This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.
I have spent the last 6 years cultivating a photography service brand and working to hone my image making skills on a daily basis, but the fact remains that photography is a relatively new endeavor for me. I was a graphics designer from 1990 or so until arguably 2012 (or today), with the occasional design job popping up that I cannot say no to. However, there was also this era in the 1990's where I was a videographer and video editor, shooting everything from local TV spots to interactive media clips to weddings. The embryonic days of digital video are mercifully long gone, but what happens when an old dog jumps into the modern world of video? I aimed to find out.
I told you, old.
However, I intentionally decided to keep things extremely basic at first. After all, the last video I edited was in late 2001, using then-outdated software on a then 9 year old Mac Quadra 950. I shot it on a Canon L1 Hi8 (you can get one for about $70 now, with the same lens I had, according to eBay), and dumped it into the Quadra via the then-antiquated Targa2000 video card.
That was a project for a friend who needed it quick, and I had not been involved in video production actively since about 1999 (I first started video in 1993). The bottom line was, I was in way over my head when I decided last year to start getting back into video, blindly. It was a bold, stupid decision because all I had in hand was a new DSLR (Canon 6D, for the record) that I had recently purchased as an upgrade to my 7D. So here I was, no significant video equipment in hand, and I decided to get back into making video productions. All over the globe, tens of thousands of videographers and video producers all laughed in unison at my decision, and awaited my efforts so they could impose their derision upon me.
I knew I wanted to produce videos that related to my main industry, which is glamour photography, but I had also never shot video of a model before. After thinking it through in precise, finite detail for all of 2 minutes, I decided to book a model and see what happened. I needed to just jump in and see if I could remember my old videography mojo, if any remained, and took a dive on afternoon with fitness model Tara Waite, shot simply at my house last year. I downloaded Adobe Premiere CC14, since I am a Cloud subscriber anyway, and off I went.
This is the result:
This video is wrought with technical gaffes and flow / pacing problems, but hey, it was done. I had dipped my toe back in the water, and realized immediately that I was hooked again. I quickly made a pact with myself that I would not start buying a bunch of video equipment, however, as this was still very much an experiment. But why did I do this? What the heck was my motivation?
Video is hot again.
Back in the early 1990's, digital video hit the pro-sumer scene and local industries everywhere exploded into it, much like the digital photography explosion of the 2000's. Unfortunately, all the fervor didn't mean there were enough clients demanding it over the long term, and by the turn of the millennia, many local and regional videographers and studios shut down due to lack of demand. The web back then was still so new (read: slow) that video was hardly taken seriously online. However, after a decade or so, now here today in 2015, video is once again as hot and desired as ever, and has been. Have you seen how the content that social media prefers and that users crave is video? YouTube is at it's height, a person's popularity is most often derived from how many views their video has, or how many times it has been shared. When you upload a video of anything to your Facebook Page, it garners a user reach that is usually 10x to 100x more than a simple photo post. Put simply: People want video.
Try and try again.
After my first glamour video was done, feedback proved to be divided, but I decided it was at least decent enough to leave online even if I still had much to learn. I briefly toyed with the idea of incorporating additional lighting into my next video, but ended up creating my second attempt as a very-improvised natural light session, taking just 20 minutes or so to hurriedly capture all the initial footage. I had just finished an outdoor editorial-glamour type of photo shoot, and the model, Sofia Alfero, and I decided to eek out a quick video before we left the abandoned property.
That result is as follows:
The flow and pacing were better on this one, and some of the technical aspects were superior to my first attempt, as well. Problems are all over it, of course, but I felt I had learned tons on this one, despite it being done so quickly. I experimented with different FPS settings for some slow motion effects, and spent more time in editing, trying to create a flow that made sense and just felt right. I had extremely limited clips to pick from, having shot everything so hastily, but I did what I could.
Third time's the charm?
After a couple of months of no video productions, I found myself in Las Vegas during WPPI for a little thing I was doing, as well as a series of projects I had booked while I was to be in town. Reasoning that I had a hotel suite and an evening of open free time, I decided to produce a third video attempt, this time with Las Vegas based model Lizzeth Acosta. This go round, I opted to hastily snag my associate Euan Torrie's PCB Einstein and 2x2 softbox, and simply use it with the modeling lamp on for a very low power continuous light source. Heck, it matched the ambient incandescent bulbs all over the suite, and provided some fill. I had no idea how I would utilize it properly, but as usual I just jumped into the fire.
That result, as you can guess, is here:
I was pleased with this project, and found it to be the least technically flawed of all my attempts so far, and I was already fiending for the next project. Nowhere near industrial grade, but I felt I was getting into a decent groove now. However, something became clear to me...
To video professionals, I am now officially That Guy.
The guy who buys a camera and decides he's a photographer. The guy who changes the air filter on his car and decides he's a mechanic. The guy who makes a goofy face in front of a camera for someone and decides he's a model. Yep, I was now that guy to anyone who did video professionally, and I found myself a tad embarrassed.
Why? Because the last time I was the newbie on the doorstep was 6 years ago when I officially started photography. And even then I had been dabbling in photography for a further 4 years prior. I was naive, I was bold, I was stupid, and I thought I was better than I was within a few months. It took a couple of significant humbling experiences to make me reassess, and take the appropriate actions to advance myself further into photography. After 2-3 years, I almost felt like I knew what I was doing.
But here I am now, 6 months or so into video, and having produced just 3 glamour projects in that time. As such, I am once again the overly eager, overly bold and naive artist looking to break into an industry with minimal idea how to go about doing it. Sure, I did video in the 90's, as I said, and I am very well versed in working with models and have a decent understanding of lighting concepts, but who was I to think I was ready for prime time?
I wasn't. I'm still not. I'm still hand-holding a Canon 6D with my 85 1.8 lens a couple of inches in front of my face and doing all sorts of gymnastics to try to capture shots, and then dumping it into Premiere to see what I can make of it all. Gear is still not on my priority list, and I am very much focused on doing what I can with video with minimal equipment for both practical and curiosity reasons. What all can I do with just a DSLR and a portrait lens?
I'm still too delightfully clueless about modern day video to know what I am missing from the technical perspective, but I rather enjoy that to be honest. See, I have read and studied photography until it makes me nauseous. I've taught photography for 3 years now, and learn tons every year by doing so. I can, and enjoy, talking technical stuff about photography and retouching in painful detail, and I obsess on technical details at every shoot. That's where I am with photography, and I am perfectly ok with being there.
Remembering where I started, and where I still have to go.
With video, however, I am just a wide-eyed newbie having fun, doing stuff with minimal to no technical considerations. For the moment, this suits me just fine, and satisfies a part of me, as an artist, that has been at times missing in my photography work: The sense of blind, ignorant bliss of just doing something for the satisfaction of it. In turn, it has rejuvenated me overall, and has affected how I work in my photography for the better. I am having more fun, once again, in my photography work while awaiting the next chance for a video project. Heck, I even have a cute little YouTube channel, and find myself excited to work again. (Note: my YouTube channel also has behind-the-scenes videos of various events of mine, none of which I produced.)
So, video professionals, my apologies for storming into the room and pretending I fit in. I know I don't, not yet. But I am having great fun returning to the world of video. If I do this correctly and really put nose to grindstone, I should be able to offer industry-grade video projects to my clients by 2016 or thereabouts, based on my experience with my jump into photography. Pound me with your criticisms or your support, but I am thrilled to be diversifying my business offerings and scope.
Also, if you're curious about my journey into video, stay tuned for follow up articles where I will start to discuss the technical aspects of how I make my glamour videos, from how I shoot to how I pace my edits to the music I use (hint: none of it is stock music).
Photographers, have you managed to successfully add video to your services?