The World of Stock Footage

Stock FootageMany photographers are starting to look towards expanding their portfolio into the world of Stock Footage. Indeed, cameras like the Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark II, Nikon D5000 and Pentax K-X have blurred the lines between still and motion picture taking.

Microstock Footage is not a new industry, however.  It’s actually been around almost as long as Microstock Photography has and has matured over the past several years.  Most of the leading stock footage artists are not still photographers (although some of the leading still photographers have been in the footage game for some time).

As with stock photography, the days of just getting any old camera, pointing it at stuff and recording are over.  Today’s stock footage buyers are sophisticated with many blockbuster hollywood movies even buying from microstock agencies.  They expect quality.  Fortunately, if you’re successful in stock photography then you already have a leg up on the average person trying to hawk their home video, because you already plan your shoots, use high end equipment and have a solid grasp of high production value.

Before you just dive right in, do a little research first.  While many of the stock agencies you submit stills to also accept footage (iStock, Fotolia, Catooh etc..) not all agencies are created equal.  The revenue sharing ranges from very low to rediculously high.  Most of the highest paying sites are new with very few paying customers, so they are using 60%, 70% and higher rates to attract artists.  70% is great, but 70% of nothing is still nothing.  So many new sites aren’t worth the effort unless you want to get in on the ground floor of a startup agency.

Also, watch out for exclusivity.  None of the sites the sites that offer exclusivity (and thus a higher payout rate) sell enough footage to make up for lost revenue at other sites.  If you haven’t been in the footage game for at least several years, it’s not worth going exclusive at any one agency.  The bigger agencies tend to cater to different classes of buyers, so a down month at one agency could be an up month at another.

If you are just starting out, patience is the key.  Most of the big agencies already have hundreds of thousands of clips online.  So your initial upload of 10, 50 or 100 video clips is like adding a drop of water to a full bath tub.  Just like stock photography, constantly building your portfolio is the key to success.

So, start shooting great footage and get it online!

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