For Business Owners: Promo Films 101

For Business Owners, For Photographers

August 5, 2015

This post is all about Promo Films! We just did ours this year and I learned so many things from the experience that I really wanted to share! To be completely up front, I admit that I was a little on the fence about doing a promo film at all. I am often irrationally scared of doing something really cheesy or awkward (because let’s face it, I have a tendency to naturally be very awkward), and in my honest opinion after watching a million and one promo films, these things can get VERY awkward if you aren’t careful. If you’re like me, and you are kind of not sure about doing one, but your interest is piqued, this post is for you!

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Late last year we decided to do a promo film with our friend Josh Gooden. If you have been following me for a few years, you probably know that my brand has always been very personal and I’ve tried to keep it very authentic and true to who I am. Doing it this way is right for ME because I really believe that creating a personal connection with the people we work with is such a valuable part of what we do. Having a promo film is such a natural extension of that! For me, my ideal clients are people who I really mesh with. I do my best, most inspired work when I’m working with people who trust my creative vision and are really enthusiastic about photography AND the experience we provide. As a small business owner, I work really closely with each one of our couples leading up to the wedding day, and I believe it’s a better experience for everyone involved if they really like what (and who!) they’re getting. Being able to see us (and hear us, too!) is a key part of that!

I think that doing a promo film can be a really great choice for business owners even if your business is not necessarily built on your life like mine is. In the book All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin, he describes how important it is to tell an authentic story with your marketing. For us, our story is literally OUR STORY. But your story could be about any number of things and promo films are such an incredible way to share that with potential clients!

Initially I hated the idea of doing a promo film because I’m not a fan of the typical photographer’s promo. I realized though, that there’s no reason that I had to do mine a certain way. My big idea for our promo film was to create something that didn’t actually feel like a promo film at all. Anyone who’s visiting our site or blog already knows that we’re photographers and they already know what our work looks like. We wanted our promo film to be about us, because at the end of the day, our relationship is such a huge foundation for what we do!

I think to make your promo film really effective, you need it to tell a unique story. Our story lent itself really well to sharing a bit about us in a really heartfelt way that we hope people will be able to connect to. I think it’s important to be really genuine in everything that you do, so coming up with a concept for your film is no different. I would suggest coming up with some ideas and working on them with your filmmakers because they’ll be able to offer lots of insight on what will work well and be unique.

I think it’s SO important to invest in the best. Your promo film, how it looks, the quality, etc is a direct representation of your business. This isn’t something to skimp on! If you’re trying to convince potential clients to spend thousands of dollars to work with you, you should be willing to invest in a well put together promo film. I was very nervous at first to spend several thousand dollars on ours (I mean, who isn’t nervous to spend a large sum of money, no matter what it’s on??) but after seeing how much work goes into filming a cinematic promo film like the one Josh created for us, I almost feel like I didn’t pay enough (shhhh…don’t tell him I said that). This is not something we probably could have done the first or second year in business, but waiting was so worth it because we have something that we are so proud to share and is something that can continue to stay with us as the business keeps growing.

A good cinema team is separated from a great one based on the similar criteria that good vs great photographers is. Better equipment, knowing how to use said equipment, editing knowledge, experience, style, etc. Another thing to look for when choosing someone to create a promo film for you is how well they are able to tell a story (good videographers weave together bits of footage, but GREAT videographers are truly able to tell a story with theirs) and how good the audio is. After watching a million films in preparation for mine, I realized how important audio is, AND how it’s a really big clue as to whether or not you’re really going to get something good. Definitely do your research, watch a ton of people’s films, and then reach out to your favorites!

It would be weird to end this post without sharing our film again, right? So, here’s a link to my original post sharing it where you can watch it and see what Josh created for us!


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