Education, Pro Tips

A Comprehensive Guide to Filming and Using Stock Videos of People


When creating compelling video content, including people is one factor you can’t overlook. Whether you’re working on a viral marketing campaign, a documentary, or any other video project, integrating people into your footage adds a layer of authenticity. Pond5 recognizes this significance and offers an entire video category specifically called People.” In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits, the legal and ethical considerations, and the importance of diversity so you can better connect with your video audience.

Beautiful Young Woman Standing In Moving Crowd In Subway by logoboom.


The Benefits of Using Stock Footage of People

The benefits of incorporating people into your video content are numerous. People evoke emotions, tell stories, and create a sense of relatability. Here are some of the advantages:

Human Connection: People in your videos help your audience relate to the content. Whether it’s a customer testimonial, an employee spotlight, or a scene from everyday life, human faces and actions engage viewers on a personal level.

Storytelling: People can convey powerful narratives. A well-composed shot of someone’s facial expression or body language can communicate complex ideas and emotions without words.

Versatility: Pond5 offers authentic and diverse clips, from business professionals to families enjoying leisure time to everything in between. This versatility allows you to find footage that suits your project’s unique requirements.

Slow Motion Sequence Of Parents Giving Children Piggyback by monkeybusinessimages.


Understanding the Rules and Etiquette

While using people in your video content is a good strategy, carefully navigating the legal and ethical landscape is vital. Understanding the rules, laws, and etiquette of filming people, especially in public spaces, is crucial to staying on the right side of the law and respecting individuals’ privacy.

Laws and Regulations: Filming people in public spaces is generally allowed as long as the subjects have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, you should be aware of local, state, or country-specific laws that might impose restrictions. Always research and comply with relevant regulations in your area.

Model Releases: Any video that contains an identifiable person must have a signed model release. A model release is a legal document signed by the person or people depicted in the video indicating their consent to use their likeness. Contrary to popular belief, this is not merely a formality but a legal requirement for every image and video used for commercial use.

Aerial Flight Above Dancing Crowd On Holi Festival Of Colors by Nikitadot.


How to Know If a Stock Video has a Model Release?

On Pond5, look for the “Model Released” entry in the “VIEW VIDEO DETAILS” section on any video detail page. If marked as “Yes,” Pond5 has a signed model release on file, and you can use the video safely.

Pond5 View Video Details


Why Do Some Videos of Recognizable People on Pond5 Not Have Model Releases?

These videos of people are likely classified as Editorial Usage vs. Commercial usage. Editorial usage refers to footage that is historical, newsworthy, or public interest content that doesn’t directly sell something. A video added to an editorial project typically does not require a model or product release. Let’s take a look at the differences between editorial and commercial usage.


Commercial vs. Editorial Use in Relation to People’s Likenesses

Understanding the distinction between commercial and editorial use is essential when working with stock footage of people. The key differences lie in the purpose and context of the video:

Commercial Use: This category includes content promoting a product or service. If you plan to use stock footage of people in advertisements, marketing campaigns, or other promotional materials, you will likely need model releases. It’s essential to obtain the necessary permissions for such uses.

Editorial Use: Editorial use refers to content that is newsworthy, educational, or documentary in nature. This category may not require model releases because it’s focused on informing rather than promoting. Pond5 provides valuable editorial footage featuring people for these specific purposes.

Crowd Of People Walking Crowded Street Slow Motion New York City by blvdoneprime.


Some Other Sites Don’t Have Model Releases. Is it Legal to Use Those?

Unfortunately, some sites promote free or cheap downloads of video clips and don’t do proper vetting of their videos, don’t ask their artists to provide model releases, and don’t protect you in the case of legal action against you for unauthorized use of a person’s likeness. Using those clips in your video project certainly comes with risk, regardless of what the site’s “license” appears to say. Rest assured that every video showing recognizable people you license at Pond5, both paid and free, has been vetted, comes with a model release, and comes with indemnification should any issues arise with its use.


Relevant Landmark Case Law

If you’re concerned about legal issues related to using stock footage of people, it’s worth looking at some landmark case law that can shed some light on the matter. While laws may vary by jurisdiction, these cases provide valuable insights into the use of people’s likenesses in media:

The Right of Publicity: This legal concept protects an individual’s right to control the commercial use of their name, image, or likeness. Cases like the one involving Vanna White vs. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. have established the importance of obtaining permission for commercial use.

Fair Use: In cases like Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., the courts have considered the fair use doctrine when using people’s likenesses in video games. The outcome can depend on factors such as the transformative nature of the work and its impact on the market for the original.


Diversity and Inclusivity in Stock Footage

In today’s global and interconnected world, it’s essential to represent a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. Pond5 is committed to providing diverse stock footage, ensuring you can find content that resonates with your audience, regardless of their demographics. Using diverse stock footage not only reflects the realities of the world but also helps your content connect with a broader range of viewers.

Group Of Friends Relaxing With Beer On Beach by Wundervisuals.


Relating to Your Audience

One of the most effective ways to engage your audience is by using stock videos of people they can relate to. When selecting footage, consider your target demographic and the values you want to convey. Authenticity is key. Choose videos that resonate with your audience’s experiences, challenges, and aspirations. For example, if you’re targeting a young, tech-savvy audience, you might opt for footage featuring millennials in urban settings. Shorts of parents and children enjoying quality time together can create a solid emotional connection if you focus on families.

Happy Couple Taking Photos Together at Home by AilaImages.



You can confidently create engaging and compliant content by understanding the rules, laws, and etiquette surrounding the people in your videos and the distinctions between commercial and editorial use. Explore Pond5’s People category to discover a diverse selection of stock footage that can elevate your video projects.

Friends Running On A Beach With Fireworks by Wundervisuals.