How To Get Started in Videography

What is Videography?

Videography is about planning shoots in pre-production, taping and filming, and video editing in post-production, as well as collaborating with different people to produce videos that tell a story.

holding video camera

There was a time when the only way you could work in videography was to work with big production companies with access to all the expensive gear needed to create high quality videos. Luckily, as technology has advanced videography has become increasingly accessible. You can even use your smartphone to create professional videos to showcase on your video portfolio website, and you don't need extensive schooling or any specific degree either.

However, just because there's no one right path to becoming a videographer doesn't mean you have to figure it all out for yourself. Whether you're already working as a professional photographer or you're considering what to study in school, this guide to videography for beginners will introduce you to the industry and teach you how to start your videography career and build your online portfolio.

What is Videography?

Videography is about a lot more than just operating your camera equipment. Beginner videographers will need to learn everything from planning shoots in pre-production to video editing and more. You will probably end up working either in a small crew or as a one person team, which means that they need to have a thorough understanding of every part of video production. As you get more experience, you may move from freelancing to working with big studios or being able to outsource the parts of the process that you don't enjoy as much, but when you're just starting out, you'll need to be in charge of every aspect of your new business. Here are some common questions that you may be wondering about.

man with video camera

What is the Difference Between Videography and Photography?

While both videography and photography capture moments in a visual form, photographers tend to focus solely on still images. However, some photographers choose to introduce new potential income streams by expanding into video as well.

Videography vs Filmmaking

There's not necessarily a huge difference between these two terms, but filmmaking usually refers to storytelling through video, whereas videography is sometimes considered to be more about documentation.

Videography vs Cinematography

Cinematography is similar to filmmaking in the sense that both emphasize storytelling through video. However, cinematography differs slightly in the sense that a cinematographer is usually part of a larger crew, and is probably not doing hands on work like handling camera settings on set.

Is Videography Hard to Learn?

There is a lot of technical knowledge that you need to be successful in the film industry, and it can take time to learn all of the terms like frame rate and shutter speed as they apply to making videos. That said, if you're interested in getting into shooting videos, then it's worth pursuing.

How Do I Become A Videographer?

There's no one path to becoming a videographer. The amount of education and training you need will depend on the type of video you intend to film. For example, if you want to work on a news set, you'll need to be able to operate a still camera, whereas you'll need experience with track mounted cameras for action films. One of the options for becoming a successful videographer is going to school for it, but you can also start on your own and develop a freelance practice over time.

What Skills Do You Need To Be a Videographer?

There are a number of technical skills a videographer needs, whether they work alone or with a team. For example, in addition to setting up a shot and operating your equipment, you need to be familiar with cleaning, assembling, and maintaining your equipment, as well as all pre and post-production including special effects, closed captioning, and on screen text. If you're not a one person operation, you'll probably also need some skills like the ability to collaborate on ideas with a creative director or team.

filming man singing

Showcase your videography with Format

Put your creative work on display with a videography online portfolio website.

Are Videographers In Demand?

You may think that videography skills only come in handy if you're working on a television or movie set, but in reality, there are a ton of different industries that require video content. You could get work with a large production company or you could work freelance, focusing on marketing your online video portfolio using social media and paid advertising. 

Businesses and individuals alike hire people to create videos, whether it's for corporate training, small business ads, real estate, or weddings. The more specific you can get about which niche you're interested in shooting film for, the better you will be able to target your ideal customer and get hired to do what you love.

How Much Do Videographers Make?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for camera operators as of May 2019 was $55,160. The highest earning 10 percent earned upwards of $110,790, and the lowest earning 10 percent made less than $26,560.

When you're new to the industry, it can be challenging to know how much you should charge for your video work. Keep in mind that however you learned the craft, videography is a specialized skill that you've invested time and money into learning, so your wage needs to reflect that. Start with a day rate of $150, which will cover shooting and editing the footage, equally out to $18.75 per hour for an 8 hour day. As you become more experienced and gain confidence in your videography skills, you can increase your day rate to $200 for shooting only, with an additional $100 charge for editing.

How Do Videographers Get Clients?

If you're working with a production company you probably won't have to worry about getting hired, but chances are you'll start out working freelance, and that means you're in charge of everything, including marketing your business. Start by creating an online video portfolio where you can showcase your best work and turn your hobby making home videos into a viable career.

One of the many benefits to creating an online portfolio is that you'll be able to set up search engine optimization, meaning that potential clients can find you when they search for your services. Here are some tips on how to create a videography portfolio in five simple steps.

1. Curate a selection of your best work.

When choosing which work to include, remember: quality over quantity. Adding less impressive work because you don't have a ton of examples to show will only end up weakening the overall impact of your portfolio. You should also make sure the work that you're showcasing is the type of work you would like to be hired for.

2. Choose a website builder to host your site.

You don't need to waste valuable time learning to create an online portfolio from scratch. Instead, go with an intuitive website builder that allows you to create a professional website in a matter of minutes, no matter what your level of experience is.

3. Select a video website template and upload your content.

Choose a template that can handle large file sizes without sacrificing the quality of your video or slowing down page load times. Then you can simply upload your content and add a basic about page and contact form.

4. Customize your portfolio.

Communicate your design aesthetic to potential clients by customizing your fonts and colors and uploading your logo and brand photos.

5. Optimize your site and integrate your social media accounts.

Now that your portfolio is ready to go, just follow the steps to make sure you're all set up with Search Engine Optimization. Then it's time to tell your friends and family about your new business and start marketing yourself!

black flat screen

What Equipment Do I Need To Be a Videographer?

Before you invest a bunch of your hard earned money into gear you may not end up needing, consider what type of video you're planning to make. For example, real estate drone videos will require a different set of gear than if you're shooting a personal vlog.

Here's some basic video gear that you'll need to start out with, no matter what niche you end up pursuing.

Camera

There are a number of different options for cameras depending on how much you want to spend. Here are some commonly used cameras in the video industry.

Smartphone

If you're brand new to photography or videography, it's definitely a good idea to start out with the camera you probably already own: your smartphone. This is a great way to learn about framing your shots and editing video without having to invest a huge amount of money. Many video editing software even offer free smartphone apps so you can do everything on the go. Ideally, your smartphone should be able to shoot video in 1080p for high definition content that looks amazing online.

Point and Shoot

Back in the days before smartphones existed, we all had a small digital camera for taking photos on vacations or nights out with friends. These point and shoots are actually a great option for shooting high quality videos, and they tend to be small and light for easy transportation.

DSLR

A DSLR is the favorite camera of many photographers, but they're also great for shooting videos. One benefit is the ability to easily change lenses to completely change the effect of your films. There are also mirrorless cameras, which has an advanced autofocus which allows you to be more hands off when filming.

Action Cameras

An action or sports camera, like a GoPro, is generally small with a wide angle lens and built in image stabilization. They're great for shooting fast action, but they are lacking in other features like a viewfinder and high quality audio recording.

Camera Accessories

As a beginner, there's no need to blow all your savings on camera gear, especially when you have limited experience in the field. Start with these basics.

Tripod

A tripod is an absolute necessity for both video and still photography. It will help keep your camera steady so that you can capture professional quality content no matter what your level of experience is.

Lighting Kit

Even when conditions are perfect, you should always have a basic lighting kit on hand.

Microphone

If you're planning on using audio that you capture in the field as opposed to voiceovers in the studio, you'll need a higher quality microphone than what your camera includes.

Extra Batteries and Memory Cards

The last thing you want is to go out on a video shoot with big plans for the day, only to realize once you get there that your battery has run out and your memory card is full. Make sure you always have at least one fully charged backup battery and one extra empty memory card.

Editing Software

Creating great video content is about so much more than the work you do in the field. Editing is a huge part of the process, and you need video editing software that is intuitive and easy to learn. Here are a few popular programs for video editing.

iMovie

This editing software comes pre installed on all Mac computers, and there's also a mobile app. It supports 4K video for cinema quality films, and it's designed with beginners in mind.

Lightworks

With its simple, intuitive user interface, library of tutorials and an active online community, Lightworks offers a free version that only restricts output formats. It also includes over 100 special effects and royalty free music and stock video to take your content to the next level.

Adobe Premiere Elements

While there is no free version of this software, it uses artificial intelligence technology to provide a number of guided edits, facial recognition, and automatic backup for easy recovery.

If you're not ready to spend a bunch of money on your new hobby, don't worry! As long as you have a basic camera, you can start learning and practicing (and filling out your video website template) and invest as you continue to improve.

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