How to create images for things in the news
It is always a good idea for stock contributors to be ahead of the game when it comes to illustrating subjects that are going to get a lot of coverage in the news and on blogs and sites. Of course some of those are obvious now in retrospect – buying some fake bitcoins to illustrate the seemingly endless rise in their price would have given you lots of opportunities for sales:
Since I first bought these “gold” coins back in March and I uploaded 48 different sorts of images and videos, I have earned over $1000 from the set. Total cost to me was about $40 (the ethereum coin was almost $20 for some reason). It is a bit late to get on this bandwagon, but how do I go about creating images for things that I think will be newsworthy?
This blog post is actually an extended version of the one I submitted to the Dreamstime blog contest – they rejected it for some reason and so these “secrets” are available only to my lucky readers!
First, what do I mean by newsworthy? I don’t mean some event such as a terrorist attack or a demonstration – there are editorial shots that can illustrate such events, but they tend to be specific to that event. I’m looking for things that will continue to be in the news and comment blogs for an extended period of time and are more abstract in nature where the publisher is looking for something to attract a reader’s eye to the article. Bitcoins are one that have stayed in the news all year, the healthcare debates in the US about the end of Obamacare similarly had a very long period in the spotlight:
This series was pretty easy to make (it is created in Photoshop from a few underlying images), and earned about $150 so far.
But how to go about illustrating a more abstract concept such as Net Neutrality? Perhaps a bit dry, but in the USA, it is becoming a hot topic with the Federal Communications Commission voting to remove the requirement to treat all content on the internet the same and a big battle brewing over whether that is a good idea. The way I approach this is to think of simple things and images that illustrate the concept. Net Neutrality is all about allowing internet providers to “slow down” certain classes of content if they want (as long as they inform the consumer). So Comcast could make Netflix video choppy and uneven (theoretically), or more likely they could ask Netflix for more money to avoid that. So my first idea was to show different speeds of internet using ethernet cables. Most people think of the internet of being made up of these cables:
Still a bit boring, but with the white background a designer can cut out the section that makes most sense to them, or overlay text on the image. In case you are interested, I made this (and all these cable shots) with just one photo of a yellow cable that I stretched out to make as straight as possible. I then used hue and saturation adjustments in Photoshop to color each copy of the underlying photo (masking out the different colored wires in the plug). So I could create a whole series of cables from that one photo, and move them about on their own layers.
I then thought of bringing the government angle into the concept:
Again, just a flag I had taken a few years back and a cloudy stormy sky from Colorado!
Getting there I think. Now what about cloud computing? That is in the news a lot, so I might as well do some images illustrating cloud computing and net neutrality:
This cloud was from a series I did earlier in the year about cloud computing – it is a cloud that I overlaid on a series of “1s” and “0s”. I then wanted to maybe illustrate the power of faceless executives in your favorite cable company or internet provider to control your internet experience and how they now had the ability to prioritize their own content by squeezing or throttling the service of other competing companies. Getting a faceless executive to pose was not too difficult:
Here I used some Photoshop magic to increase the size of the cable entering my fist on the left to show more data flowing in than was getting out. Simple stuff to photograph and submit – just one flashgun to provide stark lighting and fall off quickly to make the “executive” more menacing!
Finally, I could do more of an illustration of the internet using my same ethernet cables:
I’m not going to claim that these will be big sellers – in fact I uploaded them in November and they have earned $46 so far. However, the effort to create them was pretty low (in fact I enjoyed fiddling around with ideas) and with a few simple props and a bit of imagination, you can create images that can illustrate the most obscure ideas. Try to anticipate what is going to be in the news, especially things that will get lots of commentary and discussion in newspapers, TV and in various blogs, and see if you can create some images to illustrate that – you never know when you will get a best seller!