In addition to the new video and audio skills we need to master to be hybrid photographers, we also need to master some new “directing” skills. As still photographers we know how to pose and how to lead a group to get them into that pose, but getting them to talk and “perform” in front of the camera is all new territory. Here are some tips that I use in both the consultation and the session with my Business eCard clients. I’ve learned these by making a few mistakes and running into clients with difficulties that I didn’t account for and didn’t know how to help. Hope they help you with your Business eCard sessions!
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been nervous knowing that I was shooting for eCards and that I really need a few of my own to promote my business. Now that I have 2 client’s cards done and 2 of my own, here are some reflections on the process.
Preparation is good – over preparation is bad… Prepping the gear goes without saying. Prepping the client is helpful to a point and after that it messes with their head. Video is more uncomfortable to many than stills and stills for the many are very difficult. Preparing for video needs to be simple, not dwelt on and not memorized. I found that memorizing leads to a “flub” whenever a word isn’t true to the script – even when it’s a better choice. Prepare the content, the bullet points and no more than that.
K.I.S.S. – Keep It Sweet and Simple or Keep It Simple Stupid, just do that. A business card is a way for clients and prospects to find you. A Business eCard is that too – on steroids. Telling the story of the company and trying to reflect its services, values and structure is way too much. Two videos – the first introduces the person, their position and the company. The second is a call to action, a statement of need filled or other 1 – 2 sentence statement. The sentences should be short, simple, compact.
Multiple Takes – Record the videos a few times each even if you feel like you got it on the first try.
Multiple Messages – Some businesses have multiple focuses. Take a 2nd (or more) video that reflects each. The client can choose which to have made first. They can pay when ready to have the 2nd one created. Since you already have the recording made, it’s easy to create the 2nd video. Price accordingly!
Personal Preference for Assembly – Flexible Template The template part makes the outcome predictable. Clients will know what they’re going to get from the start. The flexible part allows for individual pacing of the videos. Some talk fast, others more slowly, some have short business names, others long ones. With the ability to start with a template, replace the pieces and adjust the timing you get the best of both template and flexibility.
MyeCard.pro for delivery – hands down! This is a great platform for hosting business eCards. I’ll need to write a post focused on it. There are so many cool features and options. It’s the only way to go!!!!!
Click here to go to a gallery that has all 4 cards. I’ll add more as I create them. I’m not so anxious or nervous as I was before I started working on these. I know that I’ll get better and better at them, just as I have in the last couple of weeks. Now I’m almost excited to get at the next one!
Whenever my husband shoots with me there is an issue of synching our time. I want the images to flow the way the event did, so we have to be spot on. On the GH3 we are able to set the time to the minute – not nearly tight enough. Here’s what we do to get it right.
First I synch using camera menu. We get both cameras to the Settings menu and the Clock Set option. I adjust the time so that it has changed – even if I have to adjust it back to where it was. Now that both have been “changed” one of us presses the Menu buttons to save the changes on both cameras at the same time. One person doing this has the best chance of pressing the buttons at the same time.
This is still not quite enough most of the time. The next step is to take a shot with each camera at exactly the same time. We call it the timing shot. The subject is something that is obviously not part of what we’re about to photograph so that it’s clearly the timing shot. Again, one person pressing both shutter releases has the best chance of getting them exactly the same. Listen for the shutters to sound at the same time. If they don’t, repeat until the timing shot is as perfect as possible. Now we’re ready to shoot the event.
Fast forward to taking the event images off of the card. For lots of reasons – timing being only one, I need to know which images came from which camera and photographer. Often I can tell visually by the perspective, but that’s not good enough for some of the manipulations I may need to make. As I import into Lightroom I prepend our initials onto the file name (his card gets RLL and mine CAS). Now I can find the last timing shot for each of us. Using the Metadata I find the time stamp and compare. If they are identical (rare but does happen) I can proceed to my editing pass.
If they don’t match to the second, I make an adjustment. First I calculate the difference. In the Library module, in grid view, I filter on one of our initials so that I’m seeing all of only one photographer’s images. Select them all, then go to the Metadata menu and select Edit Capture Time. Knowing the time difference and whether the selected set needs that amount added or subtracted, I set the corrected time with the adjustment that I calculated. Lightroom applies the adjustment amount (not the time you set) to all the images selected. When I clear the filter the images are all in perfect sequence.
A last note – what if you forget to take a timing shot? Take it at the end and nothing is lost. It’s easier to find and use at the beginning, but the end works just fine.
Since I started adding video at the 16:9 aspect ratio to my stills for Hybrid products I’ve been shooting a lot of 16:9 stills. That way if I don’t want to deal with black edges on the stills I don’t have to because the still will fill the frame. I still do crop but that’s the way I’ve been shooting. For theater this is IDEAL. The stage is wide and directors like to use all of it. That means wide, not-so-tall images. With 4:5 and 3:4 rectangles too often the actors on the edges are excluded. But with 16:9 I can get them all.
If you’re shooting mirrorless you have access to this aspect ratio and I encourage you to explore it.
Above is an image taken at 16:9. Everyone is in it – no one on the edges excluded.
The image above is the first one cropped to 3:2. Note the loss of cast members.
Same image as the first at 5:4. Even more loss.
I love the artistic creativity of having more aspect ratios available from 1:1, 3:2, 5:4 and 16:9. And I shoot a lot of 16:9 these days, especially for theater and when I’m making video to go with the stills.
What shutter speed to use for a musical (theater) where there will be dancing and action on stage? Without taking the light (which I cannot control) into account I’d say a 500th of a second. Coming back to reality I know that those moments even on a bright scene that’s well lit are rare. The parameters I use are: go for 125th of a second. When I can get more great and when I get less I shoot longer bursts so that at least one if not a few of the images will have a still place that’s pleasing. I’m thinking that some will say this sounds like spray and pray. I guess it is a little. When I’m forced by the light to shoot action in the dark at a 25th of a second, I know that a good shot is unlikely. I also know that if I am steady (on a tripod) and I shoot a series of the action – a dance or chase scene – that some of the images will be usable. If I shoot just 1 I may or may not stop the action just right. Since the action is also unpredictable and quick, grabbing a set really helps.
But of the images that I keep, how much motion blur is too much and how much is acceptable? This is an artsy question. Here are my personal guidelines. If the subject in the forefront of the image is the subject and blurred, even if there are faces and details behind that are in focus, I don’t keep the image. There has to be at least 1 subject, in the front in clear focus. The viewer should not have to search for that subject – it should be obvious and attention grabbing. After that, the motion blur can be fun and interesting and provide that sense of action that was taking place.
Even though only the witch is in focus – and only her face at that – this is an acceptable image for me. The dancers moving away with their hair a blurred and chaotic mess serve to frame her stillness in the midst of the action.
Above, even though the forefront subjects are blurred, the witch and tree-actors are not. This breaks one of my guidelines – and I’m good with it because the motion blur accentuates the dancing and allows the stillness of the witch orchestrating the chaos to be felt.
How much blur is acceptable is up to you, and in each image you need to ask if the blur impacts the image’s message or distracts.
Both photos taken at ISO 3200, shutter speed 125th, f2.8.