It was only a matter of time before I got dragged into producing videos.
It’s the sixth of “the great upheavals” travel photographers have had to adapt to in the past two decades following the move from analogue to digital cameras, the globalisation of the internet, the proliferation of social media, the diminishing revenue from stock libraries, and drone technology.
Now the ability to produce videos – at least 15 – 60 second clips for social media – is the one thing our clients can’t seem to do without.
So, with the end of the plague in sight and me heading off on assignment shortly, I’ve decided to learn about shooting and editing short promotional videos to complement the services I offer as a professional photographer.
Like each of the upheavals, it represents a steep learning curve so I thought I’d pass on some early impressions and tips I collected this week practicing with this 60 second video clip of the waterfalls in the Gold Coast hinterland (click below):
One or the other: I’m convinced you can’t shoot stills and video at the same time – certainly not to competitive international standards – without compromising quality. Priority needs to be given to one or the other or you’ll drive yourself crazy.
Different approach: While being an experienced photographer is an advantage in terms of knowing what to shoot, the lighting, and reading the conditions, the approach to shooting video is vastly different. It requires more planning and forethought – not just about how the subject will be captured, but how one segment seamlessly flows into the next to tell a story.
My Gear: At this stage, I’ve limited my equipment to the new I-phone 12 Pro, with a DJI gimbal, my drone and my Z7 Nikon, all of which shoot in 4k video and deliver the quality my clients are likely to need. And I’m editing in I-Movie (though I figure I’ll step up to Adobe’s Premier Pro shortly). The kit is small and light (the gods know I don’t want to be carrying anything else), and it’s relatively easy to manage. I figure it’s entry point technology for any professional travel photographer looking to step into video.
Learning to shoot video: I sort-of enjoyed the challenge and the creative process of it all. YouTube is brimming with lessons on how to shoot cinematic footage on your iPhone with a gimbal. I would have spent five hours watching training videos to get to the point of producing this clip….(though I may well have streamed a movie in-between when it all got too much). If you’re interested in learning some techniques, subscribe to my blog and drop me an e-mail. I’ll send you the bookmarked links I’m using as reference.
Editing. I spent about two hours editing this clip in I-movie (it’s not that hard to work-out) but I found all the tweaking – a second here, two seconds there – a bit tedious. In the end, I had about 100 clips (of between 10 seconds to three minutes) to drop into the time-line. Then I trimmed them before adding transitions, music and text. As I become more proficient, I expect it will take me a good hour to put a 60 second clip together once I’ve shot the footage.
Adding a bit of drone: When it comes to all things cinematic, you can’t beat inserting a bit of drone footage. As you can see in this clip, it only takes a few short passes of your subject to put everything impressively into perspective.
Practice, Practice, Practice: There’s no getting out of it – you need to practice your shooting – “push-forwards”, “dolly passes”, “pan left”, “sweep right”, “draw-throughs”, walking without shaking, exposures, frame speeds etc etc. I went down to a nearby rainforest three times for this footage (probably 12 hours of filming all up). Each time I returned, I’d learned several new and important lessons. Sadly, you just need to put in the time and make the mistakes to learn what you can do, what you can’t do, and what works best, before you take your new-found abilities out into the marketplace.
Delegation of tasks: At this stage, I wouldn’t want to delegate the shooting. The editing, however, I’d certainly off-load and direct as I’m sure there are young-guns out there who could do it much faster and efficiently.
Commercial Reward: Given I’m only a week into learning how to shoot and edit moving pictures, it remains to be seen whether I can derive any direct benefit from offering this service. Though I already know there’s a preference from tourist bodies, cruise companies, resorts and publishers for photographers who can also shoot video, I’m interested to see if they’re prepared to pay extra for it or whether I’m likely to hear, “Well, you’re here taking pictures anyway, what about shooting a bit of video while you’re here for the same price?”
Ah, what a dance it all is.
Biggest Challenge: Probably the biggest challenge for photographers looking to enter this brave new world is not so much getting on top of the craft, but managing the client’s expectations. As I’ve written, first and foremost, I’m a photographer – that’s where my reputation lies. The reality is that even producing entrance-level promotional videos demands considerable time and energy which can only take away from what I’m principally there to do.
I’ll need to be careful to ensure my clients understand that.