Shooting Stock Photography 3: July 2009

Yet Another Update On The World Of Stock Photography

Shooting Stock Photography 3

There are rumblings all over the web about the future of stock imaging especially in these troubled times. Not so much whether there is a future in it but more about what the future holds with regards to direction and pricing.

Like it or not, Microstock has made a huge dent and serious impact in stock photography. Large agencies and industry giants are starting to realise this more and more. Apart from the usual summer slowdown, I have personally not seen much of an impact on my sales relating to the credit crunch. In fact, at one or two agencies I have seen a significant rise in earnings over the past year.

I think that as we get deeper into this recession, more and more buyers are turning to microstock for their images due to the low prices. What worries a lot of traditional stock photographers is the fact that these buyers may be lost for good.

Of course, traditional rights managed and licensed imagery will always pay top dollar (famous last words). However, for Royalty Free images, the future looks bleak for the traditional, higher priced agencies.

Stock Video

Shooting Stock Photography 3 Video

Another aspect came into play a few years ago. It's one that I have been pushing and promoting for a while. Selling Stock Footage with agencies such as Shutterstock and Pond5.

Many advertising agencies are now looking for moving pictures as opposed to stills. For many people, 10-15 seconds of footage and soundtrack has a much greater impact than 10 seconds of one or two still images.

I entered this market myself a few years ago and now have a few hundred clips online. Shooting only 4K and High Definition video, the sales from just a small portfolio are steadily increasing. They are enough to pay for a few "goodies" each month.

I am currently finishing off the new private members section of All Things Photography. This includes an extensive and no-holds-barred training section on shooting and selling stock photography. I will be adding stock footage to this as time goes on and highly recommend that you get involved.

If you are not already on our newsletter list, get signed up to be informed of its launch.

Imagine a lifestyle where you simply travel the country/world shooting beautiful high resolution images and high definition stock footage. It is a lifestyle that I feel fortunate enough to partly benefit from every month. You should too but don’t take my word for it. Here is an excerpt from the British Journal of Photography this month:

"CEPIC brings the stock image industry together with policy brokers, IT scientists, administrators and academics, and affords an opportunity for the agencies to grind out distribution, representation and production deals for image stock. Seminars, workshops and talks on the pertinent subjects also take place, and this year one of the most popular was a panel discussion on convergence. The new president took part, and delivered a strong statement – there is a bigger future in linear content than stills. This, coupled with Imagesourclaunch of the Cross Media Pack, which includes stills and motion royalty free imagery, certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Moving subject

Imagesource, and others, argue that the increasing prevalence of screens means that stock libraries will have to provide more and more video footage. For everything from bus stops to seat backs. The main players agree. This market will increase fourfold in the next two to three years to approximately $800m. Anecdotally, when an online computer retailer changed the image of a product on its page from a still to a video, sales increased 400%.

At present the commercial and advertising market pays between $3000-$4000 per clip. However, the exact amount, as in any market, depends on the quality and production values. Most stories last from 10-20 seconds and the length of the clip also plays a part in its cost. In future, prices based on screen time will probably replace traditional licensing methods. Other issues centre on technical issues and are in many ways a rerun of the questions that have dogged digital stills. Should photographers shoot in web or HD quality? What metadata and keywording should they provide, and what clearances need to be confirmed?

Stock photographers need to seriously look at this area. Many will have to undertake extensive cross training, something that many previously print photojournalists have already begun, and upgrade their software and kit. It will be both expensive and time consuming, but it could be their only option. In future, it was suggested, some image libraries will only take stills from photographers who can provide moving images too. This is because so many ad campaigns now use both formats, from screen-based bill boards to viral marketing. And, as Patrick Lor, the new President of Fotolia, pointed out, a crappy photo only lasts for a second but a crappy video seems to last forever."


This is the main reason why I hailed the introduction of video into DSLR’s as one of the biggest breakthrough’s in modern photography. At least for working professionals. Not only can you add a multimedia facet to your weddings but you can shoot stock footage and stills on the same location or shoot...I love it!

If you are looking to upgrade from your current camera to a new DSLR, you may as well look at a model that includes video such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS 500D, Nikon D90 or Nikon D5000. Resolution of 720p is good but 1080p at 30 frames per second is the most future proof for now.

I think that anyone with a decent enough camera should at the very least be shooting stock photography. Once you are at a certain level and understand the requirements, it is the most addictive aspect of photography I know. Unlimited subjects, unlimited opportunities and a whole heap of fun.

I am thinking of holding a 2 day, intensive stock photography course here in Dorset, UK. If you are interested, please get in touch and let me know. I can then organise things in more detail once I have an idea of numbers.

So, think about how much spare time you have in the day and then think how quick and easy it is to shoot a few stock images. Well, it is easier once you have done our course either online or off ; )

Happy shooting!

Shooting Stock Photography 3
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