When a company provides a new product to the masses, they need a visual representation to entice people to buy their wares. Sometimes, a big event needs to be documented so the captured moments can be passed down through the generations. There are even times when a person with little to no experience wants a professional photographer to capture a particular moment in just the right way. When a unique photo is required, photographers are paid to provide pictures of views and objects that are generally only used by the client.
Assignment Photography vs. Stock Photography
Though there are many generic photos available for public use, sometimes they are not enough to portray a particular view or share a specific product. Those who cannot find that perfect picture turn to assignment photography. For photographers, it is a safe career path because people are always in need of professional photographers for one reason or another. While stock images are saturating the internet, it is difficult to maintain a steady income because one must predict the market trends. If people begin to consistently look for stock photos of a boat and a photographer provides a stock image of an ice cream cone, they will not generate revenue with their image. Assignment photography is different because the client wants a specific image that is taken on the spot. While the unique aspects of assignment photography subjects can make it impossible to then sell as a stock image, assignment photography allows photographers to provide a service that pays well.
Stock photos are about chasing trends and predicting the future. It is much less about what the photographer is personally interested in shooting and far more about the overall use of a singular image. Assignment photography, however, allows the photographer to be a little more flexible because the subject matter is almost always new and unique.