In March of this year, I flew out to Oklahoma to attend the National Press Photographers Association’s 58th annual News Video Workshop. For a whole week, the talented faculty of the program pushed us for at least 12 hours a day to become better photojournalists.
We would attend a full day of training seminars in the morning and afternoons, then those of us registered for the Shoot ‘n Edit (myself included) would produce practice videos, filmed on location. The following day, we would show our final product and be absolutely ripped to shreds by the faculty and their brutally honest feedback.
It was the exact constructive criticism I’d been craving. I first started shooting video in March 2017 with no formal training, and opportunities for feedback and guidance on producing better videos in my current position are limited. The workshop gave me just that, from professionals who’ve been in the game for decades.
I can’t even begin to describe all that I learned at the workshop — but I can show you.
Below is the last video I made before going to the workshop:
It’s decent enough, and at the time I made it, I was somewhat proud of it. I saw plenty of things I wanted to improve on, but at the time, it got the job done for our Giving Day campaign.
Then, I went to the workshop. And while I still appreciate the direction I’d taken with this video at first, now I have some thoughts on how I could’ve approached the video to showcase more about my central character, Bryan — a warm, pleasant personality that I wish shined through more in this video.
And to be clear, this is because I failed to capture the right video — Bryan was brilliant on camera and off. My failure lies in not capturing more of him in his element, on the job. He gave us a tour of the quarry, and I wish I had footage to show just how much passion and pride he carried with him everywhere he went, and to show how loved he is by coworkers. Really just an incredible guy, and I wish I’d done him — and his story — more justice.
I’ll spare you on the details of how I’d approach this video now, but I will say that it’s all about the value proposition to my viewers.
Which brings me to my next point: the post-workshop videos I made.
One of the first videos I made upon my return was of Virginia Tech’s Hyperloop team:
This was certainly not a perfect video, but it’s far more focused on telling a story visually than videos I’ve produced in the past. I tried to use a lot more natural sound in the video as well, as one of the concepts focused on heavily at the workshop was using “nat sound” to build your story.
It’s definitely a quick hitter video, but the value to my viewers is that they’ve (hopefully) been entertained. I had more fun with this video than others, opting to include some of the funnier aspects of this team’s experience detooling a layup, and in turn I hope that my viewers feel their time was not wasted. They learned a little more about this student team (a frequent group featured on our social media), while not being bored by a dry, dull video.
Another video I had the opportunity to make was from our college’s graduation. This was so fun to film — I always love going to these commencement ceremonies and watching so many people celebrating such a massive and important milestone in their lives. Without further ado:
Again, I still see plenty I want to improve within this video, but this is the first video I’ve produced that I feel stirs up some sort of emotion. Despite the length of the video, we had an immense reaction to this on our social media. Scroll through the comments and shares and you’ll see how many people made note of how this video made them tear up or get emotional. That’s exactly what I wanted. (Not that I generally want to make people cry. But for this? 100%, I hope people were that moved.)
I see a huge difference in my approach to video since the workshop. Without a doubt, I think this workshop changed me for the better. Now all that’s left to do is keep practicing, so here’s to making my second year of producing videos even better than the first.