Day 87: How To Be Different

Over the past month I’ve been struggling with the idea of how to be different. Any freelance job is usually successfully backed by word of mouth leads. That being said, differentiating yourself from the competitor i.e. everyone else who owns a video camera, and creating original content is usually how these leads are formed. People only talk when they’ve been wowed. But how do you keep over delivering standardized product, while still adding a sense of uniqueness that will wow them in the end?

I’ve seen it over and over. Videographers (or audio engineers etc.) pass around their work with one another looking for critique. They come to a conclusion that this one piece of work wasn’t their best, they release it, and it actually resonates with a bunch of people very deeply. More then they ever thought it would. But we tend to do that because we look at things from a different perspective. A professional perspective. And so it is… the best thing to ask yourself at a shoot is…

How Would I Be Wowed?

If we can send out what we think is mediocre work, but still have people find joy, meaning, and beauty in it, then we can for the most part agree that if you can wow yourself, your audience will most likely be REALLY wowed. Just think about the first time Steve Job’s got on stage to introduce the iPhone. He said that he wanted Apple to make a product that he himself would love using. You could see it in him. He was excited. And so it was with the greater population as well.

We approached our past wedding shoot with this very same ideology. So we mustered up a few things that we ourselves as a production thought would be cool, and that we would enjoy seeing in a wedding film. For instance, we decided to mount a GoPro right above the couple in the ceremony for a candid shot of the couple kissing. It turned out swimmingly, and was only shown in the final edit just enough to make sure we’re not being cliche.

Consider these things the spices to your wedding soup film. They’re not the main ingredients to having “a soup”, but they sure make things taste better. These small things are what allow your videos to be a bit more rememberable. You don’t want your whole wedding video to be a shot from a GoPro because… well… why hire some videographers? But if you got one or two solid key shots from that type of perspective, it could be the thing that people will remember 10, or 20 years down the road.

Being a videographer, you’re not just someone that captures video. You capture events. You capture stories. You in essence are a historian. You help write history, and one day I hope the stories I’ve captured won’t fall in the same category as your high schools “boring history textbooks”. This leads me to my final point…

Will This Be Cool In 10 Years?

Hip. Cool. Unique. Whatever you want to call it. Will people still take the time to watch YOUR video 10 years down the road? I mean, let’s think about this for a bit. 10 years… we’re probably going to be past 4k resolution by then… and your videos will be a measly 1080p. How do you expect that kind of video to hold up for future audiences? It’s the same reason people still listen to the Beatles on vinyl. Or sit through a viewing of Citizen Kane. Because it’s timeless.

But what makes something timeless? I’d argue it has to do with the correlation between certain unchanging realities that every human experiences in their life. Whether in the 1960s or the 2060s, people will still love, people will still die, and people will still want to find meaning in life. So what does this mean for you? It means, don’t get hooked on all the latest and greatest gadgets and techniques and effects, thinking that’s what will keep your content going strong for years to come.

While editing wedding videos over the past two weeks, I’ve taken some dramatic approaches as to what makes the cut and what doesn’t. Or what gets prioritized over another shot, for another moment in the song, for a certain amount of time. Production choices are what makes you different from the rest, and it’s what will make your film stand the test of time. You could have a perfectly crystal clear shot of the bride and groom doing absolutely nothing, or a soft focused shot of them laughing and enjoying their day, and you’ll still see people pick the shot of them DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING over the shot of them displaying emotion, story, and in the end, a characteristic of a timeless film. Why do you think people take out their old VHS tapes with family videos on them? It certainly isn’t because you used some sort of timeless filming technique on your super hi-fi camera. No, it’s because of the memories.

So there it is. If you can tell a good story, create long lasting memories, all while documenting history in a unique and remotely engaging fashion then you’re different, because no good story is the same.

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