Thinking of new ideas for stock photos

Today I’ll give you some insight on how I approach a new concept. I saw a drawing of three hands holding a bitcoin (very stylistic) and thought it would be nice to cover something similar as a photo, especially as bitcoins are in the news a lot as they hit record prices (and will be in the news when the price collapses!). I already have some mock bitcoins and an ethereum coin (a different sort of bitcoin) and so I thought I would create a stock photo of three traders fighting over a bitcoin.

Now this took quite a bit of planning to get the angles all right, so here was my secret. First, I set up a flash in a large umbrella and a black cloth as a backdrop. I used an LED flat lamp as a “table” so that I could get the same angle for each shot, and then I used a round pie dish sort of thing from the kitchen to pretend to be the coin:

Then I took a number of shots with the timer with me holding the pie cover from different places. In retrospect, I should have worn a different suit jacket for at least one of the shots, but these people are traders at a Wall St Bank with a strict dress code!!

Then we have the coin – here I put the bitcoin on top of a small rubber ring to raise it from the surface on the pie cover. With the macro lens (and trying to keep the same angle) I took a series of shots with the focus from front to back of the coin. Then repeated with an Ethereum coin for a different series:

Here is the focus stacked bitcoin extracted and placed against black (I use Helicon Focus for focus stacking – it seems to work more reliably than Photoshop.)

Now it is simply a matter of extracting the arms and hands (I used the pen tool for this as I find it is better than the various automated ways you find in Photoshop) and shrinking the coins so that they fit roughly over the pie dish in one of the images. Then bring in the other arms and hands to make the three. Not finished yet though – I painted some faded black around each thumb to cast a shadow on the surface of the coin to make it a bit more realistic.

So that gave me one image (actually two if you count the Ethereum coin), but what next? I then thought that a financial background would be good, especially with the way Bitcoins have been going up in value. So this one was easily created from an image I had taken a year or so back:

Then, perhaps we needed a simpler background and so I photographed a gold table cloth with an out of focus lens to get a new series:

But isn’t this new currency supposed to be used for buying stuff? So what about a wine store and a bakery:

But what about a larger purchase like a house:

All these are simply backgrounds that I already had, blurred and placed behind the isolated coin. Notice this time I have removed the other hands to give me an impression of someone offering a coin in exchange for the house!

Finally, I thought that the concept of bitcoin bridging transactions (known technically as blockchain) would be illustrated by two hands:

All told, I got 20 different stock images from one basic shoot. All of which illustrate different themes around virtual currency. I’m sure others will come to me in the days to come!

Hope this gives you some idea about how I approach a stock photo shoot. Of course, I would rather you didn’t copy the exact idea, but use it to think about approaches in your area of expertise!


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10 Responses

  1. Haha that’s awesome!

    Could you do one with someone exchanging dollars for the coin?

    • admin says:

      Now there is an idea! Thanks!
      Although I immediately ran into the issue that Photoshop doesn’t support the editing of banknotes, even when they are in a fan in my hand! Grrr…

  2. Jeff Ross says:

    Thanks Steve:

    I bought your book, Getting Started in Stock: 2017 Edition of the guide to microstock photography Kindle Edition, and I appreciate this additional information.

    Not everyone is willing to share and help others; nice!

  3. Nils says:

    I would have thought that some sort of fake banknote might actually give it a bit more multinational appeal. Rather than being a handful of US $, maybe a series of images with $, Euro, Yen and similar symbols on them.

  4. admin says:

    Thanks Nils – I was trying to use shots that I’ve already taken, but I’ll see what other bits of currency I have around!

  5. Bill says:

    Excellent post Steve … thanks 🙂

  6. Great idea, thanks for sharing. Your blog is a source of inspiration. I’ve bought your book together with Brutally Honest guide by your colleague. Reading both books right now and highly appreciate yours and Alexander’s openness.
    Keep it up!

  1. August 18, 2017

    […] wrote about my approach to a new stock idea earlier in the week, and continued to think of new variants as the week went on. One I did as a bit […]

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