The Growth Of Video (And What It Means For Your Photography Business)

The Growth Of Video (And What It Means For Your Photography Business)

Video is booming. Facebook is apparently in talks with several partners for it’s “Anthology” project – higher quality video produced by dedicated market-leading media companies. Adobe found unique visitors to video sites grew 146% in June 2014 year to date, and advertisers shelled out 28.5% more on video ads than they did in the same period. But what does this all mean to those in the photography business and (more importantly) how can you take advantage of it?

I’m on my way back to NYC from Basel, Switzerland where Escape Watches, a client I provide video content to, had me shoot and document their Basel Watch Fair experience. I’ve shot their last 2 video campaigns, helping them tell simple stories that fit their brand and ethos for their market growth.

It’s occurred to me that – in line with the market analysis going on and quote above – my own business has seen marked increase in video demand over the last 18-24 months from both new and existing clients alike.

How Can We All Capitalize On This?

If you're only working as a photographer, I’m sure you are aware of the exponential growth in video over the last few years. With the ubiquity of smartphones, tablets and ever-increasing faster data connections, we all suddenly had access to video anytime, anywhere.

The key is not to do and know it all - but to know enough.

The landscape today is intense. I see more combined photo/video sets with photographers utilizing constant light sources, either in tandem to strobes or instead of, using kino flos, tungsten, LEDs or HMIs.  This means while they shoot, they can get the lighting to be consistent between both the photographs they are shooting as well as the video that is being shot at the same time. This dual purposing not only saves time, rather than having separate strobe and constant video light set ups that have to be set up side by side, but provides a much more consistent lighting style between a stills and video shoot.

Jose Rivas, manager of Adorama Rental Company, one of the biggest rental houses in NYC, mentioned he’s definitely noticed the increased demand for video:

“With the demand by clients to have capture both video and stills, we have definitely seen the rise in demand for continuous lights, especially LED fixtures. A decade ago our lighting inventory was 80% strobes, 20% continuous. Today that split is about 50/50.”


What Does This Mean For Those Who Only Practice Photography?

Knowing how to shoot and edit video is useful, but not critical – there are ways to make the market work for you.

These are 3 key points I think we can all take away, even if we’re ‘just’ photographers:


1. Don’t Feel You HAVE To Do Video


Video is not for everyone and motion is a very different beast than stills, with far more intensive post-production and editing too. Don’t shoot it if you don’t want to - but - try to partner with a videographer or two, or someone you trust to shoot video for yourself and possibly offer in as someone who can work with you for clients that want stills and video for a job.

Behind The Scenes (BTS) video is growing in demand. If you book a stills job, it’s going to be impossible to shoot behind the scenes video of yourself and this is useful if you’re keen on growing your personal brand. I just finished BTS videos for Ted Baker’s SS15 launch party this week, as well as Ebony Magazine, who wanted a BTS of their cover shoot with Wendy Williams – people want to put this stuff online to engage their social media audiences.

If you don’t want to get into video, find someone capable to shoot a decent quality BTS or event video and keep their details on file. Your brand and audience, as well as clients who want both stills and often BTS motion work, will thank you for it if you have someone you can pull in quickly.

2. Know Your (Continuous) Lighting

If you understand lighting, particularly how to modify constant lights, and adjust color temperature properly, either by modifying the light or ensuring your white balance is set appropriately, there is no reason why you can’t multipurpose constant light sources for both stills and video shoots simultaneously. Even if you yourself are not shooting the video, better lighting knowledge will make the look of the video production look much improved, as well as consistent with your stills work. Shooting at high frame rates (for silky smooth slow mo.) will require more light output power so bear that in mind if a client wants slow motion video.

Start with natural light and see how quickly and easily it is to jump between stills and motion. Once you’re happy with natural, and the ability to shoot both stills and a little video, move to constant light sources. Become aware of differences in color temperature, how to balance color temperature, using CTBs or CTOs and gels, and get familiar with your in camera white balance. Companies are already working on their continuous light set ups, particularly useful for photographers as modifiers will often transition between the strobe and continuous heads, for example, Profoto's Pro Daylight head shown below (still from a video file, excuse the quality!)

Profoto's continuous lights - guaranteed to be seeing more of these this year.

3. Video Can Be Extremely Time Intensive

Editing always takes longer than most people think (still grab of timeline from Cutting Edge tour with Adam Epstein showing a typical SNL comedy project file)

Just like with your photography, post production is essential in the world of video. This might simply be using video editing software like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro to sequence the video files together, or might involve more complex use of post production tools like Adobe After Effects to provide motion graphics or 3D titles.

Don’t underestimate the time needed to put a coherent video piece together. Whether you decide to shoot and edit your video yourself or not, allow sufficient time in post-production to hit both time deadlines and budget, and be sure to get a clear brief from your client of what sort of end product they want. Failure to do so might mean lost time working and editing a piece that doesn’t fit the creative brief.

If you aren’t familiar with the post production, go through it with your video partner and get to grips with it. Once you understand it, it makes it much easier to realize how to seek efficiency savings (and pass cost savings) to your client by structuring the shoot around it to minimize time while shooting and in post.



Video demand is only going to increase, but for you and your business, don’t stress out if video is not your ‘thing’. Video, and the partnerships good photographers can reap with a good video guy / gal in their back pocket, are there to be had. More and more clients want a total ‘visual package’, and by not exploring at least partnering with someone, you could be losing out to those that can offer it.

While you might be excited to explore the new options video provides, it is very time intensive, particularly on the back end during editing. Make sure you’re clear on this aspect before jumping in, and you’ll have a good idea from the start of what to expect when engaging with new clients and business opportunities around combined stills and video productions. Good luck, and please let me know how you’ve been exploring the world of video, or partnering up with those who offer it – I’d love to hear from you directly.

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Fahnon Bennett's picture

Funny, I have come up doing both video and stills. Because of that I always light with continuous lights especially now that you don't have to blast talent with 1k+ halogen lamps that give off as much heat as light. Lighting with Kinos works just as well if you're shooting motion or stills. I'm pretty sure I've see one of the more famous headshot shooters using them, too (I want to say Hurley).

By the way, if you're mostly a stills shooter and go with certain types of video cameras, you can also transfer your photo editing skills to color correction and grading. For instance this awesome video was shot on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera in raw and graded in ACR/Lightroom:

David Geffin's picture

Yep Peter uses kinos as well as strobes for his stills work.

Joe Gunawan's picture

As a fashion/commercial stills photographer, I've started to transition more and more into video, as well. This is a fashion short that I've done for a fashion line campaign in Palm Springs that my other friend shot stills for:

I've also worked on a good number of sets now as a DP, 1stAC, and 2ndAC. It's quite challenging and will get you out of your comfort zone once you start working in these production level sets, but man, is it fun and rewarding!

David Geffin's picture

Nice Joe, good for you and nice vid!

Keith Hammond's picture

Good article David, i have just got myself a dslr video body and have started the very steep learning curve because i knew i had to be able to offer video or i'm sure i will lose business to someone who offers both stills and video.
Editing is the part thats worrying me but i just gotta knuckle down and get stuck in.

David Geffin's picture

thanks Keith - the key to editing is start with simple projects and try to think about what you want to shoot and how you want to sequence it BEFORE you start shooting. It makes editing larger projects much easier once you've tried to define what you're putting into the pot before you start to mix the ingredients :) Have fun!

Ryan Ketterman's picture

Nice post, David. I have had a stunning increase in video projects in the last 6 months without even marketing myself into that space. It also cannot be stated enough that video is a much different beast, both technically and creatively. It's exciting to see where all of this will take us.

Alex Surgent's picture

The DSLR craze was amazing for indie filmmakers and those who simply wanted to get their foot into the realm of filmmaking. Their accessibility and pricing made it possible for a new generation of artists to emerge. I agree wholeheartedly with the first bullet point, not everyone has to shoot video. It's a great asset to have in your offerings to clients, but if you are more comfortable with photography, stick with it. If you have no desire to work in video, leave it be. No need to push into a medium that you will only be uncomfortable in! If anyone ends up getting into commercial or feature film production, please feel free to reach out to us! We have a staff of filmmakers who are always happy to help.