Photography video convergence: the long and winding road to proficiency

The number of professional photographers who are experimenting with offering video production to their existing client base seems to grow exponentially with each release of a new DSLR-HD camera. It’s SO tempting when a client you’ve had for years asks you on a print shoot “While you’re at it, can you cover this scene in video as well?”

So there you are… faced with a (billable) request from an existing client. You want to make them happy by granting their request. You certainly don’t want to have them go elsewhere (i.e. a competitor) to get that footage you can “easily” provide. I mean, why wouldn‘t you say “Sure… I can do that. My camera has video capabilities.”

Because after your very first shoot that has sound in it, you’ll likely have an “uh-oh” moment. While most of your production values are as rock solid as usual: the lighting is great, the composition perfectly balanced, and the decisive moment is captured, there’s something not quite working in that footage…

There’s that new X-factor: The sound track. It doesn’t seem quite of up to the level of your imagery. What’s missing?

I guess because I come from a photography background, I had a bit of the same preconceptions that some photographers had when digital cameras first arrived with video capabilities: “oh, this is such a cool tool. I’ll just turn on that feature and get some video imagery as well.” I really didn’t even THINK about sound’s ability to make or break moving imagery.

For the past year or so a number of my photography marketing consulting clients seem to have traveled along the same path. Many are confused as to best practices and many photo industry professionals have blogged extensively about the obstacles along the path from still photography to motion.

One of the things that always gets mentioned as a challenging learning curve is SOUND. Most of my consulting clients already have a camera that shoots video–or know which one they want to buy–but the SOUND issues and what gear to get are perplexing them.

If you’ve been reading any of the professional photography online forums (e.g. or or ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog)  you’ll have already read tons of good advice from some still photographers who were very early adopters of shooting video. Attending seminars by early adopters such as Gail Mooney or Lee White at a local trade org event will certainly be helpful in navigating the path to motion; I readily recommended those workshops.

But other than advising  clients to get into a good hands-on video workshop ASAP or scroll through hundreds of messages in the forums, I wasn’t sure what to tell them. I wanted a resource I felt would be really helpful, one that I could trust to be accurate, and one that was simple enough that even I could understand it!

That’s why was really glad that my friend Adriel shared a copy of his just-released Video Buyers Guide with me. With decades of experience in video production and great teaching skills (even the most non-techie people can understand him), he is a great guide to answer the questions from my moving-into-video clients.

His brand new Video Buyer’s Guide is a great resource and it even makes sense to me –someone who’s very comfortable in marketing photography but who is way uncomfortable in the more technical aspects of digital video. (I only  carry a way-down-the-video-line Canon S90 but I can certainly sense the allure of the video capture function). And I’m certainly a “Dummy” when it comes to sound.

So I invite you to check out this cool resource if you’re at all confused about some of the issues you’re encountering as you move into video. The Guide was just released over the weekend and is available for US$19.00–which  is WAY affordable and I think under-priced for the tips you get.

Caveat: The price will go up after the first 100 copies of the guide are sold.