)

Experiment with shutter speed

Landscape photography famously demands narrow apertures, which allow for a wide depth of field. In order to compensate for that loss of light (higher f-stops mean less light), consider a longer shutter speed. Slower shutter speeds can also change the mood of your shoot. With flowing water, in particular, long exposures create a dreamy effect, transforming individual waves into a rolling, ethereal mist. Daniel Rericha used a shutter speed of 90 seconds to create this milky wonderland at Reynisdrangar beach in Iceland.

For long exposures in daylight, a neutral density filter is required to prevent overexposure. You can also get a graduated neutral density filter for scenes with varying brightness (for example, a bright sky and dark foreground).

Play with the “rules” of composition

Landscape photography, by nature, is a slow pursuit. Unlike street photography, where moments come and go in the blink of an eye, landscapes inspire you to take your time. Explore the area for new vantage points and elements to include in the foreground and background; consider getting low or seeking higher ground for an unexpected view of a familiar location.

Keep the general rules of composition—such as leading lines, a frame within a frame, or the rule of thirds—in the back of your mind. In this photo from the Dolomites in summertime, Daniel Gastager has placed the bridge along one of the horizontal thirds lines; the bridge itself, and its railings, also become leading lines, guiding the eye to the peak in the distance.

Incorporate reflections

Reflections open up the possibility of mixing things up and seeing a familiar scene differently. They can also reinforce your composition: in Annie Fu’s photograph of a frost flower-covered pond (below), the reflection of the very tip of a sunlit Mount Rundle—like a downward-facing arrow—just barely touches the bottom horizontal third’s line, making for a subtle but enchanting scene.

Dramatic skies, especially around sunrise or sunset with intriguing cloud formations, also lend themselves well to reflections. Just beware of windy days; calm mornings tend to work best for smooth reflections.

Embrace all weather conditions

As long as you’re being safe and keeping your gear safe (and bringing microfiber cloths for your lens), there’s no rule that says you have to wait for perfect blue skies. By getting out there in rain, fog, mist, and snow, you’ll learn to overcome challenges and adapt to the landscape, while seeing it in a new light every time you visit. Waterfalls, in particular, can be spectacular in the rain, as the photographer Jens Ober discovered while exploring Iceland on “dull” and cloudy days.

Another benefit of storms, particularly in springtime, is the possibility of rainbows. Consider placing your horizon line slightly lower than you normally might to capture the majesty of the sky, as Patryk Bieganski did on a stormy summer’s day in Poland.

Emphasize scale

To convey a sense of scale, think about items, figures, or elements to include in your frame. The most popular of these is probably the human figure, as including the silhouette of a person immediately establishes the vastness of the surrounding landscape. Consider using color to your advantage here; in this photo from the breathtaking root bridges of Meghalaya, Daniel Kordan uses the vivid red of the child’s dress to bring out the lush greens of the landscape (a complementary color scheme).

You can also use other familiar elements, such as a car on the road, a boat at sea, or a train running along a track (the famous crashed plane in Sólheimasandur, Iceland, is one particularly surreal example). Perhaps you’ll happen upon a house or lighthouse. Animals in the distance can work similarly to people, grounding an image and placing us within the scene.

Protect the land

One problem with the rise in landscape photography in recent years has been over-tourism. In 2018, you might remember that the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board actually asked visitors to stop geotagging remote forests and lakes. In one spot, Delta Lake, the number of daily visitors increased that year from one or two to more than a hundred. As a result of incidents of this sort, some leading landscape and nature photographers, including Marco Grassi, will not geotag the exact location of pristine, untouched places that aren’t widely known. It’s a simple way to keep them wild.

In conclusion

Landscape photography is constantly growing and evolving. Today, landscape photography often requires thoughtful post-processing, with advanced techniques like focus-stacking and blending exposures opening up more creative possibilities. But it still boils down to your vision and your experience with the natural world; when done well, landscape photography immerses us in the wild, evoking the feelings you experienced when you were there, and inspiring us to protect these places for future generations.

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Seven family session tips: Posing, choosing an appropriate location, and more! https://iso.500px.com/family-session-photography-tips/ https://iso.500px.com/family-session-photography-tips/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2023 12:30:56 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40972 Whether shared on social media or hung on walls, family portraits are meant to last a lifetime. In this guide, we’ll share some tips for happy clients.

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Family photographs have always been some of our most treasured belongings, but perhaps the uncertainty of the past three years has underscored just how important they can be. At the height of the pandemic, you might remember that people lifted their spirits by recreating old family photos as part of a viral TikTok challenge.

Earlier this year, one photographer in Florida inspired people around the world by restoring her neighbors’ family photos after they were destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Recently, Photoshop even announced a new tool specifically designed to restore old family pictures.

For many of us, life’s milestones—births, graduations, weddings—are chronicled in photos. Families have trusted professional photographers and creative entrepreneurs with these moments ever since Queen Victoria helped popularize family photography in the 1860s.

Since then, the field has evolved with the times. Today, “family photography” extends to include newborn sessions, wedding photography, maternity, reunion photography, and far beyond. Whether they’re shared on social media or mounted on walls of the family home, these portraits are meant to last a lifetime. In this simple guide, we’ll share some tips for happy clients.

Get to know your clients’ style

Every client has different expectations, so touch base with the family, either in person or over video chat, to get a feel for what they want. Documentary-style portraits, where the photographer becomes a fly on the wall and captures candid moments shared between family members, have become increasingly popular in recent years. At the same time, some families might prefer more traditional, posed portrait photography.

Your client chose you for your style, but at the same time, you want to tailor your approach to suit the family. Formal portraits might be best for a group holiday card, where everyone needs to be clearly in focus, while photojournalistic, documentary-style photos might work for a “first 48 session,” made at home just after the arrival of a new baby.

Create a shot list

While talking with your freelance photography clients, start thinking about your shot list. For a formal session, this list will include poses, important combinations of people (mom and daughter, dad and grandma, and so on), and prop and wardrobe ideas. (It’s always a good idea to help your clients with clothing selection.)

It can help to collaborate with the family and introduce some classic family poses: embracing, sitting/lying in the grass, whispering in each other’s ears, and more. Some poses can even incorporate movement, such as walking hand-in-hand or playing Ring around the Rosie, for a more natural, candid feel.

For documentary shoots, your shot list will be (much) more informal, but you can still include moments or activities that are meaningful for the family; for example, preparing meals, getting ready for school, playing outside, and so on. Of course, a shot list is just a point of departure, so stay open to those magical, unplanned scenes that unfold throughout the session.

Brainstorm locations

Of course, the style of the shoot will also dictate the location: for documentary-style sessions, the client’s home is likely your best bet. For holiday mini-sessions, on the other hand, you might choose a Christmas tree farm. Ask your family if they have a specific location in mind (if you’re shooting an event, for example, they likely will).

It’s also a good idea to keep a running list of locations you use for your freelance photography business (plan ahead and make sure you have permission to shoot there!). Choose places that are unlikely to have crowds. Ideally, you can offer some variety, with natural, wide-open spaces (parks, beaches, and fields are good for larger groups) and seasonal spots (pumpkin patches, apple orchards). We suggest developing a relationship with some of your favorite locations; some might require reservations or bookings.

Watch the light

Light is everything in portraits and lifestyle photography, so plan around the conditions that will work the best. If your client hasn’t already chosen a time and location, you can suggest the golden hour just before sunset for those beautiful colors and soft lighting. You can use an app like Sun Seeker to track the sun and its direction at your location.

If the space has already been chosen by the client, it’s worth doing a location scouting trip to see what it’s like. If it’s an outdoor spot and your shoot is scheduled for mid-day, look for areas of open shade to avoid harsh, unflattering shadows—and don’t forget to bring your reflector. If you can get a reflector with a diffusion panel, even better.

If you’re working indoors, look for opportunities to use natural window light. A space with plenty of windows will create that bright and airy atmosphere, while a single smaller window can create a moodier, more intimate vibe. Sheer curtains can help diffuse window light for a softer look. You can direct your clients to the best spots to take advantage of the light as it falls across the space.

Nail that focus

When working with large groups, getting everyone in focus can be a challenge, but there are a few ways to navigate it. The first is to place everyone within the same row and focus on the person in the middle. If you have to put people in different rows, stop down your aperture (at least f8, and perhaps narrower) for a wider depth of field; from there, focus on one person in the middle row. Keep any posing super simple so everyone’s comfortable rather than wiggling around!

Tell a story

Locations and props offer the perfect opportunity to get creative and capture what’s unique about a family. If you’re shooting in a meaningful place, consider shooting wide and including plenty of foreground and background elements. If the family shares a passion (for example, sports or music), invite them to bring along some of their favorite objects to use as props. Consider using an unusual perspective, such as getting down to a kid’s or pet’s eye level. These personal touches and details are what they’ll remember, so use your creativity to honor them.

Stay positive

Our most important tip has nothing to do with how you use the camera and everything to do with how you make people feel. With so many moving parts, coordinating a family session can be stressful, but planning ahead and staying flexible will ensure everything goes smoothly. Stay positive and upbeat, and remember to go with the flow.

If something isn’t working, feel free to move on to something else. If the kids are having trouble standing still and staying focused, for example, you can have the parents pose and let the kids run around them for some sweet shots that incorporate movement. If someone needs a little extra time or encouragement, offer it. Jokes and compliments go a long way. You can’t control everything, but you can make adjustments to ensure everyone enjoys their time together.

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Think like an image buyer and sell your content! https://iso.500px.com/think-like-an-image-buyer-and-sell-your-content/ https://iso.500px.com/think-like-an-image-buyer-and-sell-your-content/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2023 12:30:40 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40949 In this guide, we’ll cover five key concerns and questions from today’s content buyers—and provide tips for creating work that sells.

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The world of commercial photography evolves at lightning speed, but you can anticipate the trends if you tap into what buyers want in real-time. Over on Getty Images, for instance, the start of this year saw a rise in searches for “family vacation” and “family reunion,” indicating increased demand for photos of people spending time together and reconnecting after the pandemic.

Meanwhile, searches relating to sustainable living, such as “energy efficiency” and “energy transition” rose, as did interest in new ways of working, with the term “hybrid work” spiking in popularity. Heading into 2023, we’re likely to see these themes continue to trend, with brand-new ones emerging along the way.

Understanding your clients and their (ever-changing!) needs is the first step toward building a successful portfolio. The team at 500px regularly fields questions and requests from buyers, and they agreed to share the lessons they’ve learned behind the scenes. In this guide, we’ll cover five key concerns for today’s content buyers—and provide tips for creating work that sells. Put yourself in the client’s shoes, and consult this list when conceptualizing and uploading your work.

Five questions image buyers ask themselves before making a purchase

Can I incorporate this photo into my creative assets?

For designers and marketing teams, practical considerations include whether or not a photograph will work across multiple channels, including print, social media, web, and more. For that reason, best-selling images tend to be versatile with plenty of space for cropping, overlaying text, or otherwise adjusting to suit a specific format.

“Much of the visual content we see daily is integrated into design work,” the team at 500px says. “Always consider taking a few images on every shoot that incorporate copy space, preferably to the left. Having some negative space to the left allows designs to add logos, text, or any other visual needs without cutting off important elements of the photo. Plus, having a balance of negative space in your images typically creates a cleaner look, making the finished designs look more polished.”

Your choice of background is essential here, so look for clean interiors, or open up your aperture to create an intentional bokeh effect behind your subject. You can always do some decluttering and strategic styling of a home before your shoot for more documentary-style shoots. Open up the windows for beautiful natural light and a bright and airy vibe.

For studio backdrops, lean toward something that complements your subject and feels timeless (e.g., steer clear of outdated patterned or brightly colored studio backdrops).

Does this photo illustrate my creative concept?

Whether promoting an eco-friendly skincare product or an adventure tourism package, advertising almost always speaks to larger themes. The first, for instance, might tap into ideas relating to self-care and wellness, while the second could spark feelings of wanderlust and personal growth. When shooting, consider the emotion and concept driving your work—and think about how and when brands might want to highlight those themes.

If a single photo can capture multiple themes, even better. “This is where Licensing Contributors can be creative and strategically plan their shoots to make the most of their time,” the 500px team says. “Images that can relate to and illustrate various concepts, in particular, can be used by many different content buyers.

“The landscape above, for example, depicts concepts such as ‘adventure,’ ‘travel,’ and ‘risk-taking,’ but we can also relate this photo to ‘personal growth,’ ‘balance,’ ‘meditation,’ or ‘inner reflection.’ Similarly, the portrait below speaks to overarching concepts relating to the mind, decision-making, or personal growth.”

Does this photo illustrate our brand values?

Earlier this year, research from Harris Poll and Google Cloud revealed that in the wake of the pandemic, today’s consumers are more interested in brands’ values than ever before, with 82% preferring consumer goods companies’ values to align with their own. In 2022, consumers value sustainability, with 52% saying they are especially interested in supporting sustainable brands.

Recent research further underscores the importance of championing diversity and inclusion, from the boardroom to a brand’s marketing materials. A different survey, this time from YouGov, reveals that 52% of consumers in the US (again, the majority) agree it is very or somewhat important for brands to commit to diversity in their advertising. For many of those, it’s important to support brands with a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community (75%) and for companies to support Black-owned businesses (78%).

In 2022, consumers value brands that display a commitment to transparency—and they can easily spot if and when a brand is “faking it.” For photographers, too, diversity and inclusion should form the foundation of your practice, rather than an afterthought.

Commit to championing and celebrating people of all backgrounds, gender identities, cultures, abilities, body shapes, communities, and more throughout your work. But, even more than that, commit to telling their stories collaboratively and authentically. “Highlight natural and unposed subjects; celebrate real skin, real bodies, and everyday ‘micro-moments’ that feel relatable and real,” the 500px team urges.

Will this photo help my brand stand out?

According to research from Google and Ipsos, almost three in four people who go online say they’re always on the lookout for relevant brands and products. Almost 60% discovered their favorite brands while browsing their newsfeeds, watching videos, or reading emails—when compared to 43% who discovered their brands while browsing in a store.

Today’s brands understand that in an increasingly saturated digital world, engaging visuals aren’t a bonus—they’re the foundation of a successful campaign. Whether it’s the Instagram flatlay phenomenon or the resurgence of old-school flash photography, they’re highly attuned to trends and movements in the industry, so you should be too.

“Research campaigns from your favorite brands and identify the styles, aesthetics, and other elements they use to communicate to their audiences,” the 500px team urges. “Also, keep in mind that the same content on different social channels might have different success rates.

“An image for Instagram may need to be different from an image used in a global campaign. Understand and educate yourself on the content that performs well on the major socials—content buyers and marketers already know and have this in mind when purchasing.” No single photo will appeal to all brands, but honing your style and understanding your ideal client—and the social channels they’re likely to use—will go a long way.

Is this photo authentic and accurate?

In the 2010s, several brands landed in hot water for using inaccurate stock photos: there was one time when a vegan magazine used photos of non-vegan food, and there was another instance where a tourism brand used a photo taken in one place to advertise a totally different destination. Fortunately, image buyers are more aware these days of the importance of using only accurate visuals in their marketing.

The 500px team regularly fields questions from image buyers relating to specific photographs. “Typically, we get questions pertaining to the authenticity and accuracy of the content in the photo, such as ‘Is this a photo of the French Alps?’ or ‘Are the plant species pictured a Rudder Ficus?’ To add more clarity to your content and give content buyers confidence in making a purchase from your portfolio, we strongly encourage you to make use of various keywords and include the location on all Licensing images.”

That brings us to one question you should always ask yourself, as the photographer: Am I ensuring to the best of my ability that my content is findable to content buyers? Take the time to add accurate, detailed metadata, descriptions, location information, and keywords to improve the visibility of your portfolio. Include a mix of conceptual keywords and literal keywords to surface in as many searches as possible.

Bonus question: Is this photo timely and relevant?

One final question on the minds of image buyers—and one you can ask yourself—relates to the timeliness of your work.

To familiarize yourself with the evolving wants, needs, and concerns of consumers, consider the news (what’s happening on a local and global level), browse campaigns by brands you follow, and take a look at how those brands are fostering relationships with their customers. Watching how trends emerge and how ad campaigns make a meaningful impression will help you tailor your portfolio to today’s clients.

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Shining light on disabilities in your commercial shoots https://iso.500px.com/shining-light-on-disabilities-in-your-commercial-shoots/ https://iso.500px.com/shining-light-on-disabilities-in-your-commercial-shoots/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2022 12:30:42 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40945 One in four adults in the United States has some type of disability, but only 3% of advertising spent in primetime goes to disability-inclusive themes.

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More than one in four (26%) adults in the United States have some type of disability. That’s an estimated 61 million people. But research from Nielsen, released in 2021, reveals that only 1% of primetime ads include representations of disability-related visuals, themes, or topics. What’s more, just 3% of advertising spend in primetime went to disability-inclusive themes.

Ads for pharmaceuticals, healthcare products and treatments, and similar subjects accounted for 50% of disability-inclusive ads, underscoring the absence of representation across a variety of categories, industries, services, and products.

A separate study, conducted by Getty Images, found that fewer than 2% of widely-used images included people with disabilities. In those, people with disabilities were frequently depicted in caregiving or medical situations, rather than being portrayed in their day-to-day lives.

Stats about people with disabilities

In recent years, there have been a few notable exceptions in the advertising landscape. One of them was Microsoft’s 2019 Super Bowl campaign, We All Win, featuring young video gamers using the Xbox adaptive controller.

Another prominent campaign came from the fashion world: ads for the Tommy Adaptive collections by Tommy Hilfiger feature disability influencers and athletes with disabilities. One of their campaigns featured a film that was directed by James Rath, a creator and advocate who was born legally blind.

Elsewhere, Jillian Mercado, an actor and model who happens to have spastic muscular dystrophy, lit up Times Square in a beauty ad for Olay. More recently, a 2022 Super Bowl ad from Google Pixel featured disability representation advocate Angel Giuffria.

Just this fall, the lingerie brand Liberare teamed up with the period care brand August to highlight the experiences of a model, brand ambassador, and community member with disabilities; behind-the-scenes footage from their joint campaign racked up millions of views on TikTok.

Social media, in general, has also helped foster a grassroots movement toward better representation, with influencers and filmmakers with disabilities leading the charge and changing the game. Inclusive talent agencies like Zebedee Talent have helped change the way disability is portrayed in fashion and advertising (they represent models and creatives alike).

Commercial stock photographers can join the movement by telling firsthand stories from their own communities, taking a person-first approach, and inviting collaboration.

Inclusive storytelling

Disabilities can be visible or invisible, and they affect everyone, across all ages, backgrounds, genders, and identities. All models—of all abilities—can and should have ownership and control over how they’re represented, so have some brainstorming sessions beforehand to get to know them. Consider their interests, passions, and hobbies and how you could incorporate them on set.

A simple question like, “How do you want to be photographed?” can go a long way. Maybe you also include family members, romantic partners, friends, and colleagues, documenting a day in the life of your model. Depending on your team, perhaps you can invite them to collaborate by sharing images they love for your mood board, or ask them to develop some ideas through storyboarding.

It’s also important to avoid common stereotypes, such as showing people with disabilities as “victims” or “heroes.” People with disabilities aren’t here to “inspire” people without disabilities. Your photos should tell the story of the whole person; disability might be a part of that story, but it shouldn’t be the only focus. It doesn’t even have to be a primary focus.

The activity, emotions, and environment are all significant aspects to include, whether your models happen to have a disability or not. Good storytelling begins with collaboration and listening, so the better you get to know your team, the stronger your images will be.

Finally, having different perspectives behind the camera is also crucial, so collaborate with a team of creatives with various abilities and skill sets, from the very beginning stages of a photoshoot. The term “nothing about us without us” remains key, so listening to disability advocates and activists is crucial.

Accessibility on set

Authentic images start with accessibility, so take the time and do your research to ensure your set, whether it’s a studio, home, or outdoor location, is accessible to everyone. That can include ensuring that parking spaces are close to entrances or that lifts or ramps are available. Make sure locations are clearly marked and directions are provided in advance.

Accessibility could also mean being mindful of any sensory processing concerns among your team; flash photography, for example, could cause problems for some people on set. Natural lighting is a great solution. Smaller groups and photoshoots can also be helpful when avoiding sensory overload, as can quieter locations without too much background noise.

Another thing to consider is timing; ask your team about how and when they’d like breaks and how long they’d prefer the shoot to last. Be flexible; some shoots might require extra time, while others might work best if they’re on the shorter side. If you’re bringing snacks, be mindful of everyone’s needs. It can also help to send a detailed schedule and plan so that your team can know what to expect; they can also weigh in on any adjustments you’ll need to make on the day of the shoot.

Once you’re on set, adjust your approach to your models. Providing visual references and written information or demonstrating your ideas can also be part of your communication toolkit. Keep the lines of communication open, and check in with each other throughout to creative process.

Remember to educate yourself to learn basic etiquette; this guide from the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a starting point. Respect and mutual give-and-take should always form the foundation of your shoot.

Inclusive keywording

Part of ensuring your Licensing portfolio is accessible to everyone is thorough keywording and captioning, so take the time to be as clear, concise, and descriptive as possible. In general, it’s good practice to use fewer words while still conveying all the essential information contained within your photographs. Where applicable, include alt text to help make your visuals more accessible.

When keywording, language matters. As a general rule, stick to person-first language: for example, use “person with paraplegia,” not “paraplegic.” Additionally, steer clear of patronizing language like “differently-abled” or negative language like “handicapped.” A person who uses a wheelchair is a “wheelchair user,” not “wheelchair-bound.”

While there are some general guidelines, everyone is different, and we all use different language to describe ourselves. For that reason, it can be helpful to have your models and collaborators contribute and suggest keywords themselves. Give them the opportunity to have ownership and authorship over their images.

Last year, research from Getty Images revealed that “72% of global consumers expect brands they buy from to support diversity and inclusion, with 80% loyal to brands whose business practices support their own values.” Those numbers are even higher among younger consumers.

For inspiration on future shoots, you can check out their Disability Collection, created in partnership with Verizon Media and the National Disability Leadership Alliance. Then look to your community, locally and on social media, to find stories worth sharing with the world.

Not on 500px yet? Click here to learn about Licensing with 500px.

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Questmas 2022 Winners Revealed https://iso.500px.com/questmas-2022-winners-revealed/ Fri, 23 Dec 2022 15:00:35 +0000 https://iso.500px.com/?p=40967 12 days, 12 Quests, 12 prizes, and now 12 winners! Check out the winning photos from Questmas 2022

The post Questmas 2022 Winners Revealed appeared first on 500px.

12 Days, 12 Quests, 12 Prizes, and over 126,000 submissions!

With 12 Quest Themes that covered all the bases from Minimalism to Portraiture, Wildlife to Editorial…. There was something for everyone and amazing prizes to be claimed. It was a difficult decision as our community delivered their Questms spirit (yet again!) but our editors and judges were able to decide on the winning images after much deliberation and we’re excited to reveal them.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone that submitted to the 4th edition of Questmas. Stay tuned for more Quests in 2023!

‘Minimalism’ Winner

Photo by: Michal Zahornacky
Prize Details: 28mm f5.6 Lens by TTArtisan

Check out all the ‘Minimalism’ shortlisted photos


‘Petography’ Winner

Photo by: Tyler McAuley
Prize Details: $300 US in Long Weekend Gear

Check out all the ‘Petography’ shortlisted photos


‘Nature’ Winner

Photo by: Karol Nienartowicz
Prize Details: Hadley pro 2020 Camera Bag by Billingham

Check out all the ‘Nature’ shortlisted photos


‘Editorial’ Winner

Photo by: Lisa-Marie McGinn
Prize Details: Classic Filter Kits by Fractals

Check out all the ‘Editorial’ shortlisted photos


‘Aerial’ Winner

Photo by: Alberto Agnoletto
Prize Details: ProTactic BP 350 AW II Camera Bag by Lowepro

Check out all the ‘Aerial’ shortlisted photos


‘Travel’ Winner

Photo by: Mike Tesselaar
Prize Details: Brian 2.0 Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod by 3 Legged Thing

Check out all the ‘Travel’ shortlisted photos


‘Monochrome’ Winner

Photo by: Veronika Christos
Prize Details: Moza Slypod Pro by Gudsen Moza

Check out all the ‘Monochrome’ shortlisted photos


‘Wildlife’ Winner

Photo by: Dario Maschietti
Prize Details: Tripod Kit by Gitzo

Check out all the ‘Wildlife’ shortlisted photos

Portraiture‘ Winner

Photo by: Grzegorz Bukalski
Prize Details: AD100Pro Creating Kit by Godox

Check out all the ‘Portraiture’ shortlisted photos


‘Conceptual’ Winner

Photo by: Natalie Seitner
Prize Details: Rotation 22L Backpack by ThinkTank Photo

Check out all the ‘Conceptual’ shortlisted photos


‘Architecture’ Winner

Photo by: Tamer Radwan
Prize Details: Alpha Globetrotter XC Camera Backpack by Langly

Check out all the ‘Architecture’ shortlisted photos


‘Urban’ Winner

Photo by: Jonas / Bildmedia
Prize Details: 055 Aluminum 3-Section Tripod Kit by Manfrotto

Check out all the ‘Urban’ shortlisted photos

Once again, congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted their photos to Questmas 2022!

The post Questmas 2022 Winners Revealed appeared first on 500px.