A Tale of Two Snapshots

Take a look at these two photos and identify the snapshot:

Both feature a bamboo mat, stones in a bowl, flowers, and candles. Yet, the first one is a saleable stock photo... and the other looks like a snapshot.

Why is that?

Here are two more. See if you can identify the main reasons why the first one looks so much better than the second:

If you said “exposure,” and “white balance,” you would be right. The second photo in both of these pairs is a bit dark and needs a little color shift.

But there’s another problem, here. Both of the first photos are so strong because they’re clean and clutter free.

What that means is that, even though there are various objects throughout the frame, they’re either placed or blurred just right so your eye goes directly to the main subject of the photo... without being distracted.

Here are a few ways to always make sure that your photos are clean and clutter-free:

  • Remove distracting objects in the background.
  • Recompose.
  • Pick a different angle.
  • Use a shallower depth of field.
  • Get in close.
  • Use even surfaces. White paper, a table-top, or fabric...
  • Watch your edges.
  • Clean up in processing.

Keep in mind that your stock photos will always be stronger when the viewer knows immediately what they’re looking at... and isn’t distracted by a bunch of clutter.

-- Bonnie

Bonnie Caton
Creator, Breakfast Stock Club

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