Hybrid Photography and Wedding Shoots

Yeah I rock a painted T-tux to a wedding cause that's how I roll.
Yeah I rock a painted T-tux to a wedding cause that’s how I roll ;-)

If you circle me on Google Plus, you’ll often read about my experiments in photography. Creative experimentation for me is among the most valuable exercises as an artist that I can imagine. Experimenting allows me to grow creatively and sometimes, if I work the results into my business, finically as well. The photography world is moving rapidly into a hybrid of still + motion & sound so I’ve found myself experimenting more with hybrid than any other area. Some experiments crash and burn while others, like the one below, are almost like a gift of new skills and portfolio pieces delivered on a silver platter.

That's me in action. Minimal gear, maximum results.
That’s me in action. Minimal gear, maximum results is the goal.

The Experiment

As an experiment in hybrid photography, I photographed the wedding of my friends Katie and Justin. Being given full creative control on this shoot allowed me, as a portrait photographer, to capture a wedding in a unique way.

Although weddings can be a challenge I thought that shooting a hybrid wedding would be more difficult than it was. I have to give a big thanks to my Lumix GH3 which handled all the mixed media files I could throw at it like a champ. Jumping between stills and video on the fly was as easy as going from the shutter release to the Rec button. Moving with ease from still to video, color to retro color to monochrome and back to color again is as simple as turning a dial.

Cinemagraph made in Photoshop CC
Cinemagraph made in Photoshop CC
JPEG For The Win!
JPEG For The Win!

I have great respect for anyone that can shoot weddings full time and shoot them well (big difference). Weddings are a challenge especially when you get a couple that is not wanting to work with the photographer but I lucked out with Katie and Justin. They were just awesome to work with and very relaxed in front of the camera.

TipWhen shooting motion, keep the movements of the subject subtle and the camera movements to a minimum.

Everything was captured with the Lumix GH3, 12-25 f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8. I would capture video with exactly the settings as my still photographs which is the ideal way for a still photographer to shoot motion – like a still photographer. If I were trying to make a short film for a wedding I would need to shoot like a cinematographer which is a completely different mindset requiring different tools and an entirely different process. Since I was shooting a Hybrid Wedding my goal was to capture 15-30 second motion portraits along side my still photography.

Post was done in combination with Lightroom 5 and Premiere Pro CC although I could now do the same video you see below with ProShow Web.

SOOC JPEG using the Retro filter
When you get color this good why shoot RAW? SOOC JPEG using the Retro filter, GH3.

Through Experimentation Comes Valuable Lessons

Although my speciality is portraits for editorial and advertising I often desire to challenge myself both creatively and technically. In this experiment I learned a ton and am grateful for the experience. Here’s some lessons that come to mind –

  • Weddings are challenging – Respect those that do it well and don’t try to think you can just jump in and start a wedding business. If you are going to shoot a friends wedding, practice with your friends before they actually get married and see if you think you’ll want to shoot the ceremony. If you do prepare well in advance.
  • If you find that you want to shoot weddings full time – Seek out credible pros and pay them well to teach you. Buy their books, take their workshops and ask them lots of questions.
  • Those that shoot weddings well love to shoot weddings – If you are like me and don’t love shooting weddings don’t get into the business.
  • If you are going to shoot a hybrid wedding (or anything hybrid) use the right gear. Shooting a hybrid wedding with a DSLR would be a nightmare unless you have the budget to hire a larger team to manage the process. Going in solo or with a small team of three to shoot a hybrid wedding with a DSLR could be a disaster in the making. Get a camera like the GH3 that is designed to easily move between still + motion.
  • Keep your post production simple – I shot this wedding in JPEG + RAW so I get the best of both worlds. The JPEG’s were delivered to Katie and Justin and since the color in the JPEGs were the same as the color captured with video, I sprinkled the JPEG’s throughout their video. The results were consistent color and my post was kept to a minimum. I kept the RAW’s as backup incase I wanted to take a photograph originally captured as a monochrome B&W and make it into color or the other way around.

Cinemagraph made in Photoshop CCCinemagraph made in Photoshop CC

My monochrome recipe kicks butt. SOOC JPEG
My monochrome recipe kicks butt. SOOC JPEG

What have you shot lately to challenge yourself?

When you do come up with ideas to test your skills write it down and keep detailed notes. This is important in the event you might be getting in over your head, you’ll be more likely able to see it in advance and make the adjustments so you can get the most from your experiment. That said, don’t give up when you reach a roadblock because if you are challenging yourself you’ll most likely run into some obstacles. Visualize what you would like the outcome to be and play into that. The finished results might not be exactly the same as what’s in your minds eye but you never know, you might surprise yourself and exceed your own expectations.

Music by Calexcio – Glowing Heart of the World

Additional Images – All SOOC JPEG

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Katie & Justin

How It’s Made – Lumix GH3, G6 Print Ad

Ever see those ads for new camera gear in magazines and wonder how the images were made? If you have any of the latest photography magazines you’ll see a Panasonic Lumix GH3, G6 ad featuring my work. Below I detail how the ad was shot, the inspiration, gear, capture and post. Enjoy!

GH3 G6 Print Ad Darin, Beverly and Stella

 

In early April this year, Panasonic asked me to take put G6 and LF1 through their paces. Although they were both early prototype builds, they were none the less impressive. This was such a fun assignment and one that does not come along often enough! I had complete control over what I wanted to shoot and how I wanted to create the work.

Setup, Location and Talent

For this particular shoot, I decided that since the G6 was designed for beginners and enthusiasts I should photograph something that anyone can do as long as they had the Lumix G6 and the kit lens. Pretty simple set up wouldn’t you say?

This assignment was shot on location in Miami’s Wynwood district which is one of my favorite places to photograph in Miami. It’s a hood full of beautiful murals by some of the world’s best artists. Rich in color, I thought this would be a perfect place for a hybrid family photoshoot.

Giulio Sciorio on wynwood location
Good location makes a world of difference. Frame grab from the GH3

Since I wanted to keep this shoot real, I decided it would be best to work with non-professional talent. I asked my friends Darren and Bev if they would be willing to shoot with me and of course to bring their beautiful daughter Stella. They agreed so we set a date and time to shoot and that was it.

Having a real family be my “models” for this shoot meant that since they already had a deep connection, it would be easier to communicate warmth and love as opposed to directing professional talent to do so. I must add that if you do hire pro talent most of the time you don’t need much direction but for this project Darren, Beverly and Stella were perfect.


 

A Hybrid Shoot Made Easy

Since I wanted the concept of this shoot be accessible to anyone with a Lumix camera I chose to shoot with natural light. I don’t think the ad would work as well if I shot pro talent with a big crew and massive amounts of gear only to target the ad to those photographers that did not have those resources available. Also what enthusiast photographer would spend $800 on a camera then $20K on production only to make a hybrid shoot of their friends?

One of the best ways to get into shooting hybrid pieces is to use natural light. It’s free, it’s everywhere and if you need to change the look you can incorporate a reflector or two. I chose to shoot in the shade and to skip any reflectors.

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Frame grab from the GH3
g-on-location-in-miami
Frame grab from the GH3

The shoot itself was straightforward and simple. I would shoot some stills and shoot a video clip or two back to back with the same color looks I chose ahead of time. Having my G6 color palette chosen ahead of time meant that the camera was going to be doing the technical heavy lifting, allowing me to focus more on working with the family to get the best shots possible. By working with the family I mean working with Stella! LOL She was just adorable and very well behaved. That said, she still moved around quickly. Since I had my G6 setup in advance, when I wanted a different look for a shot or two, I could capture it efficiently and move on.

My G6 was setup with the 14-42 kit lens, full auto modes for the exposure and I also incorporated some Creative Filter effects that come built in the camera. Everything was shot in JPEG plus all the color and cropping were created in camera so that I would not have to be bogged down in post.

While shooting a hybrid piece might be simple when using a camera designed for it like the G6, it’s the post that can be a real pain. If I’m going to be shooting hybrid pieces on a regular basis, I don’t want to be spending my life in a post production cave. I don’t think most people would either.


 

The Post

Out of habit, I used Lightroom to organize all the media. I find Lightroom to be very good at quickly pulling in media from different sources so that they can be organized quickly. The video clips were shot in AVCHD (.MTS) format which could be tricky to pull from the SD card but Lightroom finds the .MTS files no problem and adds them to the Lightroom library with ease.

Since I had already preprocessed my work in camera, there was no need for any additional color or contrast work in Lightroom. I was able to narrow down the picks of both still and motion files quickly.

Tip – When shooting video clips I always make sure to shoot a few seconds before and after the action so that I’m able to trim up the final clip to my exact needs in post. Lightroom has been able to trim up clips since version 4 which is what I used for this project.

Once I made my picks in Lightroom I exported everything in a web friendly format and imported the still + motion portraits and music into ProShow Web. If you are not familiar with ProShow Web, it’s a cloud based editing system that takes all your media and auto edits everything for you. With ProShow Web you can use one of their many built in templates or make your own which I decided for this project would be best. I kept my edit to simple cuts and fades, nothing fancy for me here, I wanted the photography to be the focus, not the effects.

Note – The end titles and a couple of the square crop overlays were made in Photoshop however these effects can also be created with the new ProShow Web that’s available now.

ProShow-Web-Project

After I uploaded everything I chose the order in which the media would appear. This was a simple drag and drop process in browser which is similar to how you would organize a collection in Lightroom. That’s it! I saved my ProShow project which kept everything backed up for me on the cloud and exported a final video which you can see in the following section.

There’s also an edit I made with Premiere Pro CC which you can see here. In comparison, the Premiere edit took about 3 hours and the ProShow Web version took less than 1 hour.


 

Finals

Since I had already preprocessed my looks in camera, the hybrid photography was finished and using ProShow Web made the edit a breeze. If I had to manually do all my post on the color and the edit, this simple shoot would turn into a week long project. Making your tech do the heavy lifting is wonderful thing! If you have not tried preprocessing your work and using tools like ProShow Web I highly recommend it. It’s easy, fun and lets you put the focus on what matters most – creating great work!

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Color and 1:1 crop preprocessed in the G6
Family portrait by Giulio Sciorio
Color and 16:9 crop preprocessed in the G6
Stella captured with the G6
Color and 1:1 crop preprocessed in the G6

Thanks Miami! Its Been Fun.

P1000811It was after a challenging two years as a photographer that my wife and I decided to move to Miami. I recall that time so vividly…we didn’t work for six months straight. Our savings had dropped off, we sold the studio and our home and hit the road. Miami seemed like the right place since we have family in town and our friends that live in Magic City all worked in print or film production.

Fortunately, just before we moved to Miami I re-licensed a bunch of photographs to a client and was able to go on hiatus for a year. Valdese and I needed time to recover from what we had just been though. We had to rethink everything and ask ourselves some tough questions. Are we going to stay in the business? Am I going to continue on as a commercial photographer? These are not questions that were easily answered, but during our time in Miami, we found the answers and found ourselves again.

Valdese took this as we we're driving into Miami for the first time.
Valdese took this snap with her iPhone as we we’re driving into Miami for the first time.

To say Miami treated us well is an understatement. Being around people that cared about us and being close to the ocean had a deep healing effect. Valdese decided that she had enough of the ups and downs of working in production (she was a wardrobe stylist and studio owner) and decided that what worked for her was to have a career in corporate America. Like most people, she found comfort in knowing that (more or less) she’ll have a regular paycheck every two weeks and we’d both get health insurance which we did not have for years.

[twocol_one][quote] I was not sure if I wanted to deal with the headaches of running a photography business especially since the industry was just starting to enter a turbulent time.[/quote][/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]I was still struggling with what to do. I was not sure if I wanted to deal with the headaches of running a photography business especially since the industry was just starting to enter a turbulent time. I worked in production with my friends in Miami which bought me time to let my right brain rest and to recalibrate where I was going to go next with my career.[/twocol_one_last]

There was this morning I’ll never forget. It was in the dining area of our simple, tiny, apartment that I had a conversation with Valdese. She was on her way out the door to go to work and what she did was a act of pure love for her husband. Before Val left she told me to take more time off, to find that spark inside me again and to be the G she fell for. That act of love, of sacrifice that Val did that morning is one I’ll never forget.[divider_flat]

One of our first walks to the beach.
One of our first walks to the beach.

[hr]

[divider_flat] The path to finding my creative self and the roadblock

I started to work on some personal projects, fashion videos, music videos…projects that combined still photography and video into one. I always got a kick from seeing my still photography take on new dimension since I started working with motion in early 2009. I also loved the challenge regardless how much I fumbled through the post production as I learned new tricks. On an assisting job in Jamaica I befriended a model named Adam Dormi who was the subject of an experiment that combined still photography and video. The shoot was about 2 hours and the post around 3 hours total.

See the project on Behance

[divider_flat]I had a strong desire to push myself to the limits, break through those mental barriers and see what was on the other side. I linked up with Silver Medallion in NYC to create an epic project with his latest album. I was going to make a music video for each of the tracks on his latest album and have each video be a part of a short film.

The shoot was about 6, 18+ hour days shooting and weeks in post. The post was a beast and I, its Jonah. Once I committed to the project and shot it I had to complete it. Hours and hours of transcoding, compositing, testing different color looks and effects. At one point I was kinda hating this project, but I knew I had to push on through to the other.

When I was done, it was beautiful. The full length video was just under 10 minutes which included two bonus tracks that tied each of the three individual videos together. I am proud how this turned out, grateful for the opportunity, for the friends that came in and saved this project from blowing up in my face and was happy to know that it would most likely be my last project of this size without a full crew and budget.

See the project on Behance

[divider_flat]In the end, I found that for both creative and business reasons I enjoyed engaging in less post. I got close to finding a sweet spot for creating a piece that’s both beautiful, respectful to the viewers time and is quick to produce. I shot Picture a Kiss in about 90 minutes and completed the shoot with about 3 hours in post. Problem was that overall the shoot took too much work in post to make it look good for the majority of budgets I would get shooting editorial assignments.

See the project on Behance

It’s like I had a visual split personality…part of me wanted to do post heavy work but the bigger part of me did not. It’s just not where I am as an artist at this point in my life.

Also, I found that although I enjoy combining still and motion photography into short, sweet projects the additional two + hours of work per shoot is not where I want to go production wise without a proper team/budget.

With exception to advertising jobs, the reality is that most assignments have budget for one assistant and that’s it. This means to shoot and deliver stills & motion into one project with a DSLR is not cost effective for most work since by the time you are done with post you actually lost money.

Losing money is not something any business owner wants and quite frankly, after two years of hell in a crappy economy, it was not an option for me mentally and financially. I knew that if I could make these multimedia shoots faster I could squeeze out a profit and possibly come out of hiatus with a forward thinking photography business ripe for growth.

[twocol_one]I had been following what Panasonic and Olympus were doing with mirrorless cameras and was interested in trying one out, in particular the GH2 which at the time seemed to be the only mirrorless camera for serious photographers. The problem was that in Miami we have no real camera stores, so there was no way to see anything mirrorless.[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last][quote]The problem was that in Miami we have no real camera stores, so there was no way to see anything mirrorless.[/quote] [/twocol_one_last]

[divider_flat] When I saw that Olympus was doing the Pen Ready Project and that they were going to be in Miami, I knew this was my chance to see a mirrorless camera and maybe even win one too!

With a friend of mine, we were able to locate where Olympus was going to be giving away some Pen Mini’s and we more or less stalked them online. We found them at the Miami Seaquarium and both got a camera!

First thing I did was hit up Silver Medallion and plan a shoot here in Miami. I called on all my friends to help and was able to get a sweet car and some killer locations in South Beach…we even got a $10MM penthouse to shoot in.

The shoot was pretty smooth…until I got the footage into the computer. The quality of the still photos were just fine but the video of the Pen Mini was not so good. By the time I finished the project, I decided that I was going to stick with still photography with mirrorless cameras for now and wait until I could get a hold of a GH2 or wait until Olympus came out with a camera that can make some decent video.

Lost Ones BTS diary Day 1

Small Camera Big Picture

By this time I had started a new blog called –  Create, Inspire, You which was the original name of this blog when it first launched. As the name suggests, the goal of the site was to inspire others to shoot and be creative. There’s something very gratifying to see others break new ground creatively. It’s that spark, the one that I was looking for inside, that becomes a raging fire when one has a creative breakthrough. It’s a trait that is uniquely human and one thats inside all of us. I knew it was inside me…but I had yet to find it.

It was just after I started Create, Inspire, You that I really discovered how special shooting with a small camera could be. I shot a series of street portraits during Art Basel in Miami that made me realize that DSLR’s in their current form are over. The quality of the shots from the Art Basel Street Portraits were so close to what I was getting with my DSLR that I sold the system and started shooting assignments with the Pen Mini.

Shiro
Shiro was one of 100+ street portraits I made in my Art Basel series. See the set on Flickr

Since its launch, Small Camera Big Picture has become one of the most popular resources for everything mirrorless, specifically Micro 4/3rds. The love the blog gets from photographers around the world is exciting and keeps me busy.  Most are here because they have a small camera and want to learn more about the system, some are curious as to what the buzz is about and some want to learn about the professional photographer who overcame his fears and sold his DSLR for a small camera.

The solution, the spark!

After selling my DSLR and shooting some assignments with the Pen Mini, I knew mirrorless cameras were the future but something was missing. The noise levels in certain low light shots from the Pen Mini were just a bit more than I prefer and the video quality was just not useable. Olympus had announced the OMD and I jumped on that right away.

Photographers and photographic companies alike took notice of Small Camera Big Picture. I had partnered up with Olympus as part of their Visionary group of photographers, started working with closely with other companies within the industry and was shooting a good amount of assignments again. The spark was back!!! Seeing me back to my normal self was a big relief to Valdese and to my family. Not only was I back but I was more creative than ever. Everywhere I went I was snapping away, creating and sharing my work online.

There was still something missing for me, though. While I enjoyed shooting with my OMD, what was missing for me was the ability to capture video with the same high quality as my stills. Whenever I would use the OMD for video I felt like I was using something that was just barely a cut above my DSLR which was not bad but it was not the same level of quality as my stills.

Not to to be tied into a system that while great for stills was not what I needed for motion, I left the Visionary program. It was a challenging decision but I knew that in order to satisfy my desire to blend my stills and motion together as one I would need to continue to experiment with different systems.

Through new industry contacts that found me through this blog, I was able to get my hands on these different systems.  I was able to get a Fuji X-Pro and took it on a trip to Italy.  The quality of the stills were amazing, but the motion and AF system were not compatible with my style of shooting. It was just not the camera for me.  Right around the time I got back from Italy, Panasonic was kind enough to loan me a Lumix G5. When I first got the G5 I was really into the retro looking cameras, but I soon got over the vanity once I started using the system. The content that I was creating with the G5 was very close to what I thought would be the ideal system for me.

In talking with the people at Panasonic, it was apparent to me that better than anyone, they understood that photography was moving from still to hybrid. They told me about the GH3 and that they we’re going “all-in” to the serious photographer who wants more than just a still image. That sounded amazing to me and when I got the GH3 I knew that what I had was the future. I felt I finally had the tool to get out of my way and let me create without limits. It’s almost like they made the camera just for me.

I’ve since started a closer relationship with Panasonic. As a member of their Luminary talent team, Ive been working closely with their engineers to add features to their current line up and future models of cameras and accessories. It’s a team I’m proud to be a part of and a big part of my life right now.

As I’ve grown into hybrid photography so has my photography business. I completed a large advertising shoot in Austin, Texas for tech startup Tracking Point. While there I fell in love with the place. I felt as though Austin could be my next home.

Although I very much enjoyed Miami, I never felt settled here. The last few months it’s as though I’ve been here but not quite present to the city. I just keep thinking of how balanced I felt in Austin as if I already lived there. I’m happy to say that starting August 1st I will be based in Austin, Texas. I’m looking forward to getting to know my neighbors, photo community and home.

I can only wonder what would have happened if I didn’t get the opportunities to grow as an artist.

Thank you crappy economy.

Thank you Olympus.

Thank you Panasonic.

Thank you Miami.

And most of all, thank you Valdese.

Make Cinemagraphs with Echograph

There’s no denying that photography is changing fast but are you changing with it? What started out in the 80’s as a format to display graphics on the web has made a comeback thanks to the fearless creativity of hipsters. With its small file size and compatibility across the majority of smart devices and social networks, the GIF is an ideal format for hybrid photographers.

Thanks to tools like the iPad and Echograph, the GIF has making it’s way into the hybrid photographers toolbox.

What’s a Cinemagraph?

Cinemagraphs look just like a still photograph but move and come in various formats such as .MOV, .MP4 and GIF. For this tutorial we’re going to be using the iPad to take a .MOV or .MP4 file and make it into a GIF. The nice thing about the GIF format is that it’s easily viewed online, in emails and on mobile devices.

Making GIF from video in photoshop can be a real pain. The GIF, while in Photoshop, might look great but when you save for web, the file size can be huge! So now you have to go through the process of making the pixel dimensions of the GIF smaller, save for web, check in file size and render out again only to see that the extra work you went through was not much help. Now you go through the process again and again and again..well you get the point.

While its fine to spend time in post if you like it, or if your job has budget, sometimes you simply want to shoot and share. This is where Echograph comes in. Echograph is a iOS app designed to make animated GIFs fast and easy.

How to

With Echograph you upload a short video clip from your camera to the iPad using the Apple Camera Connection Kit. The kit comes in two versions, one for iPad with a 30 pin connector and the other with the new Lightning connector. When you upload your media using the connection kit to your ipad the files will be in the iOS photo library buit in the Photos app.

Once you launch Echograph you’re given the option to Capture video, Choose from library or Try a sample clip. Select Choose from library.photo 1


Choose the video you want to use. Note – If you touch the video clip once you will see a preview.photo 2


Now choose what 5 seconds of video you want to use in your GIF then you’ll choose a poster frame.photo 3

It’s also here that you get the options to loop, reverse and pause the GIF at the beginning of the animation. I recommend that you experiment with these settings to learn what works for you. I use all three options but sometimes I don’t want the animation to pause and prefer a GIF with an infinite loop such as in the GIf of the breaker below.

breaker


Next you’ll want to paint the parts of the GIF you want moving. I find this part to be the most fun probably since you can paint with your finger.  :-) The parts of the image you don’t paint on will become the parts of the GIF that don’t move.

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Thats it you’re done! Just export with the HiDef settings and be sure to email yourself a copy.

Here’s the finished GIF. You can easily get a copy by emailing it to yourself.EchoGraph


Bonus!

Take your GIF into Photoshop for further experimentation. In the example below I made the GIF pause on two different frames and removed the black border. Setup hints are in the screen cap.

Photoshop CC GIF

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Cinemagraphs are just one part of the hybrid photography pie. There are no rules with hybrid photography, just shoot, make it look cool and be happy. To many the iPad is simply a tool to check email and to update socials but for the hybrid photographer it is a valuable tool.

What apps are you using your iPad as part of your daily workflow or business? What would you need to replace your current computer with a tablet?

Let me know in the comments.

The risk of moving into Hybrid Photography and the payoff

Smart photographers know the game is changing from static images to hybrid photography which is a blend of still + motion and sound. For professionals it is not an easy business, but the love for the art and craft pushes us onward. Up until a few years ago it was safe to only offer a still photo based product – prints, albums, posters etc., but that game is changing. The new name of the game is hybrid photography and while there’s a risk there’s also the potential for a payoff.

The risk

Back in 2009 I started adding motion to my work. It was a hard sell to clients.  Most didn’t get it and the few that did didn’t have the resources to hire a pro to make the shoot happen, so things were on pause for a bit. I knew that motion was the future for photographers, but dealing with a crappy economy and the decline of clients, I opted to start teaching myself this new way of shooting by assigning myself personal projects.

I got lucky and was able to relicense some work to a client, sold my studio in Phoenix (and most of my gear) and moved to Miami. My wife, Valdese, who was a big part of my business decided that she had her fill of the photo industry. Valdese began a new career in corporate America, which gave her peace of mind. It also gave me something – relief.  I’ll never forget the morning she told me to take time off and regroup my business. She wanted me to get my spark back. That’s my amazing wife and I love her. That sacrifice is a moment I’ll never forget.

I went on hiatus for two years to research how/when motion, social media and smart phones were going to meet. This was not an easy process, but I literally had nothing to lose. So I went all in for a gamble that would either help me re-launch my career or move me into a career unrelated to photography.

At first I took on projects that were complicated. I shot music videos, motion model tests, moving pinpups and even created a fine art motion piece on easter. None of these projects were easy but I got through the challenges.

I feel when we experiment as artists we need to push ourselves and explore new limits.

Not all of my experiments made it through post production. Some shoots were a pleasure, some were painfully emotional and physically draining. The gamble of moving into hybrid in 2009, before we even had the term hybrid, was not easy….but it was necessary for me. I built a Behance ProSite as a home for my experiments which you can see here.

Wait for Me was a challenging project but well worth the lessons learned. Click to see the project on Behance.
Wait for Me was a challenging project but well worth the lessons learned. Click to see the project.

What I learned

What I learned from my hiatus is rather in depth and I’m still finding gems of knowledge that I’ll be sharing as I go. I’m starting a tour this summer thanks to some generous sponsors, where I ‘ll be helping photographers to grow into the new world of hybrid photography.

Since I started my gamble, the learning process was one that rattled me to the core. I spent hours talking to some good friends about subjects like our titles as visual artists. [quote]Now that we’re shooting motion, am I a photographer, director, or director of photography??[/quote] Do I need to spend 50K on a RED camera? Should I go back to school and learn filmmaking? As a photographer do I need to be making films or should I make something else?

At times I had revelations, but sometimes I found myself depressed, alone and misunderstood as an artist. Once I thought, maybe I should go back to school and become a physical therapist (what??) but after a heart to heart with my Uncle Fabrizio, I knew that I had to finish what I started with this experiment, but needed to refine the direction. Here are some basic takeaways:

  • Keep it simple – I’m a still photographer. I need to shoot motion from the perspective of a still photographer. I’m not a filmmaker. 
  • Keep it beautiful – focus on beautiful photography. This means that your post production will not be complicated. Hybrid projects should not add much time onto your still workflow, instead hybrid shooting works within your current post workflow.
  • Embrace your failures – when we exercise we want to push our bodies to failure. Doing so helps our bodies become strong and ready to reach new physical limits. The same goes with creativity. Don’t shoot fashion? Shoot some fashion. Are you a portrait photographer? Experiment with hybrid nature shooting. Failure is only failure and has no impact on who you are as a artist or person. When you’re experimenting you need to learn from your failures in order to grow.
  • Experiment with personal projects – don’t experiment with paid assignments. Believe it or not there are photographers that go into a commission without a plan and hope for the best. If this is you, STOP. Experiment on your own dime, unless you want to potentially lose a client. If you are on a shoot and you want to take a series of stills and make an animated GIF, go for it. Making a music video while your client thinks you are just going to shoot stills is a big mistake. If you experiment on a job, your client will expect that you deliver the final to them. If you find in post that you did not make the proper captures and can’t deliver the final, it’s over for you and that client. Don’t do it.

I’m a portrait photographer for editorial and advertising, but this year I’ve experimented with hybrid shooting projects of nature, family lifestyle, landscapes, and even a hybrid wedding. I’ve not posted all of my projects yet, but I’m hoping to soon. Just check my YouTube Page and the official Small Camera Big Picture Youtube as well.

Learn from me in person

If you are able to join me at any of the live events I’ll be hosting this year, you’ll be learning a lot more with me hands on. We’ll be playing and experimenting with motion in a safe environment. My first live event is WPPI On the Road but there are many more in the works. You’ll need to find me on the social networks to be in the know or just subscribe to the Small Camera Big Picture newsletter to stay current.

Also, if you want to dig into learning hybrid from a great group of people check out Discover Mirrorless for loads of killer content both free and premium.

The payoff

The payoff is something that I never would have expected…at least at first. I knew that eventually motion from a still photographers perspective would catch on, but had no idea that it would take this long. That said, I didn’t know what when hybrid caught on it would move so quickly.

Now that smartphones are rapidly growing, I’m seeing demand for hybrid photography from clients old and new. I’m able to grow my current client base by adding motion to our projects and I’m taking on new clients because they want to see hybrid products from a still photographer’s perspective. This is huge! I feel validated in my experiments…I’m grateful for my successes and for my failures. I have found a new home within organizations like WPPI, Imaging USA and their photographers. At both WPPI and Imaging USA, I met many photographers and companies that “get” hybrid photography and sadly some that are still trapped by the idea of a print only business. That’s ok though, to each their own. I’m predicting that most of the group will make the move soon.

At the beginning of this article, I had mentioned that Small Camera Big Picture was inspired based on my experience with my Pen Mini and then my EM5. As my experiments in motion grew I found myself loving the form factor of small cameras but needing very high quality motion capture in a camera like the EM5 and I found that in my Lumix cameras.

I began talking with the Lumix team here in the states through my friend Will Crockett. Will Crockett is like the Yoda of hybrid photography to put it mildly. I guess that would make me Hybrid Luke Skywalker or something. Joking aside, he put me touch with those deep within the photographic industry and I found a very receptive audience within the team at Lumix. I’ve met with their engineers and top brass and we’re both on the same page. If you knew what was coming down the pipe from the Lumix team your eyes would melt. It’s freaken amazing.

One thing that Hybrid photography shares with traditional photography is that its about the content not about the gear. The idea that a company as large as Panasonic going all-in with a pro hybrid system is sending a message throughout the industry. I see that message is this –

Hybrid is here, it’s growing fast and like the move from film to digital, the transition is happening regardless if you embrace it or fight it.

Photographers that embrace it now will grow their businesses. Those that get into it later will stay in business. Those that continue to only offer still photography based products/services had better start looking for a new career.

I hope the pros reading this will embrace this change in photography. For many, embracing hybrid can mean a rebirth of their photography career while other pros that offer products based on still + motion and sound will grow their business in the coming years.

It’s not hard when you learn from the right people. Learn from those who speak the truth, like Will Crockett, Suzette Alan and myself. We’re living proof that clients want next-level visuals from their pro photographers. Regardless if you’re a full time pro, weekend warrior or a serious hobbyist, you can expand your creativity and business shooting hybrid and we want to teach you how.