A Question For Designers: Is Variety Good?

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nicolesy
Member is a Diamond contributor and has 25,000 - 199,999 Photo downloadsMember is a contributor and has less than 250 Video downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 125 - 1,249 Audio downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 250 - 2,499 Illustration downloadsExclusiveExclusive iStockphoto IllustratorExclusive iStockphoto VideographerExclusive iStockphoto Audio ArtistMember has had a File Of The Week
Posted Thu Feb 4, 2010 3:49PM

I wrote this blog-post today basically asking designers what their preference is when it comes to variety of images in a photo-shoot or series. Since I'm an iStock contributor (primarily a photographer) and it deals mostly with images I upload here I thought I would post it in the forums to see if any of the buyers have any input.

Here's the blurb from my post that paraphrases my overall question:

"Because I shoot stock and don’t work with art directors or designers who have a precise idea in mind for how they want the image to look then it’s up to me to think of what potential buyers might want. I do my best to shoot from as many angles as possible and also include/exclude things in the images to give as several options to the buyers. So my question to all the designers out there who use photographs in their designs is … how much variety do you want to see? Do you want several variations to choose from, or would you prefer that the photographer only selects their favorites (which might mean only a handful of photos from each shoot)?"

(Feel free to read my entire blog post here: http://nicolesyblog.com/2010/02/04/a-question-for-designers-is-variety-good/)

What do you prefer? Lots of images from a series with lots of variety, or only a handful of images that the photographer believes are "the very best" from the shoot?
GeoffBlack
Member is a Gold contributor and has 10,000 - 24,999 Photo downloadsExclusiveMember has had a submission accepted to the Designer Spotlight
Posted Thu Feb 4, 2010 5:48PM

If a shot is close to what I need.... and what I think will be approved by the client... then variety is good. If it's not close to what I need, then no amount of variety is likely to get me looking closer at a series.  If that makes any sense.


Here's an example. I just did some marketing for the opening of a public skateboard park. I've done a number of these. One of the rules at these places is that skateboarders must wear safety gear to use the facility. Helmet, elbow pads, knee pads.  A photog can shoot a dozen images of the same skater, but if it's missing the safety gear, the amount of variety doesn't matter to me because I can't use any of it.


On the other hand, if there is a series WITH the safety gear, I would want to look at EVERYTHING. And I'll put a bunch into lightboxes. In case the client rejects an image... for whatever reason... I always like it when can have back ups ready to go.


Variety is great when you have a lot of shots that are close to what you need and you can really get into the nuances of what will work for the client.  But when you have a variety of images from a shoot and nothing is close, it's a nuisance to have to plod through them all. Some days it feels like you are clicking through pages and pages of search results where nothing is close. That's when the variety becomes frustrating.
Dansin
Member is a Gold contributor and has 10,000 - 24,999 Photo downloadsMember is a contributor and has less than 250 Flash downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 250 - 2,499 Illustration downloadsExclusiveExclusive iStockphoto IllustratorMember has had a submission accepted to the Designer Spotlight
Posted Fri Feb 5, 2010 12:49PM
I agree with GeoffBlack - assuming the overall photo has what I need, the more variety the better. Once I find a good photo to purchase, I usually check the contributors portfolio to see if they have other angles or the same model doing different things. This helps when showing a client and giving options, or when storyboarding for a demo or Flash animation that I need several shots of the same person, same clothes, but different shots. Also, the easier to get to those shots the better. I really like how some contributors have created lightboxes with all of their similar shots (something I need to do better myself).
hammerheadfx
Member has had a submission accepted to the Designer Spotlight
Posted Sat Feb 6, 2010 9:10AM
Geoff pretty much summed it up.  Variety is great if it is what you need.  I don't know how many times I found an image that had all the pieces in it but couldn't use it because the angle wasn't right or a pose was great but background wasn't right.... now granted I could remove the background, but if I had an image that I didn't have to edit........even better.  I like working smarter, not harder...ya know what I mean?
sjlocke
Member is a Black Diamond contributor and has more than 200,000 Photo downloadsMember is a Gold contributor and has 5,000 - 12,499 Video downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 125 - 1,249 Audio downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 250 - 2,499 Flash downloadsMember is a Silver contributor and has 2,500 - 9,999 Illustration downloadsExclusiveExclusive iStockphoto IllustratorExclusive iStockphoto Flash ArtistExclusive iStockphoto VideographerMember has had a File Of The Week
Posted Sat Feb 6, 2010 9:31AM
Of course a buyer wants as much variety as you can give them. The question is, is it smart for you to have a huge string of files with 1 or 0 downloads, or less with more. What will encourage the series to thrive? Look at your recent salmon shots. You've got 10-12 images that are pretty much the same. With one or zero downloads, those may just fade away into the collection, whereas just a few good ones might see enough action to keep them active.
nicolesy
Member is a Diamond contributor and has 25,000 - 199,999 Photo downloadsMember is a contributor and has less than 250 Video downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 125 - 1,249 Audio downloadsMember is a Bronze contributor and has 250 - 2,499 Illustration downloadsExclusiveExclusive iStockphoto IllustratorExclusive iStockphoto VideographerExclusive iStockphoto Audio ArtistMember has had a File Of The Week
Posted Sun Feb 7, 2010 3:09PM
^^ Good point, Sean. I guess I was viewing things from a "designers" perspective, but it's also good to think of things from a "contributor's" perspective as well (duh!). I think from now on I will do my best to still keep a good variety of images per series, but also be more selective ... and find a good balance between the two.
Julieoakley
Posted Sun Feb 7, 2010 5:51PM
Just one thing to point out - it really helps if there is at least a choice of landscape and portrait formats. So often I find an ideal shot, but it's the wrong aspect for my needs. I also like having more than one shot so that for instance  I might use one photo from a series for a magazine spread and then another for the cover of the same magazine.
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