Momentum: Maintaining, Motion, and Marketing

Here’s another perspective on the “moving into video” trend that I first blogged about back in July.

Both videographers and photographers are now actively
pitching their clients on their new DSLR-HD
capabilities. They’re sending out marketing messages
inviting their clients to see them as a “one-stop
shopping” solution when it comes to digital content.

But how do you take on a video project when you’re not
an experienced video producer?
If you deliver a product that is any less professional
than your mainstay service offering you’re cutting your
own throat.

If you create a digital video that takes hours of post
production to clean up, you weaken your client
relationship, e.g. just like the videographer who “does
not know what they don’t know” could screw up when it
comes the file prep of a still image.

Most photographers fully understand the issues involved
in image prep for usage on a billboard vs. in print.
But that same photographer might “not know what they
don’t know” when it comes to post-production issues
related to creating motion content destined for broadcast
vs. smart-phone video.

The ground under the foundation of your business
relationship, starts to shift. Your relationship was
built on the implicit assumption that as a professional
photographer you can always meet your client’s needs.

Delivery doubt creeps in. If a client asks you to shoot
video “while you’re at it…”  it may be wiser to turn
the offer down. Better to refer them to a trusted video
producer and manage that relationship on behalf of your
client, if you can. From the client’s perspective you’d
still be a great problem-solver.

Maintaining your client relationships while building
your motion skill set requires a big commitment. To get
far enough beyond the learning curve to start safely
marketing video production services to your existing
client base, you’re going to need a strategy for moving
into new media.

As it’s been said before in many of the forums,
producing a behind-the-scenes (BTS) video is one of the
best ways to start and stay close to your client.

First, create a BTS telling your business story. Build
tech proficiency by taking apart videos that inspire
you. Do a shot-by-shot analysis. Look at the mix of
camera angles, lighting, lensing, audio and music cues
that move the story along, the pacing of the edits, and
finally, how does the story start, build, and end? Do
you have the necessary story-boarding skills?

Once confident in that arena, move to creating a BTS of
one of your client’s projects. It’s the next logical
step. And it keeps you close to your client.

For video BTS inspiration: check out or search Google or for
“BTS video photoshoot”. If you’re at the beginning and
confused about what gear to get, here’s a good
buyer’s guide.

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.

One reason you might have trouble focusing on your marketing….

I just read Matt Richtel’s great article in the NY Times called “Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price”

I wonder how many photographers–myself included–realize the neurological effects of adding yet another gadget or media feed into our lives? How much does our gadget-encrusted lifestyle affect our ability to finish projects that necessitate long, focused, and repetitve actions to achieve success e.g. implementing marketing plans?

And I also wonder about the global picture: What will the world look like when a huge percentage of the entire planet’s population  is filled with super multi-taskers who have little or no ability to be fully connected in the present moment with a fellow human being.

Hmmmm…..maybe I will wait on get that iPad.

Why participating in democracy helps your photo business.

If you overcame cynicism, laziness, or an excuse that
you were “too busy with work” to go stand in line to
vote, you’ve already demonstrated some of the skills
necessary to your help your photo business thrive.

Being proactive is essential to any business
success-but it is critical to surviving in a down

The drama of the November 4th National Election Day
provides a real-world lesson in the value of
pro-activity. Any time it’s easier for you not to act,
and yet you go ahead and take action, you’re actually
build your photo marketing muscles.

Many of my clients told me they stood in line–some
for hours– to cast their ballots because they were
emotionally involved in this presidential race. They
overcame the gravitational pull of staying comfortably
inside and watching others do the work of civic duty.

Those who don’t usually vote in every election voted
this time because of an emotional involvement in
the outcome. Some are voting because they imagine, and
want to help usher in, a brighter future. Some are
voting because they’re afraid of what might happen if
too many people also fail to vote. Hope and fear are
powerful tools used to make someone act.

You’ve watched the politicians use this technique to
get out the vote. Why not use the same technique on

Recognize the power of emotion to overcome inertia.

Use the energy of emotion to jump start your marketing
plans: imagine where you’d be this time next year if
you only market when the mood strikes or when you’re
slow. Not a rosy picture? Now imagine the result in
your business if you spent a year engaging in small,
but daily, marketing actions.
Overcome your doubts,
confusion, hesitation and sheer procrastination by
whichever emotion motivates you the most. My personal
preference is to use hope, but “your mileage may

Even though some voters recognize that one
vote might not make that much of a difference, a larger part of
them argues “yes… but many small actions (votes) DO
add up to a result that I’d like to see happen.” So
they take action.

That same belief is an essential part of any
successful business. It’s easy to stay at home and
just react to what other people’s votes create. Opt
out of acting long enough and regularly enough and
pretty soon your life is being created for you–
instead of you participating in its creation.

If you regularly choose action over reaction, you’re in a much
better position to get new business when the economic
cycles rebound.
Take time now to actively engage in
building your marketing muscles. Keep your brand in
front of your clients.

Just like the vote you cast today contributes to a
change our presidential leadership, small actions
added together create a completely different business
result than inaction. Commit to do one action each day
that you’d always slacked off on before.

Need a suggestion? Here are some powerful actions you
can take to create positive change in your business’s
bottom line: clean-up and update your mailing list,
reconnect with clients you’ve not spoken to in months,
update your web site; update your search engine
optimization strategies; research new client’s contact
info; build and data enter that information into a
database to effectively track your marketing calls and
the results; etc., etc.

I hope today you’ll use the power of taking
action: first by voting and then by strengthening your
marketing habits.

All the Best,
P.S. Note to my subscribers in the Charlotte, NC
area: In case you’ve not already heard, on
Friday, Nov. 7th, I’m presenting my latest
marketing talk: “Rebooting your Business Brain:
21st-century Marketing Strategies for
photographers who weren’t born yesterday” to the
local chapter of the APA. I’ll also be offering
portfolio reviews. Info is posted in the “UPCOMING EVENTS”