As the post production lead here at our studio, I'll use post as a microcosm for the shift in the stock industry. I learned post production skills out of necessity, and the initial response that I had to the immense power of post production was to make the most technically perfect images that I could. Detail in every pixel. Perfect transitions between light and color values. Smooth, pleasing skin tones. Enhanced eyes and teeth. Erased blemishes. Grey cards, noise reduction plugins, hell, I wrote an article on the minutia of edge specific sharpening. You get the drift. I was a dream come true to stock agencies. Every image that went across my desk was PERFECT.
But creativity requires change. In this instance for me it was embracing the "imperfect". If you look at Chase's images that I've been working on lately, you won't find detail in every pixel. More likely you'll find that the highlights and shadows are gone, the colors have shifted due to a heavy hand with the contrast and saturation controls, the transition areas might be a bit harsh.
I agree with this. Stock companies demand more then 100k ads. It sucks the life out of it... lol!