Cold Spring Harbor | Live @ Firehouse Theatre

As someone that loves playing, listening and discovering music, I was super happy to shoot my very first live music performance last month.

It was a Billy Joel tribute band called Cold Spring Harbor, and man, can these kids rock.

I say kids because that's what they are; a group of high schoolers far beyond their years in terms of musical ability.

Here's a look into their sold-out performance at the legendary Firehouse Theatre in Newburyport, MA. Check them out if you have a chance, you certainly won't be disappointed.

Testing some new glass at ocean's edge

It's been a while since I've posted on here, but I've been pretty busy, and I guess that's a good problem to have.

Anyway, I recently got a couple new lenses that I've been using for client work, but I haven't really had a chance to test drive them for personal work.

So it was about 60 degrees last Friday, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to eat my lunch by the ocean and put the new glass to work.

I was only able to string together a few keeper shots, but must say I'm thoroughly impressed with the new members of the family.

I used a 25mm Zeiss Batis for the opening shot and the 85mm Batis for the rest. It's nothing, but it's something, and I'm really looking forward to working with these lenses in the future.

As always, thanks for reading and watching. Onward and upward.

Whatever You Shoot, Do It With Purpose

I've realized that when most people start shooting video, they become obsessed with achieving the "optimal camera settings."

But in the midst of balancing aperture, shutter speed and ISO, they seem to forget they're supposed to be telling a story in the process.

And admittedly, getting proper exposure is a challenge when just starting out.

But when it’s all said and done, your audience doesn’t care what settings you used; they care about the story.

That’s why you must have a purpose for everything you shoot.

I repeat: you MUST have a purpose for everything you shoot.

So what is "purpose" anyway?

Well, it’s the difference between “shooting nature” and “shooting fall foliage along the ocean’s edge.”

Do you see the difference there? One has a purpose and one doesn’t.

Always. Shoot. With. Purpose.

Once you pick a purpose for your video, a couple things will happen.

For one, you’ll spend less time wandering around aimlessly thinking of things to shoot.

And two, you’ll have intent for every shot, which will make your video much more focused.

This is a really great idea, especially if you want people to watch it for more than 10 seconds.

I want to be clear that when discussing "focus" and "purpose," I'm not talking about drawing storyboards and writing scripts.

Yeah, those things are essential for more advanced productions, but we’re not there yet. 

But most beginners do NO planning whatsoever, and it really shows in their work.

So what's the right amount of planning? Well, it's somewhere in between no planning and over-planning.

Since we’re on the topic of planning, you’d actually be surprised how many events in life are pre-planned for you.

Of course, wedding and graduation ceremonies follow a pretty strict agenda, but even something as simple as a birthday party runs on some sort of schedule:

  1.         It’s time for the party and the guests arrive with their kids.
  2.         Then the kids play games in the backyard (and the adults enjoy cocktails on the deck.) 
  3.         Then the cake comes out.
  4.         Then everyone sings “happy birthday” and the candles get blown out.
  5.         Then the cake gets cut (and the kids manage to squeeze in one last sugar rush.)
  6.         Then the presents get opened.
  7.         Then it’s time to go home. 

If you plan to capture an event like this, break it down into smaller “chunks" to figure out where you should be and when so you don't miss the action.

Is it better to be in the the kitchen when the candles are being lit, or outside to capture the excitement on the kids' faces as the cake arrives?

I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but at least you have options because you planned ahead.

So when choosing a purpose for your next video, remember that the only “wrong" choice is to have no purpose at all.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • Why is it important to tell this story in the first place?
  • What do I find most interesting about it?
  • What excites me about it?
  • How do I want to tell it? 

If you brainstorm answers to these questions, and a small list of possible shots, where you should be, and when, you’ll have a much stronger purpose for your next video project. Happy shooting.

The Power of Perspective: Your Audience Will Thank You

When you’re just getting started with video (or photo), it’s really easy to get accustomed to shooting everything from the same point of view: eye level.

Many beginners simply hold the camera up in a comfortable position, focus on their subject, and start capturing.

It is our normal point of view, after all, so it totally makes sense to be drawn naturally to this perspective.

But since all humans view the world this way, it also becomes really uninteresting, really fast.

After a while, all of the shots start to feel the same, which bores the audience and ultimately makes them tune out.

That’s why instead of being boring, you should harness the power of perspective (and use it to your advantage.)

Let’s not forget: you’re the one in charge here.

You control what the audience sees because you're the one recording the material.

And while there are no right or wrong shots, there certainly are dull and intriguing ones.

So, what if you:

  • Held your camera lower than normal? Or above your head?
  • Laid on the ground? Or stood on a chair and shot down onto your subject?
  • Got as close as possible? Or shot from a distance?
  • Shot from behind instead of in front?

When you really think about it, there’s a billion different ways to shoot a subject, none of which will break anything.

And the wonderful thing about unusual angles is they move the audience out of their comfort zone, which creates interest, which makes for more entertaining video.

But first, YOU need to move out of YOUR comfort zone.

Don’t just stand there and hold the camera up to your eye; that’s the most boring, meaningless thing you could do.

Move around. A lot. Get dirty. Let the creative juices flow.

See how many different angles you can capture for a single subject. It’s a great exercise to get you thinking about the power of perspective.

And believe me, your audience will thank you. Cheers.