The look of "Personal Work" vs "Stock"

Rice Fields by Christian Schmidt

So, how is “personal work” more like an amateur’s work – for the love of making / taking a photograph?

I came across this image in the current PDN personal work award recognition issue – I tried to find other similar work on-line but instead found other – more commercial appearing work… too bad – I rather liked the appearance of the rice fields. Although, I have to wonder if my liking it is from a certain viewing trend – in coloring, form, etc… The image sort of reminds me of other artist work now that I think about it. Still, it is a nice photograph.

Then, I came upon this image in the “Stock” category..

Red Houses by Christian Schmidt

Another pleasing photograph in my opinion…

It made me wonder what elements might separate the categories – Personal from Stock? Is it intentions – maybe – perhaps one sort of image (personal or stock) is meant to be “used” in a manner different than the other (personal or stock) image. In our contemporary culture “moment” – what sort of image (are there any that are off limits?) can not be commercialized or assimilated to a back story if necessary with the intention of tipping the scale towards another look. To catch the eye and transfer a kind of consumer (pleasure) desire. Is it that one image has more power (value) to persuade a potential consumer? Then again, perhaps that’s what most photographs are really all about… catching attention – simply saying “hey – take a look at this”. Are not museum visitors consumer’s of sorts? Is that a problem with how contemporary photography is being featured more and more prominently in the institutional art settings – that somehow the message that is supposed to be “in the photo” is looked at (cultural consumption) and then we move on. Maybe it is a question of time and shelf-life and with the passage of this contemporary moment, something else will be glimpsed with another look say in 10, 25, 50 or 100 years…

It prompted me to think a bit about the demands of commercial work – expectations set up for a certain look or feel – it potentially applies to a lot of different disciplines. It also begs the question of a style influence. It would be too easy to find examples of opposing images – one clearly meant to be “fine” and the other meant to be “stock”. What I find interesting is when the two aren’t always so apparently different – except for the author’s say so.


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