Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Collaboration And Strategic Alliances

Exploding light bulb stock photo still from slow motion video shoot
Young boy joyfully shaking water out of his hair

I have written before about the importance for me of collaborating with others and developing strategic allies. Well, I have just finished two weeks of shooting with a Phantom HD video camera. This amazing camera shoots 1280x720 HD (720p) at 1,000 frames per second! The reason I got this opportunity was because I have developed a strategic alliance with my main supplier of computer and networking solutions, Grande Vitesse Systems.

I agreed to help them test a software solution they have developed for the Phantom Video Camera that greatly speeds up the efficiency and use of said camera. But the strategic alliance didn’t stop with Grand Vitesse Systems (GVS). The shoot took place with the help of another photographer friend of mine, David Fischer. We collaborated on our ideas and execution and used his much larger and better-equipped studio. Unlike me, David has lots of hot lights, large camera stands, and some custom made lighting gear. Having the use of such resources for two weeks of shooting made a huge difference.

Now we have two terrabytes of digital assets (video) to edit. As we complete the edit I will make the videos available for viewing through my website (above are two of the stills we shot during the filming). We shot some pretty interesting stuff. As we put the software through its paces we tried to shoot footage that would have a market, and that would provide a revelation, a glimpse into things that happen so quickly that viewing them in slow motion reveals the unexpected, reveals something we have never seen before.

We couldn’t resist doing the old “Dart into a Water Balloon”, and I have to say I think we captured the best version I have ever seen. Among the other things we shot were flowing hair, bouncing dice, falling coffee beans, raining money, fire, water, flying food, a dove release, flying insects and more. The right subject matter, shot in super slow motion, is truly entrancing.

One side benefit for me in shooting video for two weeks straight is that I began to see how I could work more video into my stock photo business. I have become much more comfortable with working in motion and with using hot lights. I am also about to get a whole lot more experience with editing. As I get more experience with the entire video process I will be a lot less resistant to incorporating motion into my stock mix. The increasing use of video is definitely part of the change that is going on around us, and as Sarah Fix, creative director for Blend Images commented (see her interview here:, “It is exhausting, and ultimately self-defeating if one doesn’t see change as opportunity”.

So I have just had a great and productive time diving into change and opportunity. In the long run that will prove more valuable than all of the videos David and I shot in the last two weeks. But without cultivating those collaborative and strategic relationships, none of it would have happened at all.

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