A few months ago I wrote about being thankful for being adopted. Today, I was able to turn the camera on myself and explain in detail what I went through. These twelve minutes can change someone's thoughts about adoption and I hope I can help heal some hearts of those who have become adopted....you were chosen!
Stop thinking about it and just do it. You know you want to so, pick up the camera and start shooting. It does not matter what kind of camera you have. All that matters is if you can tell a story with your instrument. Too many people get caught up with what camera they have or which one will make them better. Reality check…. it’s the person behind the camera that does all the magic. Sure, the quality may be better with one camera vs another, but the camera is a mere instrument in the process of creating a story. If you have the best camera in the world and can’t tell a story visually with audio, well my friend, you’ll have to start working on your techniques.
You may own a little old digital camera that came out six years ago, but don’t let the detour you from practicing and becoming great. It still works and you can use it to create something quite spectacular. The vision you have should continue though that lens, and not stop because you don’t own the newest and latest equipment. Don’t get me wrong, toys are good and everyone wants the best, but this is when you need to understand that it’s how creative you can become that really matters. Cameras become obsolete these days so fast it’s not funny. So instead of running around hoping and wishing you had last week’s camera, get behind that lens and start producing.
As a storyteller, you should practice your craft on a regular basis. Crafting new ideas and carrying them out allows you the freedom to create. You may find new ways of doing things. Your work flow may improve, or you may find that you really appreciate that 50mm lens. These discoveries will not be found if you sit around and do nothing.
Create, create, create. One tip I have for you is this: choose a subject, it could be a soda can. See how many ways you can shoot that soda can. Utilize different angels, get close to the can, and go wide. Challenge yourself to shoot as many possible shots as you can. This will defiantly make you a better shooter. It may seem boring at first thought, but once you start challenging yourself, you will find so many ways to shoot it.
Have fun this rest of the year and I hope you have a great New Years. Think of what you want to accomplish as a storyteller in 2017. As for me, I would like to take on more small business and nonprofit work. I also enjoy shooting engagement sessions. I shot one not too long ago, and I have received some great feedback. I will post my latest PSA I shot and this engagement session. Again, have fun shooting and have a great rest of the year!
I am a strong believer in giving back to the community. There have been several instances where I have spoken in length about video production to Fresno youth in the classroom. It is important for me to share my passion with others who also feel the same way. To see the youth, get excited about creating stories is something else.
Not only do I share my enthusiasm of storytelling with my community, but I also share it with my son. He started shooting and editing at the age of eight-years old. Some of the story ideas he comes up with are hilarious. What I like the most about teaching my son is that it allows us to have father and son time. Unlike some dads who take their sons out fishing, I take mine out shooting….film that is. It’s funny, because once we come back from a shoot, we both sit down in our chairs in front of the computer and start uploading our video. Both of us can’t wait to show one another our final product. I spend time teaching him what works and what doesn’t work, and because he listens to me he grows as a storyteller. If my son continues this path he will supersede me in no time. It’s a blessing to see him develop as a young man and as a lover of telling stories.
We shoot together, we edit together and we laugh together. I love my son very much He is an actor, a smart boy, and a whiz with the editor. I can’t wait to see where his skill set will be in five years from now.
Shooting great footage starts with correct white balance. If your white balance is off color, you’ll have to try to fix it in post-production or shoot it again. When I was shooting news our cameras viewfinders only displayed what we were shooting in black and white. You needed to know how to white balance and hope you got it right. If your white balance was not correct you would soon see it on the monitor back at the station and well, if it was blue you got teased for it by the other photographers. Now days all the camera’s viewfinders for the most part, show a color screen. However, do not be fooled by the lcd monitor, because that too can misrepresent the true color of whatever you are capturing, it may not be calibrated.
Therefore, it is so important to understand the fundamentals of white balancing. When you go through your cameras settings you will come across white balance. You will see many icons such as: a light bulb for inside lighting, a thunder bolt which represents flash, a sun for when you shoot out doors on sunny days. There are more icons, and I will talk about them later, but what is important here is that these icons represent the lighting environment in which you are possibly in. For example, If I was an amateur videographer and did not know much about how or why to white balance, I would be safe by choosing the sun icon if I was shooting outdoors on a sunny day. Why should you allow your camera to tell you what is white?
Our eyes are amazing because no matter if we are indoors or outdoors they determine what true white is. However, that is where the cameras fall short. Cameras need to be told what white is, if not you’re going to get all types of off color imagery. So how do we do this? One way is to select the icon the best represents your lighting environment. I prefer to use different techniques to achieve correct white balance. When you scroll through the white balance menu you will see an icon that looks like two triangles with a dot in the middle. This is the custom white balance feature that allow the operator to manipulate the white balance manually. When you do use custom white balance, you need a white or grey card and the reference card must be in the light that dominates the room or environment that you are shooting in. For instance, if you are shooting a wedding and you wanted to get your white balance in the church you would hold up a white or grey card where the groom and bride will be located. This will give you the correct white balance for them. However, if they move to another area in the church that is lit differently than your white balance will suffer. I will talk about how you can overcome this situation. Another example is if you are shooting a promotional video and you sit your talent down to interview them. Your lights are on and you grab your white or grey card and have them hold it up next to their face. On your camera, you will push and hold the custom white balance button. Now your shot is white balanced.
There is another icon that has the letter K. This K represents Kelvin degrees. If you set your white balance to K you better know by eye what the color temperature is your shooting in. Sunny days Kelvin can anywhere between 5200-5800 K. So, if you dial in your kelvin to that degree you are good to go. How about the shade? Is that different from the sunny kelvin temperature? Shade is a lot higher in kelvin, more like 6000-8000K. Kelvin can be anywhere from 2500-8000 in most cameras. If you want to use kelvin as your primary white balance, it is imperative that you are well versed in color temperature. I tend to use Kelvin when I am outdoors and indoors if there’s no fluorescent lighting. Florescent lights tend to give off a green tint. Implementing custom white balance under fluorescents would be a great thing to do.
Tungsten lights at 3200 Kelvin
Auto white balance
Custom white balance
My good friend Crystal Kelley, owner of Capture Life Events texted me on Saturday and wanted to know if I wanted to record an engagement session she was going to shoot. I have been wanting to record an engagement session and add a little cinematic flare for a while now. I told Crystal I was up for it.
The session was for a fun loving newly engaged couple, Elysia and Josh. Josh proposed to Elysia a few months ago, in October on Halloween. These two were very photogenic which made my work that much easier. Josh is a drummer and has been for several years. Crystal thought it would be a good idea for Josh to bring his drum set for prop purposes. I got some great shots of the couple behind the drum set. Not only did I capture Josh playing for us, I also was able to get a stunning glidecam shot of Elysia playing drummer girl with the help of Josh.
The session took place at Wildwood Park, next to Cobb Ranch. The scenery was gorgeous, and the lighting was just right. The sun was about to set and it was at the magical golden hour which gave me the opportunity to shoot with warm tones. Crystal and I took turns capturing the couple and I at times, shot behind the scene footage. I am looking forward to booking more engagement sessions. It’s sort of like a wedding but it only includes the couple. I really enjoyed the chance to focus on the couple.
This experience has opened me up to the idea of capturing newly engaged couples during their photo shoot. The couple can use the video in conjunction with their photos. They can send the video out on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to remind people of their wedding date. The cinematic engagement session video could be used like a save the date. You only get engaged once, you should add the cinematic touch and get the video too. I shot this in one hour, and it was ready to view in about two hours. I get the video up within the same day, at no extra charge.
If you are looking for a photographer for any occasion, I highly recommend Crystal Kelley. She works fast, she is efficient, and she is highly professional. We both work well with one another and it looks like we may be onto a whole new journey with adding video to the engagement sessions.
Do you support the well-being of our youth? Would you be willing to mentor a child who may not have a father or mother? It’s up to us to help these kids out, they are the future and having a person they can rely on could help them tremendously. Some kids have a tough time at home, and they do not have anyone guiding them through life. We all deserve a role model. Some youth are fortunate enough to have two role models at home; their mother and father. While others have no one to turn to. When you were young, didn’t you ever had a moment that you needed advice, or talk to someone about an issue you were facing? By becoming a mentor, you can listen to young people and help them in areas that they need help in. It could be emotional help, helping them with homework, or just being there for them.
I can remember when I became a mentor. I tried signing up with Big Brother’s and Sister’s when I was 18, but they informed me that I needed to be at least 21 years old to apply. So, When I was 21 years old, I applied and was mentoring a young man who did not have a father figure in his life. We would go to Oakland A’s games, Oakland Raiders games, go out to eat, and did other activities. I wanted to be able to pick him up and do what he wanted to do. My goal was to be a role model to him, not his friend. He had plenty of friends at school, but who was his role model? That is where I came in. During the time, I was mentoring this young man, I needed to show him how to act in front of others, not cuss, and how to be polite in all situations.
As a mentor, I was able to give back to my community. Sure, I was a student in college and had a job, but I also had a soft spot for young kids who needed guidance. I took the time out of my schedule to help a young man. I listened to him, took him places, and most importantly, I was a mentor for a young child who needed a strong male in his life. My little brother moved from California to another state, but I still wonder about him and what he is up to. I hope I made a difference in his life.
Just this past weekend I was recording an event at Fresno State that dealt with mentoring. The keynote speaker was Bruce Bowen, a well-known basketball star who has since retired. His mission is to help others understand how important mentoring is. Bruce grew up in Fresno and understand what the youth face in his home town. Mr. Bowen is a strong advocate of mentoring and he delivered a stellar speech. Everything he said was spot on. We as a society really need to help these young people. We need to show them how to be men and how not to let their emotions get the best of them. Bowen described the difference between becoming mad and staying calm in hostile situations. When you are mad you can’t think straight, you make bad decisions. However, when you stay calm you can rationalize and make better decisions. Bowen made several strong points throughout the day. You can watch this short video I shot for Fresno Unified School District regarding this topic.
Think about it, don’t you have time to help guide our youth?
My goal for 2017 is to reach out to as many businesses and nonprofits here in the Central Valley as I can. I want to help them understand how they can benefit by using online videos for their marketing needs. It is important to me as a videographer who is a visual storyteller to tell you all about how you can save money. You like to save money, right? Of course, you do. What would you say if I told you television ads aren’t getting as much attention as they used to prior to the smart phone? Once a commercial comes on at home what do you do? Most of us leave the room to do something or we grab our smart phone to see what’s trending or send a quick message to someone. So, all these high-profile companies spend millions of dollars and they do not even reach all the people they intend to. Many people use their smart phones daily and they also use tablets. Think of it like this, todays smart phone is the new television and we take them everywhere. Video is more accessible than ever, and It is a great time to be a storyteller. I want to help businesses created stunning videos for their companies. I work fast, and can deliver your video to you within a 24-hour period. Here is what people are saying about my work client reviews
Online videos allow your business to get your main ideas across within a short time. Some companies choose the traditional :30 spot and others like to produce a more in depth two-minute video. You can be as creative as you want to be in your video. People are more prone to view video than text and search engines tend to favor video over text so. I know when I am looking for a service and a video pops up, I tend to watch it.
You can save a ton of money by using videos online, and you can reach millions of people. Companies have a wide variety of online platforms to choose from. There is Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram and more. You can post on these social platforms for free. What is cool about Facebook is that you can create an ad, upload your video and pay next to nothing to get people to view it. Try that with television advertising! You can benefit by using Facebook ads, if you know your target audience, their interest, where you want the ad to appear such as Fresno and Visalia.
Take advantage of this powerful tool. For the past few years, online videos have exploded. More and more people are watching. The question I have for you is, are they watching your online video?
If you are interested in using online videos to promote your business feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
Storytelling comes in many shapes and forms. When you hear the word storytelling you may first think of an author and a book. But storytelling can be told with photos, audio, video and more. I am a visual storyteller and choose to use audio and video to help illustrate my stories.
You can manipulate your story by using a variety of storytelling techniques. There is more to a story than just holding a camera and shooting video. I will touch on three ways you can change the feel of your story by using three principals; lighting, audio, and color. There are more than three, but these are the ones I feel are most important when you tell a story through the lens of a motion picture.
Lighting is crucial. If you have ever watched a home video more than likely the last thing that was considered was how the shot was lit. At times, you will find a person standing right in front of the sun or a bright window and you can’t even see them. The person’s face is dark but the background is bright. This is what is referred to as silhouette lighting. You really should not use it unless for effect. You may have seen this lighting in movies or television shows when the person on camera wants to conceal their identity. It’s a great tool when used in the right circumstances.
If your story has a dramatic theme to it, you may want to shoot your subjects in the same manner. You wouldn’t want to light them completely because that defeats the whole purpose of the dramatic mood and setting. For instance, when you watch a comedy or game show, the sets and people are completely lit. There is no drama to comedy, thus they light it with full lighting. Schindler’s List did a great job of lighting. The movie is dramatic and you can tell by the lighting. People’s faces where not completely lit. For the most part, you can tell if a movie is a comedy or a drama simply by looking at the lighting. If you’re telling a story about success you would want to use full lighting on your subject. There wouldn’t be any reason to make it dramatic, you are telling a story about celebration so there would be no need for dramatic lighting for this situation.
Now there is a difference between lights and how they project light. Led lights are very popular because they run off batteries and do not consume much energy. They transmit a very soft light which can be very pleasing. Led lights are great for quick setups. I tend to use led lights when I am on the move and must go go go. I personally like the tungsten lights though. They get hot, you must plug them in but they get the job done when you need to light a large area. What I like about tungsten lights is that they are a hard-light source. When I say, they are a hard-light source I mean that the light that comes out of them cast a strong shadow on whatever it lights. Soft lights do not show much shadow and the roll off of the shadow is gradual. With hard lights, the shadow is abrupt. You can use hard lights to create patterns on the wall if you are shooting an interview. So instead of a boring white wall in the background you can place a cookie in front of a hard light and it will display shapes on the wall. You will see this if you watch 20/20, 60 minutes etc. It’s a great way to create a what would be a boring background into something visually appealing. Hard-lights can be made soft by using a soft box or diffusion. Soft lights cannot become hard.
Color has a huge impact on storytelling. Have you ever seen a movie that has cold tones to it? One movie that comes to mind is the Sixth Sense. This movie dealt with death and blue cold tones worked great for this mood. Warm tones like what you see in movies like the Transformers can convey action. It all depends on what you want to convey with your film/story. That is what is so cool about storytelling…. its subjective. If you wanted to shoot a scene in the middle of the day, but wanted it to look like early morning you could grade the color to a blue tone, or shoot the entire scene at a low color temperature such as at 2800 kelvin. I would recommend shooting the scene with the correct white balance and then color grade the footage in your editing system. If you did shoot the early morning scene at midday and you used a cool color temperature you are stuck with it. Whatever the camera captured is baked into the video. You can try to color correct the footage, but you can only color correct so much. If the color is drastically off you are out of luck, unless you shot the footage in raw or in log.
Color correction and color grading are two different animals. Color correction is when you correct the color of your footage to best represent the scene you shot. Many times, people color correct their mistakes and then color grade. Color grading allows you to set the mood. You could make the scene very cold by adding a bit of blue to the darks and to the highlights. If you are grading a wedding film, you wouldn’t necessarily use a cold look but rather a warm tone. Remember it is to taste and it’s subjective. I usually make my wedding films full vibrant colors and make sure they are warmer than cooler.
Audio can really change the mood of a story. Using royalty licensed music is the way to go. There are plenty of online websites that allow filmmakers to buy music to use in their films. I tend to use www.premiumbeat.com for my nonprofit and corporate videos and I use the www.themusicbed.com for weddings. The music bed has some great cinematic music with and without lyrics. When you select your piece of music, please keep in mind what your story is about. You wouldn’t want to use music that is electronic and very upbeat for a wedding, or at least I wouldn’t. You also wouldn’t want to use a rap song for a corporate video, unless it was requested by the client or the video was regarding hip hop.
Depending on how you want to edit and what shots you have will also dictate the style of music you choose. When I use my glidecam I can get some smooth sweeping shots. When you accompany those glidecam shots with music that represents a cinematic flow you have gold. You want the shots to go well with the music as much as possible. They are meant to complement one another, not fight each other. I usually have an idea of the piece of music I want to use before I shoot and usually buy it once I have edited the story. This way you do not have to be stuck with music that will not fit your vision. But it is always a good idea to have an idea of how you are going to shoot, edit the video. You can accomplish much more with an idea than nothing at all. Sometimes your original game plan of shots goes out the door and you need a plan b, so be patient and keep an open mind.
Have fun shooting your story and learn from your mistakes. Each day behind the camera is another opportunity for you to grow as a storyteller.
If you just found out you had one week to live what would you do? Would you continue doing the things that bring you stress? Hopefully you said no, and have other ideas in mind. I thought of this question a few weeks ago, and I would want to travel with my family and shoot as many stories as I could. You heard me, I would like to continue working.
We all have at least one thing in our life that brings us joy. Sure, seeing a smile on your kids’ faces can bring joy, and a great cup of coffee while in the presence of family on Christmas day can too! There are many things that can bring joy, but what about the actions you do to receive joy? Is there a hobby you like to do that bring you joy? If so, continue with that hobby. I love being with my family, but the next best thing that brings me joy is storytelling. If I am on vacation, and my family is at work and school, guess what…. I get the itch to shoot stories. I do not care if I make money or not, I will need to go out and shoot something. It may be a video to help a nonprofit, or test out a lens. It’s all about JOY!
Some confuse happiness with joy. My pastor at church explained it very well. He said, happiness is a feeling that comes and goes. Joy is long lasting and being content. If you go and buy the next best smartphone it will bring you happiness. But that happiness will only last for so long…. probably for a few days at the most. Therefore, it is so important to find hobbies that bring us joy.
God has created us with a unique passion. You may like fly fishing and when you are out in lake you couldn’t think anywhere else you’d like to be. Many people love to knit. No matter what it is, just do it. Doing the things, you love to do, which also brings joy to your life is very healthy. We live in a time that is rush, rush, rush. Time waits for no one, and we need to drop off the kids, pick up groceries, on and on and on. Breath, relax, sit back and think of what brings you joy. Joy is a medicine. Joy can bring you comfort. Joy is God’s gift to us all, we just need to find what brings us joy. We need to discover that passion and use it for our benefit. It is so cool to be able to serve others by using your God given gift, that is pure Joy!
I am very blessed to have the job that I have. I get the chance to tell stories and get paid doing it. I cannot think of anything else I would like to do. It wasn’t until I tried becoming a police officer that I discovered how much joy I have when I am behind the camera. As a training officer, I was miserable. They told us at the academy that police work wasn’t for everybody, that everybody was me. I felt like a fish out of water. Sometimes we need to be placed in certain jobs that we do not necessarily like to really understand what we like best. After trying to be a police officer I was hired to freelance at PBS. This is when discovered that storytelling was my calling. I was only at PBS for about a week, but I had that feeling of joy. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was driving home after work. A smile formed on my face while thinking about what I was doing at PBS. I can even remember the street I was on when I felt this feeling. It was at this point I knew what God had given me and I needed to use it. We are all given gifts, and it may take you some time to figure yours out. But once you do, please do not ignore it. We are all created with different gift and it is up to us to serve one another with our gifts.
I am a man full of passion to tell people stories. People from all backgrounds, colors, and situations. Just last week I was thinking to myself why I feel so impelled to tell stories about the underdog, the black sheep, the misfortune. This really got me thinking and I can remember when I was a news photojournalist pitching stories about the less fortunate. I wanted to hear their side of things, how I could help them get their message across. Well if you know news, it doesn’t lead if it doesn’t bleed. In other words, the news tends to run stories about crime, and disaster and nine times out of ten my story ideas went to the curb. This is one of the reasons why I am glad I am no long working in the news business. I wanted to tell stories about individuals who have been ostracized by society, these are the stories that need to be heard. I get a great joy telling stories about nonprofit organizations, shooting public service announcements for nonprofits, and promotional videos for start-up companies. I concluded on why I feel the way I do towards the underdogs of our society…. I am one of them.
Not too long ago I wrote about how I was abused and neglected as an infant and was given up for adoption. You can read about it here http://bit.ly/2g0wfMX. I felt alone and isolated as an adopted child. In elementary school, I didn’t quite fit in, and I was emotional as a child. The doctors said my speech impediment was due to my lack of nutrients as an infant. Not only was I neglected, but I developed a problem with speech. So, in elementary school I had to go to speech class once a week. How cool is that…having to leave class to go to speech? When I wanted to say words like church you actually heard me say turch. Kids would ridicule me and make fun of how I would pronounce words. I overcame my speech impediment with hard work.
My adopted parents split up when I was four. My mother and I moved about 150 miles away from my adopted father. I can remember a time when I went to visit my adopted father and he gave me a small wallet picture of him. When it was time for me to go back with my adopted mother I held his picture in my little four-year old hand, while tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks. I loved this man, and I wanted to be closer but I couldn’t because of the distance we lived from one another. I can remember like it was yesterday. They say, that you remember your most traumatic experiences and this was one of them. Damn, I really wish I could have had more interaction with him as I was growing up. This man is a genius when it comes to fixing practically anything. He can build cars, and is highly intelligent. After a a few years, my mother remarried, and I received my third dad in my life.
As a young adolescent, I hung around mostly with minorities. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I felt most comfortable with those who too were not completely accepted by society. My friends were a mix of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Portuguese (which I am ) and Salvadorian. I don’t know the true reason, but I do know they accepted me for who I was even though I was the white dude in the group. I loved to go to the clubs when I was younger. There were several times I was the only white guy in the club. I would tell my friend Rafael, that I was representing for my people. In high school, we would pack up in our friend’s regal to go to lunch. I mean we were stuffed in that car…and guess what, I was representing. If I had a chance to go back in time I would not change a thing. These friends and moments helped define who I am today. I had great times with my friends from the Bay Area. I keep in contact, but now with a family it becomes harder and harder to get back there and reconnect with them.
My background has a great deal of influence on how and why I choose to tell stories. I get excited to when I get the opportunity to showcase people and organizations that can make a difference in our community. Sometimes I will edit the whole video in one day, because I want to capture the rawness of what I just shot while I am in the zone. Creating for me has a lot to do with being in the moment and if I am in the moment I do not want to leave, (can we all say obsessed)? The feeling I get when I get behind a camera and or edit is like falling in love. You know that honeymoon love that makes you feel good all over? That emotion you feel when you first meet someone special. Well, my honeymoon isn’t over yet, and I am so glad it’s not. I hope to continue this passion for several years to come.
My friend Steve's wedding.
Just this past Saturday, my son and his soccer team were playing in a championship game. The game was amazing. The score was 0-0 in the first half and we scored the first goal in the later part of the 2nd half. One of the opponents was tripped and fell, while dribbling the ball down the field. The refs awarded them a penalty kick. At this point in the game there was probably less than one minute to play. The player struck the ball very hard with his right foot, and it made its way into our goal. Not too long after they scored the tying goal, the refs whistle blew like a French horn.
The coaches had to choose five players on each team to help break the tie. When one of our five players was chosen, he declined, so the coach looked to my son to help lead the team to victory. My son was hesitant at first, but then swallowed his fear and said he would do it.
Long story short, my son kicked the ball harder than I ever saw him before. The kick was high and to the right of the goal. The goalie missed it and our team was tied 4 to 4. Our last kicker scored the winning goal, and the team went ballistic.
My son wasn’t the weakest nor the strongest player on the team. I see a lot of potential in my son, who is quick on the field but timid at times. I have tried to instill confidence in him and tell him that he can be better. His nerves get the best of him, and he over thinks things just like his dad. When he was chosen to kick, I was hoping that he was going to crush the ball. During practice, I used to see his kicks and they were not the greatest. He has improved and it showed during the championship game. All the talks we had about visualizing, and not over thinking came into play on this particular day. I have told him on many occasions to just have fun and play. He did just that when his team needed him the most. When I saw, that ball go into the net I jumped for joy, yelled loud and even hugged our coach who was coming over to congratulate me.
My son carries this championship attitude off the field as well. We just found out he received a 4.0. He will be the main lead in his Christmas performance, and he picks trash up around our neighborhood, to keep it clean. Isaiah is a young boy who can do almost anything, and I am so blessed to be his father. I am adopted, so having a flesh and blood son is awesome. I appreciate all the times we have together, and hope to continue to support him to grow as a young man and one who seeks our Lord Jesus Christ. I am proud my son, and I love you.