crap shot, anyone?

There is a growing trend on the internet for sites that share stock photography for free. This fits in with the ethos of the virtual community very well, and I have no complaints against it as it is.

The problem is, these poor quality images are free, so people start to view them as a cheap alternative for professional photography.

I saw one of these (it was istockphoto) advertised in Computer Arts the other day, and it truly outlined the problem with these sites. They are full of substandard photography. In our instant age, a few snaps seems to be enough for the majority of these photo sharers.

The ad in question showed a fairly interesting photography of a woman. She had a nice face, her hair was styled, and she had an intent look in her eyes. But over her shoulder, under her white halter neck top ran a bra strap. One side was almost hidden, the other separated itself from the shirt above. And this is the crux of the problem. Attention to detail. Care and quality. Strict admission.

Free stock sites are guarenteed to contain some absolute gems, some hobby photographers whose work is exceptional, and deserve to make money from it. But a vast majority of the accepted photos seem to be lacking in one of several points. Technical quality, visual attention to detail, inspiration.

On one site I found a photo of several dolls house toilets. It wasn’t even interesting. Why take it in the first place?

As a photographic enthusiast, my reject pile is 90% of my photographs. In the digital age I can afford to take the time to get the perfect shot. And if it isn’t perfect, I don’t just use it anyway, I try again. I may not be the most technically advanced, but I am picky. There wouldn’t be any bra straps showing on my photos.

This obviously comes from my background as an Art Director – standing with the photographer surveying the scene I was always moving and shifting things. Studying the polaroid and then adjusting the set again. But I don’t see why someone who is serious about their photography doesn’t take the time to do the same. To get the best shot you normally have to work at it.

My mother did always tell me – you get what you pay for.