Fast, Cheap and Good

A colleague of mine, Blake Discher just wrapped up a seminar series for ASMP entitled I Stink at Negotiating. In his presentation, Blake says I tell my clients when they ask for fast, cheap and good – they can pick two.  Such a simple statement – but right on target as far as advice for negotiating.

Photographers want their clients to know the difference between what they can offer as professionals compared to any amateur with a camera.  They want to be paid accordingly for their experience.  They want their clients to understand the difference between what they bring to the table compared to a non professional.

But there seems to be a disconnect between that philosophy and how still photographers perceive themselves in terms of adding video to their business. Many think that by buying a DSLR camera that shoots stunning video visuals, that’s all it takes to get into the video production business. The problem is they are thinking the same way their clients are who can’t discern the difference between a professional and someone who has a camera that also shoots video.

Technology has once again lowered the bar for entry level into video production. And still photographers who equate buying a still camera capable of shooting video with being a professional motion shooter or videographer are forgetting some real important factors.

1.    You think totally differently when shooting video.
2.    There’s a lot more facets to video production than just the shoot.
3.    Most people who are working on professional motion productions and are using a DSLR or VSLR camera have spent more than twice the price of the camera on third party accessories.
4.    There’s a steep learning curve of other aspects of video production – namely capturing good audio, editing, and output.
5.    Video is a collaborative process with an entirely different workflow than still photography.

Still photographers have a hard time with #5 because by nature they are independent creatures used to controlling and doing everything themselves.  But video is all about collaboration and as soon as one realizes the power of networking, collaborating and partnerships – they understand the concept of video production and raising their own bar by collaborating with others.

I recently gave a seminar in Portland, OR where I had a chance to talk to Andy Batt who is quite knowledgeable with VSLR’s and has produced some beautiful work with them.  I learned a lot from Andy about some of the idiosyncrasies of theses cameras.  I don’t own one yet, although I will be purchasing a Canon 5d and 7D along with additional Zacuto accessories for a personal project I’ll be working on, where I will be shooting both stills and video and will be living out of a backpack for three months. So to economize on space – this seemed like the right way to go.
Andy and I do totally different things and work in totally different markets but we can learn from each other.  Andy works with large crews and on big productions.  I work more journalisticaly, with small crews in direct corporate and institutional markets.  But we both know that it’s not just about the equipment and it’s not a one size fits all when it comes to choices made in that regard.  We also know that it’s not a one size fits all when it comes to pricing and in terms of usage and licensing.  What might play in one market – simply won’t in another.

The point is buying a VSLR isn’t what will get you in the game of video production.  There’s more to it.  And there isn’t just a rack of template prices that apply to all.  We are hired for who we are, how we see, how we work and our experience. The ones who will be successful will understand that it’s not about just having a camera capable of shooting good visuals.  The ones who don’t understand will be expected to deliver Fast, Cheap and Good.

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