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5 Things that I Learned from My first Paid Event Shoot by Yuan Yue

Last weekend, I finished my first paid video shooting for a local event, which is the 5th Knox Asian Festival. I am very excited that I could have this opportunity and hope I can do it great. 

It was a busy day, especially for a one-man crew, I didn't have time to think about how I was doing. When I sat in front of my editing desk and started to go through all the footage, I felt like, well, I think I did just fine, but next time I need to do better.

In this article, I would like to share with you 5 things that I learned from this one-day shooting. If you are a guru in this market, feel free to make your criticism, or if you are a beginner just like me, hope you can learn something from my experience. Without further due, let's jump into the first point.


FIND A GOOD SPOT

Let me put it hardly, find the best spot that you can get. A great location will make your work much easier. To get a good spot, the best way is to do location scouting. If you have enough time, go to the event location a day before the event take place so that you can have a clear image of what the location will look like and what angles are best, and it is possible there are not too many people there.

If your schedule is very tight, arrive at the location at least a few hours before the event begins. This not only will help you find a good spot but also can let the client know you are responsible and work very hard. Other than that, you may need to talk to DJ or other people on site to get other things you need such as an audio feed.

If you will move around the event location, you don’t need to do anything very special, but find out which spot is the best for each individual scene is important. Also, figure out what is the fastest way to get to different locations.

If you just cover the event in a relatively static spot, one thing I will definitely do next time is to make a sign with gaffe tape or paper to inform people that it’s the spot for videographer, and if I am not going to move a lot, I will use a little platform so that I can stand on that and get a better view.

MASTER YOUR CAMERA

This means you should get to know your camera very well, not just knowing what setting is what, but knowing what the optimal setting is for a specific situation, that is what we call the “Sweet Spot.”And you should change settings or make adjustments according to different situations without thinking about where the button is.

Don’t use a new camera that you’ve never used for your paid shooting, that is not very responsible. You might lose some key shots due to little experience in the new camera.

I am a long-term Canon DSLR shooter, I know Canon cameras and their menu system very well, but I used a Canon C100 Mark II as my main camera for this shoot. It is a totally different beast. I have very little experience using that camera, So a week before the shooting, I started to get familiar with it, I tried different lenses, used different settings. I was pretty confident that I can handle this beast in the coming shooting.

Thankfully, I completed the job with C100 Mark II, but I would have failed if I did not spend time playing with it because it is very different from DSLRs, even the same brand.

So get to know your camera, it will make you more professional and work more proficient.

DOUBLE CHECK YOUR GEAR

You definitely don’t want to be trapped into a scenario where you find out you don’t have any battery or SD card when it’s only 10 minutes before the shooting. That’s a total nightmare for a professional videographer. That is one of the biggest mistakes that a videographer or photographer can make. I have a video about top 10 mistakes that a videographer or photographer can make, check it out here.

Before you go, make sure you have everything you need in your camera bag and ready to go. Make sure your batteries are fully charged, cards are formatted, lenses are correct for the upcoming shooting, camera sensors are free of dust spot, all kinds of things.

 It’s simple but very helpful, trust me, it will save your life.

MAKE SURE YOU KNOW EVERY KEY MOMENT

An event could be lasting for several hours, not every moment is equal. Some moments are so important that you can’t miss whereas some of the others can be ignored.

Those key moments are the reason why your client hire you, for the most part, they want you to capture those moments. Those moments can be anything. A VIP speaker, a beautiful parade, or even just a fancy car stopping by. I think for every event, there will be some sort of key moments. The key to nailing the event is to make sure that you understand what moments key moments are and when they will take place.

To nail it is very easy. Just talk to your clients and get a detailed schedule from them, and ask them what moments are the most important ones, and then mark them on the schedule.

They might tell you a ton, but as I can see, the earlier they mention, the more important the moment is. If you are not very sure, just ask them.

SETTLE THE DELIVERABLES BEFORE SHOOTING

Deliverables are the products you will send to your clients, i.e., the videos you make. However, videos are different. Length, graphics, music you use, different videos could cost a different amount of money. So, make sure that you negotiate with your clients about what kind of video they want after all, and give them what you can achieve and when you can finish. And you can also charge them differently according to different requests.

This is very important. You can’t give them just a 5 minutes highlight video without knowing your client want just a simple 2 hours event live video. You can’t send only one video when your client needs 10 short clips.

If you understand the request, you won’t shoot too much or shoot too little. Client’s happy, you are happy as well.


There are some other important things that a videographer should keep in mind, such as arriving on time, dress properly, be polite to people there and so on. These are not specifically about video production but are general great work ethics.