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How to shoot lifestyle and fitness scenes for stock photography and video

While attending the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas, I had the chance to attend an Adobe Stock workshop at a ghost town near Nelson, Nevada on shooting photographs and video for sale as stock. Participants were split into teams that rotated between six stations—each one teaching a variety of skills. The entire hands-on event was so informative — especially the “How to shoot Lifestyle Fitness Stock Photography and Video” station. Here’s what I learned.

Keep the camera from moving

Blurry photos or shaky video footage don’t sell. Hold your camera correctly, using a tripod, Steadicam, or a Platypod. The key is to do everything you can to make sure the images are sharp and free from camera shake.

As a portrait photographer, I’m used to holding my camera while still capturing sharp images. I tried this with video and I admit, I failed. As still as I was, the video footage was still shaky. I even tried to brace myself against the side of a building. It helped a little but still wasn’t as sharp as using a tripod or a Steadicam. Like anything else, it takes some practice. In the end, the results will be shake free and ready for submission as stock video.

Be in the stock buyers head

Before recording or taking photos, take a moment and think like an Adobe Stock customer. Ask yourself…how can this video footage or still photos be used? You want to keep it broad enough that it can be used for multiple projects. One of Mat Hayward’s favorite examples are photographs of jelly beans. A still photo of jelly beans can be used as a display or packaging label, an Easter or even Halloween ad. It could even become wrapping paper. Video footage of jelly beans being poured out from a jar can be used as part of a candy commercial or as a fun intro to a party. It can even be used by healthcare providers as a warning of childhood obesity or diabetes. The point is, think of how different stock buyers might use your footage.

Seek authenticity

Help the model get into character by sharing your vision. This will relax the model and give her a direction as she acts out each scene. Let’s use an energy drink as an example for video footage. The scene is an old abandoned trail. The model is a runner. Encourage the her to start out by acting determined and excited. Midway through the run, she starts to feel exhausted as her self-doubt kicks in. She pauses for a moment, takes a sip of her energy drink, smiles as she gathers her second wind. Remember that the label on the drink must be generic with no logos, trademarks or other intellectual property showing. The same goes for her athletic wear. No “swooshes” allowed! The final scene will be of her standing on top of a hill smiling. Then shoot it again with her sipping the drink. Shoot it once more as she does the “Rocky-at-the-top-of-the-stairs” celebratorydance with and without the energy drink.

Now, this may seem to be very specific to energy drinks, or is it? By guiding the model to act a certain way, she displayed many of the emotions that can be used for multiple projects. The beginning scene shows how someone feels when they start out on a project or begin working toward a goal. They feel excited. They have a clear vision. Halfway through, they show signs of being exhausted and self-doubt. This footage and still photos can be used to show depression, insecurity or loneliness. The next scene shows the opposite—looks of determination, smiles as the run continues. The top of the hill scene evokes triumph and accomplishment. Record the scene with and without the energy drink. The footage and still images are now versatile. They can be used for multiple projects with completely different messaging. Keep in mind, none of this will work if the model isn’t guided to act out the appropriate scenes.

Change the perspective, shoot the scene a new

Having multiple perspectives of the same scene makes the footage valuable. Stock buyers like to have choices. The more variations offered of each scene the better the chances are to make an Adobe Stock sale. Direct the subject to repeat their actions several times as you record from low and high angles along with both tight and wide shot versions. Multiple takes of the same scene gives the end user flexibility when selecting footage. They will help drive sales of your footage.

These tips will help get you started creating Lifestyle and Fitness stock video footage and still photographs. Use these same concepts for other genres. The key is to get out there, direct the model, shoot many versions and have a great time creating income.

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