Photographing Flea Markets, Thrift Stores, and Antique Shops

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"A flea market (or swap meet) is a type of bazaar that rents space to people who want to sell or barter merchandise. Used goods, low quality items, and high quality items at low prices are commonplace.Flea market vending is distinguished from street vending in that the market itself, and not any other public attraction, brings in buyers. Many flea markets have food vendors who sell snacks and drinks to the patrons, Some flea market vendors have been targeted by law enforcement efforts to halt the sale of bootleg movies and music or knockoff brand clothing, accessories, or fragrances.

A charity shop, thrift shop, thrift store, hospice shop (U.S., Canada), resale shop (when not meaning consignment shop U.S.) or op shop (Australia/N.Z.) (from "opportunity shop") is a retail establishment run by a charitable organization to raise money.

Charity shops are a type of social enterprise. They usually sell mainly used goods donated by members of the public, and are often staffed by volunteers. Because the items for sale were obtained for free, and business costs are low, the items can be sold at competitive prices. After costs are paid, all remaining income from the sales is used in accord with the organization's stated charitable purpose." Wikipedia

One of the most interesting and fun projects that anyone willing and able to become involved in exploring photography can do is to do a project based on different views of flea markets, thrift shops and antique stores.

Not only will you travel to very interesting locations but the amount of subject matter will be enough to keep you busy snapping away for quite some time.

Just like there are many photographic themes there are many ideas for using such a project. You can take the photographs from a local standpoint project like featuring shops and life around your town, you can use then for a calendar featuring these stores or you can do it for a purely photographic standpoint.

The limits are set by you and how you choose to present the resulting images. One of the main points to keep in mind is that the photographs must show interesting details and scenery and should feature various angles and perspectives.

Try to avoid general routine looking images and instead think of your subjects as a way of telling a visual story. This will lend more appeal and make your audience want to see more.

Understanding the types of scenery that will present themselves to you is the first step. You will be presented with a wide variety of stores, settings and materials.

First choose the theme that you will apply towards your work then research the locations and contact the management to obtain permission to conduct your work.

You may be able to complete your work by focusing on approximately three to four stores of each type. Capturing images of the subject matter and the general scenes as well as the store personnel is your goal. Keep in mind that each type of store is different and how you find the subjects are just as different.

These different yet strikingly similar shops can be a treasure filled display of inspirational subjects and ideas. The merchandise is bound to be constantly changing and most always very unique.

You can get set on a theme of subjects that inspire you and revisit the same places once in a while or during set intervals to browse for new subjects to photograph.

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CC BY 2.0 | Source

Another place to submit your images are most of the many stock photographic houses. These images can be used by a variety of publishers or other commercial entities.

They are used when someone wants to showcase shops for a tourist piece, to advertise a local festival, and for several other reasons.

Before you submit obtain a submissions guidelines and follow it. Un-requested submissions do not have to be returned and can even be discarded without proper notice.

When you approach your subjects it is wise to photograph variety i.e many different subjects and also focus on variety of the same subject matter; various types of shoes, or toys, glassware etc.

Do you think that this would be a fun project?

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© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez

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7 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I surely did like this. Your eye gives us more than a glimpse through a lens. I gives us a lens through which to view life.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 2 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Ericdierker: Thanks Eric, I truly appreciate your comments.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

Ericdierker - one of my favorite things to do - I like the idea of submitting some of my images to stock agencies too. Hope to get around to it very soon.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 2 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

sallybea: I think you meant me, but thanks


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

I did, apologies and you are welcome.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

I love flea markets and thrift stores. You have just inspired me to stop by the market today and to take some shots.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 2 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

grand old lady: Thank you.Have fun!

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