This has been something that has been weighing on my mind for months now – ever since the seemingly “overnight sensation” of people giving video workshops as well as the growing number of still photographers that are feeling the need to take these workshops.
The biggest problem that I see with all the video/motion workshops that are out there is that they oversimplify video production and take the approach that the single independent still photographer can learn and do it all – produce, operate the camera, capture good audio and manage the post-production and edit. I suppose to be fair – while it may be true that the independent still shooter can learn all facets of video production, that is not the best approach as far as setting up a viable business model for a video production company.
Video is a collaborative medium. While I may be able take just about any video production from soup to nuts single handedly – I know that the production would suffer if I did. I learned a long time ago to build a team of good sound people, editors and even camera operators that I can draw on to hire on a need be basis. They make the production and me look good and that’s what keeps my clients coming back. It also allows my business to grow because I can take on more projects. If I’m not entrenched in all aspects of the production. It frees me up to start production on another project while still in post-production of a previous project. If you are a one-man band, you not only don’t have this option but you actually make yourself look small in the process.
Video and motion have many facets to them. I advocate that the best business models are when one positions themselves at the top of the content creation ladder by overseeing the production of the whole and hiring the appropriate crew that will facilitate the process. By recognizing the differences between this business model and the “solo” model that most independent photographers work under, you’ll have a much better shot of maintaining ownership of your work and creative vision as well as having the potential to grow your business beyond your own singular capabilities.
The other problem with workshops that over simplify the process of video production by promising that you will be up and running after a one day workshop is that they are centered around learning the gear and the software which changes by the month. If you learn just the gear du jour and not focus on the business of video production you will be in competition with other independent dabblers and that’s a quick way to the poor house in terms of sustainability.
A week doesn’t go by when I don’t get at least a dozen calls or emails from still photographers who feel they need to get into video and are overwhelmed by the learning curve. I tell them that the best thing they can do is NOT to try and learn all these skills themselves and that in fact that will only delay their entry into the video production, business if that is what they are after. A better way is to keep your focus on your vision, apply that to a sustainable business model that will incorporate video and collaborate with others who will make you look good and help you grow your business.