Stockxpert Contributor Profile: Ikophotos

By Ben Kessler of the Network

Dateline: July 25, 2007
Discuss this in the Digital Photography forum

A common misconception is that stock imagery is just visual boilerplate, something unassuming to hold the eye in place. Adept designers such as "Ikophotos," however, can turn familiar objects and situations into one-of-a-kind, uniquely marketable visuals. His portfolio is filled with images that enliven the everyday with idiosyncratic yet tasteful gestures. These artful touches range from subtle (an incongruous dash of computerized color) to totally bizarre (flames shooting out of a vacuum cleaner). As a photographer, he draws from his models a broad spectrum of personally revealing, seemingly spontaneous attitudes and expressions.

"Ikophotos" answered my questions about his work and creative process via email.

Ben Kessler: Who are you outside of the Stockxpert community?

Ikophotos: My name is Erik Reis. I was born in Angola, but I moved to Portugal one year ago.

How did you come to be a designer and photographer? What is your educational background?

I started studying to be an architect, but it was just a dream, of course, because I am very lazy. Then I was a AutoCAD designer, but that was very monotonous, sitting all day in front of a monitor and burning my eyes. Later, at the age of 21, I discovered photography and Photoshop. And now I love what I am doing.

Are you a designer/photographer by trade? If so, do you work at a firm or are you freelance? How long have you been working in this field?

I started doing microstock in the first half of 2005, but I am only now starting to treat this business more seriously. Now I am a microstock photographer 50% of the time, and the rest of the time I am a telecommunications technician.

What tools do you use to create your images?

My Canon 20D, PC with Photoshop, my studio with flashlights, and imagination.

How do you get your ideas? Where do you go when you need inspiration?

Sometimes I'm feeling motivated, and other times I'm not. When I'm not I simply give up and try another day. But when I am motivated and the ideas simply don't come, I go take a look in Stockxpert and see some wonderful work that we have there from some photographers and illustrators.

When creating your images, what commercial factors come into play? How do you make yourself aware of what the marketplace wants?

I think the most important thing is having diversity in your portfolio. So I try to have a little bit of everything… I don't think too much about which concept is selling better. I only try having fun on what I do.

Please describe your preferred work habits. Is there a time of day when you are most productive?

I work every day from 3 p.m to 6 p.m, and then from 9 p.m to 12 a.m. I spend most of that time processing the pictures, doing some funny things in Photoshop, introducing keywords and uploading files to the websites. I schedule all my shoots for the weekend. Thank God for my patient girlfriend Catarina, she is my partner and my primary model too. :)

Your portfolio mixes illustration and photography, often in the same image. Do you consider yourself primarily a photographer or an illustrator? Which sells better for you?

I'm primarily a photographer that likes to play with Photoshop and mix the two things. In my case the photography sells well, but I think that some designers have great sales with illustration.

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Your photo shoots using human models have a wonderful sense of play. How do you know when you've found the right model?

I don't have many models, my models are my girlfriend and some friends… but soon I will have better conditions to start to hire some models.

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Many of your portraits are set against a computer-generated monochromatic background. What considerations inform your choice of background color?

Some days when I wake up I like blues, other greens, and others oranges. I try to coordinate the background color with the model's clothes and the objects in the picture.

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Your images involving the "vintage phone" are notable for featuring an older device rather than new technology. Are you at all inspired by objects from the past? What is it about an object that makes it "photogenic" for you?

I like the old things. They are very cute and make me think that the present doesn't exist. Today's objects are obsolete tomorrow. And, yes, they are very photogenic, different, and very useful to designers.

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Move Your Body is an especially fun image of yours. In it, a common corkscrew is transformed into something resembling a many-armed Hindu goddess. What was the genesis of this piece?

I had this idea because my brother (also a designer) was organizing a fitness convention, and he gave the name Move Your Body to that convention. So I used a corkscrew to illustrate that concept. In the end, we didn't use the image.

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Where do you see your work going in the future? What are your aspirations?

Good question. I never thought I would go so far and even earn some money when I first uploaded some photos to the microstock sites. But I am human, and like everybody I want more. In the future I hope that microstock will be my full-time job, because it's so nice and I have so much fun doing this. Soon I will!

To see more of Erik Reis' work, visit his gallery on the site.