Content is king on the intarwebs. Advancements in technology allow anyone to take video or photos anytime anywhere. That doesn’t mean you should. Just like firearms training, you don’t want to learn from amateurs or poor trainers, so why settle for bad photography and video?
Here’s my best advice for those of you that do it on the gun range: Leave it to the professionals. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours of footage and tens of thousands of pictures I’ve taken at classes. Even with all of that, I’d be surprised if 2% of that ever gets publicized. Why? Because a lot of it is irrelevant.
Look at the best trainers out there. Look at the gun porn. Those teachers and companies have professionals working with them so that they continue to have the appeal that goes along with their firearms expertise. Manufacturers have full on marketing budgets and agencies that specialize in studio photography. The picture of your rifle leaning up against the dishwasher next to the dog bowl isn’t appealing.
Yes, good photography isn’t cheap, especially these days when everyone thinks that imaging is free. But sell one rifle or enroll one extra student and the shoot is paid for.
Another way to look at it is to think of it like a wedding. You want shots that best represent the day, right? Pro-shooters can do that for you. The difference is that (most) wedding photographers are not at risk of catching frag. And yeah, I’ve caught many ricochets during the course of filming. It’s still safer than drunk Cousin Eddie at the reception.
All of that said, if you ABSOLUTELY need to take pictures and video of your class, your students, your buddies, whatever…here are some tips that will help:
- If you are the person filming, please do us all a favor and shut the fuck up
- Most cameras do not have wind screens and guess where it’s windy: on the range. Being unable to hear what is being said make the video useless and the sound is distracting
- Just because you have iMovie installed does not mean you are a filmmaker.
- Do not use video effects. No one wants to see a star wipe or fake nightvision. Effects aren’t needed if the footage is quality
- If you use your mobile phone and shoot in portrait mode, you should have your phone smashed, followed by your fingers
- Get a tripod
- Learn how to trim the crap out of the video. No one wants to see 45 seconds of you reaching your natural point of aim while you lay in the bed of your truck waiting to take your shot. 44 seconds of that is crap. Believe me. (and looking at you slap the trigger, I know you missed the shot…just saying)
- A 30-60 second intro full of titles for your youtube channel is stupid. 5-10 seconds max. If that.
- No promotional video needs to be longer than 2 minutes. Ever.
- Bad pictures, overexposed pictures, pictures that don’t evoke a feeling all serve to discredit your group.
- Bad pictures of products reflect the fact that you either 1. don’t want to pay for good pictures or 2. think you can do it yourself. You can’t.
I’m always happy to lend my services to anyone that wants high quality images of what they do because a lot of times, it’s just easier for everyone involved. Plus, it takes a lot of stress off of your shoulders.
But this isn’t a post to troll for clients. Those of us in the creative services take what we do seriously, and we’re here to help. All you gotta do is ask.
Matt Stagliano is a photographer first, and firearms / outdoors enthusiast second. His work has appeared in countless magazines and online outlets such as RECOIL, SKILLSET, Guns & Ammo, Concealment, Breach Bang Clear, Ammoland, and others. He spends most of his time running Stonetree Creative, a full service portrait studio in Maine when he is not on assignment as Firelance Media. Learn more about Stonetree online or follow him on Instagram (@stonetreecreative). On Facebook here.