As a content creator it can feel impossible to keep up with the endless messaging from brands promoting another new trend, a slick tech innovation, or a multitude of wellness solutions for the consumer market.
Although it’s extremely important to be aware of the latest trends that resonate with buyers, it’s a relief to know that there are fundamental principles that you can apply to your content strategy that can keep you grounded. The core traits of how we live, how we work, and how we interact with others remains a constant.
Try to imagine that a primary category is like a house that you have to paint every year with a fresh coat of paint. The main subjects or themes within the video, photo, and music categories rarely change, but consistently need to be updated with a fresh perspective.
A few months back, I was having lunch with a media buyer. The conversation drifted to subject categories and themes that he found the most desirable. A fully model- and property-released schoolroom with students was one of the subjects that he mentioned. This was understandable, being that Education is a primary category and a financially challenging subject to produce.
Conceptually, Education bleeds into other primary subjects beyond those we associate with the inside of a classroom. Education is a concept that has even more value, for example, if you can apply it to a business or lifestyle shoot.
Conceptual keywords added to your titles have the power to reveal a more complex meaning to the viewer, so take the time to analyze the image beyond the general idea and think about the concept that best represents the theme. The more targeted ideas you can pepper into a shot, the better your odds are for increasing your revenue when people are searching for related visuals. Your best shots will be those that convey a simple message while capturing layers of complexity developing beneath the scenes’s overall theme.
Healthcare is a priority subject at Pond5 and one of a handful of the most important categories in our industry. Gaining access to a medical facility, however, can be challenging, as well as expensive. One of my experiences producing a shoot in a hospital came from a filmmaker who had a hospital as a client. We had access and permission to direct the doctors, which included the use of the facility’s medical equipment and technologies. On another occasion, a hospital allowed us to shoot with the understanding that the footage couldn’t be used or licensed by another medical facility.
In reality, rooms are lit, not people. In stock, there’s a tendency for filmmakers to overuse high keys to light an environment, especially in medical shoots. Although medical facilities and offices are well lit, they’re not over-lit. If you’re working in a doctor’s office with available light, attempt to design your scenes around it. Natural light is the prettiest light. Because of greater dynamic range in digital capture, working with less lights and using practicals to shape the mood is guaranteed to make your work look much more polished and believable.
Sport-themed images are always a hot subject, whether they’re covering a professional or leisurely sport. Similar to our other primary categories, sport-related imagery can illustrate strong concepts far beyond their literal representation. Sports concepts related to Success, Determination, Power, Endurance, Focus, Preparation, Precision, Achievement, and Teamwork are often used to target business themes. With that said, the sub-categories related to Sports activities outside the professional arena are just as appealing to buyers who want to promote the same Sports concepts in a lifestyle ad. For instance, miniature-golf images can illustrate many of the same themes that are found in a professional golf tournament.
Budgets on professional Sports shoots that include a large cast and uniforms can run pretty high, but they don’t have to if you can cheat themes by shooting tighter angles and limiting your cast to a few principal actors. Framing your shots from a lower position to capture stadium lights is beneficial. Allow the client to complete the shot by providing the sound design of thousands of cheering or booing fans.
With all of the above, keep in mind that it’s important to be original in your work. Even though we display our most popular media by sales with a dropdown filter, we stress that we don’t want you to copy the top-selling images, but rather to interpret their concepts based on your own style and originality.
With a new year on the way, we’ll continue to offer up insights on our industry’s primary categories in 2019, along with other anecdotes, articles, and creative briefs to help ensure that you’re fully prepared to tackle any subject or theme that you decide to take on. In the meantime, if you have any questions, just let us know in the comments!