Here I was filming one of the few time-lapse I created with a Canon G10.
I love filming landscapes. I live in Italy, and here we have beautiful mountains and beautiful seas. Filming landscapes gives me peace.
Over the years I have specialized in stock footage of European cities, so I know well this type of scene:
- I mount my tripod on the street, and immediately after, passes a pedestrian annoyed by the camera or a policeman arrives and asks me if I have the proper authorization.
Of course, in those cases, the best way to react is to apologize and think about the next shot, but there is no person in the world that remains completely indifferent in such a situation.
In a mountain forest, things like these do not happen, as you don’t need permission to film with a tripod (I made a video about this), or at least nobody will ever ask you for authorization.
I’m sure you dream to spend a week on the beach, and get all the holiday paid by your sales of stock footage of the sea or of people walking on the shore. I remember a holiday in western Sardinia where exactly that happened, but it was back in 2008, the golden age of Microstock. I was one of the first to realize how easy it was making money with Istockphoto.
I shot this time-lapse my last day of work in a department store in October 2009.
Until 2009, I was a clerk selling cameras and computers in a department store and until 2007 in my spare time I produced short films. At that time, I spent all my money with the dream of becoming a professional director. I won festivals in Italy and I was even aired on National TV, but it has always been just a very expensive dream, not a job for me.
September 9 2007 was the day of my 30th birthday. That’s why I stopped being a dreamer, and started to be a businessman by joining the Microstock world. I spent all the hours I had outside my main job in the production of stock images and stock footage, because I was sure one day that effort would be rewarded.
Just to let you understand the situation: in 2008, I produced only time-lapse with a pocket tripod, since low cost reflex cameras that recorded video in real time did not exist. The quality of my content was bad compared to what I create today, but I was one of the first people who understood what the power of Microstock was, so at that time things for me were much easier than they are today for a Microstock contributor who starts producing.
Now on Pond5 there are four million seven hundred thousand clips for sale, 10 times as much as those that were there when I started. That’s why I created this site:
I want to give the opportunity to sell to anyone, even in times of strong competition, relying on my 10 years of experience.
When I was a 15 year old boy, I dreamt to work in the film industry. I’m still sure today many teenagers have that same dream. Real life is different. To become a professional director you need to study until you’re 25 years old. Then you need to work hard, maybe earning less than a fast food clerk. Probably even when you’ll be 40 years old you’ll share your flat with someone you don’t know, because you won’t have the money for your own house. Let me tell you:
- You won’t ever be the next Quentin Tarantino
- You’ll be Mister nobody without a family and a job, but with a lot of broken dreams.
Is that what you want? Do you think you’re better than the thousands of people who tried to be film directors and never made a real film?
Producing Microstock is the business of the future for those who love filming.
I am not talking only to teenagers who started taking pictures with their reflex camera yesterday. I’m sure many old photographers can make a lot of money thanks to Microstock. But there’s a common mistake they used to make: they think creating stock images is like creating other kinds of images for business. I know what happens:
- You searched something on Google.
- You clicked the link of one of my posts.
- You realize that my technique is worse than yours (and it’s true, believe me!).
- You found a screenshot of my earnings like this:
And that’s the time when you’re excited and you think:
Wow, I can make a lot of money with Microstock.
Sorry my friend, let me tell you something you don’t want to hear:
You won’t make money, you’ll lose a lot of time. I know it is not easy, but the best thing to do now is press Control-Alt-Delete
Walking with the camera around your neck on a mountain trail and waiting for the right light combined with your excellent technique is useless in Microstock, because the goal of Microstock is making money and there are no buyers who want to spend their budget on stock images of mountains. I say this with a heavy heart because I love to spend my days surrounded by silence and healthy air when I go on holiday. Probably I still can sell some image or footage of mountains, but I’m a businessman and I have to pay for the the costs of travel, for my equipment and for my time and $50 is not enough for a day of shooting.
Not all my readers are Microstock newbies. Among those who already use Microstock as a second job, there are people who do not agree with me on this, because they claim to earn while selling landscapes on Shutterstock and other agencies. I’m sure they’re telling the truth, but the point is that I have to play the part of Donald Trump on “The Apprentice, because:
I don’t want to sell you a dream.
If you put the money on the table and do the cost/benefit calculation, you’ll end up like a talented musician who plays music in front of the subway entrance all day, and maybe bring home ten euro coins still believing that he earned a living with dignity. You don’t have to be like that.
Just after I bought the Canon EOS 550d/Rebel T2i in 2010, I spent an hour filming flowers with a macro lens 100 meters from my house, just to understand the device and lens performances. Those shooting session videos are not technically perfect, because perfection was not what I was looking for, but they were enough good to be accepted by the agencies and sell (short). I’m talking about $50 for:
- 1 hour of shooting
- 1 hour of editing
- 1 hour of keywording.
It is a figure that can also make someone happy, whether it is a boy who is still living at home with his parents or a photographer with a store that over time has seen his work become a desert with no rain on the horizon. If you live those three hours the same way as three hours walking in the middle of nature or as bike ride on Sunday morning, happiness may be there. But if you are talking about business, then those $50 are a fail.
If you test on Pond5 search engine the words:
A lot of simple clips that have earned thousands of dollars come out. But it’s like the beautiful story of the child who plays football at school and then one day will play in the Champions League. And you’ve got one more problem: the algorithm indexing clips in the agencies search engine has non-public parameters, so the success of a clip over another depends on:
- Buyers demand for that subject (you can learn how to understand what it is, as I teach in my course).
- Technical quality of filming (you can learn it too).
- Agencies search engine algorithm (It’s 10 years I’m trying to understand how it works and I’m still not sure I can do it).
I shot this in San Martino di Castrozza in 2010
In Italy, we have probably the best mountains and seas. I filmed them many times when I started producing, but with a single “Arc de Triomphe” clip I’ve earned a lot more money.
My nature content didn’t sell because buyers don’t want to spend on that subject, and not because Italian mountains and seas are not beautiful. Now the question is:
Why are you filming Microstock? Are you searching for the perfect reason to be out of home for one month and you don’t care about money?
Then go and plan a trip to Thailand or to the Rocky Mountains, but believe me you won’t even pay a single flight ticket with the royalties you’ll get. If photography and video are a pleasure, like they are for me when I’m on holiday, go there and use your camera as a hobbyist who’s enjoying his time, not as a Microstock producer that has to work 16 hours a day when filming far from home.
I am not saying that a single HD stock footage sale ($23.90 for the producer) on Shutterstock is impossible. I got a lot more money filming my cat in the basement of my house. But this is not the business you want. We are not YouTube partners spending their days for $50 a month. We are not kids celebrating for earning $10 with Google Adwords. We are Microstock producers and we must be businessmen.