Photographers Making the Transition Into Video
Question: What would I need to know to jump from a photography position to shooting video?
It seems like everyone is a budding videographer these days. Whether you feel that it is essential for your business growth or something you’ve always wanted to do ... motion is on everyone’s mind.
Recently, Agency Access asked me if I wanted to write a post on photographers taking the leap into video. To be honest, my first reaction was “hell no.” I’ve never been a techie; this kind of subject reeks of suggested camera options, tripod and steady cam talk, as well as the dreaded digital storage requirements. Then I thought about the opportunity - no one ever writes about the creative thought process needed when moving from telling a story in a single frame to making a great video.
The Photographer’s Multimedia Market
So why does everyone have motion fever? When a photographer can offer video as part of their package, they become a multimedia professional. One of the challenges facing marketers today is that a company’s brand needs to be reinforced through different media platforms. The brand needs to have a consistent look with a consistent narrative across film and stills.
Current estimates by IDC show that the market for digital multimedia content is well into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Online advertising represented $63 billion in 2010 and gained a 15.1 percent share of global ad expenditure by 2011. Now take a look at the facts: streaming video is building momentum online, the Internet has eclipsed all channels for search, online video ads are beginning to break through the clutter and actually influence brand perceptions, and high def is everywhere. Providing an increasingly powerful, emotional experience with rich multimedia content online helps brands create a consistent and powerful experience for their customers.
3 Key Visual Elements to a Great Video
MOVEMENT. I hate to say it, but you can always tell if the videographer is a photographer by the lack of movement in the piece. A mistake every newbie seems to make is that they lock down the camera and let the movement come from the people walking in and out of the frame. A great video doesn’t have to make you seasick, but there is something to be said about the camera moves, which add to the narrative of the piece by following the subject’s path of vision or tracking a spinning leaf as it falls to the ground. Movement gives your footage a rhythm; it carries the viewer through the action.
COMPOSITION. In video, there are so many variables to oversee; you can imagine how easy it can be to forget to push the composition. For me, the key to composition is distance. Just because you have the power of video in your hands, doesn’t mean you have to make an epic film. Some of the most beautiful footage only shows a suggestion of the action. Instead of filming the full shot of a child sleeping in their parent’s arms, go in close to capture the details of them playing under the sheet or the parent stroking the child’s head. Get comfortable with the medium of video on a smaller scale. As you feel more and more in control, pull back a bit. Don’t bite off more than you can chew; it’s a dead giveaway that you’re experimenting with something new.
LIGHTING. Most photographers are shooting video with their stills cameras. One of the advantages of using a 5D Mark II is that it is sensitive to low-light situations. That said, lighting is a great way to add atmosphere and a mood. You should always light your video by the shot and not by the location. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Great lighting may help the viewer overlook that fact that you’re a beginner with video.
For some video inspiration, the following link will take you to the trailer for Terrence Malick’s film “The Tree of Life”.
Karen D'Silva is one of today's most influential creatives in the commercial photography community. She founded Karen DSilva Creative Services, a trend, marketing and research company designed to help photographers understand the marketplace, find where their images fit, and profile and market to clients who share the same photographic vision. Karen DSilva Creative Services
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