Intro by Skip Cohen
One of the things I enjoy most about working with Suzette Allen is her ability to adapt to new technology and at the same time point out some of the challenges. It's like listening to the traffic report if you're a commuter in any major city with a serious rush hour problem. Knowing where things are jammed up gives you a chance to prepare for the slowdown or find an alternative route.
Suzette is a solid photographer and absolutely walks the talk. She's got a great photographic business as an artist, which when combined with her ability to teach and write, makes her one of the best educators in our industry. After you've read her guest post, come back to the beginning and watch her video on sharing eproducts. This is great stuff and virtually guaranteed to help you separate your work from your competitors.
If you've got an interest in following Suzette, check out her site and if she's speaking or teaching at any of the upcoming conventions you're going to be attending, run don't walk to get a seat! You'll also find her in the LUMIX Lounge as a regular contributor.
Well, as we are on the bleeding edge of this new Hybrid Landscape, I’m finding out the pitfalls and successes in the system. It is definitely a huge success to offer the hybrid products because everyone loves them and really responds to the whole idea. But definitely a pitfall because of the extra time needed to EDIT the video and create a product, especially in an already busy season like Christmas.
However the Money Model, or the Profit Model as I call it, is automated: at least in the assembly part. And I’m working hard to create more hybrid templates to have the variety needed to fit the sessions and needs of today’s photographer!
But how does that AUTOMATED system work?
1) Choose a template to shoot for [purchase] MyETemplate.pro
2) Shoot the session plus video (keep in mind the clips needed)
3) Download the videos and photos
4) View and edit videos to choose and trim the clips for the template
5) Pick the favorite images to fit the template
6) Number files accordingly
7) Send template, music, photos, videos and any text required to HybridLab.pro
8) [they do the assembly, yay!]
9) Copy the link of the finished video and send to client! (upload to your site if desired)
It’s actually pretty streamlined!
Here are the pitfalls I’ve found
1) You need to have an idea of what to shoot for in advance, so that means taking a bit more time to show samples to clients and perhaps have them pick a style… (not a lot of variety yet, but we are working on it)
2) It’s VERY easy to get caught up in shooting too much video. You should have a plan, execute it, have a second take or option to cover yourself. Then STOP shooting video and focus on the stills.
3) Shooting video without a tripod means rough stuff and lots of great footage that is not usable because of shakey cam. :( So disappointing. Definitely get into the habit of using a tripod.
4) Being sloppy about shooting and “letting the camera roll” means lots of wasted time in editing. Making shorter clips and separate clips for retakes is so helpful.
5) Missing moments and false starts because the video button is so small and has a delayed response. Solution: ProDots. Seems silly but they really make a difference.
6) Picking [royalty free] music. Wow, that CAN be time consuming! Using Triple Scoop makes it a lot easier and faster with their interface and multiple search categories, and great selection of tunes that “fit”.
7) If you shoot in manual mode, make sure your video capture is in manual as well so the exposure matches! ALSO make sure to shoot jpgs so they match the videos, even if you are shooting RAW files. This will save you lots of time because you won’t have to process your RAWs to match the videos!
8) In the process of learning to add a short clip of video for each grouping or idea, it is very easy to forget along the way and not get everyone or every part you wanted. It takes time to develop the habit so it becomes automatic and you remember to do it even when you are “in the shooting zone”! Practice, Practice
9) Some clients are somewhat baffled on how to view, share, and enjoy eproducts- so it takes a little bit of hand-holding and showing them how sometimes, but typically ends in them being thrilled and amazed and super excited! SO worth it! QR codes
10) Doing Hybrid videos “on Speculation” is a risky thing and time consuming too, although somewhat necessary in the beginning. Chalk it up to experience—there’s no way around it; only through it! Gotta learn and get samples! I’ve done my share and it has been so worth it!
Here are the little successes:
1) Being able to use an actual “e-template” saves time on the front end (shooting) and the middle (editing) and the back end (creating). It keeps it clear in your mind too, in the process and lessens the pressure of producing when you are beginning.
2) Having some generic and appropriate music already loaded in the template is just one more thing I don’t need to worry about. If it works, it’s a done deal, but still gives me the opportunity to do something special IF I have the time. I use TripleScoopMusic.com
3) If the template idea fails or you have SO much GREAT footage you can’t handle it—go for a ProShowWeb show: The classic “storyteller”
4) Lightroom is brilliant with the ease of editing and trimming clips! It also solves the silly AVCHD folder structure and makes it pretty painless. Colors and ratings help to refine without overwhelm too.
5) Hosting the talking business cards or shows on MYeCard.Pro makes it super easy to host and post and share and not have to mess with downloads and iTunes and digital drama with clients.
6) Being able to send the videos and stills to someone else to create the eproduct is perfect for the busy holiday season, allowing me to actually create more OR have time to make occasional custom videos when the inspiration hits or a session is exceptional. I use HybridLab.pro
7) Shooting a little “Behind the Scenes” material is an easy way to add some exciting video with no technical experience, color matching or expertise. The universal appeal of seeing the session and process in action sparks interest and covers for a multitude of technical sins.
8) Using the Lumix GH3 Pro camera with the premium lenses (2.8 non-variable) means I get the gorgeous shallow depth of field and portrait quality even in my videos! That is a HUGE boost to my quality. Of course it can be done with a DSLR too, but it is way easier with mirrorless!
9) Combining the typical printed product with a QR code for the hybrid product is a fabulous way to get the idea across and seems to get people all excited to show all their friends how savvy and cool they are! Who knew that silly dotted square would be so intriguing?
10) Getting to a comfort zone of shooting video means I can shoot a little video at every session and make seamless transitions, hardly noticeable with clients who are not sold on the idea. I’ve done a few on speculation who were not really interested initially, and they loved it!
On our way to success
I’m seeing a lot of people (clients) quite interested in doing a hybrid product. It is “something new and original” that no one else is doing. I’ve also seen a few new clients perk up and ask about all sorts of new projects once they learn we shoot videos! I’m super excited about boosting my business with this new product line and changing my image as a photographer. I’ve always tried to make images that touch hearts, but it is way easier to impact the emotions with an audio-visual video image. It obviously moves people and I’ve seen them cry many times. That’s why I’m calling them “Moving Portraits.” They really are far more emotionally moving than anything I have ever created. THAT is the goal.
Change is never comfortable and usually not very welcome, either, but unfortunately it is required for us to stay in business and stay profitable… the upside is that it keeps us young, keeps our brains active and gives us ways to expand our abilities to be more than we thought we could be. It opens doors to new possibilities and profits and adventures too! Besides that, I haven’t had this much fun with photography in years!
Let’s get Moving in a New Direction! You can do it!
Suzette Allen, Lumix Luminary, Hybrid Hero, Cr.Photog., CPP, API
Welcome to Luminary Corner. Besides being a recognized member of the professional photographic community, each post author is a member of Panasonic's LUMIX Luminary team.