I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Krieg, a photographer, content creator and owner of The Shared Shutter based out of Southern California. She will discuss how we as photographers can start to introduce video into our photography work.
So I would love for you to share with us how you originally got started in video, because you started in photography and then made that addition to your company. Where did that come from? How did that start and what are some of the first things that you had to figure out to make that addition?
When I lived in New York, I was doing musical theater and I was in a girl group called The Glamazons. We were in the top 10 of America’s Got Talent on Season Two. We did a lot of stuff and photos, and we had a TV show on Oxygen that never aired. So I had a lot of time on set and around cameras, but I was not a photographer or a filmmaker, I was always the talent.
When I got married, someone gifted us at our wedding a little Canon Rebel TI camera. I then got a nifty 50 lens, and I started photographing headshots for all my actor friends. That’s when I started really falling into the photography world. My husband and I struggled with fertility, and I just found that hiding behind the camera gave me some control back and let me feel like I had some say over the narrative. So I started documenting that first with photos and then Lloyd was born. He came out with this deep 80 year old smoker cough laugh that was so amazing and I turned to my husband and said we need video of this child!
So I just I deep dived in and I think it was probably always in me because as much as I love photography, there’s something incomparable to video and the way it captures sound and movement. I feel a lot of pressure with photos that they need to be perfect, like it’s one moment in time and it has to. With video, I love that you can kind of embrace the imperfection and it’s more of an overall emotion, it makes you feel something.
I started hitting record and just playing with it, I did everything wrong in the beginning, but I loved every second of it and I just instantly became addicted. So I started adding family films to my packages for other families and then I did a lot of senior sessions where I shoot the senior and do a one minute film where I’d layer in audio of them talking about what they want to do. This instantly took off and became such a device for storytelling for me that I didn’t realize I was missing in photography. But it just fulfilled me in a way that I hadn’t expected.
I would love for you to share with us some of the opportunities that being a hybrid shooter has led you to being able to do both photography and video.
Yes, so I call it being hybrid and that means I just shoot both. It’s been amazing in terms of opportunities. I think as an artist, I like to challenge myself and try new things. So I like to do a little bit of everything, and I like to try stop motions. I like to try all the things and so the fact that I do both photos and films, allows me to pitch for jobs that I normally wouldn’t get.
So I started in family photography, and at first it was hard to sell families on a family film because they don’t know what it is. Anytime a family would book with me, I’d send them an email, show them some options on locations and then gave them the opportunity to add on a family film for a particular amount. I showed them a few examples of my family films and that’s how I did that. For everyone who ended up booking it, I would always get tons of feedback about the video. So it I think set me apart from the others and that I offered something nobody else in my area was offering.
Then the same happened for branding, I fell into branding accidentally because the county fair was looking for someone to create a video that had a family feel to it. But there weren’t at the time, many people making family films. So they hired me to make a film of the fair, and then they loved it so much they put me on retainer for future county events.
Now I have a lot of retainers clients and the base for me is like a thousand dollars and it goes all the way up to $6,000 a month retainer. I found this retainer system to be really fantastic and it just exploded. There were tons of brands who needed that, because most of them are looking for their social media content and so they need a mix of both.
I pitched to a travel agency who needed both a Visit Madrid and Visit Bogota videos and then postcard shots. So I put in a pitch and then I got it and afterwards they flew me to Bogota, to Toronto, to Madrid, to Miami, to New York, multiple times. It was an awesome relationship, and it was so fun to get to visit those places. So the thing that set me apart is that I did both.
I feel like a lot of photographers shy away from video because it’s different. So can you sort of help us understand, like how would we get started? Where do these people start and what kind of path or what resources do you have available to kind of help us get there?
We all have a record button on our cameras right now, almost all of us. So hit record, just try it. My favorite thing to do at sessions, because video is all about the movement and stuff, is to record the in-between moments. Like seeing the connection and the transitions, those bridging shots. It doesn’t take me any extra time as my shoots are about an hour and if you add video, still about an hour. It takes no extra effort to hit record in between, especially for families. For bigger brands, I’m obviously storyboarding it out. But these small to midsize brands and then the family they love it. They love that you can do both and we all have the capability to do both with our cameras.
Cameras are incredible these days. I was using a Nikon D750 when I started, and the hardest part about those DSLRs is that there is really no autofocus to help you, which is fine. It’s a great way to learn and you’ve got to learn your manual focus. I was hired to do the Vertical U project with Instagram and Buzzfeed, where 10 content creators were invited to come and were sponsored to create their own series. Mine was called Mom Misadventures in Motherhood, and while creating it, I needed something with auto-focus as I was shooting and holding my camera vertically. As a result of this, I ended up switching to Sony, which was an amazing switch for me.
There’s a lot of stuff to learn like frame rates and how to shoot in slow motion and all that stuff. I have a self-paced course now at the Click Community Click Photo School called Filmmaking for Photographers, where I deep dive into all of that stuff in that course. But we need to remember that there’s also tons of free content everywhere, we’re not short on information. Just go for it, hit record and get yourself a great mic. That’s the only thing that you need is good audio.
What mic do you recommend?
I would say if you’re just starting out and you just want to play, there’s a RODE Video Micro mic that’s like 40 – 50 bucks on Amazon or you can get it from RODE and then it goes up from there. it just plugs straight into your mic jack. If you’re just looking for native audio and lifestyle stuff, it’s perfectly fine. There’s also Native Audio, that’s great for family films, if you’re just capturing like the footsteps of a little child running down the hall or the bath water running. If I’m doing a brand film for my commercial work, I’m using my Taz Cam 10L Lavaliers. I have a boom mic and I have an H5 Zoom. I’m always careful with my audio, I need a backup to the backup in case everything goes wrong.
For video editing, you can get a free trial of Final Cut or Premier Pro, or DaVinci Resolve. So there’s tons of free editing options for you and I would just say, don’t give up.
If you want to start small, start by making reels, reels are all the trend. Plenty of people are just making them on their cell phone. But it gives you a feel for editing, cutting to the beat of the music. And it’s so fun!
I was always under the impression that if you wanted to be a professional videographer or cinematographer that you needed a Gimbal. So can you just bust that myth right now?
Fake news Ashley! I have a gimbal, I do not use it because I shoot with two cams. So I have two cameras and I have a second shooter with me on my bigger brand stuff. But when it’s a family or a lifestyle, I run and gun, which means I have two cameras with two bodies and two lenses.
I’d never used the gimbal, unless I am on a big set, and we storyboard a follow shot where I’m following someone through something. I have the Zion crane too, I know a lot of people have the Ronin. As I mentioned, I’m a run and gun shooter and I want to see something and be like, Ooh, I want a top shot of that. When I mount in Bogota, I don’t have a storyboard, I’m just kind of following the beauty of the city. I don’t want to carry around this huge gimbal for the possibility of one smooth, steady cam shot, when I could find other ways to tell that story. So I find it hinders me more than it helps me. It’s come in handy sometimes when I’m on big sets and I really do need like a long steady shot. But very rarely do I use it.
If you’re shooting families, they have something called a skate and it’s 30 bucks on Amazon or BNH. It looks like a skateboard, and it has a little tripod head, and you just attach your camera to it and then you can walk your camera on it and it’s a fun way to get a nice, smooth shot without investing $800 in a gimbal. I think one false thing is people think, oh, video is going to be a huge investment, but it’s not. You could shoot it now like with everything you have, just get a little mic and you’re set to go.
To everyone out there starting video, don’t be intimidated and feel like it has to be perfect, imperfections are what makes video great. Don’t feel like it has to be perfectly cold and edited like maybe what you’re used to. People like raw and real and connection.
So when you’re shooting for your brand clients though, and they ask you to shoot vertically, you’re shooting with your Sony though? Not with your phone?
I’m almost always shooting with my Sony. But there are times where I’ll shoot in the Instagram app where it’s a snap and it’s like, they’ve changed into something else. It’s much easier to shoot that in the app because once you you’ll shoot the first thing, and you can shoot it to the music. Otherwise, if I’m doing like a pretty fun video of someone making a latte or doing something, I shoot on it on my Sony.
Here’s my personal life hack for those reels and transition videos:
- Use a tripod.
- Film the subject of your video
- Tap the align button and it’ll come up like an onion skin, like a double layer.
That’s how you line them up perfectly, so it looks seamlessly. Shooting vertically is really on fire right now. You should feel 100% feel free to shoot vertically.
I would love for you to share really quickly just because I’m super curious, like how does the culling part of finding video clips that you want. How do you organize that versus photos? Because for photos, I use Photo Mechanic, which makes the culling so fast. I can cull like 700 images in like less than an hour. It’s just crazy how fast they render, but when it comes to video clips, where do you start and how do you organize your footage? What does that look like? Do you talk about that in your class? On Click Pro?
I go through all of that in the self-paced course, but I’ll give you the abridged version. If you were to drag and drop the video from your SD card directly into Premier Pro, unlike Lightroom, Lightroom backs it up for you right, not Premier Pro. So as soon as you eject that SD card, all of the files are gone. It’s unfortunate, and it’s something for some reason, no one ever tells you. So what I do is I have a very organized library and I work off of an external hard drive because video is huge and I’m often in 4k.
So I will create a folder on my external hard drive and I’ll label it. If I have multiple cameras for a brand, I’ll put camera one, camera two, and audio. Then I’ll drag all the files in from that folder. So wherever you put it, you want it to live there. Some people prefer to work off their desktop and then when they’re done move the project to their external.
I also shoot mixed frame rates and 24 frame rates is the cinematic way. When you see TV it’s shot in 30, and when you see anything slow motion at 60 frames per second, that’s been slowed to 24. So I will highlight all of my slow motion films and you’ll see they say 59.976 frames per second. I’ll right click, modify interpret the footage to 23, so now 23.976. So it’s been slowed and then I highlight them, and I mark them as purple. You can like color tab them, just like you can in Lightroom.
I always try and get when I’m shooting an establishing shot, one big wide shot which lets everybody know where we are. Then I try and get a medium shot to tell everybody who we’re with and then a detail shot, which makes it feel like, oh, I’m really with these people. My last shot is always trying to get a bridging shot, which tell us how we got from one place to the next. Those are the only four things I use, so I really don’t overshoot when it’s video.
I feel like photos, we shoot for the beautiful light, but for video, you’re telling a story, so I don’t need 15 clips of them in gorgeous light at this place, because I’m only going to use one and it’s probably going to be five to seven seconds long, if it is just like a lifestyle film.
So I have a question for those people listening, who might not have even toyed around with video yet. But I know that one of the things that I sort of struggled with at first was knowing whether you choose your frame rate in the camera or later and then the fact that when you choose a slow frame rate, like slow-mo, it doesn’t show slow-mo on the back of your camera. So can you maybe give us just a crash course really quick.
So 24 frames per second for life is the frame rate to live at. The number one rule you want to follow that is different from photography, which you can break this rule if you’re a hybrid, I tell everyone, break it in the beginning because you don’t want your shutter speed to be this low and you’re accidentally taking photos. But your shutter speed in video is supposed to be twice your frame rate. So if I’m at 24 frames per second, my shutter speeds at 50. That’s what kind of gives it that cinematic feel, it’s got a little bit of motion blur to it, which your eye can’t really detect. Cause 24 frames are moving side-by-side, all within a blink of an eye, it’s in one second. But if you then all of a sudden snap a photo and it’s at a shutter speed of 50, you’re going to shoot yourself later when you’re trying to deliver that gallery.
I live at 24 frames per second when I’m shooting and when you’re outside, you can’t always follow that rule. It’s so bright, so they have things like ND filters. But I try and leave it at 24 frames per second and then I choose my slow motion carefully. Because for me, audio is the real gem of a video. That’s the thing that sets it apart from photos. You can layer in audio, if you decide to slow it down, you can layer it in. But I always choose my frame rate in camera. So I’ll be 24 frames per second, and then if I see like water or some kind of movement, and I need this in slow motion I just switch it to 60 and then my shutter speed is up at 120 and I hit record and grab that piece in slow motion.
It is not slow motion when you put it onto your hard drive. It is just shot in 60, which means now you have the ability to slow it in post. So some cameras like the D850, you can choose slow motion and it slows it for you in camera. It’ll put it on the card when you save it, you’ll see it’s already in slow motion
I think you can all do it differently, but I choose my frame as carefully, I do it in camera and then in post is when I slow it down. You just have to remember you can’t slowdown 24 frames per second. Nivea Walker, a filmmaker spoke about this. If you think of a slinky, when you try and spread that slinky out, you get these gaps. You get these holes and that’s what 24 frames per second is like. If you try and slow it down, you’re going to get these holes in your video that feel jumpy.
That’s why you need more frames to get it buttery smooth, and slow it to be able to stretch it without having any gaps in there. But you’ll play with it, and you’ll start to learn, some people like slow motion all the time and that’s their favorite thing.
I’ve found a lot of luck in creating something for yourself that you’re passionate about, will resonate with others. So if you’re like, well, I don’t know what I’d even start with, film something you’re passionate about. Find a story that you love. I documented on our IVF journey, a lot of people related to it. When I had the twins and they ended up in the NICU for a month and Motherly shared it, got like 10 million views. It’s just like those projects help feed my soul. They’re me giving back to things I’m passionate about, the experiences we’ve had, and getting to make other people feel less alone. I think that’s a great thing for video.
Any of the things that you’re passionate about, find 20 minutes and film a tiny little thing about it and have fun with it.
For persons wishing to connect with Sarah, you can find her on Instagram both @SarahKrieg and @sharedshutter. You can also check out her podcast called The Shared Shutter as well as visit her website at www.sharedshutter.com to see more of her video work with various brands.
Feel free to also reach out to these great filmmakers and photographers recommended by Sarah:
If you enjoyed today’s episode, I would love for you to take a screenshot of it, share out on Instagram with other mamas and tag me @thepurposegathering.
And as always mama, I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.