DIY or Hire A Professional?

Let’s not beat around the bush. At this point in our technology evolution, everyone has access to a decent camera. Whether the camera is a high grade DSLR or the latest iPhone, most people have the capability to shoot and edit their own videos. As a professional videographer, I won’t lie and say that this isn’t a source of mild frustration. However, there are a few instances where it makes a lot of sense to use your phone’s video capabilities rather than hire a professional.

Often people see video in two categories: professional commercial grade that you might see on TV and YouTube quality. People think professional and they see $$$$ and large crews, whereas YouTube is homemade, gets the information out and is easily done by anyone. Ten years ago homemade worked, it made sense and everybody was impressed or at least didn’t mind. Unfortunately, due the the easy availability of quality cameras accessible by everyone today, there is simply no excuse for the “homemade” look in videos meant for certain audiences. How do you know when to make the leap and hire professional?

First, make sure to decide why you are creating a video in the first place. Is this video full of lasting information? Is the video about your business? Is the video selling a product? What audience is the video going to be marketed towards? Also consider how you are planning on showing the video. Will it hold a prominent place on your website? Are you hoping to have a viral marketing campaign, or will the video be shared to a select audience via newsletter or YouTube channel?

If the goal of the video is to encourage business growth, sell a product or spread a focused message then the video needs to reflect the quality of the brand and foundation behind the message. For example, one does not show up to work in track pants with a dirty sweatshirt and expect to be taken seriously as a business person. A video, once published, is live for the world to see 24/7. Day and night this video will working for the business, spreading the message and selling the product. That means the video created is essentially an employee and must look and act the part for the brand. When deciding whether or not to create your own video for your business or product, consider how you will want it to be perceived while out in the world. How will your video be representing you and your message?

That being said, there are several cases where the DIY approach makes sense. Some businesses put out frequent short snippets of information. Real estate, for example, might want to update clients on the market at regular intervals. Chefs might want to share short recipes. Healers might want to share weekly self care tips. All of these sent either through newsletters, YouTube channels or simply placed in a special section of a website would be good examples of videos that would have success when self produced. Client testimonial videos are also a candidate for the DIY approach for budget conscious business owners.

Let’s talk about money, since that is usually what it all comes down to. Professional TV commercials do cost millions and have large crews and trucks full of equipment. That doesn’t mean that a professional videographer hired to create your business video will be the same production. Remember, technology has evolved and large crews aren’t always necessary. Many times a professional look can be achieved with one camera and one videographer who manages the whole production. By saving money and doing it yourself, you risk poor quality, such as, weird framing, bad lighting, hard to hear audio and dragging sentences.
Knowing how to do all of these things effectively is a skill learned through training and practice. If you are a business owner, a lot of time could be spent learning a skill that is not directly related to running your business. Time spent away from customer interactions or perfecting your products and services. One might lose money, while trying to save money on a video production, only to create something that won’t effectively represent the quality of the business.

When you hire a professional, you are hiring someone who understands how to frame and light the video effectively. Someone who is able to capture quality audio, and direct the subject to deliver sentences that are clear and concise. A professional knows how to take key elements and edit them together in an engaging story that will attract attention and adhere to branding quality.

How do you know when to hire a professional or to do it yourself? It depends on what type of video is needed. Are you communicating frequent, short, bits of information to an informal audience? The DIY approach is perfect for you. Are you creating a video that will represent your personal brand or sell a product? Hiring a professional will ensure your video will be viewed and shared with the respect of a quality brand. Make sure to take the time and evaluate the purpose and desired audience of the video before making the decision.

Virtual Reality

I may have been absent from my website, but I have not been idle in “RL”. That’s “Real Life” for those who don’t know.
Learning new skills and keeping up with the technological trends is a must in most industries. For me, getting excited about new camera specs is not high on my list, though I have been known to geek out on occasion.
My excitement always leans towards the visual. From there I can get excited about how to create what I see, which then leads to the specs…ANYWAY! My new visual excitement – Virtual Reality.

I was introduced to the world of Virtual Reality through the Occulus Rift headset. Here I dove into the world of 3D interactive space that was both familiar and new; if you are a reader of science fiction, you may remember worlds where virtual reality plays a major role in future societies. I’m not a first adapter in anything. So my original response was one of, “Is this the way of society now? Will we ever interact face to face? Are we losing valuable connection through this new form of entertainment?”

Having no experience in programming and several years separation from any real gaming I found myself intrigued but doubtful about this new medium. Then I discovered VR in 360 degrees, or 360 video. This is not the 3D space created primarily for gaming, but a way to watch a constructed story with a 360 degree immersive video. Through classes and dialogue with fellow creatives, my view shifted.

Virtual Reality is not a way to remove oneself from society even further, but a tool to bring people even deeper into worlds they may normally see as an impossibility. Not only that, but it’s newness on the market and in entertainment makes it the perfect space to experiment. There is no wrong way to do anything, there is only learning and growth.

So, now I find myself looking around my world, thinking of stories and ways to use this new technology to bring my clients, art and social and world issues into this new medium. I’m so excited and inspired.

Have some ideas? Want to chat about what VR means to you? I’d love to chat!

Traveling and Landscapes

Sometimes a break from the City is very important. Nature helps me to recharge, relax and absorb what is really important: Myself!

I mean that with all seriousness. If we don’t focus on keeping our minds and bodies fresh everything suffers; work, relationships, and above all creativity! Without my ability to bring a fresh mind and perspective to my work everything looks the same and improvements and growth freeze.

At the end of July I took a short road trip north to Portland, up to Washington, and back down to Crescent City. I saw beauty and heard nothing but the wind in the trees and the birds in the sky. The separation from the demands of the City let me slow down. I was also able to capture some landscape images for my 52 Week Challenge, so I will get back to producing some projects! I promise.

In the meantime make sure you make time for yourself. Step away from the computer and go outside, read a book, paint a picture. Just make sure that you are doing it for yourself.

Alexis Keenan

Alexis Keenan

Head Shot

I have not forgotten, nor have I been idle. The way of life says that once you begin projects of your own, other work floweth.

Additionally, I decided to enter a small film contest, so much of my spare time went to the entry. However, I was able to shoot the footage for Week 4: Head Shot Portrait. My good friend and her husband decided to move to Toronto. I was fortunate to be able to spend one last day with them and they were kind enough to be the subjects of this next piece. Enjoy!


This is week two of the video challenge I have decided to take on. Following the guidelines of Dogwoods 52 Week Challenge brings me to Landscape. However, I was super sick this last week and couldn’t get out of bed, let alone go for a walk to find a landscape. So, in my fuzzy sick head I developed my idea for week three, which is “Artistic: Red”. Just a minor little week swap.

Making Art

I did it again. I dropped the blogging ball. I am back and here to stay, for the next 52 weeks at least!

Lately, as a business owner, I’ve found that I’ve been so bogged down with the day to day needs of my business that I have lost track of what propels me through life. Art.
Emails, meetings, accounting, marketing all seemed to take over – which is the life of running a business, but I have felt there is something missing. A lack of purpose.

Last week I went to the beach with my friend and photographer Jennifer Winfrey. Jennifer was on a mission to make some art. She used me as her model and I enjoyed watching her move through the process of gathering the images necessary to make something beautiful.

Sometimes you need someone to shake you and remind you to pull yourself out of the day to day and make that time and space to create something fresh and new and just for you. This blog, for the next 52 weeks is going to be dedicated to a video project following the guidelines of Dogwood 52 weeks of Photography. I will be applying the same prompts to video and I’m excited to see how I will grow as an artist in the process.

The power of networking!

In March I joined the networking group BNI. This is quite a step for me. Not only is it a solid commitment to my career, it also is a huge undertaking for my personality. Meeting new people is HARD! I love hearing different people’s stories about how they got where they are and where they envision their life going. But doing so behind the camera comes so much easier to me than sitting over a cup of coffee and opening up. Additionally, part of the group is selling your product/yourself to your fellow members in hopes of getting referrals. If you can’t clearly present yourself, it’s hard to be taken seriously by peers and clients alike. This is also hard for me. My work is very visual, which allows me to exist in my head. To take what is in my head and put it into words in 30 seconds or less without tripping over my tongue is another challenge that I have encountered.

I embrace challenges! This is one of the better choices I believe I have made for myself and my career. In a year I hope to be well spoken and well connected. I have already met so many inspiring, welcoming, helpful and talented people. I am very much looking forward to the new opportunities that come my way through BNI and other networking ventures.


For Broadcast

Well, I did my first ever commercial for broadcast TV. It was a really fun project and quite the ride as it came in as a rush job. Lots of ideas flying around and alterations and late nights. I really enjoyed the experience and the new people I met along the way.

Broadcast has it’s own set of rules that I always knew existed, and dabbled in, but never fully immersed myself with since I didn’t have the projects pushing me in that direction. This project encouraged me to really get into the nitty-gritty of “broadcast safe” needs. I also learned how to program closed captioning, super easy! (Thanks again!) Not to mention making sure everything fit into that little action and title safe box area.

Now if only I can’t find someone who has not deactivated their cable so I can see the commercial on TV!


For the past year or so I have been privileged to be asked to shoot performance videos for a number of solo performers throughout the Bay Area. Many of whom are students of David Ford, who teaches classes at The Marsh.

I love being present at these performances. It is so wonderful to be able to watch these actors grow with their performances. Many of which are exerts from larger pieces that they are putting together over several months. I highly recommend checking out some of these solo shows that are performed frequently. The Marsh and Stage Werx in San Francisco and Berkeley are good places to start.

Recently I shot a performance by Sherri Rose. A wonderful show about growing up learning how to survive in the 1960’s till the present.

Eliza Gibson has just put up her performance website with photos I shot during a photo shoot between shows. She does a truly wonderful performance and I have only seen the exerts! I can’t wait to see the whole show!