Portraits – Versus ?

Stock Photography is not well-known by that name publicly, but what is the true difference between Stock Photography and Portraiture?

This is as basic as I can make it without getting into a bunch of tedious details:
Portraiture often if not always requires or at-least involves an existing emotional attachment between the customer and subject which was photographed.

Stock requires no emotional attachment to the photographed subject, but draws from interest in design, style or object. (Perhaps even an emotion but coming from a experience or time in a place and not a relationship with the photographed subject.)

Stock photography ranges from advertising art for retail stores to examples of the effects of dentistry cleaning products. It is used to illustrate the help or use of the product in your daily projects.

Blogging cooks use stock photography to show the completed recipe as many readers are visually motivated over reading or hearing.

As you can see with these two examples Stock photography appears in many places and we do not even take notice of the kind of photography.

Internet sales use a stock photograph of the product to show what the product looks like accompanied the functions of the product in written description. This is not false advertising because these mass-produced items are all made the same and function the same. On the other hand sites like eBay, and other auction sites very carefully manage their resources so as not to misrepresent the product they sell but also tell the customer that this specific product. The reason for this detail is for the purpose that the customer is aware of the precise condition of the product whether new, unopened, used, partially functional or non-functional.

Photography is used as a visual description sometimes because we have put great stock in the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Often pictures are used as the best way to communicate what seems to lack in word.

Stock Contrasting Portrait Photography

I titled this post with “Contrasting” being the comparative term because Stock and Portraiture are not competing in a common market, but rather completing the market with a whole new set of shots to be used where portraits may not and should not be used.

I would like to be clear that while Foetoss Light Photography is a Stock Photo company (or “Commercial Photography” for tax purposes), the Foetoss Light Business Blog is focused on providing tips, hints and helps to parents and hobbyist photographers who want to learn more about photography and taking those captivating images of people and things you love.

Here is my opinion of the difference between portrait and stock photography.

Portraiture as we well know is designed to center around personal recognition. With this basic description we understand that style and artistry also “enter the picture” to draw on the beauty and personality of the person or persons.

Stock is specifically purposed to display a product or experience without requiring personal recognition.

You will see stock photography everywhere in product advertising, wall art and topic based editorials. In fact, since I am a stock photographer, all of the photos I have used in my posts have been stock.

I am finding that even stock photographers will be asked to do portraiture even though it is not a specialty. I have taken portraiture contracts but carefully for several reasons. I do not see in my photography something specifically drawing out the beauty or personality of my customers and I want to keep focused on stock. Having written that, I do realize that I would not be asked to shoot these portraits for customers if they did not see in my photography something they want in their portraits. So thank you customers for your confidence and business! I appreciate you!