We’ve met many videographers and photographers that would like to contribute to stock media libraries. Some even have a lot of experience making great visual media, but all of them have one thing in common. The whole workflow kills the will to even start making a stock media portfolio. But after you overcome all the psychological walls, you start making money for the thing you love to do. Making great content.
We started with stock footage in 2011, but it took some time when we really started. It was a psychological wall that kept us frozen and unable to progress. We were always wondering what to shoot, is our equipment good enough and how to get footage online. Later we had problems with footage that logos and brands were present. Because we didn’t have so much knowledge with blurring such clips, we just deleted them. That was such a mistake. It is important to take your time, teach yourself blurring, color correcting and exporting to the highest quality footage. We made so many mistakes because we were very new to this industry. Not to mention 99% rejections on iStockPhoto/Getty Images. In many cases for no reason at all, but in some rejections, we improved our style.
There is no perfect shooting style, selling niche, equipment or workflow to talk about. Every contributor has its own story and style. To summon up the whole point, these 5 steps are the most important when working in stock footage industry:
- Find niches you would like to shoot (try to make the most out of each)
- Choose the agencies to primarily upload to (in most cases for video it will be Pond5, Shutterstock and Adobe stock)
- Research the fastest workflow (we wrote about one good workflow of uploading to stock agencies)
- Put some time into meta tags (making title, description and keywords take the most of the time)
- Repeat all steps
Working in stock footage industry requires a lot of self-discipline. With time you get an eye for everything that could be a good stock theme.
Income reporting for taxes
Every country has their own way of reporting incomes. Because stock agencies only pay via debit cards, it is impossible to be taxed properly. Some agencies report contributors income on yearly basis, but some don’t. If we are honest, it would be stupid to report incomes that don’t exceed at least $100. Registering a company is even more out of the question. In our country, it is possible to report incomes as an ordinary citizen without a registered company. But, when the income will raise taxes will rise even more. After a $1000 per month (depends on the country you live in) it would probably best to register a company to report incomes and easily avoid bigger unnecessary taxes. You can also report every shooting set expenses (equipment, props, travel, rent…etc) to lower yearly taxation.
Don’t try to avoid taxation unless you are 100% sure that your country doesn’t require data from foreign tax data centers. You could avoid fines with low incomes which might be forgiven if you didn’t know how to be taxed properly. Never underestimate digital transactions.
Every equipment should work
Unless you are using old HDV, DV or smartphone cameras, you should get pretty decent footage suitable for stock agencies. Of course, every camera has its own problems. In many cases, you won’t be able to shoot in the brightest day because of bad dynamic range or at late evening because of the noisy sensor. Also, you’ll need to use more lights when shooting inside.
Video camera should have:
- At least a High Definition resolution 1080p
- Manual settings for shutter, aperture, ISO, white balance
- Optical image stabilization
- Decent image quality
If we were able to shoot and produce stock footage with old Canon 550D (t2i) in our early days, then it is possible with many other DSLR or video cameras. You could also buy used equipment which is a lot cheaper than new ones.
And before you start working new contents, read more about stock footage themes you shouldn’t shoot if you don’t want to waste your time. How to prepare your metatags for importing to stock agencies. Why to use your nearby locations for stock production.