Business Insight - John Lund - Conceptual Stock Photographer

John lund portrait Bio
John Lund had already been making a living with his camera for over a decade before Photoshop appeared on the scene and opened up a whole new world for his creative drive. By eliminating the barriers between imagination and execution Photoshop allowed John to explore new photographic realities that had never existed before. Johnís work has been recognized with awards from numerous magazines from the CA Photography Annual to the PDN Annual to Print magazine. His work has been featured in Design Graphics, MacWorld, Computer Artist, Professional Photographer, Popular Photography, Photo District News and other publications. His work has graced the covers of countless magazines including Time and Newsweek. He has taught seminars and workshops from the Santa Fe Workshops to Photo Plus, has written numerous articles on photography and digital imaging, and had is book, Photoshop Compositing With John Lund published by Peach Pit Press. John currently creates his work out of his photography studio in Sausalito, California.

john lund photography 1 How did you get in to photography?
I was trying to be a writer and was taking photos to hep get freelance magazine articles published. I did a story for Yachting magazine. They paid me $200.00 for the article... which took a week to write...and $2,000.00 for the photography. I got the cover and a spread. After that I decided photography would be a better route for me...and it was.

What made you start to shoot stock?
I always like the idea of earning money while I was on vacation, or sleeping...or whatever. So when i heard about stock I decided to dive into it. Stock for me also got a huge boost in 1990 when I started using Photoshop. I realized that I could get rid of all the things that ruined stock shots,logos, power lines,whatever. Remember, back then, nobody was using Photoshop and designers and art directors didn't consider it a professional too. I quickly realized that I could basically create anything I could imagine with digital imaging and started specializing in conceptual images.

john lund photography 2 How did you develop your unique style, especially the use of animals?
My style just evolved out of creating a lot of images. I was naturally drawn to humorous and dramatic conceptual shots that could only be created in Photoshop, or at least created on heck of a lot easier! I do like working with animals despite the fact that they never seem to cooperate. I just returned from shooting cows this afternoon. Who would have thought how hard it is to get cows to do something?

Where does the inspiration come from for each image?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. I am almost always on the lookout for ideas and keep a notepad and pen with me all the time. I also find it very helpful to set the intention to come up with ideas. I keep a file on my computer filled with images that interest me and when I get stuck sometimes I just spend some time looking through all those images and usually something clicks...though it often means I need to go out and shoot another element, background or model.

john lund photography 3 What research do you do before you start work on a new image?
I don't generally do much research. Sometimes I will google things to see what something actually looks like.

There are a lot of concepts in your work. Does that improve sales and how does that drive your ideas?
Concepts do sell does lifestyle and business. But I am just naturally drawn to concepts. The most important part of my work, certainly at this point, is the idea. A great idea executed well should sell well...and sell for a long, long time. That really fits in to that idea of earning money while on vacation, etc.

Do you shoot commercial work as well as stock?
Once in a great while I will shoot an assignment, but I did that for twenty years and got very tired of deadlines, arbitrary decisions, and the intense pressure that comes with advertising work. I am quite happy in my little fantasy world of stock photography.

What do you think is the future of the stock industry? john lund photography 4
Oh man...that is a tough one! My hope is that agencies will recognize the need to have more curated collections that they can get a higher price for. I see some of this happening now.. will it be enough to keep us dedicated stock shooters motivated to keep producing? I don't know. But I do believe that the pressures that have caused so much turmoil in the stock world.. the ease of creating images, crowd sourcing, and photographers will to pretty much give their work away, are going to go away. One important challenge for stock shooters is how to get your work seen amid all the bazillions of images out there. I have worked hard at getting my images up on my website and really working the SEO. I can see some positive results from that.. but I am not sure it is actually worth the enormous investment of time and resources that i have put into my site. Oh well..

Are you shooting video yet? john lund photography 5
I did shoot some video...I have a couple of hundred clips online, but video isn't my thing.

Can you see your visual creativity working in video too?
Yes and no. Many of my concepts can translate to motion, but will they sell? The answer seems to be "not very well". Also, working in video is way more work in my post-heavy world!

What advice would you give someone starting out looking to make money with their visual-media skills?
Make everything you do the very best that you can do it and then find the audience for that work. So easy, eh?

What was the best bit of professional advice you were ever given?
It's not a $5,000.00 is a $100,000.00 relationship.....

All images are © John Lund and are used with permission.

John's website is here:

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