Why better cameras makes for worse videos: And 4 other secrets for better video marketing
This sounds like a contradiction in itself, doesn’t it? Most people think, if you want to make a great video, you will need a good camera. But the truth is, most people who aim to just create great videos, will rarely make great videos. That’s because great visual content is about meaning and story. And story derives from genuineness and emotion.
When I first started out as a photographer and videographer I was obsessed with equipment and technical details. I watched endless camera reviews and comparisons online, I read technical camera magazines, always knowing about the latest tech. But the longer I did this, the more my frustration grew because much to my surprise, no matter how much I knew about the equipment that I was using, my photography just wouldn’t get any better. And I couldn’t figure out why. There I was, knowing everything there was to know about cameras and lights and yet I just wasn’t getting results that were hitting the spot. Agents and potential clients would always say - yeah, looks great… but… something is missing. And I couldn’t figure it out until one day I was so close to giving up, I said to myself, okay, just try one more time and do everything differently to what I had always done. So I decided to strip everything back, forget everything I ever knew about cameras and tech and just focus on what I was trying to say. I set up a shoot and all I took was one camera, with one fixed lens and I allowed myself to only work with natural light. What I did instead of working out an elaborate light concept was I sat down and created a mood board. I sat for hours researching about references that I could draw from fine art, history, religion and any source I could think of really. I came up with symbols that would represent my ideas, my feelings and my message. I nested, encapsulated and overlapped - I thought in images and symbols rather than in technical terms.
And oh boy, I am not exaggerating when I am saying that this shift in thinking changed my perspective on everything! It was like I was blind and suddenly I could see!
I started applying this approach to all my shoots and suddenly I was starting to get jobs. My work went from being plain and simple to interesting and intriguing.
And within a few years I was suddenly shooting for brands like Superdry, Puma and Channel 4.
So what changed? It took me a whole new way of seeing. Instead of seeing with my eyes and my mind, I had to allow myself to see with my heart. It was like having to learn to see all over again.
There are so many things that this new way of seeing has taught me. But I made of list of 4 things that are amongst the top important take aways so that you can rethink your video marketing journey.
1. Focus on the essential. If you are restricted through budget, time or other resources, do what you can do on a small level well rather than trying to go big and do it less well. You can still achieve a great look with small equipment. Use the camera you know. It doesn’t need to be the latest and best. Use what you have and make it your advantage. If you only have a phone and there is just no way on earth you can get your hands on a camera without breaking your bank, shoot it on a phone. But use that fact in your concept. Make a virtue out of necessity. If you want to shoot one person chasing another and you don’t have the big dollars. Well, make it a foot chase. If you do it well, noone will ever think, ‘I really think they should have made this a car chase.’ But if you try to make it a car chase even though your budget doesn’t allow for it, you will most likely end up with a badly executed one. And then people will very surely think, ‘Those guys clearly didn’t have the money for a car chase.’ So, you’re better off using what you have got and focus on doing it well. Study the equipment that you have and master the small. You will end up with better results! And no broken bank account. Also if you spend less on equipment, you will have more budget left for other things that might end up being important. Henri Carier Bresson, one of the most iconic street photographers ever, he used to shoot only on a small 35mm camera with a 50mm lens. And that was it! Nothing else! And he was an absolute master of his craft. Half of the photographers out there will never create a body of work like Bresson, even if they had any equipment in the world available to them. Sometimes less distraction will ley you focus on what’s right in front of you.
2. Have a strong concept! People who spend on the big equipment tend to forget that video is a visual medium and rely on just pure quality output of the image. But let me tell you, the best image won’t sell anything if the content is bad. Focus on the purpose. Have a message. Build a strong story in which your product weaves in as the organic hero . Use symbols and metaphors. Your audience is more clever than you think. Challenge them. Use emotions!
3. Understand what you need to show to tell your story, Communicate your message to your audience in a visual way. Working with film (or photography, we have the power to create images that frame the world in unusual ways, or address a familiar subject matter from a new perspective. Be aware of the power of what you don’t show as it holds as much weight as the things you do show. Take responsibility of your choices. You have the power to decide what we include or exclude from viewfinder.
4. Find your own language. Deeply connected with the idea of who your brand is. And from that, derive your own distinct tone of voice. Your visual handwriting should be recognisable for your audience amongst others. Are you someone who will use a reportage style showing real people? Or do you have a slick and polished style? There is no right or wrong, what’s important is, that it’s your voice. Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of different methods.
I am not going to lie, of course once you start playing in the game with the big names you will most likely want and need to bring in the big tech, but the important thing is that story should always come first! Never forget your message. Never forget what it’s all about and never forget what emotion you are trying to evoke. Then, and only then when you have figured all of that out, you can bring in the big cameras and the big lighting concept. And when you know what it’s all about, then you can really start using those technical aspects to your benefit. Control the tech, don’t let the tech control you!
I hope this was helpful for you and your own business journey. If you enjoyed some of those tips or need some more bespoke help with your visual content, give me a shout and we can design creative concepts, on-brand for your business.
You can contact me here.