Tradeshow For HDSLR Filmmakers – PhotoCine Expo

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It was brought to my attention that Lou Lesko founder of the popular bidding software for photographers recently started a tradeshow for people who shoot video with HDSLR’s called PhotoCine Expo. Looks pretty cool and it’s happening in LA September 25th and 26th. I thought I’d ask Lou a couple questions:

APE: Can you give me a little background and tell me how blink bid came about?

Blinkbid started as “Blink”, but I couldn’t get the URL so it evolved into Blinkbid. As I was directing more commercials, I had less time to do my own photography bids so my producer and I went on the hunt to find easy-to-use software so we could delegate the bidding. There really wasn’t any available so I came up with a design for a work flow and I had a custom database made. After looking at it for a few months we thought that we might be able to sell it as a product.

My accountant thought it was going to be a big tax write off and indeed the first iteration wasn’t ideal, but by version 2 we started to see a few more sales and we started getting valuable input from the community. We went from there to the point where we could give back to the photo community via APA and ASMP support.

APE: Now what about the Photo Cine Expo how did that come about, the timing seems perfect?

About eighteen months I wrote an article titled “Will Video Kill the Photography Star” for Digital Photo Pro magazine. I was much maligned for my opinion that photography and video were going to converge to the point where I got a few nasty emails decrying that my ability to call a trend had atrophied. Three months later, video exploded in the photo industry and I want from ass to prophet over night.

About this time Michael Britt and Tom Stratton saw the same trend as me, and were in the nascent stages of producing the Collision Conference, the first conference of its type bringing together HDSLR video and photography. They saw my article and asked me to speak. Ultimately we agreed that were like minded and so in 2010 we started PhotoCine News and the PhotoCine News Expo.

APE: Obviously you think there’s a big future for HDSLR filmmaking can you give me some thoughts on that?

Ahh the future. I’ve always held that photographers make amazing cinematographers and directors. It is our trained attention to detail that comes from having a single frame scrutinized that gives us an edge. However, there are a couple very valid reasons why photography has always been seen as the red headed step child of the entertainment industry.

The first is beyond anyone’s control. Movies and TV shows have massive audiences which translates into a lot of money for the studios which in turn put huge marketing muscle behind their products.

The second is an issue that I’ve been on evangelistic crusade about for the last year. Narrative thread. In the early days of photographers shooting video I have seen a huge number of vignettes. Stunning imagery in motion like you would expect from a photographer. The downfall to these vignettes is that they have no story. No matter how short your piece it should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

One way to get an easy introduction to the three act story structure of movies is to read “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. Snyder goes through visual story telling by offering heaps of examples from movies you’ve seen. If you want to get more existential and learn about the archetypal hero, there is no better book than Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

As far as the immediate future, conveying a story in motion, and the ability to write a treatment are both becoming absolute necessity to landing advertising jobs. Video is now an integral part of being a photographer. The danger on the horizon for photographers are the cinematographers that are looming on the periphery of our stake in advertising world. Agencies only have eyes for those who can deliver what they need. If photographers aren’t in a position to offer video they’ll start looking at the cinematographers, all of whom are reasonable photographers if they put their mind to it.

I’m incredibly optimistic about the extended future. Never before in the history of the visual arts have there been more opportunities for photographers. There are more distribution channels for original work, more ways to monetize non commissioned pieces, and more opportunity to achieve a level a celebrity based on your efforts.

I always like to stick my neck out with a prediction. In the next three years we’re going to see the decline of reality TV to see it replaced by documentaries and docu-dramas shot by photographers. Because there is something about being a photographer that gives you a unique visual perspective that can’t be found in any other discipline.


There Are 19 Comments On This Article.

  1. laurence zankowski

    After just finishing a shoot for a spec with Canon HD-DSLRs (5DMKII + 7D with Zeiss lenses )

    for a un-color corrected version:

    The Wait

    This is convergence and it is happening at a faster rate then I expected. Great insights and thank you Rob for bringing this to your site.

    I am glad I took some writing classes and got in on the ground floor of New Mexico’s below the line training. It will be put to use.

    p.s. I am the actor, insert truck driver, assistant camera, PA, etc,etc for the above short ( did not do any horse riding, though)

  2. This is way to coincidental!

    After just releasing a few studies I did in video over the last few months…THIS comes to head today as I searched “advertising treatment” on Google. I’m a regular reader and had not checked it yet!

    I not only just released a couple vids on Vimeo and my APhotoFolio site to share in a recent promo…but I’ve also been asked now to quote on a video project for a national client the same day!


    Best of luck Lou in your endeavors and thanks for BlinkBid, it beats the hell out of MS Word and tables!

    Rick Lohre

  3. Just curious as to how you guys are pricing video as compared to still photography. It is my understanding that traditionally video is a buyout model. Are you guys negotiating differently?

    • @Shane,

      This is the elusive question. For corporate stuff, I’ve heard the number of $1000-$5000 per produced minute tossed around.

      Another comment was, as a photographer, and as tempting as it may be, don’t try do everything yourself. Maybe for a personal project, yeah. If you’re planning to be the director, hire a camera operator, someone for sound, grip, production and whatever else is required in the world of motion.

      Enjoy the ride.

  4. Steven Meisel shouldn’t have any trouble making the transition because his photo shoots, for Vogue Italia, are like movie production. But what about the guy who shoots team sports?

    The better PJs are already telling great stories with stills, but what about the portrait photographer?

    Are food photographers going to do as well as advertising shooters who shoot “slice of life” stories?

    I don’t think that many still photographers have the ability to be the next big thing. Not many film school grads go on to be the next big thing either.

  5. I don’t know what to make of the convergence thing – I guess it’s happening – on the other hand, I live in L.A., and I know many directors who have amazing reels, DPs with amazing reels, etc. etc., who are all out of work, and who have way more experience and background in production than most photographers who are just getting hip to motion. Is every photographer supposed to now be a director, and who is going to pay them, when many supremely competent people are already scrambling for work?

    I can see how it would be useful maybe for wedding and event photogs, but there’s everyone in the audience to consider, who has a phone and motion camera themselves. Do they really need to hire some guy with the same camera they can buy themselves.

    I guess eventually maybe you could video stuff and pull the frames off for use as stills, but then you can’t strobe it. Then there’s that dude whose name escapes me, who does the movie posters that briefly come to life, but I haven’t seen too much of that lately.

    The people I see making the most dough in the current environment are the legions of consultants and services rushing in to help and advise the beleagured photog in figuring out what to do in an ever-changing environment. That and the tech sellers. As Tony Soprano says: “We missed the good days”, namely, the 80s when photography was photography and it was relatively easy to make a living, before the internet and digital imaging made the whole house of cards fall apart!

    Of course, Tony also said “The hustle never ends”, and I will be at this thing with my notebook and checkbook, cos ya gotta be a bit modern. I hope something will replace trad photography, where it is once again possible to earn a consistent middle class living, and maybe, as the show’s promoters insist, this is somehow it.

  6. My assistant here in my photographer castle read my thing above and said, yeah but what about documentary types? And he does have a point, one the show organizer also goes out of his way to make – but – again – many docu types starving in current environment. Could see it working in a way that Scott Pommier’s (see earlier APE story on him) personal work got him gigs.

    • @John Eder,

      Thing about docs is there is a growing market, and new ways to sell the product. So it may become feasible to make a good living of documentary work

      One thing that photographers aren’t used to is that in movies and TV the producer owns the rights to the product. So you’ll have to keep a weather eye for stuff like that as you pursue collaborative ventures in this new genre.

      • @Lou Lesko, V-DSLRs, are such a kludge. For documentary work a digital version of an Eclair ACL would be much better. An ACL with a 9.5-57 and a 200′ mag wasn’t much larger than a Super-8 camera, and it sat on your shoulder like a proper film camera.

  7. Great article. I find it interesting that for the first part of the year many were writing off the future of photography. Photographers will always be around, what they do is changing and adapting to technology and economic times.

    The work is there and the earning potential is there. It is like the chameleon lizard, it has changed colors but is still there.

  8. I think many forward looking people should have seen this many years ago. Unlike lower cost video production trends of the late 1990s the new realm and technology do promise on technical quality. Unfortunately the need to be able to tell a story is still just as necessary. I think a great deal of this current trend is being built on stills photographers without enough stills work trying to lowball video specialists.

    Eventually those who jump fully into the video realm will either figure out that the production expenses are truly high to get beyond acceptable quality. In the process they will put many dedicated video specialists out of business, because none of them will/can compete on price. Then the former stills shooters will become the new video shooters, if they can survive financially.

    This is the race-to-the-bottom video trend I see. Already some stills shooters are including video at little extra cost on stills shoots. As soon as more clients and agencies start to expect that, then where is the money to be made in video? Technology is a wonderful thing, but if we have to struggle to make a living from all this great technology, then is it really an improvement?

    • @Gordon Moat, you make such a great point. The moment a new technology or trend comes out everyone races to offer it as a bonus, and then the specialist in the market who is supposed to price it higher gets cut out. Really strange times we are living in.

      Sometimes I don’t know where it’s all going, and I just recently graduated from J school and started my PJ career only a couple years ago…

    • @Jeff Singer,

      To refute the argument, have you seen THE AMERICAN? Directed by a photographer and freaking gorgeous.