I’ve shot a lot of weddings since starting First Impressions Video. They are gratifying, for sure, but a challenge because of the emotion associated with them–and the desire to get it right. As it is in most event videography, there are no “second takes.” Between bride and groom prep, through the ceremony and reception, there are many aspects to capture and as a result, several places where things can go sideways–especially during the ceremony.
The still photographer has a pivotal role in a wedding and I’ve worked with many outstanding ones. A crucial element that constitutes an “outstanding” photographer is an inherent sense to “share the space” with videographers. This is extremely vital as both photographer and videographer have key “money shots” that are essential components of the photographer’s album and the videographer’s DVD (or other delivery medium). In a wedding I recently recorded for a very special family, I found myself working with one of the most difficult and selfish photographers I’ve ever encountered. Not only that, he brought his son as a 2nd camera, and together, they seemed to go out of their way to crowd me out of all the aforementioned “money shots.” I was able to get them, despite their obliviousness to my presence, as if I wasn’t entitled to the same space they occupied. As we reached the “I now pronounce you” moment, I actually had to physically move one of them so that I could capture “you may now kiss your bride!” The guy seemed stunned that I pulled him out of the way and I can assure you that as a 240-pound former Marine, I was no longer in the mood for these antics, as this had gone on throughout the ceremony.
This behavior wasn’t missed by the family who were equally displeased, and said so to me. The disappointing part is that I go out of my way to befriend not only the photographers assigned to a wedding, but all of the vendors. I’m also pleased to say, that this is a rare occurrence. We all have important jobs to do to make the day super special for the bride and groom, and their families and friends. In order for that to happen and for us to do our jobs in ways that exceed expectations, we have to…wait for it…share the space!
**AUTHOR’S NOTE** I first wrote this article in September, 2014. Having now done hundreds of interview videos since then, the 6 points I detailed in 2014 take on even greater meaning, so I thought I’d “rebroadcast” the post. I would also add a seventh point: When speaking in front of a camera, it isn’t necessary to try to remember a long passage or thought! When you get to a point where you’re not sure what you want to say next, just pause–while still looking at the same spot–collect your thoughts, and continue. Seasoned pros know this neat little trick and now, you do too! Your editor will love you because editing your session will be much simpler when there are pauses that can be easily put together, creating a nice, cohesive interview!
About a year ago, I wrote on my blog about giving a great interview, in which I tapped into my friend Steve Cooper’s article (hitchedmag.com) for some terrific insights. Recently, I shot interview-type videos for a number of corporate and non-profit clients and it sparked a few new thoughts that are worth sharing, for the next time you are asked to be interviewed on camera.
- Get comfortable! Make sure that—while attractive to the camera (viewing audience)—your clothing is comfortable. If it’s too tight or binding, it can contribute to your voice sounding constrained. If you’re nervous in front of a camera, an overly snug outfit will only compound the nervousness.
- Know your subject material. Create a list of talking points. Notes (as opposed to a script) will allow the conversation to flow smoothly and sound more “normal.” Unless you have expertise working with a teleprompter, I recommend not using one. Also, this is NOT a “gotcha” interview, so I want my subject to be well informed.
- I typically recommend the “off camera” style, as if you were talking with someone you know. You’re just “having a conversation.” Plus, off camera interviews pull the subject’s attention away from the camera equipment.
- Practice starting your responses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to coach subjects to NOT start every response with ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ ‘like,’ and the dreaded ‘so.’
- Shoot with multiple angles and perspectives. Often, I shoot with two cameras to accomplish this. A single medium close-up shot can be a bit monotonous, unless you are going for a very specific look! Even if you only have one camera, you can (should) vary the angles and perspectives of the interview. It will be far more interesting. “60 Minutes” set the standard for this approach.
- Shoot “cutaways” (sometimes called “b-roll”) of other interesting areas that support the interview that can be edited into the final product. Again, this helps keep the interest level up and boredom to a minimum.
And finally, start with the end in mind. Even a short interview has a “story arc,” and by knowing where you want the interview to finish, it will simplify the presentation from beginning to end!
As we close out the crazy year known as 2016, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a sincere THANK YOU to all the clients I served. And as we head into 2017, there is only one question: GOT VIDEO?
Let’s do something together in this next year and you can see what other clients have learned: Great video does NOT have to break the bank!
A blog entry I wrote earlier in the year was picked up on Twitter. In it was one of several infographics I’ve posted and commented about over the course of the year. These visual pictures tell great stories and are applicable to producers of video, as well as consumers of video. I thanked the Tweeter for providing a great idea on how I could share a few of these infographics, which I have compiled here. Thanks to L. Scott Harrell ( @lscottharrell ) for the motivation to do this!
That last one was from 2015, but a few folks had asked me about it, so I figured, what the heck, and threw it in. And while the amplifying content around the infographics is likely mine, source credit for all of them goes to the respective creators.
Let me end the year with this one. Although intended to be humorous, all facets of video/film production require perseverance and resourcefulness. But for those with both, this can be a fascinating and gratifying endeavor. Just ask me!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year
**NOTE** This article was originally published last July, but as I’ve been doing lots of “talking head” interviews and testimonial shoots lately, I thought it timely to re-share a neat story of how to help non-professional on-camera talent to get comfortable in front of the camera.
One of the kindest testimonials I’ve received came from Elizabeth Fairchild, of Accurate Background, here in Orange County. I was tasked to shoot a series of interviews of company employees representing various departments, and the videos would be used as part of their exhibit at a national human resources convention. Some of the candidates were very comfortable being in front of a camera; others, not so comfortable. There are a number of techniques that I use to distract an interviewee from the camera and related equipment, and aside from some warm-up banter before we begin, we tried to focus on what excites them about their position in the company. I often roll the camera before we “start” because sometimes, you can get some real gems in the commentary. I also use the off camera style of interview popularized by shows like “60 Minutes” because again, if the interviewee is looking and speaking to a person, they tend to be less conscious of the gear in the room. Introverts present their own challenges, but by investing a little extra time, once these folks open up, their contributions are truly invaluable!
Part of Liz’s testimonial follows, and the next time you want to schedule interviews for your company or organization, give First Impressions Video a call! If you want to read her entire compliment, scroll down through the comments on my home page, and you can see it there.
“The day Terry came into film went off without a hitch. We had scheduled a full day of interviews with eleven employees. For many of them, this was their first time in front of the camera, and they were quite nervous. Terry did a great job making each interviewee feel comfortable – offering advice on how to ignore the camera and coaching them through their responses. At wrap, I think everyone felt like Terry was a part of our company family, and we were able to capture natural, authentic testimonials.”
With so much going on in digital marketing these days, it might be easy to forget about organic search, or just dismiss it as being too difficult to execute–especially with so many updates to Google’s search algorithm. I should know. As many who read my blog are aware, I spent over a decade in digital marketing of all sorts and types, before starting the video business. So here’s my take or organic search: it still works!!
Yesterday, I shot a funeral for a family. It was a very moving ceremony and was held at Forest Home Memorial Park in Glendale. I received a call about a week before the service from a photographer friend of the family asking if I was available. He was a pleasant gentleman and I could tell that we both had the right kind of sensitivity in our approach to this unique assignment, so I agreed. Through several calls and emails, I forgot to ask him how he found me, since we didn’t know each other, but I was able to ask after the service and he said, “I Googled you!” Understanding search queries, I asked further, what search terms (keywords) he used? His reply, “I Googled ‘funeral videography orange county.’ ”
I was very pleased at this revelation as it proves positively the value and importance of good search engine optimization (SEO). I ran the same query this morning and found this search result:
First Impressions Video appeared–after the ads, that I don’t buy–in the first four positions of the search engine results page (SERP), and the map! I think it’s safe to say that I would likely NOT have received the call that turned into a nice piece of business had I not invested the necessary time to optimize my website.
No matter what your business is, taking the time to build robust SEO for your website can be…no, should be…a critical component of your overall digital marketing strategy. Do not overlook organic search…it is a cornerstone to effective online visibility!
Call me for excellent video production that won’t break the bank! Or request a quote here
First Impressions Video wishes everyone a safe, sane and Happy Independence Day! And while we are enjoying all the activities of the day, let’s be sure to take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday, and make sure that we NEVER take our independence for granted!
I shot a wedding this past October. The couple and their family couldn’t have been nicer! I got this wonderful note shortly after the wedding:
“Terry, thank you for being my videographer. I don’t even need to see the video to already know you did a great job, I can’t wait! Even my guests commented on how they could tell you genuinely enjoyed your job and that will show in the quality. Your pricing was also very reasonable and the video will be the most cherished item for me so I can relive my special night, thanks again, we can’t wait to see the video!”
The wedding venue was one of the most challenging in which I’ve ever filmed, with extremely severe contrasts between the late-day western sun blasting into the windows and the interior of the venue which was quite dark. Even with my own extra light fixture, it didn’t help much, but I persevered. And because the final product didn’t meet my strict expectations, I gave the couple some of their money back. The great news came when I received the following comments from the very happy bride:
“Thank you Terry, you did a great job, made me cry. And I appreciate your professionalism, I had a feeling the venue would be difficult to work with, thank you for the refund. I will surely recommend you and provide positive reviews!”
Well, thank you, Lisa…you just did!