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Insights & Thoughts

Shooting a Documentary Promo Behind the Scenes

By Anthony Thurston on August 3rd 2013

One of the best things you can do as far a marketing your photography business is a documentary promo. They give potential clients a look inside your business, how you work, how you talk, and gives them an idea of the sort of experience they can expect if they select you are their photographer.

Dave Dougdale over at Learning DSLR Video recently released a great video where he details how he went about shooting and putting together his first Documentary Promo for a photographer in his local area. It is a very interesting look at documentary storytelling in a photography related video, if you are interested in putting together your own promo or offering your services to others you should check this out.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. amanda

    I loved the video and the concept is awesome. A lot of people are shy in front of a stranger with a camera. A video that is personal will no doubt help your clients feel they know you a little more.

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  2. HannsJ

    Dave, congrats on your video. This is one of the tings that always amazes me – your thrive for something and out of the blue there comes interesting stuff, connections, information …
    I have been thinking about promovideos a lot since I decided to go for full time commercial photography. I have a 5 year business plan to get close to where I want to be.
    I agree that you have to do stuff for free in order to get the opportunitiy to put something together that you can use for your portfolio – so all first jobs I do for free – and it works fine.
    I am totaly with you what these promo videos are concerned – you can transmit so much in 2,5 minutes. It would take you pages and pages to write and no one would want to read that!!
    I have done a workshop on general photography for an editing house (they do magazines) and had a cinematographer to videotape. I will do some tutorial stuff on video, too.
    What flashed me is this promotional / storytelling part I haven´t thougt of yet – great, I will do it, too!!
    The big, big problem are the cost. A video like you did is going to be budgetcracking even if you calculated to break even with a decent reimboursement for the hours you have put in.
    A video like that here in Germany in the length and quality of yours with all what you have but in brainwise too would cost a minimum $ 20.000.
    And therefore it will be out of reach for most photographers. If you have the budged for such a video you might not need it anymore!
    I wished I wouldn´t have sounded so negative – you have the credit of having put out a hammer video that will be an inspiration to a lot of peolple! Many, many thanks from Germany!

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  3. Gary Canazzi

    You did an amazing job Dave! I’m a still photographer and not done really done much video. Thanks so much for your openness and sharing everything. I’d love to meet you sometime if you are in the Portland/Vancouver area.

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  4. Doede

    Nice video Dave. I like your openness about this whole project and think it will help many people make better videos/ promos.

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  5. Travis Johansen – Minneapolis, MN

    Dave Dougdale is amazing. Both in his down-to-earth personality as well as his willingness to share and be open about what he’s struggling with and what he’s most excited about at any given time.

    If you haven’t checked out his website – you’re missing out.

    He has a lot of cool articles and videos on a variety of DSLR video topics perfect for the beginner filmmaker.

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  6. C Gabriel

    Dave Dougdale, it was a great story telling video… Great work!!!!

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  7. Ian

    Great work Dave! It is so easy to get lost in the world of tech. Telling stories is the reason most of us were inspired to create videos/films and this is a great reminder of how important it is to evolve our storytelling skills. Think of those high budget Hollywood films that completely flop. They are shot on nice cameras, best in the biz editors and colour correctors. They even might have A list actors. Chances are, the story wasn’t told in a very interesting or captivating way. I’d be very interested in hearing more about your progression with the art of storytelling. Perhaps some techniques on how you find that “good” angle, or a simple formula you find helpful to get started.
    Thanks for sharing your work and journey along the way.

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  8. Lorissa

    I thought it was fantastic!! This is something that has become such a unique part of branding personalized/custom businesses like photography. I wish it wasn’t so expensive in man-hours to produce, but I think your end result is amazing. I felt like I knew Julie and trusted her by the end, and that’s the point!! Great work.

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