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What is Videography?

The definition of “videography” is elusive because it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and it frequently changes with new technology and trends.

As a film school graduate, I used to look at the “videographer” title with disdain because I always associated it with live events or low production-value projects. But this viewpoint changed with the rise of Youtube and DSLRs. The lines between “film” and “video” became ambiguous, and the terms became interchangeable.

A decade later, video has taken over the internet and has become arguably the most consumed and shared form of media. And the affordability of excellent HD and 4K technology has lowered the barrier of entry to the industry. But somehow, the meaning of “videography” can still seem unclear, so here’s what you need to know.

Cinematography vs. Videography

Both of these fields rely on the use of high quality video cameras, and there’s a lot of overlap between skill sets that muddle the distinction between them.

Cinematography often refers to the discipline within filmmaking that makes decisions regarding the image that comes out of the camera. This includes both the technical and creative factors that serve a director’s vision. A cinematographer, or director of photography, often operates within their own camera department on a film set, and oversees everything dealing with the camera and lighting.

Videography is frequently a catch-all term used for professionals who operate as a “one-man-band” and are not compartmentalized on a production set. Very often, a videographer will be the producer, director, cinematographer, sound recordist, gaffer, and editor all on the same project.

Videographers typically must be their own cinematographers, and cinematographers will sometimes work with videographers who delegate camera operating duties on larger productions.

Just as all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, most videographers are cinematographers to some degree, but not all cinematographers are videographers.

Types of Videography

Video comes in a variety of styles and serves a myriad of purposes. Some clients need coverage or streaming for live events such as conferences, concerts, and sports. Others want wedding videos, music videos, or promotional videos. And then there’s Instagram Stories, Facebook Ads, Youtube web series, website banners--the list extends as far as your imagination will take it!

All of these things can be lumped under videography. But not all videographers will specialize in every format (think rectangles and squares again).

Shooting a corporate explainer video could look very different than shooting a rap music video, and editing a beauty vlog might be a different style than a concert. Now, that’s not always the case, and I personally love to synthesize styles and borrow elements from across genres. But the emphasis here is that videographers each have their strengths and specialties that both they and their clients should be aware of.

I’ve niched down to marketing videos in the outdoor and travel industries. The styles vary, but the content and tone serve as a consistent thread that plays to my strengths. As an outdoor-loving, globe-trotting creative, I’m well-integrated into these cultures and bring expertise in the trends that engage these audiences. On the other hand, I would not thrive in a wedding environment, and very rarely shoot live events.

A Videographer’s Responsibilities

There are so many different videography business models that it’s hard to make a blanket statement about what the typical responsibilities are. But generally, the creative process can be broken down into three main phases.

Pre-production starts with the development and scripting of a concept and progresses to the coordination of the shoot itself. This might include finding and securing talent, locations, crew, costumes, props, permits, transportation, catering, and equipment rentals.

Once the shoot is set up, production begins, which includes camera work, directing performances or interviews, set design, lighting, and sound recording. Depending on the scale of the shoot, there may be logistics and scheduling that must be considered throughout the day to ensure smooth sailing.

Finally, the project enters post-production, where the footage is ingested and edited, and color correction, sound design, and motion graphics are added. Though this is very often the final creative step in the process, the video often needs distribution or promotion for it to ultimately serve its intended purpose.

Not all videographers perform every step of this process, but many do. And for freelancers, many must consider business aspects as well, including finding clients, making proposals, marketing and self-promotion, and establishing a social media presence.

Videographers often have a lot on their plate, but consequently develop a well-rounded skill set and knowledge base of the industry.

Is a Videography Career Worth it?

This really depends on who you are and what your priorities are. Videography is a field that’s fluid and has much potential for each individual to make it their own. You can find a partner if you don’t want to go solo. You can work in-house for an organization if you don’t like the uncertainty of freelance. You can work as a freelance editor or camera operator on the side of your main business. The important thing is that you’re passionate about it and willing to stick it out through the tough times.

Video is more than just the future; it’s very much the present. There’s a lot of demand for videographers, and with a little patience and a lot of hard work, you can ride that wave to a successful career.


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