Events worthy of exposure in major periodicals have a very short half life. A few days to a week is the rule of thumb and stock photographers relying on agencies to market their work generally cannot respond quickly enough to fulfill the media's need for current news images. It is also unlikely to be economically viable to get to a breaking news event when the resulting pictures, which have a short life span, have been taken on a purely speculative basis.
However, there are plenty of opportunities for stock photographers serving the secondary editorial market to supply topical news images but this requires a bit of creative thinking. There are some stories which come around every so often; history does repeat itself and not just over a generational time scale, but every year or every few months. These are the slow news stories which lend themselves to a more relaxed approach from the illustrative photographer, and I find all it takes is a little anticipation or identification of the repetitive events. In the current recession the economy, business and personal finance is particularly high on my agenda. As a stock photographer one could do worse than having one good image of every FTSE 100 company logo; sooner or later every company will hit the headlines for good or bad reasons and newspapers and periodicals will need an image to illustrate their news story.
Recently I read a story on the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) web site about pub closures. This isn't a new story, it's ongoing; in May 2008 the British Beer and Pub Association reported in a news release that pub closures had increased to 27 per week, seven times faster than in 2006. CAMRA's story reported in Jan 2009 that pub closures were at a record of 39 per week. This is one of those slow news stories ripe for stock photography.
So when I saw a local pub which had been boarded up and with a large "for sale" sign on the old sign post, all I needed was a sunny day, a blue sky and a bit of imaginative composition. The result (left) taken in January 2009 says it all, was used last month in a national newspaper.