As a beginning photographer myself, I asked several professional photographers for Words of Wisdom about all aspects of photography—technical, artistic, business. I thought I would share their advice with any readers who are also beginning photographers, in an ongoing series that aims to provide some insight into the world of professional photography.
Zach Frankart is a Columbus-based freelance videographer. He works regularly with OnScene Productions and Built In Cbus and graduated from The Ohio State University where he produced videos for The Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State College of Engineering, and The Ohio State Campus Transit Lab. Check out Zach’s website for more of his film and video work.
I’ve been shooting and editing video for over a decade but I’ve only been doing it professionally for the past couple of years. Videography is an incredibly fun and exciting industry to work in, and I still can’t believe it’s my job. Over the years I’ve had my fair share of successes and failures so I decided to stop by and share some thoughts from my experiences.
#1: “Just keep making movies.”
This is absolutely the best advice I’ve ever received. I can honestly say I learn something new every single time I go out on a shoot. A lot of times (especially when you’re first starting out) a shoot will teach you what NOT to do but along the way you’ll also learn a lot of interesting tricks that will help elevate your work to the next level.
An important thing to remember is that you don’t necessarily need a budget or a crew to film (although it certainly helps). Even organizing a small shoot can be frustrating at times and hurt your motivation so when you’re starting out I would recommend keeping things as simple as possible. A good challenge is to film something in your everyday life and try to make it engaging. Family holidays, a night out with your friends or even just a walk around the city can all be great practice. Keep shooting and you’ll find that, in a relatively short amount of time, not only have you progressed a lot but you’ve also amassed a decent portfolio to show people.
We live in an exciting time where video technology is becoming both cheaper and more sophisticated. The line between professional and consumer products is becoming more blurred everyday. That being said, I’ll admit it can be pretty intimidating to see the prices, as well as the wide variety, of equipment out there. Knowing what to buy and how much to spend isn’t always easy.
I’m typically on the move a lot when I’m working so I try to stick with the bare essentials. My kit consists of my Canon 5D Mark III (I originally used a Canon T2i), a Manfrotto tripod, a Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, a Canon 50mm F1.4, a Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 and a Zoom H4n audio recorder. It’s simple, fits in one bag and works for 95% of the jobs I’ve been on.
The best advice I can give you for building a kit is this: spend the extra money to get good lenses. Having a fancy camera is always nice but lenses are what really make the difference. I know it seems silly to buy a $1,500 lens for a camera that cost you $700 but trust me you won’t regret it. Look at it this way, with technology advancing as rapidly as it is, your camera will probably only last a year or two before something new comes along and renders it obsolete. A good lens, however, will still be a good lens 5-10 years from now. As the projects become more complex, so will your equipment. In the beginning, however, just try to keep it simple: a camera, a few quality lenses, and a tripod.
The most important thing to remember about the videography business is that the job you do today is what gets you the job tomorrow. If someone hires me it’s because they’ve either seen something I’ve made or someone told them they enjoyed working with me. It’s important to not only deliver a good product, but also a fun experience. Work hard and treat people right. It may sound cliché but that’s the philosophy that’s gotten me where I am today.
To everyone out there just getting started, good luck and have fun!