Shooting timelapse is certainly a lot of fun, but trying to sell them and make money is an entirely separate story. So that leads to the question: how can you monetize the planning, time spent shooting, and the effort of editing hundreds or thousands of pictures into extra income or maybe a new career?
After working for more than 10 years in the timelapse industry, I wanted to share a few examples of how to monetize the art, which also happens to be my passion. These examples will give you an idea of different streams of income you can have with timelapse photography.
This might seem obvious, but the most common and easiest place to start is with stock sites. There are many stock sites like Shutterstock, Getty, and Adobe Stock where you can upload any and all timelapse videos that you have made over the years. With the current saturation of content on stock sites, you won’t make tons of money from this method, but it’s still an excellent way to get some extra bucks every month. One thing is for sure: those timelapse videos aren’t making you any money just sitting on a drive.
Licensing your work directly to clients can be the most lucrative way to monetize timelapse photography, as a big brand might want an exclusive usage of your content, which they might don’t get with stock. With that increase in value per clip, however, this kind of client and sale is not nearly as easy to get as it is to upload a clip to Shutterstock. Still, if you have an excellent high-quality portfolio online, you might attract some clients. The only way to grow this kind of work is to continue to produce high-quality timelapse content that is difficult for others to reproduce.
Working for a commission or on contract with a specific client is another fantastic way to make money with timelapse. Just like with video or photography work, if a client wants specific footage that cannot be found through stock sites, they will need a timelapse specialist to make it for a particular project. Having a robust set of reels and examples of your work on YouTube, Vimeo, and social sites is the best way to get noticed. You also will want to aim for solid search engine optimization in your area.
Finally, once you reach a certain level of recognition, a great way to make money is to teach workshops. Knowledge is so valuable, and sharing your experience and techniques that you have learned over years of shooting is one of the best ways to do it. This of course requires building up an audience, but you can start in your local area or give online post-production workshops. Then, when you got a bit more experience and a wider audience, you may want to expand the workshop into on-location multi-day excursions.
Of course, the more income streams you have, the better. You want to try and avoid relying on one method since the ebb and flow of business can make consistency challenging. If, for example, commission work drops off — like has happened to me over the past two years — I still make money from stock or licensing.
About the author: Mattia Bicchi is a professional timelapse and hyperlapse photographer based in Madrid, Spain. Since 2012, Mattia has been working for big and small film production in Europe and making stock videos for Getty Images. He also creates behind-the-scenes vlogs and timelapse tutorials for his YouTube channel. Learn more about Mattia by visiting his website, on Instagram, and on YouTube.