Whether you like it or not, social media now relies heavily on both still and motion captures. Our clients are consuming content at a rapid pace, often on their phones. Social media is designed for endless scrolling, and video content such as reels on Instagram and stories on Facebook have become the next big thing.
You could spend hours researching and find any number of different opinions as to the frequency at which you should post, what time of day, and even how long your videos should be. But here’s the thing: You need to find what works for you. Your foray into video content creation needs to be sustainable. You have to engage with clients and potential clients in a personable and authentic way so they’ll want to keep engaging with your content. Figuring out what kind of content you’ll enjoy making is important in your drive to post consistently. Plus, if you’re not enjoying it, the audience probably won’t either.
So, how do you get started making and sharing video content that connects with people and shows what you can provide as a photographer?
We’re photographers, so our inclination is to stage, pose, and plan. But that’s not necessarily the case when you create video content for social media. Yes, you create content with a plan, but what people really want to see is what’s going on behind the scenes. Realism matters. If you’re focused on getting the perfect cut of your video, you’ll find it difficult to get publish a constant flow of content. You’re going to have to loosen up and let the imperfections go.
In terms of equipment, you can definitely use your DSLR to record video. But it’s worth giving your phone’s video function a try. With the right lighting, you can create good video that’s ready to share right away. If you’re going to create content on the fly for reels, you’re likely better off using your phone, in fact. For more high-quality video content that you’ll be presenting to a client, use your DSLR. But we’re talking social media engagement. Reels are impromptu, unposed, unplanned. It’s common for them to be filmed with a phone or maybe a webcam. Honestly, whatever gets you interacting with clients is the best method.
Let’s talk content. What do you put on video? How do you act? Filming yourself can feel awkward, especially when you’re used to being behind the camera. But you need to get over that. And you can, with practice. Get out your phone, and film a video of yourself right now. Practice introducing yourself. See if you can create a one-minute video about what you loved most about your most recent photo session. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just filming a video is the first step.
Now, watch the video. What do you think? Pay attention to your eyes. Where are you looking? Note any filler words. How often do you say “um,” “ah,” or “like”? If your hands are in the video, do they look tense? Everything contributes to the impression you make. By evaluating your video, you’ll be able to make some steps toward looking and feeling more natural. If you’re cringing at your performance, shake it off and let yourself to be OK with imperfection.
1. Even though you’re talking to the camera, imagine you’re talking to a person. If it means taping a photo of a friend or a smiley face sticky note next to the camera, so be it. While you’re talking, look at that face. It will help keep your eyes from wandering, and viewers will feel like you’re talking directly to them.
2. Don’t be so serious. You have to smile. Or laugh. Or do whatever you’d normally do during a conversation with a friend. If it means doing goofy impressions, go for it. But at the very least, make sure to smile—not just with your mouth, but with your eyes, too.
3. Hear me out on this: Selfie sticks are not the bane of existence when it comes to creating video. When you’re filming yourself, especially if you’re using your phone, a selfie stick allows you to be mobile, and more important, it helps with perspective by increasing the distance between you and the lens. Your video will look so much better without your outstretched arm in the shot.
4. As you get farther away from your built-in mic, the audio doesn’t record as clearly, especially if you’re outdoors and it’s windy. This is where a wireless mic set will come in handy. (See my review of the Rode wireless set.) They allow you to walk around or record on a windy day without the audio quality suffering.
The nice things about reels and stories is that they are temporal and impromptu. Give things a shot, each time you’ll do better.
How do you upload your videos? The most obvious way is with your phone (or computer if you’re recording via DSLR), but feel free to use the device that’s easiest for you. If you subscribe to Adobe Creative Suite or the Photographer Edition, you have an app available to you called Adobe Rush. It’s a simplified version of Adobe Premiere, and it’s pretty easy to use to add voice overlays, title and closing slides, and other simple video edits. More on that in another future article, but it’s great for mobile content creation.
Still feeling a little uneasy about video? Take it one step at a time. Maybe your first step is to ask a friend for help, or a family member who’s more comfortable with creating video content. Kids and teens are pros at this. They’ll walk you through the steps and maybe even help you create something for you to share with clients.
While you might not be good at this yet, there’s only one way to get better. And that’s with practice. Be yourself, and put your own personality into it. In no time, you’ll start building a relationship with viewers.
Betsy Finn is a portrait artist in Dexter, Michigan.