When we blog here, we are often talking about gear, concepts, and techniques to help you all further your craft, but this time it’s going to be a bit different. You see, I want to talk about something that had really been weighing on me a few weeks ago, and how I got over it. In order to set the story properly though, you need to know a bit of background about me (Bobby). I always loved taking photos. Since as far back as I can remember I had my own camera that shot those rolls of film that sorta look like the profile view of a telephone. I probably didn’t take one good photo with it, and I don’t think I was able to use it whenever I wanted, but taking photos was always a part of growing up. The first time I remember making a video was early in grade school. We had to do a book report, and we could do it however we wanted. My family had just gotten a new video camera and I really wanted to play with it, so making a video seemed like a great way to accomplish both tasks at hand. Through that project I found what I consider to be one of my only creative outlets. You see, my entire family is artists, My grandma was an artist and documentary film maker, both my parents went to art school, and I just recently found out my grandpa was an avid photographer. However, I could never keep up in anything even remotely artistic, and quite frankly I didn’t enjoy it. That is until I made my first movie. Fast forward a few years, I had probably made a few other things when I was allowed to use the camera, and my brother and I had also made some movies together for fun. A few years beyond that was high school, which offered a couple video project opportunities, and I had continued making some things on my own. In my senior year I started an internship, which eventually turned into a job in the film world, and then I left for college to pursue a degree in cinematography. Making videos has been a part of my life for the better portion of the parts I can remember, and it had always brought such joy.
When I started college I started shooting weddings for a few companies in California (I had already been shooting them for maybe 2 years or so). Around the same time I started booking my own shoots, and that quickly took off. It is absolutely amazing to get to film weddings, commercials, and many other things for a living. I was literally living my dream. But something happens when you start to do what you love for a living. It becomes work.
We have ALWAYS limited the amount of weddings and other projects we take on per year, and that has been mostly put in place to protect us from burning out. We love what we do, and we want it to stay that way. We know far too many people who shoot 60 weddings a year and then leave the industry after just a short while because they just can’t take it anymore. We wanted to do everything we could do to keep that from happening, and it’s done well so far. This is my 9th year shooting weddings and I still love it. However, loving what you do for work is not quite the same as doing what you love for fun, and I was made abruptly aware of that just a few weeks ago.
We were at a wedding, and a guest came up to me and asked if I did video work. Being that we shoot DSLR for video and often get mistaken for the photographer, I politely responded “yah, we are actually shooting the video today!” The man explained that he knew that but was curious if I did any narrative films or anything like that for fun. I kid you not, my direct, word for word response was “no, not anymore.”
The minute those words left my mouth I realized that somewhere I had lost the drive to do what I love. Sure I love what I do, but again, it’s not the same. Creating stupid videos, documentaries, and even large narrative projects was something that brought me immense joy. Now, that’s not to say that wedding films and commercials don’t bring me joy. There is rarely a greater feeling than when a film just comes together perfectly, or completely captures the couple in the few minutes you have to do so, but it’s just not the same. When you are shooting for work, you certainly express yourself, and your fingerprint is left on the project so to speak, but you also have to express the desires of your client. When you do something purely because you want to, you are able to enjoy it completely.
I didn’t take that exchange lightly, and thought on it for a few days. Around this same time I had, through a series of connections, found a vlogger by the name of Casey Neistat, who is pretty well known around the world for his daily videos. With his, and a few other vloggers videos fresh in my mind, I decided to try my hand at putting together fun videos of my day / week / weekend / whatever timeframe I felt I had enough content to do so with, and it has been amazing. I truly feel I have recaptured that feeling. It allows me to do what I love without any of the stress attached. If a shot is a bit overexposed or shaky but I still like it, who cares, I have nobody to please but myself, and that is the freedom of doing what you love.
So, the cinematic vlog was born. I’m not really sure what shape it will take, and I’m not committing to daily videos at this point, but I have loved having my camera with me almost everywhere I go, and putting together videos of all of our adventures! (example of one of the first ones below)
Not only have I found enjoyment through making these videos, but I also think it has had a positive effect on the videos we do professionally. When I am doing something completely for me, I can do whatever I want with the camera. I can test out shots, settings, color grades, anything I want, and that was something that I found less and less time for over the years. I didn’t want to take my camera out when I had free time because that was “work.” Now, I am shooting more than ever, editing more than ever, and in turn finding more techniques, settings, etc, that lend themselves well to continually growing in our paid work as well.
So, I realize this was more of a personal post, especially compared to other blogs we’ve written on here. I just feel that I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make sure you do what you love, and don’t just love what you do.