Usually, when a photo buyer is looking through images in a stock photography agency, they know more-or-less what they want.

Sometimes it’s a certain concept, like “freedom,” “togetherness,” or “strength.” Other times, it’s more specific, like, “young, ethnic, middle-class family happily unpacking boxes in their new home.”

And sometimes, a buyer needs photography featuring a certain color, or combination of colors.

Taking photos that heavily feature one color or another can not only fit certain buyers’ needs, but they can create powerful, emotion-evoking shots.

This month’s Breakfast Stock Club Premium Challenge is all about possibly the most powerful color: RED.

Red for anger
Red for passion
Red for stop
Red for heat
Red for caution

… and, with Valentine’s day coming up, red for LOVE!

When it comes to photography, thinking in terms of color can really pay off! Landscape photographer Sarah Ehlen joins us today to tell how she thought up a concept for a color-themed photo and it ended up both in her stock agency AND on the cover of a magazine.

Enjoy her story and gorgeous photo below!

— Bonnie

Bonnie Caton
Creator, Breakfast Stock Club

Right Time, Right Place, Right Kayak

By photographer, Sarah Ehlen

I love to sea kayak, so a few years ago I decided to buy a used boat. I looked all over before finding a sweet deal on a shiny, red, almost like-new kayak.

It’s been a great boat and I’ve paddled it all over — usually on warm, sunny days with my camera in tow.

But one day an idea for a different kind of photo popped into my mind. I imagined my red boat on a perfectly smooth lake… in a snowstorm.

Playing with color contrast was the inspiration for this idea. I loved the thought of the vibrant red boat popping out against a backdrop of wintry blue.

For years I kept the idea of this image in the back of my mind, but the problem was that conditions were never right. In my area, it’s not so easy to find a lake that hasn’t already frozen over by the time a snowstorm hits.

Then early one October morning, I awoke to a surprise 6-inch snowfall. Realizing that the stars were finally aligning for my idea, I scrambled to gather the needed gear and headed out the door.

It was perfect — no ice on the lake, no wind, and best of all — fluffy flakes were still coming down. There was fresh snow in the trees, and the lake was reflecting beautiful blue light.

The scene in front of me was nothing short of a winter wonderland. Now all I needed was my red kayak out on the water.

Since I was alone, I was going to need to be both the photographer and model. So, I set up my tripod, dialed in my settings, and programmed my camera to shoot one frame every three seconds.

Then I jumped in my boat and paddled out to where I was pretty sure I would be in the camera’s view. Here’s one of the shots I got:

Stock photo of a red kayak in a blue lake in winter
Settings: Camera: Fuji XT-1, Focal Length: 25mm, Aperture: f/8, ISO: 1250, Shutter Speed: 1/100th. Polarizing filter to cut glare.

It took several tries and some persistence, but by the end I was cold, wet, and really happy that I motivated to go out into the storm!

Sure, my memory card had a ton of duds, but it also had some gems. It felt awesome to turn an image I had long envisioned, into reality.

One of the photos I took that day ended up on the cover of Big Sky Journal, and the overall series of shots have become some of my best-sellers as stock.

All it took was some patience, a little luck, and a fun notion to turn my bright red kayak into a photo prop. Here’s to being in the right place at the right time with the right idea!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]

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