Secrets of Shooting Editorial Stock Video Revealed!
stumbled upon selling editorial footage three years ago
and it has turned out to be one of my most profitable sidelines. I
live in Bangkok, Thailand, which has been filled with political
turmoil. Shots of burning buses presented themselves right outside my
apartment! This was my first editorial clip on iStockphoto.
I sell a version of this clip regularly on different sites. Here's another which sells:
What is editorial footage? It's just not urban riots, no sir. Think of shots you might see on a nightly newscast or a documentary. When stock footage is used for informative reasons, the legal standards for use change. That doesn't mean you can get away with submitting anything. But, footage normally blocked by privacy, property and legal issues when used commercially - can be sold as editorial. This opens up opportunities for stock footage sales.
In this context, the use of editorial footage remains a
balance between the “publics right to know” and individuals “right to privacy”. This at least in the US and Europe.
If you have read my post What to Sell you'll see some editorial footage falls in the “unique and hard to reproduce” category. Political events certainly do. You may be the only person offering stock footage in its category. This gives you an edge over other contributors immediately. At the time I created the first shot above, I was only submitting footage to iStockphoto, so I was thinking inside that box. I made sure to shoot shots which were generic, had no identifiable logos or trade marks for iStocksphotos lawsuit wary customer. If they did have logos, license plates, bus numbers – I removed them. Because I wasn't selling on other sites, I didn't know you can sell newsworthy or notable unaltered footage on three other viable sites. You can sell shots of Times Square (full of logos and people!), shots with people and places otherwise requiring talent releases or property releases. You can sell shots of "public persons" such as political and popular culture personalities.
When working in editorial stock, attempt to shoot for the historical event AND as generic non-specific footage. Although there may be some market for your specific historical footage (say urban riots in Bangkok 2009), it diminishes over time. Go for the generic idea as well. It will sell better across multiple sites.
Those sites, listed in order of least difficulty of submission as editorial are:
- Pond5.com. Pond5 is the least restrictive of all the sites accepting editorial. Footage otherwise rejected on most sites, for property rights and privacy concerns are accepted there. Anything goes within reason. But be advised – this does not remove your legal liability for the footage you sell. (See below: Warning).
- Revostock.com. Revostock permits the sale of footage of locations, persons in performance, but has limits (your files will be rejected) you'll bump up against quickly. Most footage of isolated individuals without a model release will be rejected (unless they are "public persons").
- Shutterstock.com. Shutterstock requires the footage to be of “newsworthy events or persons” and requires very strict captioning to qualify as editorial. Learning to write in the news style captioning method Shutterstock requires a short head splitting learning curve. Shots of single individuals without talent releases, although you submit them as editorial, are not going to get past their inspection process either. See the captioning guide.
A WORD OF WARNING! Editorial is understood as news or noteworthy shots of people or events. Shots of normal private citizens isolated in a crowd at a ball game are not acceptable as editorial footage. Mostly. It's a line you walk. Close-ups of cute children in the park are definitely a No No and qualify as lawsuit bait. Although you may get your clip accepted – you are still liable for damages from a lawsuit if you infringe on privacy rights. Under US law individuals have “a reasonable expectation of the right to privacy”. President Obama is a “public person” and does not have have this right. People at demonstrations or pubic newsworthy events have a limited right to privacy. Again, it's balance. It is also worth noting privacy laws are interpreted more strictly in European countries than in the US.
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Drop me a line - I answer all questions. Good luck!