Stockxpert Contributor Profile: Lovleah

By Ben Kessler of the Network

Dateline: August 28, 2007
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One of Stockxpert's most successful members, "Lovleah" has an impressively varied and vivid body of work. In her portfolio, happiness comes in many guises: an aromatherapy massage, a heartfelt family moment, even the solace of solitary prayer. Lovleah captures the unique qualities of each blissful moment while maintaining consistency of tone and style. In addition, she shows a particular sensitivity to the difficulties and triumphs in the lives of working women, the subject of many of her photographs. Also notable is her rapport with the kids she photographs, which results in unguarded, often hilarious images exploring the many sides of childhood.

I contacted Lovleah via email to discuss her past, present and future in microstock.

Ben Kessler: Let's start off with the basics

Lovleah: My name is Leah-Anne and I live in Australia.

How did you learn your craft? Were you formally trained as a photographer?

I do not have any formal qualifications in photography, photo editing, media, advertising or the stock industry. I am self-taught, mainly from experimentation but also from information available on the internet, books and photography magazines. Dominic, of Dragon Image, has given me lots of information on lighting, and also been a continued source of encouragement. I also did a one day seminar on studio lighting at L&P Photographics, but much of that I already knew. Dragon Image and L&P are pro photographic and lighting equipment stores in Artarmon, North Sydney.

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What attracted you to the field of stock photography? When did you begin making stock images?

Photography has always been a passionate hobby and a constant joy for me. I came across the opportunity to contribute to stock while searching for imagery online. I liked the idea of microstock making images affordable to a largely untapped market. Stock photography has been a great outlet for me to learn and grow in several areas including lighting, technical quality, presentation, Photoshop skills as well as grasping an understanding of images in media—what types of imagery people are looking for.

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What tools do you use to create your images?

I have had a few cameras, but now I am using the Canon 5D, a full frame digital SLR. I have several lenses that are kept in a dry box, various filters, lights, light modifiers and backgrounds. I use a quad core PC and for post processing I use Canon DPP or Capture One for raw conversion. I am eagerly awaiting the Capture One 4 release. I use Photoshop CS2 for all other image editing.

Please describe your ideal working environment and work habits.

At the moment I have to juggle stock photography in and around my other commitments and family responsibilities. The photography part of my day could involve one or many of the following activities: photography, photo styling, post processing, retouching, sourcing or purchasing props, wardrobe, finding locations, getting ideas, reading, learning, bookkeeping, printing, uploading. In my busy life, it's important to try to keep everything as simple and as organized as possible.

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How do you gauge the needs of the stock photo marketplace, and how do you translate marketplace demand into solid concepts for your photo shoots?

I was aware of certain industry market demands in America through conversations with friends that live there. Market demands vary by country and I see what buyers like from my own photo sales.

Actually, when you look around you, you are daily subjected to thousands of photos in your everyday life, everywhere, in newspapers, billboards, magazines, shopping centers, buses and taxis, junk mail in mail boxes and email, brochures, books , posters, the internet, everywhere. It is estimated we are exposed to over 2,000 ads per day. I take it all in.

You seem to have access to a diverse group of photogenic camera subjects. How do you find your models?

My photographic subjects are my beloved friends and family. They are extremely comfortable around me, and I think that translates to genuine emotion in front of the camera that people can relate to. I have been grateful for such raw talent. One of my subjects has done acting, and appeared as a body double and stand-in in the movie Superman Returns. Having this experience meant little to no direction needed by me—a natural.

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The couples in your romantic photos have palpable chemistry. Are they real couples, or did you "cast" them?

Yes, all my couples are actual couples in real life, some married, some in solid relationships.

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Your images of spa treatments are among your most popular. How did you conjure a placid spa environment for the camera so effectively?

In reality, receiving a beauty or spa treatment is absolute bliss and a calming positive experience. My subjects were relaxed during the treatments during which the photos were taken. My friend and I have certificates in remedial massage. Music and nature can also set the right mood. Fortunately, my photos captured the essence and the tranquil feeling of being at a spa.

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Your "armed robber" photos are uncharacteristically confrontational. What was the inspiration behind these images?

My friend's husband is a security guard, so I was able to consult with him on his knowledge and training, and dealings with various criminals. He provided coaching on the handling of a gun. I wanted the robber to feel at ease with the gun and use it as a threatening or menacing extension of the arm.

What aspect of your success on Stockxpert has surprised you the most? Was there a particular image or series of images that caught on unexpectedly?

No, not really, but I have found that in some cases what has been a favorite image in a series for me is not necessarily the favorite with the viewers or downloaders.

What's an example of an image that isn't one of your favorites but is popular with downloaders?

Spring Baby.

Where would you like to take your stock photography in the future? What will your next Stockxpert uploads look like?

I've got a lot of ideas floating around in my head—some of which will come to fruition—you'll have to wait and see. Surprises make life more interesting.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in stock photography?

To start, a keen determination, then ongoing development of your skills and a good basic understanding of the whole industry.

To see more of Leah-Anne's work, visit her gallery on the site.