Fresh Perspective:
If Art Photographers Had to Shoot ‘Stock’

Depositphotos asked 5 young photographers from different genres to show their take on 5 popular stock photo cliches.

Stock photo cliches and the traditional approach to stock photography in general have been the laughing stock of the internet – from Reddit threads to whole pages on social media devoted to the craft. Classic cliches such as a woman with a salad, a happy family, a business meeting, friends at a party, a shopaholic and a growing sprout have all earned their reputation and even have their own blogs on Tumblr. Depositphotos gave a brief to 5 photographers working in different styles to shoot these cliches according to their style. The 5 photographers were given 6 classic cliches to work with and 1 day to shoot at the Lightfield studio.

Roman Pashkovskiy Age 31

Roman shoots portraits and landscapes. He lives and works in Kiev. He’s done photo shoots for Pepsi, Lexus, Lipton, Petcube and has collaborated with Vogue, ELLE Ukraine, Marie Claire, Esquire, Forbes and Harper’s Bazaar. Currently, he is exploring the theme of interaction of humans and nature, shooting mostly urban landscapes.

— Stock photography is, after all, mostly cliches; a collection of stereotypical images which are dictated by the market. There are definite rules to the game, algorithms and particular types of execution. The opportunity to rethink this aspect turned out to be really useful. For me personally, it has given me a chance to look at the construction and execution of my work in a new light. In a very short period of time, I was able to achieve something which also opened up my horizons in a different way.

Woman and a salad. Food should not only be delicious, but also beautiful and I’ve shown both of these sides in creating a dish here.

Shopping. In our region, many buy products at the market. Work days don’t give us the chance to do mass purchases. It’s work to home, home to work… When the weekends come around, people come out into the light, dress up and go to the market. It’s a world of its own.

Party. An office party in a company where a woman works in predominantly male workforce, and most of them men are married. Some of the men are definitely thinking about women as a sexual object but we don’t know who exactly and an office party always reveals these thoughts.

Business meeting. A person burns out at work and doesn’t see the world surrounding him. Work is like slavery in a sense.

Happy family. Father and son, a fragile creation and an adult man. This story about closeness and authenticity of feelings is about the moment during which a child learns about the world together with his father, behind his strong shoulder.

Polina Karpova Age 24

Art photographer. Lives and works in Kharkiv. A graduate of the Kharkiv Academy of Art and Design. She works on a freelance basis as a costume designer and stylist for musical projects and Ukrainian theatre productions. She's a member of Ukrainian Photography Alternative.

— When I found out that the project was going to be shot in a big studio, I immediately imagined that I would find myself in an analog of Hollywood pavilions where characters would run around with their makeup to and fro. My expectations actually came true.

In 4 out of the 5 photo shoots, I was taking pictures of my favorite model and my friend Yaroslava, the heroine seen throughout most of my portfolio. In general, I just added someone I knew well as a character, used my tactics for composition. In general, this project has given me the feeling of a child who was taken to the toy store where any toy can be yours. I completely submersed myself in the role of a stock photographer.

This project has given me the feeling of a child who was taken to the toy store where any toy can be yours.

Party. In the shoot with a party there is an introvert character, tired of the event.

Shopping. A woman with bags – an awkward but at the same time beautiful composition of a tired shopoholic that has come back home falling off her feet.

Woman and a salad. I went ahead with one of my favourite methods of absurd arrangements.

Sprout concept. I decided to add some aesthetics to the image of a typical gardener.

Business meeting. The shoot with a conference, in my opinion, is the most classic one in stock photography which is why I wanted to consciously portray a boss with two office minions, not particularly inventing anything of my own here.

Max Finogeev Age 29

Fashion photographer. Lives and works in Odessa. He has been pursuing photography since 2009. His final project “Season Closed”, for Bird in Flight’s photography school was shown at a personal exhibition in Odessa’s museum of western and eastern art in 2017.

— There were 5 different stories, 5 photo shoots and one day to shoot (around 10 hours). I set up 5 different experiments and felt a bit like an idea generating machine. During this stream of ideas, I realized that I physically won’t manage to work out each idea and execute it so I would be happy with it. That’s why when I look at the results of the photoshoot, I perceive it not as something done and finished but rather an example for future developments and concepts.

My main approach was my wish to step away from the literal decisions which are kind of provoked by the main theme. For me, it was important to find a fitting metaphor that would accurately reflect one (not always positive) side of the phenomenon.

Party. This scene is about congratulating a friend on their birthday on social media. Balancing between 2 channels of communication, online and offline, you can easily miss how everything comes down to dry exchanges with GIFs and smileys. In this context, I remember a familiar expression, “a human needs humans” from Tarkovsky’s film “Solaris”.

Woman and a salad. Integrating the salad is an element of an abstract artwork. Isolated lips help focus on this idea.

Shopping. A reference to the deliberate and bright pop art which first started to criticise the mass consumer society. Behind the screen of flat forms, you want to make out the person and not his acquisitions.

Business meeting. Initially the idea came down to translating an image of communication in a business environment. The characters, to be understood by their fellow colleagues, have to express accurate and clear thoughts as simple geometric forms. The addition of balloons on the scene with managers formulates another idea of negotiation – it becomes insignificant talks. Office workers come up with inefficient ideas; they pretend to work.

Sprout concept. To grow a lemon and use it as part of the salad dressing which the woman in the first scene will end up eating. In general, the ordinary phrase “squeezed like a lemon” became a metaphor for hard work, as opposed to the work of the managers in the second scene. I want to note that that it is not only about physical work but also intellectual.

Ivan Chernichkin Age 34

Photojournalist. Lives in Bojarka. He studied artistic photography at the Film Institute at the University of Culture. From 2004, he has been working as a photojournalist and has been published in New York times, Daily Telegraph, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as well as in magazines such as Vogue, Russian Reporter, Ogoniok and Vokrug Sveta.

— I’m a documentary photographer. The opportunity to take on a completely different role is really important to me. During the realization of this idea, just as my work with personal projects, I mostly watched the models and directed them.

The photographs that I have taken for this project are to some extent a test for the audience. In every one of the shots I have taken, there is a reference to famous works of art or the works of famous photographers.

Woman and a salad


Business meeting

Sprout concept

Maia Iva Age 21

Nude photographer and model. Lives and works in Kiev. She started photographing long before she started studying at Victor Marushenko's course at the Bird in Flight photo school. She mostly pursues nude photo shoots, portraits and self portraits. She has a strong stance against objectifying a woman's body in photography. She’s also a founder and curator of art group FABRIKA.

— Previously, I’ve never had the opportunity to work with stock photography so this project was my first experience. Initially I was a little scared that I may be misinterpreting the genre and will create something very far off from the desired outcome. In the end, I tried to make my lack of experience into an advantage and during the creation of my shots I moved around instinctively. It is very interesting to see the photo shoot interpretations of other photographers – there were so many unusual artists here.

In the process of creating the piece according to my interpretation, I worked more with close associations and direct interpretations. I think this was because my initial theme, which included a naked body, wasn’t possible, and I had to dig a little deeper.

I tried to make my lack of experience into an advantage and during the creation of my shots I moved around instinctively.

Shopping. I really don’t like intolerance. People are too quick to judge others, less ordinary individuals. The shot shows a woman which appears to be dominating; she’s a queen with her sexual preferences. She is also capable of taking up a high role in any serious sphere and her sex life is only of her concern or her and her partner/s. No one has the right to interfere into the personal life of another.

Sprout concept. This is a self-portrait and it is about the unification of a person and nature. Has it ever seemed to you as if flowers are about to grow out of your ears, hands and toes? I feel like I’m in a permanent process of transforming into a plant. Incorporating the soil the way I did during the photoshoot, I probably sped up this process.

Party. In this shot, the objective was to create the most believable and alive scene. To photograph fake, staged shots with lots of smiling would have been a big miss. When working with party scenes, I pay attention to things like movement and facial expressions. Also, the shot includes a BDSM attribute as a reminder of the fact that parties can be quite versatile and we shouldn’t judge.

Woman and a salad. I’m a vegetarian, which is why the topic of eating salad wasn’t too obvious or boring for me. This is why the salad was integrated into the shot as part of the woman’s body, as a symbol of harmony between nature and the human body.

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