Category Archives Guest Blogger

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For those who may not know me, allow me to share a bit about myself. I’m the Executive Director of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), this country’s leading trade association representing independent photographers working across commercial and editorial genres. I’m also an internationally known visual journalist with extensive print, broadcast, and online journalism experience, including positions as Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post, and Director of Photography at the National Geographic Society. Along the way, I have created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.

Today I want to discuss an important topic that photographers deal with every day… copyright infringements. We at ASMP have been working together with other organizations to come up with a viable solution to help photographers with this issue.

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Why A Small Claims Solution Must Become Law
To effectively address copyright infringements in the digital age, we must start by acknowledging the realities of our economy and legal system, as they exist today. It is not a stretch to say under current copyright law, professional photographers all too often have rights, but no remedies, when it comes to dealing with copyright infringements.

While the digital age has provided us with amazing tools and new opportunities to create, market, produce and distribute imagery to a global marketplace, it has also opened up a Pandora’s box when it comes to the challenge of enforcing copyright holder protections for photographers and other visual creators, as small business owners.

Professional photographers are finding it very difficult to maintain control of their work in a world when images travel across the globe in an instant upon release into the digital marketplace. The ability to earn a living depends on the ability to license work and maintain the integrity of that process through the life of an image. Today, an image may “go viral” after initial publication and licensing, immediately being downloaded and re-posted repeatedly, but traveling instantaneously and globally without accompanying metadata that details appropriate credit and licensing terms. Because this information is disassociated after first publication, those web publishers seeking to license images legitimately may not be able to locate the rights holder or ascertain the appropriate licensing terms. Further, compounding the problem, we live in a world when more than one generation has been raised with the idea that access to Internet content, including images, should be free and completely unfettered. All undermines the idea of licensing as a means to securing a livelihood from originally created images.

Infringements have proliferated and it is now possible for a single popular image to generate hundreds, if not thousands, of infringements on websites all across the Internet. Responding with takedown requests under terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act translates into a giant game of “Whack a Mole” that photographers cannot possibly play successfully. Many of our ASMP members experience the futility of takedown notices as an enforcement vehicle when infringements resurface on the same websites within minutes of a takedown order being carried out.

Currently, the only other recourse is to pursue infringement resolutions in Federal Court but that too is a highly problematic solution. For starters, most attorneys will not bring such a case forward unless the initial value of the infringements is at least $30,000.00 according to a recent ABA study. Secondly, the cost of litigating such cases can be prohibitive for visual creators, in terms of both time and money. A recent estimate put the average cost to pursue an infringement case in Federal Court at about $350,000.00 in legal fees. That is a cost few can bear, particularly when available statutory damage resolutions may not even rise to that level.

Since most visual creators are individual small business owners, they lack the time and resources to face off against deep-pocketed infringers who may hope to exhaust time, money, and resolve by extending cases through complication and delay in Federal Court.

These factors all make the current system untenable for photographers, graphic artists, and other individual visual creators seeking the protections promised under the Constitution to copyright holders for their intellectual property.

To address this issue head-on, American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has been working for several years with other organizations representing visual creators to get Congress to create a small claims tribunal as alternative to Federal Court to resolve infringements. Earlier this year, Michael Klipper, ASMP’s outside counsel for advocacy, authored a white paper making the case for this solution, working in conjunction with American Photographic Artists (APA), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), Nature Photographers of North America (NANPA), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Together, we have pursued conversations with the U.S. Copyright Office to support their report issued in 2013 that made a persuasive argument for the idea, and we have been talking with House Judiciary Committee Members who have legislative jurisdiction over intellectual property matters.

The years of persistence engagement have now borne fruit with the introduction of H.R. 5757 “Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2016”, a bill introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) to authorize establishment of a small claims board within the U.S. Copyright Office to resolve infringement disputes.

We are also anticipating introduction of another version by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) after the August recess, and we welcome these developments as an important next step in process we hope leads to much needed relief for photographers, videographers, graphic designers, illustrators, other visual artists, and their licensing representatives.

We are certainly grateful for these Members’ interest, and their willingness to push for legislation that would provide fair remedies for visual creators while also ensuring that the copyright system continues to strike a fair balance between the interests of consumers and creators, an idea embodied in U.S. copyright law from the founding of our republic.

From ASMP’s perspective, the key provisions of the H.R. 5757 are these:

  • Creates a Board within the Copyright Office to hear claims that do not exceed $30,000, with adjudicators with experience in copyright law and alternative dispute resolution.
  • Provides a less formal, streamlined process where legal representation is optional, where proceedings are conducted via video and the parties need not appear in person at the Copyright Office.
  • In order to satisfy constitutional norms, allows defendants upon receiving notice, to opt out within a certain time frame and choose federal court instead.
  • Enables the court to not only decide copyright infringement cases, but contractual issues related to the infringement.
  • Empowers the Board to award actual damages, profits, or limited statutory damages.
  • Allows defendants to raise all defenses available in federal court, including fair use.

During the forthcoming legislative process, ASMP will urge Congress to adopt additional provisions that ASMP believes are necessary to the overall success of any small claims process. For example, under H.R. 5757, a photographer or other claimant who is confronted with an uncooperative defendant who refuses to abide by a decision of the Small Claims Board must go the federal court in the District of Columbia to enforce that decision. This is a major problem for small copyright claimants who live outside the District of Columbia and would be forced to appear and/or retain local counsel to seek enforcement of such a decision. We believe it is imperative that any forthcoming bill must provide that such enforcement actions must not be so limited and should be able to be brought in federal courts more convenient to the claimants.

ASMP looks forward to working with Representatives Jeffries, Marino, and Chu as Congress goes about the critical task of ensuring that the creative works of photographers, illustrators, graphic designers and other visual artists are appropriately protected so that they are incentivized to continue producing works that change how people see their world.

If you’d like more information about this topic and would like to find out what you can do to help, please take a minute to read through this Open Letter To 2016 Political Candidates.

To find out more about ASMP, please visit ASMP.org, and you can follow Tom on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Hey everyone, we’re Oxen Made, a small production company based in Tampa, FL. We wanted to start by saying that it’s a privilege to be asked to be a part of Scott’s blog as we’ve been a follower and admirer of his for probably 10 years or so.

Oxen is a small company that focuses on commercial and branded content with a few corporate films thrown in from time to time. We choose to be small intentionally and put a focus on growing and supporting the local filmmaking community by using the tremendous freelancers available in the area. Everyone has different levels of experience or specialties and we love the challenge of finding fresh talent specific to each job; it helps keep us on our toes. Finding a new crew can sometimes mean we aren’t the most affordable option, but by finding exactly the right crew for each job we always offer the best final product.

We tend to handle projects from creative conception all the way through to the final edit. Although we work the full spectrum, we can also work in anonymity along with other video partners assisting as a standalone production or post-production collaborator. Tampa is a small market and we’ve been fortunate to meet some of the most creative individuals in the industry. Those connections help us get the job done right while allowing us to help others as well; It’s all about collaboration not competition. We’re only about a year old but are very proud of what we’ve put together in that time.

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One of our favorite parts of the job is experimenting with new equipment. Since camera technology is changing so fast we have yet to commit big money to a camera system, mostly because it’ll be obsolete in a couple years. When we started the company we purchased a Sony FS7 as a basic in house 4K camera to have for internal and lower budget projects but find ourselves renting for the majority of our projects. Renting is especially rewarding because it allows us to test cameras without sinking a small fortune into them. Recently we’ve used the Canon C300 MKll, the new Panasonic VariCam LT and we just got back from a week long shoot in Colorado where we tested out the Sony FS5 recording 12-bit RAW to Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q+.

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We also make an effort to use new technologies to make the filmmaking process easier for both ourselves and our clients. Two of our favorite things we’re currently using are for the pre and post production processes are StudioBinder and Frame IO. StudioBinder is our go to resource for creating and managing our call sheets. If you’ve has ever made a call sheet and used any kind of cringe worthy excel spreadsheet then stop reading this (right now) and go sign up for StudioBinder (right now), trust us you won’t be disappointed. Our second essential resource is Frame IO; it’s used to collaborate with our clients during the edit process, which cuts out a lot of time. Think of it as a cross between Dropbox and Basecamp, it allows for a streamlined method for the client to provide their feedback. One of the most notable features is that they can make frame accurate comments as well as make annotations, download, share and invite other collaborators. Recently the awesome people at Frame IO made it possible to integrate feedback and comments directly inside of Premiere (our NLE [Non-Linear Editing software] of choice) which is HUGE (they do have something for Final Cut Pro X also). They also just released a standalone iOS version of Frame IO which took home a 2016 Apple Design Award.

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Providing value in addition to the content we create is what we go out of our way to do with all of our clients. Since we know all of the in’s and outs of multiple camera platforms, NLE’s and more, we can offer incredible value by implementing our knowledge to specifically meet the unique needs of every client.

Thanks for reading and be sure to keep an eye on our blog where our next post will be discussing our experience shooting RAW with the FS5. Feel free to reach out with any questions and give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Photo by Justin Bettman

surviving as a freelancer

I’ve been working surviving as a freelance artist since 2010.

I attended Kutztown University and was enrolled in their Electronic Media program. Going into my final semester at Kutztown, with 12.5 credits remaining to graduate, I had (what I thought was) my ‘golden ticket’ to becoming a true freelancer.

I can remember the night like it was yesterday. I was in upstate New York filming a live concert for a singer-rapper duet on my winter break. I got a phone call from one of the artist’s managers who was also a film director/producer in Texas. He offered me an opportunity to direct/film a behind-the-scenes documentary that was going into production that April, which happened to overlap with finals at school. After returning from New York, I approached my professors about the opportunity and they insisted that I should take a leave of absence from the university to pursue my dreams.

At 21, getting my professors approval to just leave school and being offered $15,000 to shoot a documentary without a degree, gave me this overwhelming sense of entitlement. Not good, considering my work at the time didn’t show that kind of value.

That was the death of my life as a college student.

After filling out the paperwork to take my leave of absence, it became a waiting game. The waiting game then became a game of cold calls and being ghosted by the producer that was offering me this once in a lifetime opportunity.

This was single handedly the best lesson I learned as a freelance artist. Sometimes, the only person you can trust is yourself.

The film never ended up going into production.

I spent the following year refusing to go back to school, but instead trying to make a way for myself, and ‘survive as a freelancer’ without a typical day job. I did a lot of free work that year, slept in my car and on a lot of my friend’s couches. It was not glamorous.

SWADE – Highway 27 // Music Video (contains strong language)

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Behind the scenes of SWADE “Highway 27” video

When you’re first getting started, sometimes you need to do free work just to get your name out there and let people know that you exist. There is a time and place for everything. It would be foolish to expect $15,000 without a single completed project to your name. Do you see where I’m going with this? I played the fool. I played the fool and learned a lot from it. So instead, I made it a point to get as much work under my belt as possible to a point where I could put a demo reel together and give people a reason to pay me to do work for them.

During that time, with the evolution of DSLR cameras, I was able to shoot both videos and photos. So I thought it would be wise to really attack both fields with full force. I would offer to shoot wedding videos, wedding photos, music videos, band promotional photos, concerts, senior portraits, commercials, and just about anything and everything that could be done with a camera. I didn’t consider myself a specialist in one particular field or another, in actuality; I was quite mediocre at all of them.

Exactly one year after I left school, I was approached by an agency that wanted to hire me for a freelance job in Indonesia. That opportunity is what truly got me started as a “freelancer.” The company I was hired to do work for was Mars Chocolate (M&M’s – Snickers – Twix – Skittles), and this gig in particular was a 9-day job; with 6 days of flying, 3 days on the ground filming.

Regardless how qualified or unqualified you think you may be, if people are approaching you to do work for them, you’re qualified.

After a successful trip to Indonesia, I continued to do freelance work for Mars for another year and a half, and I learned so many invaluable lessons during my time with them.

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Stills from upcoming BROTHER CEPHUS “New York” music video

A common belief in freelancing is that there are rainy seasons and dry seasons. I don’t believe in the latter, in fact, as a freelance artist, the second there is a “dry season” – I think you’ve given up on yourself. There is and always will be opportunities out there for you, and they can be paid or unpaid. Unpaid doesn’t mean you’re not getting anything out of it. Those unpaid jobs will likely give you opportunities to show your value, open other doors, and give you the chance to network. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Give value. Give value. Give value. And then ask for business.”

The work with Mars slowed down, but I refused to let that slow me down. If there is one piece of advice that I could give to any aspiring freelancer/freelancer, it would be to have some stability in your life. By stability, I mean financial stability.

It is extremely uncommon for someone that’s just breaking into the freelance market to be able to make a living and survive as a freelancer, myself included. What I’ve seen work best is to have and maintain a stable 9 to 5 job in a field that you love and that you’re passionate about, and pick up freelance jobs outside of that. The goal, if things go well, is that you will be able to transition into being a full-time freelancer. One thing you have to understand is that it won’t happen overnight.

Sacrilege right? Working a full-time desk job in order to do freelance work? Well, that’s exactly what I did, and it’s one of the best career decisions I’ve made.

LIMBS – Behind The Scenes // Photo & Video

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Behind the scenes on set of upcoming LIMBS music video

I moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan and started working full time at the University of Michigan as a videographer, photographer, and editor. That job afforded me the stability I needed to pay for my everyday expenses, like rent, electric, phone bills, and groceries. Consequently, I was able to be selective with the clients I was choosing to work with and it also gave me the headspace to be a little more creative with the projects I was working on.

I was no longer stressed about getting a gig, finding new clients, or even surviving. Without the life or death pressure, it allowed my freelance business to grow more organically. Client’s were finding me and approaching me, instead of me searching for jobs in desperation. You can stop chasing the money, but instead focus on following your heart and the things you WANT to create.

After years of freelancing, I’m still working a 9 to 5, but now in Tampa, Florida. I moved here blindly, not knowing much about the area or the people here. I did everything I could to dive into the community and into the culture here in hopes that I could create a name for myself, and my work.

It may sound silly, but one thing I chose to do was to challenge myself to post at least 1 photo a day to my Instagram account for 365 days starting December 23, 2015. This was one way I was hoping to get connected with the community and start networking. By taking and posting photos each day, I was able to curate a lot of photos from the St. Pete/Tampa area and turn around and sell them at a local market in Tampa. By selling prints and canvases at the market, it allowed me to network and create relationships with a lot of makers and doers in the area.

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Stills from upcoming commercial “UNDER” for an eyewear company

As a freelancer, networking is everything.­­­ So many doors opened from that single action of putting my work out there. Challenge yourself, take some risks, and let people know you exist.

You can see more of Dan’s stills and motion work on his website and YouTube channel, and follow him on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

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Today, I would like to invite you to a journey through the surreal photomontages I create to confuse people…

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Behind The Scenes

All the photos I use in my compositions are from my own portfolio (holidays, trips, family, friends, myself), except from a few space images I took from Google (like planet Earth and galaxies). My method of work is quite random; I have all these pictures I took and I try to combine them in a cool, surreal way. I especially love creating images that distort the actual sizes of things, for instance my miniature mum waterskiing in a coffee cup…

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…and my cousin skateboarding on a miniature Switzerland (where I’m from).

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 I also love playing with the materiality of things, i.e. my white towel becomes the foamy waves of a seashore…

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The real world appears finite to me, whereas the surreal world is infinite, has so much more potential, is so much more fascinating!

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Empty The Bins

My ultimate aim is to create the perfect optical illusion. I have to say I would not be able to do it without Adobe Photoshop, which I have been learning how to use throughout the years.

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The 8th Extinction

In the process of creating my photomontages, I have absolutely no idea how the final composition will be read. My work is open to all interpretations. Like I said before, I almost randomly juxtapose images; and my aim is to create an illusion, not necessarily a feeling. But I love how people feel something different for each image. I am often asked why I choose such random titles for my artworks; and the answer is to confuse people even more. I believe it doesn’t make sense to give a descriptive title to a surreal artwork, because the latter means something different for every single person.

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Customs Regulations

Godfather's Candle

You can see more of Monica’s work at MofArt.wordpress.com, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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Thanks, as always, to Scott for having me back…whether I’m popping up in member-only events, recording courses or writing here, I always enjoy access to Photoshop’s most passionate and knowledgeable users (you guys teach me at least as much as I teach you – thank you).

In just days, I’ll see many of you at Photoshop World in Las Vegas! This month marks my 17th year at Adobe; anniversaries are a reflective time, especially for a sentimental fool like me. During that time, I’ve been to more Photoshop Worlds than I can count – for over a decade, I’ve visited regularly as an instructor, keynote speaker and attendee. Like releases of Photoshop, the memories all sort of blend together…but they’re all remembered with a smile.

The industry has changed a lot over the years: from film to digital; from desktop to laptop; from applications that were once individual, separate islands, to a deeply connected creative universe. Photoshop World has changed quite a bit too, social media connects and informs attendees and shares the experience with those who can’t be there. In many ways, Photoshop World represents the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, as courses are the ultimate boot camp for not only Photoshop, but Lightroom too…and increasingly, the growing body of apps and services which connect them. With more ways to capture images than ever before and a more affordable and flexible inroad to editing, it isn’t a surprise that I meet attendees both older and younger than in years prior – I love that we all have so much in common.

This year, I’m thrilled to teach a combination of my favorite courses. I’ll start with a full session on Photoshop Mix, our free, mobile app which allows you to create powerful composites, wherever you are. Even exploring all of Mix’s hidden tricks, I’m sure to have plenty of extra time, so that’s just some of what I’ll showcase on mobile – there’s a LOT more.

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My next course is a deep-dive on the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, not only is this the best deal going, but the offering has grown far beyond just Photoshop+Lightroom.

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For many years I’ve taught a course on black & white in Lightroom and Photoshop, this too has expanded to mobile apps and third party solutions.

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Last, I’ll teach my favorite course, highlights from the Photoshop Playbook. The Playbook is a year-long series that I recorded, designed to solve problems quickly; with millions and millions of views, it’s proven very popular…this link is both a great preview and resource.

So, as you can imagine, I’m more excited than ever for Photoshop World. I love that so many people are able to enjoy photography and creative imaging. For all that changes, my favorite part about the show is the people…so whether I’m fielding questions for a large group, having a hallway chat or enjoying my breakfast with Scott…the conversations always lead to fixes, features, insights and understanding.

See you in Las Vegas!

-Bryan

Bryan O’Neil Hughes is Adobe’s Head of Outreach & Collaboration, closely working with product teams, partners & press. Bryan spent fifteen years on Photoshop, a decade as Product Manager (CS3-CC) & then drove the expansion to mobile with Photoshop Mix & Fix. Bryan is a regular keynote speaker, author & 5X MAX Master – his videos have enjoyed over 12 million views. He lives with his wife & two boys in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he’s slowly restoring an old truck. Bryan was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame in 2011. You can follow him on Instagram and reach out to him at bhughes@adobe.com.

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Hi! It’s Justin Wojtczak of 375 Photography Inc., from Atlanta, Georgia.  I work with my partner Justin McGough, and we are commercial wedding photographers. I am also an instructor for KelbyOne.

Before I get started talking about how we use drones in our work, let me get a couple of things out of the way up front:

  1. We are responsible drone pilots. No need to say anything more about what you should and should not do.
  2. We take the safety of others seriously.

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way – we love drones! And who doesn’t? Having this amazing tool in our Creative Toolbox is another way for us to get creative and offer our clients phenomenal shots! So we wanted to share with you some ways we are taking advantage of drones, as well as give you some insights from what we have learned.

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Using a drone at a wedding is a very difficult balancing act. You certainly want to take things to the next level, but you also want to be mindful of the safety of others. So let’s break down this shot:

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We shot a wedding down in the Dominican Republic and it was out of this world! When I found out months beforehand that the ceremony was going to be on a pier, I knew I had to bring the drone. I spent months thinking about how to get the kind of shot I wanted to get, and developed a general idea and plan. But after a couple of practice flights the day before the wedding, I had a completely different vision.

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Did you notice how the sun hit the palm trees? I did too, and knew I wanted that to be my shot. Because the ceremony only lasted 8 minutes I had to make a decision on whether or not to risk getting the shot. I knew we were down in the DR (a unique opportunity), the drone would be over water (so if it crashed no one would get hurt), but more than anything, the bride really wanted it. Would it be worth it?

YES!

So before the ceremony I took one more test flight to make sure I knew the extract controls and maneuvers I needed to get everything in one shot. As the ceremony started, I had one camera rolling video, my wife taking pictures, and I picked up with my drone. It was already powered on and ready, so there was no delay, and I ran to my take off spot and got the shot in 57 seconds. I landed the drone, secured it, and rushed back to the ceremony on the pier.

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A couple of quick observations: first, be sure to communicate with the bride and groom your vision of using the drone during the ceremony so they understand and expect the noise of the drone. Secondly, you need to have another shooter to make sure that the ceremony is covered, because it would be bad if you got drone footage but missed an important part of the ceremony.

To recap, balance the next level shot with the safety of others, and figure out what you need to beforehand. This turned out to be a great shot because the bride and groom were so blown away by the result.

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We love using the drone footage to augment our snapshot videos.

(Wait, what is a snapshot video you ask?  It is a combination of video and stills highlighting the best parts of the client’s day. We are teaching a course at Photoshop World this year called Snapshot Videos: Creating Small Videos that Create Large Opportunities. This is an amazing class on how these snapshot videos have generated some crazy opportunities for us…but you’ll have to come to PSW to find out more!)

So, as I was saying, we use the drone to add value to the footage we already have. Here are a few times during a typical wedding day that we like to use a drone:

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– Intro shot for the snapshot video
– B-roll
– Stunning shots of the couple
– Exit shot to end the video

We’ve also found that drones are unbelievable tools when working with golf courses. The aerial footage really allows us to gain a new perspective of each course. In fact, one of the ways we’ve developed relationships with several courses is by building a relationship with the wedding coordinator when we shoot a wedding at a country club. Once that relationship is built, we can give them a sample of what we can do for that club for their marketing material. Showing a country club from a different perspective is very attractive for the club managers.

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And that’s a great tip: Don’t be afraid to be proactive and be on the hunt for potential new clients. Get comfortable with putting yourself out there, because you just never know what opportunities you might generate.

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Okay, final recap:

Drones add a huge value to our work!!  In fact, just having a drone has brought us jobs. But what sets us apart is how we use it. Here are three things we do to help make our footage stand out:

  1. We take time to build a relationship with our clients and invite them to watch us while we capture footage. We get excited when we shoot and that excitement carries over to the client, especially when they connect the emotions from that moment with the footage we provide.
  2. We set ourselves up for the best possible light.  Having an amazing sunrise will make any project look even more amazing than it already is. We plan very carefully so we can capture that golden light as much as possible. Sometimes things don’t work out, but that’s okay. We’ve learned to stay calm, be flexible, and do our best to still get dramatic footage. Even if you have to come back, it will be worth it in the end.
  3. A little touch of color grading.  We are not color grading experts, but we are trying to understand how to get the best results we can. Tweaking even a few settings on the drone and in post can make a significant difference (but that’s for a different post).

If you have any questions, please let us know. If you’re going to Photoshop World, be sure to check out our two classes, Snapshot Videos: Creating Small Videos that Create Large Opportunities and DSLR: Video Basics for Photographers. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

You can see more of Justin’s work at 375Photography.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and check out his videos on Vimeo!

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