The art of stock: Shooting footage that sells … without selling your creative soul
Shooting stock is a great opportunity to hone your skills as a shooter. However, many stock shooters struggle with finding a balance between being creative and producing stock footage that sells.
The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Here are some tips from our product manager, George, for building a footage collection that satisfies you creatively … and sells.
Take your camera everywhere.
We’ve all been there: a beautiful shot is happening in front of you but you don’t have a camera. You never know when an opportunity for footage will present itself, so take your camera everywhere.
Shoot what you know.
What do you enjoy shooting the most? Or how do you enjoy shooting? A collection of footage that features a unique style or clips of a niche subject never explored by other stock producers will give you an advantage and diversify your collection.
Tell the story in your own way.
Should you shoot footage to fit within categories that sell? Of course. But that doesn’t mean you should copy other stock producers’ style. You can shoot the same subjects, but from your point of view, using your own cinematic style and ideas.
To see what I mean, check out the reel below, featuring footage shot by Polina Rabtseva, a Dissolve Exclusive contributor. Polina’s footage is shot handheld, raw, and includes full-on real people and situations. The way she plays with light, the total control she has over her equipment while still using it in ways that surprise even her, and the way she uses the environment to her advantage all make Polina’s work, well, Polina.
Static is dead. Move the camera.
Shots look more alive, more cinematic, more usable when the camera is in motion. Don’t leave your camera on a tripod. Even if your subject is moving, you’d be surprised how much better your shot looks when the camera moves too.
Think like an editor when shooting stock: capture a scene’s action from at least three different angles, or use different lenses. Also try varying your shots: have the actors be happy in one clip, sad the next. Different actors, different emotions, different props will not only maximize your shooting, but also give the client the options it is probably looking for.
Model and property releases are important.
All your models, actors, friends, family — even you — must sign a model release. Property releases are also required if you plan to shoot in a location you need permission to shoot in.
There is a huge shift in the industry toward authentic-looking footage. Whether you work with actors, models, or family and friends, aim for authenticity. Encourage your talent to be natural, or shoot situations where people are not doing things for the camera. When you’re aware of your surroundings and always ready to capture amazing moments as they happen, your footage will have a real-to-life feeling to it.
This video by Dissolve Exclusive contributor DDG is full of authentic shots of people doing things naturally, not for the camera — the cinematography simply captures those moments.
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Meet John Fedele
Midwest-based in the USA, I’ve been a full-time photographer for about 15 years, specializing in lifestyle advertising content. Before that, I was shooting as a hobbyist when people began to notice my work and I landed some of my first paying jobs. I always had the goal of shooting advertising, so I’ve pretty much worked […] Read more
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