Fortune Favours the Brave: Being daring with Stock Footage

There comes a time that if you want to stand out from the pack, you’ll have to take a few calculated risks. As the popular saying goes, fortune favours the brave. Let’s see if the reward justified these risks…

Back in Milan

Spending a few weeks in Milan and it’s cold, wet and miserable…time to load up on pizza, pasta and hot chocolate and then hopefully burn off those calories in Lisbon!

I took the opportunity during a few hours of relatively bright weather to shoot some stock footage. I had left my backup camera, the trusty Nikon D7000 and it’s 18-200mm zoom lens behind and was happy to have it back. Not the sharpest of lenses but pretty decent zoom especially when taking into the account the crop factor.

Spritz aperol drink in Milan, overlooking Piazza Duomo
Spritz aperol drink in Milan overlooking Piazza Duomo

Starbucks Roastery

I’m a breaking news type of guy and when I missed out the opening of the first-ever Starbucks in Italy back in Sept, I was slightly disappointed. Nevertheless, I checked the image banks and the standard wasn’t that great for videos and I thought I could do better…perhaps.

Loaded with my more-discreet gorillapod, I headed over to try to get some shots of the place. A modern Seattle-style coffee shop in trendy yet conversative Milan…some  Milanese aren’t happy but the place was packed (with tourists).

Not the usual Starbucks

This isn’t a normal Starbucks coffeehouse…it’s a concept store in that the places are seen as more upscale than the typical Starbucks location. Customers typically spend four times more in the company’s Reserve Roastery locations than in a traditional Starbucks, according to Starbucks.

Setting up the shot

Having already seen what was on offer, I wanted to get up and close personal with the baristas…but trying to be as discreet as possible. This is what I came up with [link to Storyblocks clip]. I don’t want to put this on YT.


As soon as I finished, one of the baristas told me that commercial pics/videos aren’t allowed and for me to stop. Just because I had used a plastic gorillapod to stabilise? Ok whatever, greedy corporation.

Kept on shooting

The other stuff was more ordinary, but perhaps still has some value.

Still a decent result for 20 mins’ worth of work

Security Eyeing me

By this stage, people were gathering and talking while looking at me and security was edging closer. It was time for me to make a move and preserve at least some dignity and those content (who knows they may ask me to delete it). Looks like I won’t spend 4x the usual amount for an espresso, this time.

Lesson learned: Do the daring move towards the end and try to be more discreet!

Piazza Del Duomo Scammers

I’ve written about these African bracelet scammers in the post entitled: 6 Scams to Avoid While Visiting Bella Italy. Basically, they gather in front of magnificent Duomo cathedral and try to extort tourists for money for what is basically a piece of string they didn’t want in the first place.

Makes for a good story, right? Well, that’s when the 200mm lens with crop sensor comes in handy and I managed to get some quite cool footage, especially this one about the joy and camaraderie between those guys. I’m sure they have a tough life and are far away from their home. Seem like nice guys.

I’m becoming more proficient by the day with Da Vinci Release and manage to zoom in to capture the action.

Know when to be daring and when not to

I was in a daring mood and pushed my luck with good results. I always ask myself, “what’s the worst that can happen?”…the answer is that probably not much. At Starbucks they’d kick me out and with the black dudes, there’s loads of police around and they would never risk any serious confrontation.

In both cases I felt quite safe and comfortable. There may be other occasions when I won’t feel this way, such as a extreme right-wing / antifa protest. Be reasonable and plan ahead.

Are you in a daring mood?

Now is your turn, would you like a to share a clip/photo that you took a considerable risk to achieve? Did it sell regularly or was the risk for nothing? Curious to know.

Until next time and stay safe!

Gui Siebert’s Sell Stock Footage & Photography from ZERO to SERIOUS Income

On an unrelated news, I’ve just finished watching and reviewing Gui Sebert’s stock photography and videography class on Udemy. Really excellent stuff and if you sign up in the next few days you’ll have 76% off at only $10!


His YouTube channel, CreativeIncome, has useful content and if you recall, I did a collaboration with him some months ago. We’ve been discussing about another collaboration soon on submitting editorial vs commercial photos.

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography

Check out my new photo review service, where I’ll help take your images to the next level and get them sold regularly!


    • Thanks for putting the course together…I picked up some great knowledge that I’ll surely be incorporating into my business.

      About Starbucks…after a year, I think I’ll afford a few espressos with the pics and perhaps a whole pizza with the footage! Let’s see :))


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