Being a videographer, photographer or any other creative can be challenging because we are usually introverted people standing always behind the camera or laptop. However, if you want to become the best, or one of the best, you need to work on your soft skills too. I would say it’s equally important to any other skills you need.
How to choose a videographer?
Basically, many videographers have very similar portfolios, showreels and it makes it difficult for businesses to decide whether this or that person is the right fit. In this day and age businesses look for professionals who will become their business partners, they will fit in with their culture and other employees not only deliver awesome videos and products.
How to create a long term collaboration with your client?
I have and had clients where I did just one project for them. But it is usually a matter of time that they will get back to me. However, majority of my clients are working with me on a monthly basis.
I spend time with my clients, having phone calls, lunches, Zoom calls, meetings. The point is, if I wasn’t a person who is pleasant to be around, I don’t think the collaborations would continue. It goes both ways, because if I don’t ‘sort of speak’ click with my client and we have different views or the communication is not good and we have very different personalities, then I don’t even want to continue to work with them.
I like choosing my clients, because I want to work with the best in their industry. I want to work with people who aspire to be amazing. Those who want to conquer the world and see the mission in promoting their products and growing their audience. Why is it important to me? Because with every project and client like this, I become a better professional and it drives me forward.
I used to work with clients who just wanted videos for the sake of having something to put on social media, but didn’t really believe it or didn’t even want to do it. I have realised it is a waste of time for me and my growth. I got a paycheck but that’s where it ended. I would spent a lot of time working on this project but I wasn’t moving forward. Someitmes it felt like I was moving backwards. And I missed working with a new exciting client who would be as passionate about what they do just I am.
Why you need soft skills if your work is amazing?
As I mentioned before, your work can be super awesome but if you have bad attitude – you’re always being late and you are not reliable, you are rude or intimidating – then people will not want to work with you long term. They would rather hire someone who is very friendly, responsible, reliable and doesn’t have such an amazing quality, but they are passionate about it so they might and will get to the highest quality soon anyway. I know many cases of business owners who look only at soft skills really. They need to see that they can work with you and you make them feel comfortable in front of a camera.
Being the best doesn’t mean people will wait for you because you are the best. It’s about hard word and precision. The most successful people are the nicest. Those who think they are very successful usually have bad attitude, but they won’t last long because nobody will want to do business with them in the end.
You have to make people feel comfortable in front of a camera
If you’re not friendly, how can you do it then? Last year I attended a casting in central London for a documentary about freelancers. I wanted to see how it works and get new experience. It was a casting for non-actors so it surprised me that it looked exactly like as if we were professional actors.
What I mean by that is that when a professional actor comes in for a casting, everybody is looking annoyed, people don’t even talk to you, they sometimes are rude and don’t care. But actors are used to it, actors – those who want to make it, haven’t made it yet. They know what to expect and they’re professionals, so nothing should throw them off the path when then proofread.
But the casting I attended wasn’t for professionals, and we didn’t have a screenplay. I was just asked few questions and had to answer. I’m pretty confident in front of a camera so nothing really threw me off the path but I was wondering if someone who is a bit nervous comes in, they had to run away. They should try to get the best out of people and not to scare them to death.
I came in to the theatre and was sat down by a security which scanned my face and almost took my fingerprints. I was waiting for 30 minutes and then a young girl came in and took me upstairs. We went through the hallway and to the elevator and she didn’t say a word to me. I tried to do a small talk and she just turned away and didn’t even look at me.
You can see the video I have created with someone who never spoke to the camera before in his life. You can see that David is really feeling comfortable and he opens up to me.
I am a fast walker but she walked almost as running, so I had to run after her through the whole theatre. We came into a very small room and she sat me down. It was like a thousand degrees in there and she just turned on the camera. I was expecting some instructions because even email didn’t say much about this project. But she just switchedon the camera, started recording and asked me my name, what I do and what is true happiness to me and so on. She told me to look at her while talking, but she was just looking into her phone the whole time so I was actually talking to her forehead the whole time. This is the biggest sign of an amateur interviewer because they don’t even look at you. That means that a person in front of a camera just feels weird, it’s like talking to yourself. Talking directly to the camera is completely different than to a forehead.
It was all wrong, everything from start to finish it was handled so unprofessionally. But the biggest harm will be done to the project not to the people. Because if you treat professional actors this way, they still give their best performance. But if you do it with people from the street, you will make them so uncomfortable that they will just look like idiots.
I have created an online course which teaches people to talk to the camera with confidence: How to talk to the camera like a pro which is available on Udemy. This course will teach you everything you need to know. I do have 2020 students enrolled already and the course rating is 4.6 out of 5. You can see it here.
Smile and small talk goes a long way
This was an example of how you should not do it. When you film business owners or your clients or your clients’ clients or anyone else the moment you meet a person, you need to smile, talk to them, ask them if they want anything – water, better chair, coffee, tea. You have to make them comfortable otherwise they will look weird on camera. You have to smile even if they don’t. Smile comforts people, if you have a poker face on them, it’s uncomfortable. They are already terrified of cameras and now they see a bored and annoyed videographer, how that makes them feel?
Get friendly with everyone
If you film an event, you have to talk to people, become their friends and then film them. Of course, the best videographers are those who are invisible but only for a certain amount of time. If you’re invisible the whole time of the event, then your client will chase you and look for you and that is the worst situation. You have to everywhere, everybody can see it and then become invisible. Never ever stand in one place a look into your phone or just look somewhere looking bored. And never have bad attitude. You can think what you want but don’t say it.
Learn from someone else’s mistakes
When I started out my videography career, I filmed 3 events per week, other times I was working in the studio. When I was at those events, I filmed a lot of shots and then I took a break for a few minutes. There is nothing wrong with that but there was a huge mistake I made right there. When you take a break, do it in a place where nobody can see you. And when you film stuff, be always in front of a client.
Those who pay you, have to see you. My mistake was that when I filmed like crazy, I was always not somewhere where there was my clients. SO they couldn’t see me filming. They could only see me taking a break. I realized how does it have to look like? They haven’t seen me done those 50 shots I did just for the last hour working my butt off. They can only see me chill and taking a break. And sometimes even they came up to me and told me to film this and that. This is the worst situation because they literally tell you ‘go do something and don’t just stand here’.
I have created a podcast where I share all my exprience as a freelance videographer and also situations from my employment years. My first client, fail, mistakes and success. You can listen to it here.
Share your ideas with a client
This is what I’ve learn pretty quickly when I started out but I had to learn it from my mistake. Also a good thing is to come up to the client and tell them your ideas for some shots and tell them your vision. That was also one of my beginner’s mistakes. I had so many ideas but I always kept them to myself and I didn’t communicate it with the client. You have to say everything and don’t keep it to yourself and just do it. The client will be happy in the end when they see the video but you also have to keep them happy on the set and make sure they know, the video will be absolutely amazing.
Don’t trash talk
I have to mention another thing, probably you don’t do it but I want to mention it anyway. I had worked with videographers side by side and sometimes they trash talked the client right at their event. In front of people who paid to get to the event. Of course people will hear you and maybe even a client when you talk BS about them. No matter what you think, don’t say a word ever to anyone. Even when you talk to someone and they tell you ‘oh this event sucks’, don’t agree with them and just don’t say anything or just say positives.
If you want to know more about How to become a professional videographer and get better at what you do in terms of soft skils and learning process, you can see my e-book which you can buy for £5. I still update the Google doc and add new information to it, so once you buy it, it will get updated and you will get more content on a monthly basis.
My YouTube is also full of many useful videos to help you grow and learn. You can subscribe here.