So many photographers think that buying a DSLR capable of shooting video and taking a workshop on how to use it, is all they’ll need to do in order to get into the business of video production. They couldn’t be more wrong. It’s kind of like someone buying a really “good” camera, and thinking that’s all they need to be able to shoot a professional photography assignment. And yet, so many of my professional photographer colleagues continue to think that it’s about the camera, instead of the skill set.
For starters, most of the professional video productions I do,I wouldn’t be able to shoot with a DSLR camera. Don’t get me wrong, a DSLR can produce stunning video, but those cameras fall short on certain tasks. More importantly, they won’t necessarily meet the expectations that many high-end advertising art directors require. You’ll look like a fool if you show up with your DSLR kit when they expected a lot more in the way of gear.
I get quite annoyed when I see the proliferation of DSLR video and filmmaking workshops that mislead photographers that this “tool” or camera will be sufficient for any and all video assignments – because it won’t. It may be fine for a wedding shoot and I even made a feature length film with a DSLR, but for a lot of corporate jobs I shoot – it just doesn’t cut it.
My advice to photographers who want to learn video:
- Learn how to think and shoot video. It’s not just about the camera. When I shoot motion, I’m thinking and shooting much differently than I do for stills.
- Pick the right camera for the job. That means you’ll have to know how to use a traditional video camera or a more sophisticated camera like a RED or hire someone who does.
- If you contain your video experience and knowledge to the DSLR, realize that your competition will be fierce. The buy in price is low – so you won’t be the only one who thinks they can buy a relatively inexpensive camera and go after video jobs.
- Stay away from DSLR workshops. They are way too limited and limiting. Plus, they are based on technology that changes way too fast. It may be tempting – but you’ll place yourself in the lower end crowd and will most likely be competing on price. How low are you prepared to go – or can you go and stay in business.
- Learn video and/or filmmaking the right way. Don’t make it dependent on a particular camera. Learn the cinematic language and how to translate the message in a motion medium.
- The business of video is much different than that of still photography. If the workshop you are thinking about taking doesn’t address sound business practices – move on. You can lose your shirt on a video production if you don’t know how to price and/or structure your shoots.
Think about it. If you were just starting out and learning photography – would you take a workshop that was about a particular camera? Obviously not, so why would you approach learning video that way?
For more information about video production check out Gail’s guide The Craft and Commerce of Video and Motion