Conceptual Imaging

Concepting with stock photography — by Michel Loiselle

Update: March 2017

Stock photography by Michel Loiselle

The conceptual image is one that lets you interpret the scene in many ways. Someone thinks one thing while someone else’s idea is the opposite. See the process with this photo. Here we have colorful tents lined-up (to accommodate different schools visiting a water park). Someone else says it reminds them of crayon tips in the sky. Another thinks of the circus, etc. It could mean the 5 elements of your company Vision Statement. The many interpretations make it a strong candidate for conceptual imaging.

Conceptual photos by Michel Loiselle

When graphic designers need inspiration, they turn to conceptual imaging to communicate complex ideas. The Lakeside Chairs image fills that need. You may want to portray teamwork or total zen, no matter, it will communicate strongly. The key is to keep the image generic and let the viewer fill in the blanks.

Conceptual photos by Michel Loiselle

Of course this is a whole new look at duets. The mom and daughter team could be used for parties, events, office gags, etc. A conceptual photo can generate so many different feelings and ideas.

Conceptual photos by Michel Loiselle

This image, Barbed Wire Life – from the Colors collection does the same thing. An ideal candidate for editorial tie-ins like for a prison life feature article. That’s why creatives and business professionals come back to conceptual imagery for their special projects.

These golf balls are a perfect example of a conceptual image. Although it only shows coloured balls, the different one invites all kinds of concepts. You’re probably thinking of one now. Here is a caption that could work: “There’s One In Every Family”. Other scenarios could be “Standing Out In A Crowd”, “Be original”, “Star Employees Always Stand Out!”. Finding conceptual photos gets easier with practice.

Conceptual photos by Michel Loiselle

This image is powerful on its own, but when we add the cancer logo to this Boxing Gloves image, it makes it stronger. No words needed here! We don’t have to be complicated. Some photos are so visual and poweful, your mind takes milliseconds to decipher the message.

A monochrome shot of hanging boxing gloves.



No matter how you look at this “flags” lineup, it’s a striking example of a conceptual image that demands attention. Here are possible scenarios that the concept can communicate.

“All Eyes On Canada” – “Canada & Friends” – “Canada Is Hosting The World” etc.

So, conceptual images need to be simple and powerful. You’ll know one when you see it. The ideal place to study photos for potential candidates, is a stock photo agency. There, you can take your time and find the right photo. You can also type “concept” in your search to get those images that have been tagged conceptual.

Conceptual photos by Michel Loiselle

Practice looking beyond the image for tie-ins to your projects

Look at images and concept them for yourself, it’s fun and gets easier with practice.

Conceptual photos by Michel Loiselle This image I call Freedom as that was my intent when shooting it and I also know that my cousin Gary can’t go swimming until the leg is off! For him, it’s the freedom to swim.

Thank you and have an excellent evening




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