1. They forget about the story – it’s not your camera that tells the story – it’s the person using the camera. Pretty visuals, slapped into a motion timeline with music, doesn’t necessarily tell a story. Video is a story telling medium – don’t forget that.
2. They think they already know how to shoot – if you think because you are a professional photographer and all you need to do is get a camera with a “video mode” on it, you are mistaken. Shooting in motion is far different than shooting still images. An experienced motion shooter can spot a video shot by a still photographer with little know how, right away.
3. Thinking audio isn’t important – audio is more important than the visual when producing video. Hire a sound person to do it right, but don’t discount it.
4. Thinking the DSLR camera is all you need for video productions – this is a biggie. How are you going to go after professional video jobs if this is the only tool in your kit? Sure you can rent a RED – but make sure you are as proficient with this tool as your competition is before hanging out your “motion” shingle.
5. Positioning themselves just as DP’s or Directors and thinking you’ll maintain ownership of your work. If you assume the role of a camera operator, DP or even a director – you will be in a work for hire position in most markets. Position yourself as a producer – shoot if you want to – and direct – but realize that you’ll be just one rung on the “content ladder”.
6. They don’t learn interview skills – this is what separates the pros from the still shooters who have DSLR cameras and think that’s all they need. I’d say about 70% of my work includes on camera interviews. Even though I ask the questions- I’m not on camera, my subject is. I not only need to know how to ask the right questions and get great audio, but I need to produce a usable interview clip for an editor. That means knowing how to get great soundbites. This is one area I excel in – it’s all about rapport with your subject.
7. They try to compete in “old business model” markets – Everyone wants to shoot broadcast spots and feature films (or short films) so they think that after shooting motion for only a few months – or even a year – they will be able to compete in the high end business of video production. First, this market, like the still photography market, has changed drastically, mostly marginalized by still photographers who are just starting to shoot motion, shooting jobs for next to nothing because they have no understanding of this “business”.
8. Learning the “how to’s” in terms of gear – but nothing about the business – this is also a biggie. There are so many “how to shoot motion” workshops and roadshows out there but no one seems to be teaching the business end of things. Still photographers think they already know “the business” but quickly realize that they don’t, and they put themselves out of business in this medium – before they’ve barely started.
9. Teaching “how to” workshops in video with little or no experience – I can’t tell you how many photographers have called me for technical advice about some pretty basic stuff in terms of video, and four months later they are teaching workshops. Please don’t become part of the problem and send more shooters out into this field without teaching them something about business. And if you are considering taking a workshop – do your homework and take the workshop from someone who is accomplished in this field and has done something.
10. They forget about the story – I know that’s #1 but it needs reinforcing.
12 Replies to “Mistakes Professional Still Photographers Make When “Moving” to Video”
Excellent list. Great information photographers need to know.
Great advise. I think #11 should be:
Ignoring the need to consider offering their clients motion. Even if they team up with a photographer/filmmaker that excels at it.
“That means knowing how to get great soundbites. This is one area I excel in.”
Any tips in that regard?
I’ve got plenty of interview tips – but that will need to be in another blog post – stay tuned.
I am totally with you. I shoot bot stills and video for 17-18 years, and I see what you describe in the video work of nwebies. They think that just swicthing mode makes them story tellers, which is of course not the case by far.
Id also add editing high up on that list. both from the storytelling point of view and then the rest of your post production. Learning what editing is and how it can totally change your film is a huge lesson which will make or break your film!
Stills and moving images are different animals but look similar. Do one at a time, in my youth I tried doing both and neither worked well.
Thank you for the post. I spend most of my days shooting interviews. Do you have any
reccomendations on ways to get sound bites? Most of my stuff involves homeless clients and people that I do not have a lot of time to build rapport with. Would appreciate any tips on that end of things. I saw the post below so
I will subscribe to blog and see when you discuss that topic.