Why Photographers Need to Stop Thinking of Video as a Market

I find that many still photographers I talk to either want to “get into video” – or they don’t.  In either case, most photographers think of video as an entirely separate market. The truth is, video is not a market at all.  It’s simply another visual medium a “photographer” can use to express themselves with, convey a story, or hopefully do both.

I have been a still photographer for over 30 years and a motion shooter for over 15, but I have been a storyteller since I started talking.  I have not abandoned my still photography, by any means, In fact if anything, adding motion to my skill set has made me a better photographer.

These days, I work with whatever medium that best conveys the message or story that I need to deliver.  I not only think about that in creative terms but also in how the story will be delivered and to whom. Last week

English: Cover of the February 17, 1933 (vol. ...
English: Cover of the February 17, 1933 (vol. 1 issue 1), first issue of News-Week magazine (now Newsweek). The issue features seven photographs from the week’s news on the cover. Featured are: Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Franz von Papen. The issue has 32 pages and cost 10 cents. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newsweek announced they were no longer going to publish a print edition. Clearly that will have a trickle down effect on paper sales, printers, advertising agencies, on down to photographers. It won’t just affect photographers shooting for Newsweek, but will also have an impact on commercial photographers as well. It will affect many markets.

We, as a society are communicating differently and everything is in flux because of it. People are getting their news immediately and on demand, on their phones and other mobile devices.  How can a print edition of a news magazine compete with that?  It can’t. How will advertisers react to that?  That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?  How can an advertiser monetize the “mobile platform”?  Do they make a viewer watch a short ad at the front end of a story?  As we communicate more and more using smaller devices, advertisers and marketers will need to come up with new ways of reaching their target audience.

Technology is a double-edged sword. It forces change on all of us but it also opens up opportunities.  The advertisers will be able to know exactly the audience they ARE attracting, based on information gathered from analytics.  Independent photographers can use technology the same way, if they open their minds up to new ideas and start to see opportunities.  But that will only happen if they start to see video as just another medium to work with, instead looking at it as a separate market, and telling themselves that’s not what they do.

I had the privilege recently of being a juror on a “motion” competition.  I was very encouraged by what I saw and I looked at over 50 videos.  I saw something new and different.  I saw the “photographic eye“ applied to motion. I saw a different visual aesthetic emerging.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  Photographers creating in a new way using new tools for a society that communicates differently.


The Movie “One Sheet”

If I thought that by finishing my film, I was done – I was sorely mistaken.  My work has just begun.  What would have been the point of putting my heart and soul into a film for the past year and a half, if no one sees it? That means there’s a lot more work on my part, getting it out there – distributing it, marketing it and promoting it.  All that takes time, money and expertise.

I’ve been reading Jon Resiss’ book “Think Outside the Box Office” “The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era”.  It’s become my bible. For starters, it lays out what a filmmaker needs to do to get their film out there, create an audience and make money.

In terms of publicity, every film needs a good press kit, which should include:
•    One Sheet – with tag line
•    Synopses – long and short
•    Cast and Crew Bios
•    Director’s statement or interview
•    Production stills and video interviews for the electronic press kit.
•    Production stories – something interesting about the making of the film.
•    Technical specs

When I first heard the term “one sheet”, I wasn’t quite sure what that was.  It’s pretty much what it says it is – a one-sheet piece of paper describing your film, but it it’s concise with provocative visuals and a catchy “tag line”, designed to peak interest, whether it is with the press or the movie going public.

A “one sheet” can also be what most of us call movie posters.  They are essentially the same thing – a one sheet with imagery and text to capture someone’s attention.   Some movie one sheets are works of art in their own right and become collectibles.  Think of some of the best ones that you have seen over the years.

Sounds like it should be fun – coming up with a “one sheet” for the movie, but even though I have a lot of great content for a “one sheet”, I don’t have the skills needed to create a composite for a movie poster. There are people who just design movie posters – that’s their niche.

I’ve learned a lot in the process of making a film.  The most important thing, I’ve learned is to make relationships and collaborate with others who can bring their expertise to the project.  It’s not only a rewarding process, but it raises the bar on the final outcome.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

The D.I.Y. Age

The world is full of possibilities these days.  In fact, for the individual and their “reach” globally – it’s staggering how many possibilities exist that didn’t just a couple of years ago.

We can not only create in a more affordable way with inexpensive equipment and leaner crews – we can also get our creations out to the world without the need for a publisher or a stock agency or a film distributor.

We can do all those things due to the exponential growth of technology.  But we also need to recognize that all those possibilities come with a cost, in terms of dollars as well as man-hours.  Each one of those possibilities takes time and money in order to become a reality.

Even the path to getting money or financing these days has changed because of crowd funding.  But like anything else you need to stand out amongst the noise, so who knows how long this trend can sustain itself.

If you’re planning a personal project, keep in mind that you will need to not only create it but find a way to get it out there after completion.  Expect to put time and money into:

•    Self – Publishing – this includes hiring a designer and researching self-publishing partners like www.lulu.com in the print publishing world. They also offer downloads. In the motion world, you have options like Amazon, iTunes and Netflix.
•    Marketing, PR and advertising – This is definitely an area where you will need money and expertise. Jon Reiss in his book “Think Outside the Box Office” suggests that it will take an investment for at least as much as you spent creating your film.
•    Crowd funding – The crowd funding sites provide you a portal if your project is accepted but you need to do the work as far as getting people to know about your project and fund it.
•    Bookings – Whether it is an exhibit or a movie or a lecture – you need someone to book venues for you.  This could also mean finding sponsors.

The bottom line is really kind of an old fashioned notion in a high tech age and that is – the prize is out there is you’re willing to do the work.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Ok, I’m just going to come right out and say it.  I was one of the few people in America who did NOT watch the Super Bowl yesterday.  Before you try to enlighten me as to the merits of the game and sentence me to watch NFL highlights, let me just say I don’t like football.  Just never got into the touchy feeliness of the sport. And besides, I’m still chained to my editing station – finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

But this morning I couldn’t escape the pundits grading and scoring the Super Bowl commercials as I clicked through the morning programs looking for the “news”.  It was interesting to hear their “take” on what commercials were successful.  Most of the pundits made their assessments through the eyes of their “ad men” (and women) persona, debating which commercials caught the attention of the viewers.

One “expert” frequently commented, “now this one had people telling their friends – be quiet – I want to hear the commercial.  I’m not quite sure what Super Bowl party this person went to, but no doubt it was a party made up of other advertising folks. Now, I’ve had very limited experience attending Super Bowl parties, but as for the ones I have been to – nobody has ever said “be quiet – so I can hear the commercial”.  With that said, as I watched many of the spots this morning via YouTube, some of the most effective commercials required no listening at all. Check out this one for Bridgestone.

I guess the creatives who made this spot go to the same kind of parties as I do –  parties where people don’t ask someone to turn the volume up for the commercials.  Actually, I’ve learned a lot about editing by watching TV commercials with the sound off.  The “story” either becomes apparent – or not.

The New York Times did a pretty good critique of the ads this morning. But what I found most interesting was the running commentary from the “average Joes” via Twitter and Facebook.  No doubt some of these advertising experts were paying as much attention to the social media chatter this morning as Mumbarak’s men were. Hands down, the Chrysler “Detroit” spot won the most hearts – mine included. It drew me in from the start and kept me the entire two minutes.  Imagine that – a two minute commercial! When was the last time you saw that?  A beautiful mini-film told in credible brevity. Quite frankly, to me it would have been just as effective without Eminem or any celebrity for that matter. It evoked emotion – that’s what kept me watching.

At the end of the day, the commercials that resonated most with just about everyone – pundit and laymen alike were the ones that told a simple story that rang true with the human spirit.  Works every time.  To tell those stories, one needs to get out of the meeting rooms and late nights at the office and spend more time living life. Otherwise, what you end up with is a bunch of people creating commercials about what they think life is like.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

%d bloggers like this: