Tag Archives for " American Society of Media Photographers "

Editing, a quick primer: Cut it short!

Pascal loved editing his letters

Shakespeare must have been thinking about video editing when he penned the words “Brevity is the soul of wit“. There’s a reason it’s called the “cutting room floor” and not the “‘let’s cram some more content into this video’ room floor”. When you’re editing, you’re trimming individual clips, cutting out whole scenes, shortening, condensing and although it seems counterintuitive, the shorter the piece is that you are working on, the longer it’s going to take to edit it. 

Short takes time. Long goes quick.

Blaise Pascal wrote it in 1657 “I have made this (letter) longer than usual, because I have not had time to make it shorter.” If you’re new to editing, you’ll quickly find that cutting together a video will take much more time, than shooting the footage. Our experience in still photography is often quite the opposite. I just finished a 6 day catalog photo shoot and finished editing, i.E. picking the final images by the next morning. A week later I was shooting 3 days of a multi-month motion project and editing that footage will take me much longer than 3 days. 

2 suggestions when you get started editing

Even though editing has a pretty steep learning curve, I strongly recommend that you edit your own work, especially when you’re just getting into creating video projects. It’s going to make you a better cinematographer. Fast.

On the other hand I strongly recommend that you work with an experienced video editor, especially when you’re just getting into creating video projects. It’s going to make you a better editor. Fast.

Edit your own footage – it’ll make you a better cinematographer

Editing On Wings of Hope made me a better cinematographer. Collaborating with professional editors made me a better editor.

I remember coming back from filming my first corporate documentary film in Afghanistan in 2012. I shoot for 2 and a half weeks and had planned on spending a week to edit the movie. Just for the record, it ended up taking me a longer. Much longer. However editing the footage myself, really helped me understand which shots I had missed or screwed up, where I had to abandon ideas, because of a non-existent camera angles or bad takes I had not retaken in the field. Those realizations are painful, but I won’t be making the same mistakes again. 

Collaborate with professional editors – it’ll make you a better editor

I also send pieces of the short film to friends of mine–experienced film industry pros–and the feedback I got from them was sometimes painful, but I learned a lot in a very short time. 

One email was especially painful. It came from a seasoned Hollywood director friend of mine and begins with the words: “Ok. If you’ll notice the time you may give some thought to how much you’re loved and appreciated. For both expediency and brevity’s sake I’m not going to perfume my words…

Then it goes into 3 pages of non-perfumed words, ripping apart every scene I’d lovingly cut together. Telling me (in no uncertain terms) where there was significant room for improvement. Honestly I did not feel happy when I read that email for the first time. Or the second time. But when I finally re-edited the film following his suggestions, they made the movie a million times better. A printout of his email sits on my desk and I reread it from time to time.

In case you’re still not clear about this: Editing is cutting.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Edit your video. Then cut out half of the footage. Once you’ve done that, congratulate yourself and cut it again by half. Now you’re in the ballpark of how long your motion piece should be. Brevity is the soul of wit, especially when it comes to editing.

Where to go from here

If you’re looking for a great book on editing, check out “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, by Walter Murch” its basically the Film Editors bible. Brand new to video? Check out Pascals talk at WordCamp Miami How to step up your video” and learn about story, sound, visuals and edit.

[This post was originally published on the American Society of Media Photographers ‘Strictly Business’ blog.]

I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)

Cloud based business

How much more productive would you be, if you could …

…automatically answer every online contact request with a branded, personalized email from your company and get an alert to new inquiries via text, email and SMS from the cloud?

…enter each business card you’re handed into your cloud based address book and automatically pull in data from the card owner’s LinkedIn profile?

… see the last activity you had scheduled with that person, the client account associated with him or her and have the personal contact info from your cloud based client database on your screen when you look up a client on LinkedIn?

… automatically trigger the creation of a digital job folder,  add a customized to-do list (based on how you go from prospect to client) to your calendar and create a blank production book in the cloud when a client sends you a job request?

… store all emails, call notes, marketing efforts, past invoices, payments and briefs pertaining to a client account in the cloud, accessible from anywhere in the world?

… control image delivery to your client from your smart phone?

… create an expense report in the cloud just by photographing a receipt?

Sounds to good to be true? Welcome to your business in the cloud.

Def: Cloud based business, means that your data is stored in with an online service. That can be a photograph you are delivering to your client via Photoshelter, contact information for a prospect stored in SalesForce or your production book from the last job including all releases, insurance info and crew details in Evernote

There are lots of systems you can choose from.  Here’s how I use mine…

Cloud based SalesForce CRMMy day begins with my head in the cloud (literally)

The first tab that opens in my web browser is my SalesForce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: the heart of my cloud business. It aggregates all client info – some automatically, some from other applications or web services – into one place.

More than just a calendar and address book app, it links everything together, so my client’s personal cell phone number from last year is at my fingertips and I can easily see the last estimate I sent them while I’m on the phone talking about our upcoming project. The digital documents don’t have to be stored in SalesForce – in my case, I use Evernote. 

SalesForce – the center of my cloud universe

SalesForce leads the cloud based CRM space.Here are three channels I use to capture new leads into my SalesForce client database:

The contact form on my website

When a prospective client fills out the contact form on my website, they are actually entering their data into SalesForce, which then sends them an automated personalized email response and notifies me that I have a new lead. All this info is accessible via the web interface or an app on my phone (Read more about it on this Strictly Business article: Quick Tip – Automate).

The subscription button on my blog

I use a MailChimp plugin on my WordPress blog to send all subscriber information straight to SalesForce. That plugin also sends email updates to my subscribers when I publish a new blog post and maintains my mailing list. All day, every day. Don’t have to think about it.

Business cards

I take a photo of the card, Scannable reads the card, saves it to the address book on my phone (pulling in any information that’s not printed on the card from the person’s LinkedIn profile) and adds my new contact to SalesForce. All in about 30 seconds. (Find a link to watch a real-time business card scan at the end of this post).

This photo lives in my Evernote cloud

5 Instagram Mistakes you can’t afford to make

5 Mistakes to avoid on Instagram

“Photographers have a huge advantage on Instagram.  You already have the most important thing for great Instagram content: awesome photos!”
~Sue B. Zimmerman

Last week I got to interview Sue B Zimmerman (@theinstagramexpert) after listening to her on a webinar put on by productivity guru Steve Dotto (@dottotech). Their discussion made me rethink how much attention I pay to my Instagram account.

In case you’ve lived under a rock for the past 5 years, Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service and, as a visual content creator, it’s basically made for photographers.  If you’re not utilizing it, well, let’s just say your missing out on a large market segment. I wrote about the importance of Instagram in getting hired last December on Strictly Business: Why a Strong Brand Online is Worth More Than Your Skill Set.

Within 5 years of its launch Instagram celebrated 400 million users,  placing it in the top 5 US Social Media networks; that is a little misleading, since it’s owned by Facebook. Since Instagram does only one thing, it’s simple to use – but that simplicity can be difficult to use well.

Sue talked to me about the 5 mistakes you can’t afford to make on Instagram:

Instagram Mistake #1: setting your account to private

Mistake #1: Setting your Instagram account to private ensures that no one, but your followers can see what you post.

I made this mistake when I started. Social Media is social so don’t keep your account to yourself.

Sue does recommend that you keep your account set to private, until you write your bio (see mistake #3), post a minimum of 9 fantastic images and/or videos (see mistake #4) and come up with a strong Call to Action (see mistake #5). Once you’ve populated your profile – open your Instagram (IG) to the world! Interact with people, reply to tags, @mentions and shares.

Instagram Mistake #2: using a generic IG avatar

Mistake #2: Using the generic Instagram avatar, will make sure that everyone knows you’re an IG newbie.

Ah, the profile picture. Mistake number 2 is uploading one that has nothing to do with your business. The only way you can do worse is by not uploading anything. Then you get this beauty:
Instagram Avatar

Sue says you should put your smiling face on your account. People want to know who you are (and that they’re following the right instagram account). Make it specific to your brand – it can be your logo, but I agree with Sue, I like to have my face up there. The same goes for your IG your username in your brand. Make it the same as your twitter handle (mine is @photosbydepuhl) or your brand name or your own name. The good news is you can change the username on Instagram.

Instagram Mistake #3: not writing a good bio

Mistake #3: Leaving your bio blank. Or writing a bad one.

Your bio, is the first thing people see on Instagram, so make it easy and tell them something about yourself.  Don’t leave it blank or write something completely irrelevant. (You should set your account to private, until you have a strong bio written.)

True, it’s not easy to write an effective bio in 150 characters. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Don’t forget you need to include your call to action in here as well (more about that in Mistake #5). This bio is the first impression your making on IG. Make it count.

Instagram Mistake #4: posting everything and the kitchen sink

Mistake #4: Posting photos of everything. Or posting underexposed, blurry, badly composed photos.

The Instagram feed for your business should be just that: photos and videos about your business (not breakfast – unless you’re a food photographer; not cats – unless you’re a pet photographer; not cute kids – unless [say it with me] you create portraits of kids).  If you want to post those images, create a personal Instagram account.

Keep your account focused. Sue says that you should show only the images and posts that build your brand. When someone clicks on your IG feed, your brand should be immediately clear. Remember you can post videos on Instagram, as long as they are under 15 seconds long, like this one:

Include finished photos and behind the scene shots, Sue says it’s important to humanize your IG account.

Instagram Mistake #5: forgetting to add a call to action to your link

Mistake #5: Not writing a strong Call to Action for your link. Not including a link at all is the only way you can make this mistake worse. You get one link on Instagram and one link only. It’s in your bio, so choose it wisely. Once you’ve decided what your want to feature – your website, your blog, your newsletter, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts – don’t just say “Click here.” instead include a strong Call to Action. Read my blog. Join my mailing list. Watch my video. Make that sole, lonely link that IG gives you count!  The one saving grace is that this link – like your username – can be changed.


5 Mistakes you can’t afford to make on Instagram was originally written for “Strictly Business” the blog of the American Society of Media Photographers. 

a couple of years ago

MarketingHack #15: Become a regular writer on a national blog

MarketingHack 15: Become a regular contributor to a national blog (or two).
2 and a half years blogging for ASMP blog

Click to see all the articles I’ve written for ASMP’s national blog “Strictly Business” over the last 30 months

Your clients are searching for an expert

Picture this: someone googles photographer – or any other business for that matter. What kind of small business are they looking to find? The expert, right? Who is listed on the first page of Google? The experts for that search term, right?

I know there are about a gazillion variables Google combs through to rank their results, but let me ask you one question: If there are two photographers, who rank identical in search, but one consistently writes for a national blog (or two) and the other does not – which one of the two will rank higher?

Simple” you say “the one who is a regular contributor to a well known national blog, but how on earth do you become one of those bloggers?” If it were easy, everybody would be doing this, right?

How do you get national exposure?

Write for the blog of a nationally recognized organization to get national exposure, simple right? Well not so fast. Remember when I said that some of these MarketingHacks are simple, they just fall into your lap (like Marketing Hack #8: Do something unexpected – that one took me a less than an hour and cost less than $10 bucks). Let me be honest, the one we’re talking about here requires work and lots of it.

So you wanna write for a national blog …

This may sound silly, but if you’ve never written for a blog – even if it’s your own – it’s gonna be hard to convince the editors of a national blog to have you write for them as a regular contributor (I’m not talking about the occasional guest blogging here, I’m talking about a commitment to create content on an ongoing a regular basis.)

Start here:

Show your work to the editors, so they can get a feel for how you write. If you can show that you write for other known blogs – even if it’s a guest post – that’s gonna help. Like everything in life …

It’s all about sound: listen to this (ASMP strictly business)

The incredible importance of sound in video

Sound is more important than visuals

I just spoke about sound in my “How to step up your video” at WordCamp Miami. “Sound” I said “is more important than visuals“–especially to us photographers. We want to make video look pretty, which means sound often come a distant second. Actually I believe the most important thing in video is story, because without a good story, you’ve got nothing, zip, nada, but I digress.

Listen to this

We often dismiss sound over sight, but sound adds richness to a movie. Do this experiment – watch a movie for 5 minutes on mute and the next 5 minutes with your eyes closed, but the sound playing. Which sense enabled you to follow the story line easier? In general I’d argue hearing. If you’ve been photographing for any length of time, you’ve got the visual part of video down anyway. Sound is important

I love sound guys

Check out the article I wrote on Strictly Business, the blog of the American Society of Media Photographers, on audio for photographers called “Listen to this!” You’ll learn how come I absolutely love sound guys, why you should wash out your ears, why I record everything twice and what the biggest technical problem is when capturing audio with DSLRs.

More about audio for photographers and videographers

Check out this case study on sound with some cool actual audio recordings of doing it right (and not so right), while interviewing pilots in flight above Afghanistan and why the most important piece of equipment for video has nothing to do with video.