Using ImageBrief for ideas for new stock shots

As I’ve mentioned before, I have had some successes on ImageBrief – the best one being for the “head shot” that I sold first for $1050 and then was re-licensed for an additional $200:

Image Brief Award

Image Brief Award

However, to be honest, these are relatively few and far between. Far more likely is that you submit some images which the client looks at, but then decides not to license anything and closes the brief. I don’t mind when they choose someone else’s image, but it is annoying when they don’t choose anything! I still watch the new briefs each day though partly to give me ideas of what I could take to meet the needs of a specific brief, but which, if the brief doesn’t end up with someone licensing my shot, at least I have some more images to upload to the other stock agencies. In effect, an idea generator.

As an example, a brief came up this week for $800 (with some exclusivity for a period of time) for a cover image illustrating the interaction between a sales person and the customer for a bottle of red wine. Being rather fond of that subject, I thought I could do this!

The brief said:

Need close up Macro shot of hands holding a clean/crisp bottle of wine inside a wine shop. Label & neck must be blank (preferably rectangular) OR photoshopped blank, so that Cover text can be placed on top. Store and bottles in background should be out of focus and labels not legible.

I thought about visiting a few wine stores to get some background images I could blur, but that is always tricky. You can’t really stand around taking proper shots of the wine racks and the lighting is usually flourescent and not that great so I decided to do the whole thing in my basement. I happen to have some bookshelves there, some full wine bottles and quite a number of empty ones waiting for a trip to the recycling center. So here is the first shot of two shelves of apparently full bottles of wine:


This was taken straight on, and from approximately the height of the customer. I then moved my camera to the right and took another shot, and then to the left for a third. Then I raised the tripod head more and took three more shots looking down on the shelves from a taller perspective. After correcting exposure etc. in Lightroom, I exported to Photoshop and created two rows of images and pieced it into one panorama. I had to use Distort on the side shelves to correct for the perspective change with taking an image from the side, but as I was going to blur it anyway, it didn’t really matter that some things look a bit distorted in shape:


The original was about 17000 pixels wide so I reduced to to 10000 to avoid wasting too much disk space on a background image!

Now I needed the sales person. I carefully removed the label from a bottle of wine and made a new one from paper and stuck it in place with double sided tape, and using a white background with a flash on it, I got my salesman’s hands showing off the bottle:


With these sort of shots, I prefocus using a tripod stand and have a marker on the floor so I know where to stand. I then use the 10 second timer to get into position. What I failed to remember was to put some proper pants on and tuck in my shirt – I rarely wear a formal shirt these days and so never though about the tails of the shirt hanging down! Benefit of hindsight!

So, with a combination of the quick select tool and the pen tool (as the edges of the bottle are almost pure white from the reflection back from the background), I extracted the image ready for final compositing. I tried various amounts of blurring and also some tilting of the shelves for a bit more drama, but overall, I ended up with about 10 different shots that will be on stock sites if this buyer decides not to license my images on ImageBrief!

Sommelier offering bottle of red wine to customer

Sommelier offering bottle of red wine to customer

By the way, if you want to sign up for ImageBrief, here is my link to the site.

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3 Responses

  1. AlessandraRC says:

    Steve, great idea. This photo looks nice! This probably more profitable than photographing wildflowers, which I’ve become obsessed with lately. Good reminder of what stock is about.

    Istock now has these community assignments you can sign up for and at least get an idea about what customers want. Right now they are looking for realistic photographs of people shopping, and they have several situations you can chose from. I am trying to convince my husband to pose as a sad man waiting in the hallway of a shopping mall for his wife to finish shopping. I often see men in that position and wonder, why do they come to the mall. Anyway, I am having little success convincing him so anyone who wants to take up on the idea. I think it might sell.



    • admin says:

      Hi Alessandra
      Yes, flowers are very over-saturated! Although the desert flowers that rarely bloom are probably an exception! I took some shots in an old semi-abandoned mall with the intention of blurring them as backgrounds for hospitals, offices and the like. You could take shots in the mall and superimpose hubby in front of them. I’ve done quite a number of shots where I’m pretending to be a doctor in a hospital where the background is my mall!

  2. AlessandraRC says:

    Yes, Steve, I’ve been lucky with some California Native flowers with pricier licenses. The market seems to be limited and I don’t know who buys them but those that sell are usually flowers of drought-friendly plants that are commercialized by nurseries. I however should employ my time more wisely.

I'm always interested in what you think - please let me know!