Claudia Lommel wears many hats: designer, art director, and brilliant Stocksy photographer. Residing in Berlin, she runs a successful creative agency working for both her own clients as well as freelance art directing for other creative agencies and publishing houses. Prior to Berlin, she spent over ten years as an art director at Ogilvy & Mather working with a number of national and internatinal clients such as American Express, Cisco Systems, Kodak, IBM and SAP. Today, she talks with us about being an art director, how she beats creative block, and why she shoots for Stocksy.
// How did you get your start in photography?
While studying communication design, I had several photography classes and absolutely loved it. After graduation, I was simply too busy working in the agency so I quit photographing. Four years ago I started again and it quickly evolved into a kind of obsession. Originally, it was just for myself, but eventually friends and colleagues who had seen my work on social media began to ask me to do commissioned work. Now photography is an integral part of my creative business.
// What do you like most about shooting stock?
I love the freedom of working whenever and whatever I want and of course the additional passive income.
// In your role as an Art Director, how do you avoid the clichés of stock photography?
It depends on the project, but I am always looking for images that are strong, unique, and feature unusual settings and perspectives. People and situations should feel cool, authentic and real. Together with a clever headline they should touch me both emotionally and intellectually.
Finding the perfect images often means day-long searches, or can ultimately result in the planning of a shoot. Both cost time and money, which is not necessarily available in every project.
// What do you like most about art direction?
It’s fascinating working so closely with clients and developing an understanding of their ideas, products and company cultures. You start every project with nothing and by gathering information during the briefing and research stages, ideas start to emerge. This is my favourite phase of every project!
The creative process itself can sometimes be challenging, but it’s so rewarding to the see final results working. This is my second favourite phase of the project!
// What do you do when you need to a creative boost?
One of my favourite techniques is to browse through photo agencies using a random keyword and thinking of headlines that would make these images great advertisements. Try this, it’s fun!
We took a new spin on Claudia's creativity technique and asked her to choose the Stocksy images that would best fit a handful of clients. We then took those images and added a little context. Here is the result!
// As an Art Director, why would you buy images from Stocksy?
Stocksy is always my first choice when it comes to searching for images. The pictures have a fresh look and the entire collection is modern and authentic. Stocksy breaks the visual clichés of micro stock photography and that’s really revolutionary. I’m excited to see the Stocksy collection grow!
Another reason I buy from and contribute to Stocksy relates to ethics. I realize that despite doing great work, many photographers are affected by a dramatic slump of income due to unfair conditions within the industry. Stocksy has changed this game and proved that it is possible to offer affordable stock photography AND pay its photographers well. This is awesome – it's like a sustainability pledge for your photography!
// As photographer, why do you shoot for Stocksy?
I didn't really plan to do stock photography and had all the common clichés in my mind about it. A friend of mine, Holly Clark, pointed out Stocksy to me back when the website was nothing but a simple announcement page with a call for artists. Not much text, but they were talking about sustainability and bringing the soul back into stock photography. I decided that I wanted to be part of it, so I applied. It was a gut decision, that turned out dead right. The people at Stocksy are amazing, both the team itself and the community. You can feel the spirit of openness and respect in every interaction. And this is exactly how I want to work. I can tell that Stocksy wholeheartedly follows a vision of sustainable stock, high end photography and they implement this on highly professional level.
Also, Stocksy has a strong, tightly curated, extraordinary image collection that I believe art directors and designers have been looking for for a long time. The quality standard is very high and the images I see on Stocksy by all these talented photographers blow me away every day. I am still super stoked and proud to be part of this exceptionally great venture. Thank you, Stocksy!
We asked Claudia to share some of her favourites. From the concept of Wabi-Sabi to delicious vegan fare, take a peek into her life below:
1. Vegetarian + vegan food (Image via Kraut|Kopf). 2. Campfires! 3. The philosophy of WabiSabi (an intuitive way of living that emphasizes finding beauty in imperfection and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay). 4. Photographer James Bowden 5. Great packaging. Asian markets are a great source! (Image: Lascala wine by Vivanza. Design by Eduardo Delfraile.) 6. Cook books: Green Kitchen Stories + What Katie Ate.