To Video or not? Blend Images Creative Meeting

April 6th, 2010 by

Is video going to save stock photographers’ income from collapse? (Not that I think collapse is eminent, keeping in mind that millions and millions of dollars are still being made in stock photography…it’s that so many more fingers are in the pie).

Last week I saw video presentations made using the Canon 5D MK II by Vicent LaForet and ASC Directory of Photography, Shane Hurlbut at the Blend Images creative meeting. LaForet, coming from still photography and Hurlbut from the most complex of cinematographic productions arrived at similar destinations in the use of the Canon. Both have easily and successfully translated their skills sets into making wonderful videos for advertising and even for a feature film.

The videos were stunning and exciting. Anyone who has ever been on the set of a motion picture will be amazed at the simplicity of the gear involved. Hurlbut has posted his camera configurations. He explained that a $160 million dollar budget for a feature film was reduced by 2/3s using the Canon instead of traditional equipment. LaForet is a natural film maker and produced his first short vid in two days of shooting the day after he first had a pre-production Canon MK II put into his hands at Canon Headquarters.

Many photographers in the Blend meeting, although deeply impressed by the presentations, later expressed doubt that they would go the route of these complex productions. One said to me, “I’m not about to go out and make a feature film just because my camera can!”  The question is then what do you want to do with your camera with video capabilities and why?

Some stock still libraries have offered motion for many years but the business was never more than 3 to 5 % of  total licensing fees. Today a stock photo buyer is able to purchase coordinated images from the same shoot to meet the needs for both print and web, still and motion. A good example of a company filling this need with an  innovative product is the Image Source Cross Media Pack .  Image Source Founder and CEO, Christina Vaughn, says, “Customers often aren’t satisfied with static images – they want flash, or video, or linear photography. We’ve done a lot of research into how our customers buy images, and we found increasingly that their campaigns needed to work across media – web, TV, and handheld devices as well as print.”

What vids to shoot? Generally the same subjects, concepts and themes  that work well in still stock photography with the exception of the very simple shot of a model isolated against white. All a single person in a video can do is talk…well ok they could jump up and down, dance, or other activities…and without sound talking heads don’t have anything to say. Keep it simple though…the video show above has short segments that would work as stock clips but a full blown story becomes too specific for stock motion.

My advice: unless you have a burning desire to make videos, don’t. But play around with the camera and you may discover that you like what you see.

Think about this too as you decide whether to jump into motion or not: Clay Shirky writes: “The most watched minute of video made in the last five years shows baby Charlie biting his brother’s finger. (Twice!) That minute has been watched by more people than the viewership of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and the Superbowl combined. (174 million views and counting.)” Read the entire post about how complexity harms business. The last few paragraphs are especially pertinent to the business of photography.

Finally congratulations to the founding photographer members of Blend with Sarah Fix and Rick Becker-Leckrone for treating photographers with respect and offering them the opportunity to gather together in a community of friends, supporters and colleagues.