Tips and tricks

One of the major changes in the stock industry is the direct result of how affordable professional equipment and cameras are becoming. Virtually anyone with a love for film and video can produce really cinematic footage these days.

We’ve gathered tips and tricks from some of our most successful stock producers and filmmakers that you may find useful when shooting stock.

Static is dead. Move the camera.

Using sliders, steadicams, or even handheld, footage nowadays demands the camera to move. Shots look more alive, more cinematic, more usable. Unless there is movement and action happening in your subject, don’t leave your camera on a tripod. Even if your subject is in action, you’d be surprised how much better your shot looks when the camera is moving. Some examples of camera motion:

  • Aerial

  • Dolly

  • Slider

  • Pan

  • Tilt

  • Handheld

  • Pedestal shots

  • Tracking shots

  • Crane shots

  • Zoom

  • Rack focus

  • Steadicam shots

Shoot variations from the same shoot.

Think like an editor when shooting stock. This makes you realize that, when shooting a scene, you should capture its action from at least three different angles, camera lens options, etc. Additionally, vary your shots as you shoot them: have the actors be happy in one version, 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.

Camera angles and types of shots to consider include the following: 

Camera position

  • Wide-angle shot         
  • Medium shot
  • Close-up 
  • Extreme close-up 
  • Establishing shot 
  • Point of view shot (POV)

Type of camera angle

  • Flat shot (eye-to-eye level)
  • High-angle shot
  • Bird’s-eye view
  • Low-angle shot 
  • Worm’s-eye view
  • Overhead
  • Oblique/canted angle
  • Close-up 
  • Extreme close-up 
  • Establishing shot 
  • Point of view shot (POV)

Model and property releases are important.

You must have all your models, actors, friends, family, and even yourself sign a model release form. Property releases are also required if you plan to shoot in a location you need permission to shoot in.

Always look for inspiration around you.

Whether it is the news, social media, current events, upcoming holidays, new tech, or maybe even the people around you, you can always find subjects that are current and relevant. Stock that is on-trend and relevant always performs better. Look around you, your city, your family, your friends — the inspiration is right there.

Be authentic.

When you work with actors, models, or even family and friends, always aim for authenticity. There is a huge shift in the industry toward authentic-looking footage as people shy away from fake-looking footage featuring actors who can’t shake the “staged” look. Encourage your talent to be natural, or shoot situations where people are doing things not for the camera — you just happen to capture those amazing moments as they occur.

Think about diversity.

Diversity in stock is very important, and more and more people are asking for it. So show through your footage how diverse humans are … but be careful to stay realistic.

Equipment: to rent or not to rent?

We recommend you own the basic equipment and rent most of the high-end stuff, especially if you are unfamiliar with how to use it. This will maximize your profits from selling the footage as stock.