All We Want for Christmas Are Great Stock Photos!

Posted Wednesday, 24 November 2010 by Ellen Boughn in Ellen Boughn, Photography
There are many celebrations around the world that coincide with the winter season. Christmas is most common in the major stock photo buying countries of North America, the UK and Europe. Now is the time to catch the tail end of the holiday image-buying season and prepare for next year. One thing to remember is that vector images are verrrrrry seriously downloaded if they depict Christmas and winter holiday themes.
Star of Bethlehem

© Jamco/Crestock

Holiday images with a religious theme are used in greeting cards.

Why would you want to plan a shoot around the many themes of the December holidays at this late date? Two reasons: holiday themed props are available in the weeks prior to year-end and the weather in the northern hemisphere will most likely cooperate.

Here are three top categories for Christmas/Winter celebration images:

  1. Still life - Close ups of ornaments, seasonal flowers and table settings, wreaths, packages, or food. Images with religious themes such as nativity scenes won't be downloaded as much, however. Christmas still life images can be against white or backgrounds with muted colors or out of focus lights or the branches of a pine tree.
  2. Santa Claus - Father Christmas isolated against white is a prominent shot in the Crestock collection but also a very popular one. Why not add your take to the lot?

    Big Santa

    © twentyfourworks/Crestock

  3. Lifestyle - Attempting to shoot a family around a tree or at the Christmas dinner table will be the most expensive, most labor intensive and may not result in as high a RPI/production than the other two but next week, with some help from Rahul Pathak, the CEO of Lookstat, we'll review full blown, big deal Christmas productions.

More details/ideas:

Still life with a Winter Celebration theme.

Old pair of skis hanging with wreath

© Sandralise/Crestock

Don't always limit your image styling to the predictable.

A wreath on the door is an iconic image and yet not nearly a large enough selection exists on Crestock. (Always look for 'holes' in the collection to discover image opportunities.) Luxurious wreaths are expensive but you'll want a full, large wreath for your go for it. Hang it on an exterior door (a red door is perfect), hopefully on a nice house (property release) pulled back to show a bit of the house and snow on the ground if possible. Just as good is a close up of the wreath on the door and then isolated against white.

Holiday wreath with snow globe

© Sandralise/Crestock

Buying an artificial wreath is a good addition to your prop shelf

Live in a rural snowy area? Drive the wreath around. Find a nice fence in a snowy field and toss the wreath over a fence post with a field in the background. Hang it over a fireplace. Put it on the hood of a car. Live in the south? Put it on a palm tree. Get the idea? And when the holidays are over...let the wreath age a bit and then shoot the wasted wreath in a trashcan to signify "holiday is finished".


© dodoman/Crestock

Other important still life images:
  • Large snow flake ornament against a solid color background.
  • Close up of a generic but lovely ornament hanging from the tree with lights in the background out of focus. Leave room for a greeting in the negative space in some of the shots.
  • Close up of a pine/candle centerpiece against white or on a table with a white tablecloth.

    Christmas Mistletoe Isolated

    © lisafx/Crestock

  • Iconic Christmas food. Turkey on a platter styled with colorful relishes or sides.
  • Stockings hanging from a mantle.
  • Mistletoe dangling from a red ribbon.
  • Champagne bottle/glasses (hide product labels).
  • Package tied with a red bow.
Father Christmas

© deanm1974/Crestock

Santa Claus.The typical North American Santa Claus is chubby and cheery with a luxurious beard and longish hair. He has rosy cheeks and is dressed in a red velvet suit with white fur trim. Santa has white hair but the most successful images don't show an old man but a robust man probably in his late fifties. When advertising for a Santa online or from a modeling agency, keep the age and weight in mind. A white mustache and light eyebrows will help integrate the fake beard more easily. Other countries have a slimmer St. Nick and buyers there will want their own version.

You can rent a Santa costume in the U.S. for under $100 that will include the costume and the fake beard and wig. Finding the right model might be more difficult. (He doesn't have to be online costume site will also include 'fat pads' for extra fees-but the face can't be thin).

Santa checking list

© ScottHancock/Crestock

St Nick as many know him today was first described in the famous poem,
The Night Before Christmas:
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

Mrs Santa

© NiDerLander/Crestock

Can't find a jolly old model to be St Nick? Lovely Ms. Santa sells too!

Do there need to be children in the set up? A tree? Cookies? My research tells me that a simple shot of a great looking Santa against an interesting but not busy background might do as well as a complex scene. More from Lookstat on Christmas production shoots using models next Wednesday.

Ellen Boughn

Ellen has over thirty years of experience in the stock business gained at such organizations as Dreamstime, UpperCut Images, Workbookstock, Corbis, Getty (Stone), The Image Bank (Artville) and the creative agency, After-Image, she started in Los Angeles at the beginning of her career. Having been directly involved in the creation of four major stock photography collections, Ellen offers her decades of experience to assist photographers seeking success in stock photography.

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Ellen Boughn's best-selling book, Microstock Money Shots, is filled with insights, tips and advice on how to create commercial images and improve your work flow to profit from photography whether you're a hobbyist or a professional photographer.
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