Creating Stock Media: Video vs. Photo

April 5, 2018

Creating Stock Media: Video vs. Photo

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In stock media, quality content is the name of the game. But what if you’re switching mediums? What are the differences you need to be aware of when shooting video vs. photo?

Single Moment vs. Single Take

When shooting photography, timing is everything. The true goal when hitting the shutter button is to capture a single moment in time. You need to tell a story in one frame.

With video, time is your ally. You can play with length to let the story develop throughout the take. You can see a subject’s expression change, or even watch day turn into night.

Both video and photography are equally powerful. Some of the best photographs project a more powerful tale than actually watching the action on film. But you still need to be purposeful about what you share in both mediums.

Download this photo of a couple laughing and smiling.


Technical Settings: ISO

When transitioning between photo and video, you need to focus on your ISO settings, not just your shutter speed and aperture. Generally, ISO should be as low as possible to produce a clean image. This is because the ISO function controls the sensitivity of the sensor’s pixels to light by regulating the electrical charge.

You’ll need to balance the three to get the best image possible, but noise and grain can be a lot more apparent in video than in a single frame. Opinions vary, but as a quick rule of thumb never go above 800 with your ISO setting. If you need to get a brighter image, try adjusting your aperture and shutter speed to complement the ISO first. If this still doesn’t do the trick, you probably need more lighting.


‘Fix it in post.’ Any content creator knows this saying well. Unfortunately, focus is one of the few things that can’t always be cleaned up when editing your media.

Be careful with your aperture settings. Everyone wants that coveted, cinematic look with a shallow depth of field, but what works for shooting a macro, close-up still of a butterfly doesn’t necessarily work for an interview.

Although you need to adjust your focal point for both video and photo to capture the subject, keep in mind that your subject can still move in and out of focus while filming. If you have enough partners on set, put them on pull focus duty to keep the shot looking sharp.

Download this clip of avocados

Composition & Movement

Composition is still king when it comes to producing an impactful shot. Low angles, high angles, close-ups—they all help define the feeling inside the frame.

For photography, you can position yourself on ground level or directly above the subject to give your audience a certain feeling. However, with video, there’s more room for creativity and error.

You can use camera movement within your shot to evoke more emotion. Pan to follow your subject. Dolly to slide or sneak into the frame where the action is occurring. Push or zoom in towards your subject to show suspense. Heck, even use a jib to create a grand reveal and make your audience feel like Simba on Pride Rock.

However, with these opportunities for expression, you need to make sure you’re not interfering with the shot. If you’re stable, make sure your tripod is level. If you’re panning, make sure the movement is smooth and doesn’t jolt to a halt. The more chances you have to move, the more careful you have to be.

Quick tip: Take one more shot than is necessary. Even if you’ve got the perfect dolly clip of a couple embracing, take another. It’s hard to be aware of all the action within a moving frame, and you could miss something. Every editor is happy to have too many choices as opposed to too few.

Download this slow dolly clip.

Download this jib shot of a couple at Bryce Canyon.


So many good videographers overlook the importance of sound when filming. Although it’s not always included in stock, if you’re going to keep the sound, make sure it fits!

Diegetic sound means that the sound in the clip needs to match the action in the frame. So if you’re shooting a clip of the ocean at sunset with waves lapping at the shore, don’t include the audio of your brother, Jerry, discussing his new golf club collection.

Poor audio quality can ruin a beautiful take. Make sure your audio doesn’t peak and clip. Record at a lower level and then boost the track later instead of trying to lower sounds that are too loud.

White Balance

Want a weird, unnatural, blue hue in your video? Neither does your client. Make sure that you set the correct white balance before shooting.

Set the white balance based on your environment (sun outside or key light for studios) to ensure accurate color palettes. Although photography allows you to shoot in RAW and pop that file into Lightroom later, video color can change based on movement.

Start Creating

Use these tricks of the trade to get started on your stock journey—whether you’re shooting video, photo, or both. For more helpful tips and tutorials from the pros, check out the creators section of our blog.

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