Breaking into Video with Hybrid Portraits
We mentioned this yesterday, but I was a professional photographer from one point. And when I was 18 I had the privilege of being, a photographer at a studio. And I just ran into a guy when I was working, a photobeat as a stringer for a paper, and then ran into this guy, and he asked me, oh, hey you're Victor. I've seen your paper. Do you wanna work for my studio? And so I started off as an assistant, and kinda just went through. And it dawned on me a couple of weeks ago, that if that was today, the entire exchange would've been entirely different, because I didn't do video. When I was working my photobeat, it was really interesting, because all of the still guys, would be carrying around little camcorders. Because they had to capture video at the time, to push up to the web. And it was really interesting from my perspective, because here was these guys, seasoned professionals shooting still photographs, for their entire lives now having to go to a photo job, or a press event having a ...
little Sony Handycam, that was like an SD Handycam or whatever it was. And they're at the time, 1D Mark IIs and 1D Mark IIIs. And it was really interesting to me, because if that would've been fast forwarded, five or six or seven years, my whole situation would've been different, because I didn't know video. So, when you guys are kinda getting into videos, photographers I think there's a lot, that you have to kind of think about. And I don't wanna get bogged down by this idea, like, oh there's so much equipment, or there's so much stuff, and yesterday I wasn't around yesterday, so I missed all that content yesterday. At it's root point I just want you to focus on the basics. Okay, I want you to focus on the basics. I want you to do what fits you. And lastly you gotta take your time, with the each project, all right? So when you're doing all this stuff together, you're actually taking the time to look, at a project and see where some of the opportunities are. You're gonna get a great, great chance, to be creative and to kind of step, your game up a little bit. So in the world of photography, right, I like to start off doing something similar. Yesterday we talked about a moving portrait, with Flixel and Cinemagraph. But this one's a little bit different, because a Hybrid Portrait is a combination of stills, and motion. I wanna say, oh gosh say like six or seven years ago, the photography community came up with this idea, called FuXion and they spelled it with an X. And it was kind of edgy and cool, and it was just like this idea of motion leading into still. Right? Now it's kinda different. We're calling it Hybrid. Because it's a combination of both. And sometimes the motion will lead into the still, or it basically the combination, of the two rely heavily upon each other, in similarities of framing and composition. If you never have done motion before, it's a great place to start. And if you're really gonna start practicing, it's good for you, because these videos are typically only 30 seconds, to a minute long. They involve typically one camera. And it's really kind of just a simple way to get started. Now if you're gonna go ahead and do a Hybrid Portrait, I've got a couple rules of thumb for you, okay? You wanna capture either stills or motion first. Don't try to do both at the same time. Now this may be contradictory to what you've been told, in the past or what some other people tell you. I don't personally believe in doing one thing both ways, at the same time, all right? So if you're gonna do motion do motion. Stop and then do still. So a lot of us back when I did photography, you would show up to a session, you have a session for about 45 minutes, or you schedule out an hour, and you end up going like 30 minutes or 45 minutes, because that's what you got. You know and you always have to master time. What you should do is just build an extra time into your sessions. Build an extra time. Say instead of an hour, make it an hour and 15. Okay? Do all of your still work. I want you to do all of your still work, then you flip over into video. And say, you know what, maybe it's your first time, okay? So let's pretend, let's pretend it's your first time, doing video with a client. And you go, hey you know what John, I had a lot of fun photographing you. And I'm gonna try some new stuff here in terms of video, and I'd love for you just to spend and extra couple of minutes with me. I wanna get some extra thing, you know, extra shots, and that kind of stuff. And you know it it turns out all right, we'll put something together and send it to you, okay? And you know, just thanks for your time. This is just something that we're practicing on anyway. So what that does for you is it, one gets you a client to practice on, and they know you're practicing on them. Two, it makes your client feel like part of the process. Right? Three, remember when we talked about humanizing your brand? Humanizing who you are? I think a lot of the times, we are afraid to talk to our clients, and get them involved in a new product. You wanna beta test your product with your customer. Right? If you beta test your product with your customers, chances are it's probably gonna be more successful. Because each region in the country is different. And each way you do your product is gonna be different. So I would recommend kinda beta testing, a new program or a new product with your customer, and being very honest with it. So you know what, it might not turn out. Or just try to learn some new techniques and stay fresh and stay updated. You wanna be a part of it, awesome. Well, let's go over here. Okay? So you have your stills. You've done your stills and now you're over doing motion. All right? So what do you do? You stop for a second. Remember you can't turn the camera vertical. You get your monopod out and get your support out, and then you start to work, okay. So when you start to split stuff up like that, You start to realize that motion, because it's just horizontal, will require you to go medium wide, close up, all these things that we've talked about. All right, now, what I tend to do on a Hybrid Portrait, is I'll remember where some of the main set ups were, in a portrait session. And then I will go back to that main set up, and have them get into it, okay. And for example, so if I'm gonna be in a situation, where I've got a person leaning up against the wall, okay. I'm leaning against the wall, kinda like this. And well, you can't just take video of a person, leaning against the wall, okay? Now the typical thing is you wanna get them going to the wall, leaning on the wall, and you wanna record that entire motion, so when you get that stool, all right. So the cool thing about a stool like this. A lot of photographers will photograph someone, on a stool or that kind of stuff, right? It's really boring to take videos of someone like this. It's really boring, okay. So a lot of the times you want them moving around. Okay, you kinda want them spinning. Heck you could actually get them up. Have them sit down. Like smile, laugh at the camera. And then come off. The purpose of capturing the motion is to get them to go through the process, of that action, of that still image, so you have a way to get in and get out of that still. Okay you get what I'm saying? So lets watch a quick one and we'll talk about it. All right? Okay here we go. (drums beating) (techno music) So let's make believe here, that you guys are gonna do a Hybrid Portrait of me. And this is our main prop. So going off of what we just saw, there are elements where there were just stills that were that set in the environment of the motion, right? And we pulled the still out and it actually didn't match frame for frame or compositionally. But let's say that this is our set, or this is your stage. And you've already posed me, like this. And I'm like, hey, and I've got a photograph like this. Or I'm hearing you've got a great composed photograph of me. So you wanna get me out of this frame, because then you just freeze that motion for just a split second. Now ya gotta get me in and out of it. So that when you get me in and out of it, it is having me come up, having a seat, maybe do a little bit of what I did earlier, and then come back off. That when you have that motion to cut to for the still, it's a really, really simple process. And it looks weird and it may feel really weird for the client, but I promise you, if you say the words, oh my gosh, that's great, you look awesome, you're gonna love it. I love the way it looks. They're gonna feel so much more comfortable. Because if people kinda already have a problem with getting their photos taken, they're gonna have a lot of problems getting video taken of them. So it's your job, it is your job, and you guys are so good at it already, to reinforce the way they look, and reinforce the way that they are going, to look at the end. Because nothing is more nerve racking to an individual, than seeing the camera turn on, and then you going, okay, and being intent on that motion. It freaks me out. I've got four cameras in this room, and I'm having a mini panic attack right now. Right? So, imagine, like a client who gets their picture taken, maybe once, twice, a year. Maybe a few times in their lifetime? Professionally? You're gonna tell me you're gonna take video then? It's your job, it's innate upon you, to make them comfortable. Oh, you look great. You look phenomenal. Geez, you look amazing. Reinforce them so that they're gonna be more comfortable. And when they're more comfortable, they'll look more natural for you, okay. And here's a couple of tricks, it's like with girls it's really easy. Women have the benefit of having long hair and accessories. Okay, it they don't have long hair, they've got accessories. They tend to typically layer really well in clothing. So they can play with their scarves, they can kind of like play with their hair. All of these things that you would normally not want them to do in a still shoot, you want them to do in a Hybrid Shoot. Okay, and you're gonna see elements of that later. And as you get used to it. As you start doing more of this stuff, you're gonna get a chance to really kinda of break out past all of the holding the scarf and holding, playing with the hair and that kind of thing. So we're gonna look at another one in just a second, I'll give you the back story for it. But are you guys clear with kind of what we're talking about? A good thing here is let's make believe that this is my prop. And I've used this prop in the still. Heck, if it's a guy, have him come in, put the prop down, come and sit on it, mug for the camera a little bit, and then come off, maybe take the stool with him.
I kinda feel it sounds to me like, you can correct me if I'm wrong, it sounds almost like you're modeling.
Like, playing a modelers , or photographers do models, cha, cha, you know constantly shooting.
And they're always in that motion and is that similar.
I think of Austin Powers a lot when I photograph. Have you guys seen that movie when he goes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no, no. And it's because the models like doing weird stuff. Yeah, exactly the same thing. You want them always moving. You don't want them moving a lot. You just want them moving generally very slowing, from position to position. Because what it will do is it will give you a way to get in and out of your still, okay. So, roll back a number of years, when people started doing this, they tried to bite off and do too much too soon, and they put too much emphasis either on the stills and not enough on the motion or visa versa. There's a really, really, nice balance, that you can kinda get to when it comes to motion and still, and putting too much movement in your motion, can detract away from the still, okay. So if you notice I tend to be very basic with the motion, because it's a Hybrid Portrait. It's a Hybrid Portrait. What's in the word?
Portrait, okay? You gotta leave the motion in the still, and that's my opinion. And I think that's worked for me, and it's been more successful than when I don't put too much stuff in the motion.
And so, when you said in the beginning that you want to split up almost like almost in two shoots, one for the video, one for the pictures, so in the case of the stool, you basically have the person walk up to the stool, and walk away and then take pictures.
Yeah, and so,
All of them for,
The way I do my shoots, is I will go portrait, portrait, portrait. And I'll shoot all the stills. Shoot all the stills first. Because they came, would presumably come, to me for a still shoot, okay? After I've done all the still work, I'll be like, hey let's do some motion. Let's actually capture some motion. And that's when I switch my brain over. That's when I remember that we posed him on the stool, and that's when I have him come in and we recreate some of the setups and scenarios.
And that, what it does is it let's your client, know that you're just capturing stills at one point and then motion at the other. And it lets you, because sometimes you require a different equipment. You'll get a view finder. Or you get a monopod, you get these different things, that you're gonna need to attach to your cameras so it gives you a breather. And you're not having to worry, about switching back and forth, okay. Because then a lot of photographers get really, really, twisted up and confused because they'll try to shoot stills and then in the middle of shooting stills flip over to video, flip back and there's this discontinuity in the session. The client is confused. They look confused, and the end product result in a confused product, okay. So how are we doing in the chatroom? Any questions so far?
Doing really good. A lot of people are enjoying this and Evette Cassanders, says this is simply awesome. (laughs)
Just some questions though about like, what you used the FuXion video for, like Hanna Banana wants to know, is it for promotional purposes? Do you sell it to the client?
So yes, yes, and yes. Okay, so what I've always recommended, to photographers as they start, okay, is if you're going to start doing this, and you're gonna be just beginning, use it as a promotional piece. It's funny how much motion sells still photography, okay. When we were in our studio, the minute we put up a 42 inch TV, and started putting pictures to music, and making slide shows, we increased our sales double over. Why was that? It was because all of a sudden, we had this ability, we had this chance to reach our customer on a multi-sensory level. Yeah? And it's funny. It took us another 10 years to realize, that, that multi-sensory level was motion, okay. So, if you're just starting off, and you're creating a piece, upload it to Facebook, tag your client, promote your business, use it as a marketing piece. Use it as a marketing piece. Because it will sell your photography. People love pictures, but they moving. They love watching motion and they love seeing things. You think about a commercial. Commercials sell inanimate products. But all those commercials involve people moving. Why is that? Because they want to see the product moving, they want to see the product in real life, despite the fact that it's inanimate. Shampoo, is hilarious. When you watch a shampoo commercial, it's liquid in a bottle. But every time they show shampoo, as a commercial, it's some beautiful guy, or some beautiful woman, washing their hair. Because they want you envision yourself like them, doing what they're doing. For the purpose of doing motion, and the purpose of doing the Hybrid thing like this, is to help your client envision themselves, getting their picture taken by you, okay? That's what it is. That's what it really is. And when you can do a Hybrid Portrait, it's a way of advertising your business, maybe later you sell it to them as a little add on. Maybe later, you can do a little bit of a narration to it. You can have like mom or dad write a letter to their graduation senior and then mom and dad can read that letter, and you can use that as the soundtrack overcut to music for the senior. Yeah, that's a tear jerker, right? Or you could have the senior write a letter, and put that audio over the pictures to their parents. That's another one. And we talked about digital frames yesterday. That are hot synced to the Cloud. And you can upload this video and you won't have the music or the audio, but you'll have this element of Motion and element of still. Okay, you hear what I'm saying?
Feel it? Good.
Now the next thing that we're gonna talk about, is this bridging out this idea, of The Hybrid Portrait some more, okay? So about four years ago, one of my really good friends, Pete Wright, he was a photographer, a great photographer in Virginia. One of my great friend. And I was like, hey, we're gonna be in Vegas, at this trade show and I really, I go to Vegas like four times a year. And I'm tired of Vegas, lets' go do something fun. Let's go shoot. He's like, absolutely. And I said hey Pete, are you doing any motion? He's like, no. I was like, why not? He's like, it's just not my thing. I do this, I have a certain look, I just do this. So I'm like, well Pete, let's go shoot, I'm gonna capture some motion while you shoot, and we're gonna see how it looks. We'll put some thing together and you can shoot the stills, and I'll capture the video and we'll just have some fun, and see how it looks. Okay, so, we're gonna show that piece. (country music) All right. So, I mean that piece is what, three or four years old, at this point. We kinda did it by the seat of our pants. We kinda talked about it real quick. Had a couple come out there for us. And if I would've done it over, I would have probably matched the editing, a little bit better with the stills. I mean you look at something that's three or four years old, and you go oh gosh, wow that was three or four years old, I've changed so much, but there's something there. One we got out, we shot something. Two, we put something together, Three, it gave us something to look at to learn from, okay. So when you look at what's possible here, right, we go, all right, okay, this is funny, and I'm only poking fun at Pete, because he's like, oh I've got this thing, and video takes so much equipment. He brought a light. A battery. A pocket wizard. A couple other things. I brought a camera, a lens, and a monopod. Oh yeah, and a slider, okay? And I carried it all in a backpack. It was great. I strapped it to a backpack and I walked on. I got in my car. And he had all this equipment. And it was comical. It was funny to me only because it's like, I consider Pete a very light weight photographer. And I showed up to this shoot with that stuff and we were able to work. So again, when you're first starting it's not about the equipment, guys. It's about the concept, the content, the shots, and using the equipment you have to it's fullest extent. All right? So here's an example. Magic you may have already know. I'm five foot nothing. So if I wanna get a higher shot, a monopod helps me do that, okay? And then you take a look here. A lot of the shots that we got. Married each other didn't they? And it's still conceptually, the piece works still. Stylistically, you may have your taste. You may not like it. And that's fine with me. But I'm trying to kinda show you, like conceptually how things can fit together. And I think that's what you want to get out of this. Whether you like the piece or not, I don't care if you like the piece. I want you to learn something about putting it together. So you look at that piece, and you look at how we pieced it together, from shot to shot to shot. What was the story? They were broken down in the desert. He was trying to fix the car. He said forget it and they walked off into the sunset. Okay? There was a little bit of thematic element there. Did we need that thematic element? In some other way I would way maybe not> If the shots are compelling enough. Yeah sure, okay? So, any questions?
Question came from Jimmy Shaffer who wanted to know, about photos and video and sharing the same color consistency.
Okay, so with this last video, right, Pete and I were kinda like off in our little worlds, working on posts and then kinda threw the stuff together. So if I had my wish stick and could do it over, I think we would agree on a general color treatment, to the images. We would agree on that. And then I would give him at liberty to go with black and white images. But if he's gonna have a certain look to the photographs, I would want the video to match that look of the photograph. Just to maintain continuity, okay. In the last video. There is a huge separation in the color balance to the photos and the video, and for me that's to ascetically pleasing. But again, it's just something that we threw together, as a test so it kinda didn't bother me as much. But as I've shown it more, more and more. These things kind of pop out. And as rule of thumb, you kinda wanna make sure that your standing color balance, for the video and the stills match. And then you can kind of shift it slightly from there. Okay? Anyone else?
So, on that also, Victor, I notice the importance of photographers love portraits, and there are quite a few portrait shots mixed in with the video. If you were to do that over again, would you say give me more horizontal, because you had some landscape shots in there which was awesome.
Yeah, so that's a great question. So, Victor I noticed that there were a lot of portrait oriented photographs in that last piece. What would you have done differently? Would you ask for more landscape? I'd do two things. There is an editing technique called the Ken Burns Effects, on a portrait you can actually apply Ken Burns and the photograph will move and zoom in or zoom out. And that's a way to kind of mitigate vertical images. I would also ask photographer to give me more horizontal images. So give me that same shot, horizontals, that I can actually use the entire frame. Okay, another way you can do it, is if you've got three stills that look similar to each other. You can pop three stills up, and take up that horizontal space, okay. And here's the thing is that the editing style of a Hybrid Portrait, is purely dictating. And we'll talk about this later, on the song that you pick. So if you're gonna go ahead and do something like this, and you wanna know about soundtracks and that kinda thing, we're gonna talk about that tomorrow, it's gonna be a really fun exercise. And it's gonna be a really fun segment of just picking soundtracks. And how as photographers, we oftentimes don't think about the soundtrack, until it's too late. Okay? So that's one opportunity, and I think and I really feel that if you approach a Hybrid Portrait in this way it's gonna help you get in to motion, from the side entrance a little bit, and help wedge yourself, in this idea that, hey maybe this first shoot I did was like 80/20, 80% still, 20% motion. The next one I'll do is like 75/25, and then as you go you start to get to that 50/ mark where you wanna be. Where half of the shoot is still and half of the shoot is motion and you get back to your editing room and you put together a beautiful piece. All right?
We go back to where you started, where one of the fundamentals, you said that it should be like a five act, five part play. And you said should it be a story. I think absolutely. I think that if you don't know who the characters are , you get bored about 10 to 15 seconds. Yesterday, with the skate boarding thing, I didn't want to say anything. It was the end of the class, but sure I don't know what everyone else felt, but I'm not a skateboarder and I don't know the people shooting it, there's no attachment emotionally. It was sort of because I didn't know, if they were heading somewhere or how, there was no conflict, so to speak, I mean he kept doing tricks, it was amazing, but because it wasn't a story to me, it sort of got, okay, okay, okay. You know what I mean? I felt that if I had known they were going somewhere to some location, I would go, oh they're trying to get somewhere. It would have changed the whole thing.
That's some really good feed back. I think we have to operate in the framework that we're capturing in. Okay? So with the Hybrid Portrait, you have a window of opportunity between 30 seconds and a minute. To get someones attention. And I call them vanity pieces. Because vanity pieces tend to not have a beginning, middle and and end. They're just a collection of very pretty images, that emphasize a subject, okay. You think of perfume commercials. Not that I watch a lot of perfume commercials, but fashion commercials tend to not have direction. They're just a collection of photographs I mean moving images, that can help promote a product. And I think if you approach a Hybrid Portrait, and the next thing we're talking about is portrait film as a vanity piece of sorts, where you're not so much reliant upon a story, but you're more reliant upon the compositional elements of the piece. That will help drive it, okay. I and I think like you're absolutely right. If it were a longer piece, I would want more of an ark. But in a piece with a 30 seconds to a minute, that I would deem a vanity piece, where it's gonna be just for the client. Or it's gonna be for a marketing advertisement, or something like that. I wouldn't say that the story would be, the most important thing, I would want the quality of the image work, to be the most important thing.