AbleStock.com Photographer Profile: Mark Hunt
Dateline: July 20, 2007
The AbleStock.com collection now tops 120,000 model-released images, and includes such professional-level services as image research provided free to suscribers. Part of the success of AbleStock.com has been its ability to tap talented photographers, who often shoot directly for the collection.
Who or what was decisive in your decision to become a photographer?
I have been a fine arts painter since college, when I attended Massachusetts College of Art, in Boston. The use of photography served as a way to visualize composition for my paintings. I frequently paint from my photographs or a combination of photos. When I opened my custom, large, painted backdrop business in the eighties, I frequently used photos to conceptualize my 10 x 15-foot (up to 40' x 40') backdrops for film, video or stage sets.
Do you have a favorite photographic topic or subject?
It has always been pure dramatic landscape. That is not where I make money in commercial stock photography, but it's my love.
Has the globalisation of media resulted in a homogenisation of photographic style? Or is there still room for a unique approach?
There will not only be room for a unique approach—it is necessary. It feeds creative inspiration, and the challenge is to take a familiar subject and manifest that inspiration.
When and why did you begin shooting stock?
In 1995, because my wife, Pat Hunt, owned Light Sources Stock in Boston, and she constantly asked me to shoot specific assignments for stock. It was very successful for me so I expanded my efforts in producing stock imagery, and was early in migrating to royalty free, as we digitized all my backdrops and put them on CDs for sale.
How has the stock industry itself changed since you began your involvement in it?
Very little has stayed the same. The equipment, the capture, the styling, the business models, the agents, the e-commerce, the workflow—everything. The thing that never changes is that you still have to take the picture.
How has shooting for stock changed the subject matter or the style of your work?
The stock I shoot today is all lifestyle and business images. I would never have gone in that direction without the encouragement of the needs of the market, but now I enjoy it and love working with people and actors to capture a concept.
At one point the royalty-free license was a controversial one for professional photographers, who saw it as a threat to traditional models. As an AbleStock.com contributor, you’re obviously comfortable with it. What do you see as the advantages of RF for both the shooter and the image buyer?
RF is a licensing model that was fostered by the advent of the internet and e-commerce, because ease of use and speed are important. The ease of not having to track the imagery offers a clean and straightforward deal.
Is there a particular aspect of your work that subscribers can expect to find on AbleStock.com?
Everything I shoot is general and broad lifestyle—family, business, mixed ethnic, beauty, location, sports, etc.
How has your background in fine art painting and backdrop creation had an effect on your photography?
It is all a coordinated big picture and they all feed off and inspire each other. For example, I am always looking at backgrounds in my images.
Is there a particular AbleStock.com photo shoot that stands out?
I did a week-long shoot this winter in Florida of seniors and retired people. They were all at ease, playing games and having fun, which made the shoot fun.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite shots?
I have always enjoyed my shoots with children. They are so easy and fun in front of the camera. No worries about how they look, just natural.
Can you tell us something about your current workflow? Tools, processes, etc? Has shooting for stock changed this?
Workflow is an ongoing challenge, with conceptualization, pre-production, production and post-production, along with storage, image transfer, etc. We are learning new methods all the time. We are constantly researching current trends in advertising and looking at how to fill the voids in the marketplace for imagery.
What do you see in the future for your work?
Endless possibilities, subject to the limits of my own creativity. More location work, more travel, more people, more fun—more, more, more!