How To Become A Videographer: Tips & Steps To Become A Video Producer
I’ve created the ultimate guide on how to become a videographer, so if you love cameras and moving pictures, keep reading.
I’m going to share with you some tips and secrets about video industry so you can avoid mistakes I’ve done along the way.
Everybody’s journey to become a videographer is different
You need to understand that every journey of every person is different.
If you take sports, some athletes are drafted as number 1 and others don’t seem to catch a break but in the end they are playing in the same league.
I don’t know if you like ice-hockey but it’s a sport breaking all the odds.
Some players who never even got drafted made the league and are more successful than players drafted so high. Every story of a hockey player is different and that’s why nobody can focus on anybody else than themselves.
Sport stories are much more interesting than stories of videographers. You don’t have Hollywood movies about becoming a videographer but you do have a lot of them about successful athletes.
That’s why it’s easier for me to explain it to you like it’s a sport because the principle is absolutely the same, except that sport gives you more emotions.
But the main thing is to train hard, believe in yourself, sacrifice, play hard, overcome problems, fight through, never give up and win. Journey towards becoming good video producer is exactly the same because it’s a tough business.
Some of the best videographers in the world are self taught, some of them went to film schools. Some of them were filming videos since they were 8 years old and some of them [including me] only since 19. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are passionate about it and you will find a way to make it happen.
How to become a videographer with no resources?
I did it with no money, no possibilities and frankly no options.
And I’m a girl. I know the world is changing but back in 2013 when I showed up in Prague as a head of video production at the stadium and told 20 guys they work for me, I was laughed off stage… literally.
I went through all the possible odds on my journey to become a video editor and producer so I can comfort you very confidently that you can do it too.
How to get into video industry business?
It’s a tough business, especially because there are so many videographers out there and they all want a job. I still think there is enough work for everyone so no need to go on a war with anyone. I will talk later about having a job and going freelance, but let me start from the beginning.
Do I want to become a videographer or a cinematographer?
There is not much difference but you have to ask yourself if you love videos, YouTube, social media or films.
I like both and you do probably too but there is one thing that you dream of day and night. If you want to become another Emmanuel Lubezki or Chase Jarvis, there is quite a big difference.
My decision was to become a videographer and later on when I even have my own budgets, I want to create films, either short films or features.
So who is a videographer?
It’s a person who creates and or produces videos for any purpose coming from social media, websites, YouTube and so on. It can be wedding videos or business videos. A cinematographer creates movies and fully focuses on this industry.
Film industry is much tougher than video industry. You really need a huge network of people within the industry. A lot of money or producers and you have to accept that you might end up in a hospital over high stress.
As I mentioned before, you can pick your path and go for it from the beginning. It’s up to you.
How do I learn videography?
How to learn videography? Workshops, University, YouTube? I would say all but it depends on many things. My journey was completely low budget with no resources.
I had no possibility of attending workshops or events and meet film-makers because I am from Slovakia. And East-side, so try to guess what that means.
The way I’ve learnt was mostly online and trying everything myself. You need to put hours and hours into trying everything when it comes to videography. The more you try, the more you succeed and your creativity level will go up as well.
Can I learn videography online?
Of course you can, you are doing it now too. You’re reading this article, learning some tips and tricks.
Go on YouTube and watch thousands of videos but don’t forget to go out and apply and try what you’ve learnt. Otherwise there is no sense in it. You even have a lot of online courses.
I personally prefer learning from the best so check out Masterclass where you are taught by Ron Howard, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Scorsese and many more.
Should I attend workshops and video classes?
I never did it to be honest but mostly because of lack of possibilities. However, even now I wouldn’t do it. But maybe 10 years ago, it would definitely be good for me and my growth and progress. I wouldn’t attend it now because I think all the workshops are focused on a beginner level, so it would be a waste of time for me.
For you, it could be a good insight of how the real professional looks like and you can ask them absolutely anything you want. But be aware, as I once attended a photography seminar when I started learning photography on a professional level and it was a bit of a let down for me.
The name of the photographer was big and I thought it’s going to be worth every penny. It wasn’t bad but the whole afternoon part was just based on everybody’s questions. And people are very afraid to ask anything so of course the workshop ended 2 hours before the schedule.
If I could go back, I would just sit there another two hours and ask this photographer every single thing on my mind. Even if it’s just two on two. The workshop was promised to end at 4 pm not 2 pm. So before you go to any workshop, prepare literally 100 questions. And if you are the only person to ask anything, so be it!
What about a film school?
I’ve studied Multimedia design which included a video production and I have to say two things. I haven’t really learned anything about the technical side of a video production I didn’t know before I went to the university at the age of 19, but at least I could practice a real world of video industry.
I got myself disciplined, I’ve learnt how to work in groups as a team. I got a lot of feedback on my work and that is very valuable for the future. You need to learn how to deal with people in your industry, with clients, be disciplined and get feedback and learn how to receive feedback in a creative industry.
Which sometimes can be really harsh. And if you study film and video production, you can spend the whole day on creating videos and learning and everybody’s ok with you.
You get to network and meet with people who also love videos and they share the same passion. Maybe you can start a big project or film a movie together one day.
Thanks to the university I was also able to meet successful film-makers and photographers from all over the world and see how they work and how they think. It’s a priceless experience.
I would definitely suggest going to University if you want to get into a creative industry. If you’re based in the United Kingdom, there are some awesome Universities in London and all over the country.
Recently, I came across LMA University offering amazing programmes for all kinds of creatives. For videographers, they offer Digital Film and TV production courses. They open a new campus in London in 2020. So if you’re interested, you can visit LMA website and see all the options.
What equipment do I need to become a professional videographer?
It depends very much on your budget. If you want to become a videographer for online media, I would go with a DSLR.
The main reason is that it’s still less expensive than other fully professional video cameras with 4K or XLR inputs and other advantages for big productions.
And you can do a lot of things with it. Including taking photos which comes handy when you look for work and you can offer two services in one. Everything like Canon 5D Mark III, IV, V is amazing. I know it’s pretty expensive but if you want to do this professionally, you need to invest.
When you start out however, don’t mind the equipment. When you just learn things, you can use your iPhone and just go out and film stuff. And ideally edit it as well.
Use your phone, camera or anything to film with to practice. But if you want to take it to the professional level, you need to get a proper equipment and learn how to use it.
It can be pretty overwhelming when you see all the options and buttons and you’ve never seen it before. You need to get the hang of it if you want to call yourself a videographer.
If you can’t access this equipment, then go for a workshop where you can use it and learn how to use it. Or even watch YouTube videos and see how it works. Once you understand the main theory, then you can use and manually control every video and DSLR camera on this planet.
Don’t forget to keep up with new technologies, gimbals, cranes, tripods, lighting. Everything evolves, so try to get in touch with this new equipment and technology and learn how to use it. It will put you one step ahead in your career.
Can’t afford expensive video production equipment?
I had this problem in a young age so I understand how you feel. There are two things you can do. Either find a job and try to save up to £5000. I know it sounds ludacris and well… it is.
So try to seek used equipment for half price. However, if you want to get paid as a videographer, you can’t bring cheap equipment to your project. In the end, if the results look like being shot with an iPhone, which offers pretty good quality nowadays, people might complain and not hire you again or refer you.
Or pay you in the first place. If they see you have cheap equipment to start with, you might find it difficult to make them pay you anything. mpb.com offers good deals on used equipment if you want to check it out.
Should invest into lights and sound equipment?
Bare in mind that you don’t only need a camera. You definitely need a tripod as well. There’s nothing worse than shaky shots. If you film interviews, it will save you energy as well if you can put your camera on a tripod.
Mind the sound
Audio! The most important thing after the lens! If you get the audio wrong and lousy, your video will be considered low quality in the end. Good audio is incredibly important in every video, on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook. We want to hear clean and clear audio, otherwise we stop watching the video.
It’s proven by many studies and you might even find yourself in that situation. Try to listen to a video with a horrible bad quality sound.
Don’t fear expensive audio equipment. Audio equipment is incredibly expensive but after using so much of it, you can find ways on how to tiptoe around it.
I worked at theatres, cinemas, stadiums, studios and I came across all the possible audio equipment used for any occasion. I have one piece of advice for you which will save you a lot of bucks.
If you want to buy a microphone, you either buy the most expensive one or the absolute cheapest. If you want to go in between and buy a wireless microphone for £150, forget it.
It will malfunction and give you headaches very quickly. I would suggest buying £500 Shure or Sennheiser or buy £20 wired microphone you can plug in to your phone or camera and film videos with it.
Wires are of course annoying but a cheap wireless microphone will give you signal failure, you need batteries and when the phone goes off, you can actually hear the signal colliding.
Turn on the lights!
You might also need some lights, but it depends on your lens and what kind of videos you want to film. If your lens is performing pretty good in low light, then you’re fine with light and you don’t need it. But if your lens is having troubles, you need to buy at least a small light.
Be aware that once you point a light into someone’s face when you interview them, they might actually freak out. Many people are not used to it and it might bother them so much that they will even tell you to turn it off.
When I filmed my first concert ever, it was pitch black in the club. I told my client that it’s impossible for me to create a high quality video from this concert, but he refused to turn on more lights because the band didn’t allow it.
The client told me to use my lights instead so I put a small light on top of my camera. Filming became much easier for me, however the band told me to turn it off because it distracts them from playing.
When you start out and you are forced to be working with low or NO budget, you will work with people who want videos but they don’t want to collaborate on video production.
They don’t understand basic principles of filming and they don’t want to listen.
When I film with a successful person, they always ask me for more lights. Just imagine Madonna saying to her videographer, turn the lights off, it distracts me. And then she would publish a bad low light music video? I don’t think so.
If you ever went to the theatre or a music concert, have you noticed how many lights are pointed to the singer directly? The subject needs to be lit so everybody can see them. Actors on stage in theatre are lit to the point they can only see lights and no audience. But they are used to it because this is part of their job.
Their eyes are used to it, but if you went up there [believe me I tried it], you will not see a thing and you will feel dizzy in a while. And that’s why I love working with true professionals that understand my needs as a videographer.
The bottom line is before you become a professional, you will work with amateurs, because to be honest, you are an amateur as well. It’s just the truth and you need to accept it and do everything in your power to become a professional quickly.
However, to get to that level, you need to accomplish and finish more chapters of how to become a videographer life book. As I call it, in other words experience.
Do I have to learn how to edit videos?
I don’t know any videographer who can’t edit videos. It’s kind of part of it so don’t even think about skipping it. If filming videos is your true passion then you want to learn video editing because only then you can see your work come together into the final result, which is the most amazing feeling of all.
Also if you can’t afford any video equipment at all yet, then focus on video editing.
You can edit your iPhone movies and play with it. I edit in Adobe Premiere. I’ve tried many video editing software but Adobe Premiere Pro is the best fit for me.
If you’re not sure about the editing software, you can read my blog on 5 best video editing programmes.
Top 5 best video editing tips
Video editing is not difficult to learn in terms of technical skills. But it’s hard to learn to edit like a professional. There are some mistakes I’ve made when I started out. I’ll give you some tips on what to watch out for!
Always edit chronologically. Even if you have the shots that fit into other parts of videos, always keep the story straight. And never put a shot that happened before, after. Unless you are able to explain it properly.
Put yourself into viewers shoes. Viewers haven’t been to the event. And they haven’t seen all the shots, so they don’t know what is going on unless you show them. Always keep in mind the full story and try to not miss a thing.
Get some feedback from people who have never seen the video before. They can tell you exactly what is wrong with it so listen closely. However, don’t take all the advice from them. Try to stick to your decisions if you really believe it’s for the best.
Choose the right music. Music can change a video completely. To better or to worse. Watch out for a proper music. Always make a research on client and think about what fits and what they would like. If you like a hip-hop music, it doesn’t mean the client will like it too. You can experiment sometimes, but keep in mind the client has to be happy too.
Never show half-finished video. As a video editor you have a result video in your head already way before it’s actually a reality. But other people don’t get into your head and see your vision. So sometimes when you show unfinished video to someone, they will not get it. And they will think this is it. Be patient and share your videos but do it when it’s almost finished, or finished.
And a bonus tip is to consult a lot of things with the client beforehand. Get some ideas on direction you should go with in terms of video editing. Maybe the music they like, the style, ask them what videos they like, why they like them.
At the start of my career, it happened to me often that I didn’t ask many questions and I was under the impression that I’m doing exactly what the client wants. And after many hours of work, the client told me this is nothing like what they expected.
I just mismatched the style to go with, with that certain client. For other clients, it could work and video would be amazing to them. But it’s always individual.
Look for internships
Before getting a job, at the beginning of your journey, ask around and write to companies for internship opportunities. Just to get your foot in the door. It might sound easy to get the internship but it’s not. If you tell me, you don’t mind going for a coffee and get lunches to everyone, just to be able to be there, it’s ok but every single wannabe videographer will say the same. And there are plenty of them. So if you write to 50 companies and they all say no to you, even if you work for free, forget about it and just keep learning and do your thing.
Don’t worry about anyone telling you yes. Create a YouTube channel and just do it. And don’t forget to buy a domain name and build your website. It doesn’t matter if there is not much work you can publish yet, but just write about yourself. Your story and blog about videography. It will also help you raise your profile and people might notice you this way and you don’t have to chase them.
Should I find a mentor?
It depends. Having a mentor and having a role model is different. So don’t confuse these two terms. Having a role model is good but don’t hang on them too much because it might constrain your creativity and you just might want to become them and not you.
Mentor on the other hand comes in pretty handy because they speed up your learning process. When I started my first job as a videographer, my colleague was 10 years older and he worked at Czech TV for almost a decade and I thought I can learn so much from him.
However, what happened was that he saw me as his competition because I was incredibly hard working. Yet I was having no experience but he was frightened anyway.
He didn’t want to show me or tell me anything about cameras, equipment and experience.
I had to learn everything myself, which was really hard.
Try to find a mentor, a fellow videographer, someone who you can even hold the mike for, but they will give you an idea of what you can become one day. You will see how they talk to the clients, how they handle troubles, situations and so on.
Produce your own videos and films
There’s not a better time than now to be able to create and produce your own stuff. You have social media, YouTube and a lot of successful stories.
People can notice you this way and they will if you keep doing it, growing and producing.
Don’t worry about not having the right equipment, or not enough skills. Just do it. A lot of people are having problems with execution. There are a lot of talkers but not many walkers. Show everyone you can create a screenplay and execute a video/film in a day and people will notice you.
When it comes to social media, you should create a video every single day. If you go out to the shop, for a trip, for a walk with your dog, if you cook something.
Everything has to be turned into videos and published on your social media. Of course if you cook, make it interesting and cool with shooting angles or editing, otherwise why would you publish it. Keep it interesting and relevant.
Every single day. I would suggest filming yourself when you’re out for a job and explain to the camera your creative process.
These videos go long way, rather than filing yourself cooking. But still do all of it.
Build your portfolio
As I mentioned before, you need to buy a domain name and web hosting and create your own website – portfolio. If you have a Facebook page, that’s ok but you need to step it up a notch. What if Facebook decides to delete your page tomorrow? Facebook can do anything they want, but if you have a website, you can post, publish whatever you want and you can design it however you want. Just look at your role models, everyone who is someone has a website. Why not you?
You can buy a web hosting from £2 per month at www.seekahost.co.uk and a domain name .com from £10.50 per year, so don’t hesitate and go for it.
You don’t know what to put on your website?
Yes, I heard that before. When I started out at the University, I only had my YouTube projects to show off. And it wasn’t a real work for any client or company so I didn’t want to publish this on my website because it’s not professional.
So what did I do? I created some videos, from going around the city and publish it.
Also took some photos and most importantly I wrote my story. Things about me, why I decided to become a videographer, how passionate I am about it and of course write a blog about videography in general. You can see my portfolio on www.nicoleven.com and www.nicolevenglovicova.com
Find your videography niche and focus on that market
It will be easier for you to get clients if you are focused on a certain market. On the other hand, know that it will be harder for you to jump from niche to niche if you want to do a variety of videos. I’m not really focused on one thing, I do videos for social media, interviews, promotional videos, YouTube videos, testimonials, vlogs, business videos. I just know what I’m not focused on and never was – wedding videography.
You can’t expect to be hired by a big business when all you do is wedding videos. They want to see if you can do business videos, if you can handle big projects, client communication and so on.
It’s good if you’re focused on one kind of videos but as I just mentioned, it might take away other projects from you. It’s completely up to you, you need to make that call.
Do you want a job or become a freelance videographer?
This is the question. To be or not to be? I don’t want to give you advice on this because you must know. And sometimes you need time to decide, sometimes you want to try everything and see what works for you.
I can tell you my story. I was always producing my things when I was a teenager, but I simply couldn’t afford a video camera and I decided to try to get employed as a videographer or video editor somewhere.
I was successful and got a job in Czech republic as a video editor, later on becoming a head of video production.
After 3 years I was ready to go freelance but I got stuck at work. This what happens when you stay in one place for a while because you’re afraid of change.
I got my paycheck, I didn’t have to deal with clients, looking for jobs, work, projects and I got my money. Well, after a while it’s not enough for you and you want some control.
I decided to go freelance and I couldn’t be happier. Moving to London and being a freelancer is simply the best.
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