Why are Photographers Afraid of Video?

Photographers don’t like shooting video, yet a third of them do it and over two-thirds of them think the next generation of photographers should have video production training according to a recent study. If video is so important, and many are doing it, why is it only shot begrudgingly?

Some photographers may feel that the rise in demand for video, and thus being asked to produce it, may diminish their work as a still photographer. Others may see it as an entirely different skill and a different occupation. Therefore, asking that the next generation learn video production may seem silly. After all, it’s not the same medium. It isn’t like the switch from film to digital where the end result was always photos.

Video Skills - Next Generation Photographers

Two Reasons Photographers Should Enjoy Video (and Learn the skills)

It can make you money – possibly more than your photography.

I enjoy photography as a hobby. I’ve never been paid, that I can remember, anything for my work as a still photographer. That said, I have never attempted to market myself as a photographer and typically only volunteer for close friends and family. It’s enjoyable to me – which is why I do it.

Video, on the other hand, can pay the bills. At first I only started shooting videos to support my desire for new equipment. I had a Nikon D60, and upgraded to a D7000 with video capability once I saw the quality of video it could shoot. Naturally, like most amateur photographers to enjoy the hobby, I wanted more lenses. First a fast, inexpensive prime like the Nikon 50 1.8G. Then, after watching and learning online I started wanting nicer lenses like the 24-70 and the 70-200.

In order to justify those expensive lenses, I needed to get some extra cash coming in the door. My wife and I were paying down student loan debt and our budget was tight, so suggesting I spend $4,000 to buy a couple lenses for a hobby was out of the question (that’s putting it lightly). But, by starting a small video business I was able to pay cash for those lenses in just a couple months. That ended up turning into a nice little side business that owns multiple full-frame cameras, great lenses, desktop computer, laptop, etc. – while still producing actual cash flow (i.e. income).

Most of the photographers in the survey supplemented their income somehow beyond photography, and still averaged less than $30,000 per year. You can make that much on the side working weekends doing video.

The financial benefit of video is real – and it may be one of the easiest ways a photographer can supplement their income.

Video is Easier for Photographers

Note – I did not say video is easy for photographers. I said it’s easier. Beyond the obvious camera, lenses, and other equipment overlap – the skill that photographers bring to video is exceptional. To already have a foundation in composition, light, and the exposure triangle is a huge advantage to photographers.
We’ve all seen examples of video where they had no concept of composition or lighting skills. Even if the shot is properly exposed, it could be composed poorly, the subject matter may not make sense, etc. – and we’ve all seen it a thousand times in local commerials and even local news (“professionals” or “Video Journalists”).

Photographers already have the ability to capture images that invoke emotions – and believe it or not – that gives you an incredible advantage over most people in the video business. And, because you have that ability, you’ll be able to set yourself apart from the crowd and charge a premium. Just like the difference between good photographers and bad – sometimes clients can’t articulate why they like certain images better, but you know it’s the composition, exposure, story behind the shot, and the same goes for video.

The Future is Now

The survey that suggested photographers of the next generation learn video skills are photographers today. The reason why those photographers believe the next generation needs video skills is because the demand is here today. And it’s only growing. You don’t have to give up on photography, it can even be your primary job or source of income. But, it would be silly to pass up a financial opportunity on something you’d be great at and probably already have most of the gear to do…wouldn’t it?

Let me know your thoughts. If you’re a photographer, drop me a note and let me know your single biggest struggle when it comes to video.

You can download the full photographer survey here: The State of News Photography