What is conceptual photography? Often, concept photography gets mistaken with stock photography. While conceptual photography is the best selling stock photography, it’s not really necessary for the two concepts to interfere.
Usually, when you need to illustrate a concept, in a magazine or newspaper article, in a blog/website, commercial letter/email, or even in an advertising material, you’d better use some pictures too. So, basicly, the raw definition is: conceptual photography represents pictures who can illustrate a concept.
Whether the conceptual photos get to be sold as stock photos or not, it only depends on the author.
There are many photographers out there who prefer to sell their conceptual photos only as prints, rather than submit them to a stock agency. In the last years this way of monetizing shows less and less success, unless you’re a big artist and your work gets to be considered a work of art and displayed in galleries or sold at auctions. Reason? Of course, everybody has a camera and ideas.
Wikipedia has also a definition of conceptual photography:
Conceptual photography turns a concept or idea into a photograph.
The idea or the concept can be illustrated using objects or models, and while some think that a concept is easier illustrated with people, there are lots of artists out there shooting mainly objects.
Whatever the method is, the purpose of concept photography remains: it must successfully illustrate a concept.
After all, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is not famous for nothing. Conceptual photography seems to be dated back to 1800s, but got more prominent after 1960. You can find here more resources on Wikipedia on concept photography, or you can check out my conceptual photos gallery.