The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video Part 6 – 5 Crucial Steps For A Successful Stock Shoot

Shooting for stock footage is all about maximizing every part of the process so that you can get the biggest return on your investment of time and money. That is why it is important to go into every stock shoot with a solid game plan. By implementing these five steps after you have developed your concept, you will ensure that you are getting the most out of your shoot.

Step 1: Create A Shot List

While you may be tempted to go into the shoot and just wing it, I highly recommend that you develop a shot list of everything you want to get. If you skip this step, then I can almost guarantee that you will walk away from a shoot missing important shots. This is especially true as you are just starting out. Chances are that you will be doing everything- or just about everything- yourself. By having a list of shots, and crossing them off as you go, you can feel confident that you got everything you need before the day is over.

Step 2: Location Scout With An Eye Towards Styling

One of the biggest telltale signs that something has been shot with a small or non-existent budget is production design. How the location and talent look in front of the camera matters more than what camera you are shooting on. That is why it is imperative to find locations that already look great to start with. By finding a location that already has style and design in it, all you need to do is to make sure that the talent is appropriately dressed for the shoot. And that frees you up to focus on other issues, like performance & lighting. So, if you want a big budget look in your imagery, without the expense or headache, start with a great location.

Still from Ryan’s Library

Step 3: Shoot Multiple Versions

You are shooting content that will end up in someone else’s edit, so it is impossible to know exactly what they need or want. The only thing that you can count on is that editors like options. So, plan to shoot a wide, medium, and close up of every scene. By shooting three versions of the same scene, you are giving the editor the options they need to time the edit specifically to their project. Additionally, you are creating potential for more revenue for yourself. With three clips of the same scene, you now have three sales you can generate from one customer. So, it ends up being a win-win situation.

Still from Ryan’s Library

Step 4: Keep It Short and Simple (KISS it)

Stock footage is not about creating a grand master shot that begins outside on the roof and ends inside the basement. Often times your footage will only be on screen for 3–7 seconds in the final edit. So, keep all action and camera movements short and simple. You are not going to win any awards for a long clip that cannot be used anywhere. To help you keep every shot short and simple, think about beginning, middle, and end. Plan out where the shot will start, what will happen during the shot, and what the end frame will look like. And then shoot just that section– nothing more (other than a 1–2 second pre/post roll to help the editor out).

By shooting three versions of the same scene, you are giving the editor the options they need to time the edit specifically to their project.

Still from Ryan’s Library

Step 5: Keep It Consistent in Camera (KICC it)

After you have KISS’ed it, it is time to KICC it. Keeping your camera consistent will save you a lot of time in post-production. To keep everything as affordable as possible, you also need to streamline the post process. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to keep all of your camera settings the same. If all of your clips have been exposed similarly, and the filtration & camera profiles are the same, then it will be easy to create one grade and apply it to all of your clips. You may still need to do minor tweaking in-between clips, but all of the heavy lifting will be done.

Obviously, you shouldn’t be a slave to KICC. If you are working in an uncontrolled environment and the lighting is rapidly changing, you’ll have to modify your camera settings. Since stock footage is all about having and selling content, it is more important to get the shot than it is to worry about consistency. But the more you are able to keep everything consistent in camera, the more time you will save in post.

If you follow these five steps and you execute a solid concept, then you will walk away with highly marketable footage that should not be time consuming to process.

DISCLAIMER: I am sharing with you directly from my own experience, and what has worked for me. I cannot promise or guarantee any results. Use my advice at your own risk.

Until Next Time, Get Out There And Shoot…

The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video
Part 1 Misconceptions
Part 2 Exclusive or Non-Exclusive
Part 3 Who Should You Sell To?
Part 4 How To Drive Sales of Your Footage
Part 5 What Content Should I Be Shooting
Part 6 5 Crucial Steps For A Successful Stock Shoot
Part 7 Maximizing Your Post Workflow
Part 8 How To Effectively Deliver Your Stock Footage

Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer


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One Response to “The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video Part 6 – 5 Crucial Steps For A Successful Stock Shoot”

  1. vacaichipinge on September 3rd, 2018 8:27 am

    So helpful!!!

About the Author

Born in 1980 in Seattle, Washington, Ryan has had a love and passion for the visual arts since a young child when his grandmother, an avid photographer, took him along on photo expeditions. As he grew up, his parents furthered that passion by enrolling him in various art programs and lessons. While he enjoyed painting and drawing, something was always missing - the ability to capture motion. Once introduced to the art of cinematography in high school he never looked back.Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer Since that time, Ryan has developed this passion and turned it into his career. As an award-winning cinematographer his work has allowed him the opportunity to travel worldwide in the pursuit of telling stories that are visually compelling. Ryan's distinct experience includes feature films, documentaries, commercials, and shooting for Comcast, TLC, Oxygen, and the Discovery Channel. Not only does Ryan seek to deliver cinematic images for his clients, but his commitment, organization, and professionalism means he constantly goes the extra mile to ensure that the results he delivers exceed his clients expectations.


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