October 2009 Archives

     Video is certainly all the rage today.  YouTube is one of the most visited websites. Professional still cameras are now sporting HD video capabability, led by the Canon 5D and the just announced Canon 1D Mark IV.  And photography forums are increasingly turning attention to video and spurring on shooters to begin the transition to video.

     For a professional photographer, it certainly makes sense.  I added video to my business about 5 years ago.  A photographer with timing and an eye for composition will take those same skills into the motion field.  It's a matter of learning new equipment,  new techniques,  mastering sound capture, and learning to edit. (Not easy, but certainly doable.) And the plethora of web-based forums and teaching venues helps ease that transition. 

     My big fear is the commodification of video, as has happened with a big chunk of the photography business.  Just as so many with a digital camera considers him or herself a photographer, regardless of commitment, experience and lighting acumen, so too the pervasive availability of video cameras has turned many into self-styled filmmakers.  Many, not needing the income to survive, will do video jobs for little or no pay.  But I'm not just talking about hobbyists here.  Far too many professional photographers are throwing in video services for their clients as a loss leader, sometimes charging nothing at all.  It's an extra,  a cool freebie.  But oh my, that's shooting ourselves in the foot.  The investment in video equipment, editing software and time to educate ourselves is considerable.  Those getting something free and not going to be inclined to pay for it later on.  Just ask the legion of publishing outlets putting all their editorial  content onto the web without charge.

     Please consider the future of the industry.  You're pulling rates down for everyone, and seriously hurting video production houses. Not to mention leaving money on the table.  Companies and organizations have budgets for this stuff.  But they aren't stupid.  If they have a pocketfull of money for a company promo video and someone offers to do it for a few cents or for free, they will not reach into that pocket.  Know your value.  Find out what established video production houses would charge for different projects.  And charge that.  A reasonable fee in exchange for your expertise and creativity seems like a good deal to me.
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Irving Penn

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Irving Penn, a giant of 20th century portraiture dies at 92. One of handful of photographers that will leave behind truly iconic images.

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