The value of video production in today’s fast-paced environment should not be understated. In fact, many would argue that anyone hoping to make it as a photographer in today’s world better know how to shoot video in addition.
Simply Google “video marketing statistics” and you will be inundated by the number of results pointing to this fact. In a recent article by HubSpot, shared on Forbes.com, the following stats blew my mind:
- Video is projected to claim more than 80 percent of all web traffic by 2019.
- Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300 percent.
- Embedding videos on landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80 percent.
- 90 percent of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.
- According to YouTube, mobile video consumption grows by 100 percent every year.
And this was only a handful. Simply put, video production is going to a be a huge part of any successful marketing strategy going forward. As someone that started as a photographer and has gradually migrated to a focus on video, I wanted to share some of my experiences as to why you should be adding video as part of your portfolio and how easy it can be.
Less Can Be More
When my business partner and I started Simple Cinema, our strategy was to focus on small to medium-sized local businesses in our area who could benefit greatly from video content on their site but didn’t have the insane budgets that larger companies do. Having worked as a PA for larger productions companies in town, I began to notice that many of the productions seemed vastly overdone for the desired outcome. Insane equipment requirements such as RED cameras, anamorphic lenses, elaborate lighting setups, not to mention bloated staffing where it sometimes seemed like 10 percent was carrying the remaining 90 percent. Furthermore, all of this work was being booked through a third-party agency, aka the middleman, which is simply another mouth to feed in the process driving up costs. Arguably, this is part of the industry, and depending on the job, most of these requirements would be obligatory.
However, we saw an entire niche left unserved because of these constraints. DSLR and mirrorless-sized cameras can produce amazing cinematic results at a fraction of the cost. When managed properly, the results can be as good as a $20,000 RED camera with far more flexibility and less overhead. It should also be worth noting that most clients will only be using the video content on their websites or social media. Therefore 4K, much less 8K, is simply not as valuable as it may seem although most mirrorless cameras now shoot at that resolution with ease.
The above video was arguably very simple: a single take using only a Panasonic GH5. However, an interesting scene, a solid edit with foley added, and a well-executed deployment by our client resulted in one of their biggest weekends and the most viewed post on social media.
The point being, you don’t need a ton of fancy new gear to start shooting video. Chances are, the camera you already own will do an amazing job. Read your manual and figure out what frame rates it shoots at for every given resolution. Watch YouTube tutorials on camera movements and practice making your shots looks more like what you see on large ads. Finally, assist on larger jobs and see how they shoot. Take note of lighting techniques, key personnel, and execution. I learned a ton by assisting on other jobs including what was necessary or not for any given situation.
Video for Social Media Marketing
As we started pitching our business, we came to realize that most businesses were interested in short promos, “about us” videos, or content to be used on social media. Marketing on social media is a huge endeavor in today’s world especially for smaller, local businesses who are appealing to a younger crowd. To become relevant and stay relevant on social media requires an enormous amount of content posted regularly with a consistent style or look to it. Talk to any business owner and most will understand the importance of this fact but will almost immediately tell you they don’t have the time for it or don’t understand how it works.
Volia. Most marketing on social media consists of short, action-inspired clips that are direct and to the point. Our pitch was simple. We can offer a steady flow of social media content for your business, and if needed we can manage the posting of said content on your behalf. All for a monthly fee. In the world of entrepreneurship, monthly fees, or retainers, are like gold. As opposed to one-time jobs where you are paid $X up front to complete Y job after which your income earned is complete, we began seeking out monthly partnerships where we could earn a set amount of dollars on a recurring basis. This is great for both parties involved because it fosters an environment of consistency and trust for their brand and one of financial stability for your business. Furthermore, most of the content is simple and short with taglines added to single clips and a logo to cap it off.
Obviously, this model would not be for everyone but from our perspective it was ideal. Look for underserved niches in your market and how video can help serve those niches. By offering a service or product that is needed as opposed to being a luxury, it will be far easier to sell yourself.
Businesses, especially social media, love drone shots. Anything drone draws immediate attention as being novel and captivating. This was a quick snapshot of the same scene featured in my lead video for this article taken in between filming. The client loved it.
“Do You Offer Photography As Well?”
I get this question a lot. More than I did when I was simply a photographer. As it turns out, offering video first will oftentimes lead to a need for photography as well.
When creating a video for a company, the setups and conditions will likely be ideal to take a few snapshots as well. If time permits during a shoot, take some photos as well. Show the client those shots in addition to the finished video and chances are they will immediately see value in them. You can offer them for an additional price or perhaps as a freebie for future business. At the very least, they may be useful as part of a commercial photography portfolio to solicit other clients. The irony for me was that I struggled to find commercial photography gigs before shooting video and now they seem to go hand in hand.
This was one of several sample shots taken in between filming for a small technology company. The client only requested video but later paid me for the photos as well to be used on their website.
Everyone has heard of stock photography and therein lies the problem. Stock photography took off at the beginning of the digital age as anyone with a few bucks could own a camera and shoot decent photos. Before long, it became incredibly saturated and only those who had been in the game long enough survived.
Usher in the revolution of stock footage. While difficult to estimate with certainty due to a lack of hard financial data, it is believed that the stock footage market is poised to grow at 20 percent per annum with a total economic value between $600-800 million per year (Robb Crocker, Stock Footage Millionaire 2014). These figures should be striking to anyone that has even a modest knowledge of finance.
Stock footage has an insane amount of relevance in today’s world for many of the reasons I noted above. Many companies do not have large budgets and therefore turn to stock footage where they can compile clips into a comprehensive video at a relatively affordable price. As rapid technological advancement continues and the need for interactive media grows, stock footage will inevitably become a larger part of the equation. And the best part is that this industry is still in its infancy with barely 10-plus years of archives.
So how would you go about getting into stock footage? Start by researching. I bought a book titled “Stock Footage Millionaire” written by a successful stock footage producer. The book outlines the industry and gives several examples of best practices and gear requirements which are far less cumbersome than you might expect. Next would probably be to produce a few shoots and get a library going. Develop a concept and hire talent. Execute a well-planned shoot and archive the best clips. Next, find an agency like Blend Images or Pond5 that will host and sell your clips.
This process takes a great deal of time and often an up-front investment that will not provide returns for generally a year or more. However, if you are smart about it and focused on what sells you may find this to be a great avenue for recurring income which will benefit you into your later years.
This is a screengrab from a hospital stock footage shoot I was incredibly lucky to be a part of last month. The image, although not high resolution, is still something I could use on my photography portfolio especially considering it is medical in nature.
In my opinion, the possibilities for video are endless when left to the imagination. While I still refer to myself a photographer, most of my focus these days is on video and for good reason, it seems. As an aspiring professional, be thinking about how you can add video to your portfolio and if so, what are the best approaches for your business and market. I would love to hear other’s stories on this topic.