Dixie Dixon has been a good friend of Fstoppers over the years, and she even came down to the Bahamas with us for the first Fstoppers Workshop. Lee and I have been preaching since the start of FS that photographers need to film behind the scenes videos their own photoshoots. I was absolutely thrilled to see that Dixie has produced this short video outlining exactly how you should incorporate video into your own business.
For some reason photographers like to complain about shooting video, and some even go as far as saying their DSLRs shouldn't include video capabilities at all. It absolutely drives me crazy to hear this narrow minded train of thought. It is no secret that the entire reason Fstoppers even began in the first place was because Lee and I got our hands on the Nikon D90, and immediately saw the endless possibilities this camera offered. Being able to shoot video through your professional DSLR lenses is incredibly powerful. Never before has it been so easy for still photographers to expand their commercial offerings than it is today with DSLR video, and I would even make the argument that video is one of the most underrated selling points of the modern DSLR today.
In Dixie's video above, she makes a strong argument for shooting video on your own photoshoots. Regardless if you have film the clips yourself, or if you hire someone to document the entire photoshoot, having a video channel full of behind the scenes videos of you working is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have for your brand. In many cases, larger clients will actually demand a behind the scenes video as part of the overall photo production. If you have never considered adding video to your list of services, now might be a great time to start expanding your skills.
Capture Great Shots
Dixie outlines pretty much every single thing to consider when producing your own video, and having produced a ton of BTS videos myself I have to agree with everything she says. Make sure your videos contain both behind the scenes shots of the overall production as well as tight "moving portraits" of the team players involved in the shoot. If you are strictly a photographer who is starting to dabble in video production, it might surprise you to find that the most important thing with video is stabilization. Nothing looks worse for video than shaky video caused by a rolling shutter. Even if you have to lock down a camera on a tripod for extended periods of time, that footage will look much better than shaky handheld video 9 times out of 10 (lens stabilization can save you here too). The key to a good short video edit is lots of short clips that show a variety of exciting moments. As photographers we already thinking in terms of story so capturing a bunch of short video clips should be something that you find pretty natural.
Make Yourself the Star
Another thing to consider with a successful BTS video is to give a proper interview somewhere in the video. I know a lot of photographers are apprehensive about being in front of the camera but this is a fear you have to tackle now if you want to be more successful as a photographer. I personally always mic myself during a shoot so that I have candid sound bites to use later (we highly recommend this wireless lav mic), and I would recommend setting aside five minutes on set to give a quick interview about the overall concept. Having an interview of yourself while on location not only makes the story line flow better, but it makes you look super confident and personable. If you do not have time to cover everything you want to talk about on location, take Dixie's advice and either record voiceover later or setup a completely separate interview session to mix into the BTS footage.
Pick the Right Music
Music can make or break your videos so make sure you pick a song that isn't distracting and fits the overall mood of your shoot. Some of our favorite companies that license affordable music are Premium Beat and Triple Scoop Music so check them out if you want to find unique music for each shoot, or if you simply want to find that one perfect song to represent your entire brand. As mentioned above, you really need to include some sort of interview or voiceover for a compelling BTS video. Do not fall into the trap of producing what I call a "music video" where all your footage is just edited against a trendy song. Those types of videos aren't very educational and people tend to lose interest without a narrative story element to your video. Remember, you are trying to sell yourself, not that you are a cool photographer on a photoshoot.
Show Your Final Images
Nothing drives me more crazy than watching a kickass behind the scenes video only to have to go searching the internet to view the final images. Remember these videos are created to gain exposure through websites like Fstoppers and social media, and also to showcase your ability to produce a complex photoshoot to potential clients. The absolute pinnacle moment of these behind the scenes videos should be your final images, so do not fail to put them into the video itself. Dixie suggests placing your images towards the end which can give the final video an exciting apex. If you have a bunch of different scenes, I would suggest showing each final image right before you transition into the next location.
It is always important to remember that people hire you not necessarily because you are the best photographer for the job but because they fell in love with you as a person. No one wants to work with someone who is awkward, unusually shy, stubborn, mean, or demanding. The overall energy and vibe you show during your shoots will go a long way in making an initial impression, perhaps even before you ever talk to a potential client. Remember, with video editing you are in complete control of the overall image and energy you release to the public (unless TMZ captures you on a rough day). There is nothing wrong with playing to the camera and displaying not just your photoshoot, but also your own personality that will make directors and agents want to reach out to you for their next big project. No one does this better than our good friend Monte Isom (check out his BTS videos on Fstoppers), and having fun on set is something everyone enjoys watching universally.
I hope this video inspires you not only from a photography perspective but also from a marketing stand point. It is pretty exciting to see someone like Dixie Dixon continue to climb the commercial ladder, and I think she will be the first to admit that a lot of it comes from her and her team's ability to produce both video and photo content for her clients. The photography industry is an ever changing market and if you use these tips to promote your own business, you will have a better chance not getting lost in a competitive market.