The Still/Video Convergence as Soft-Sell Documentaries

Shooting a documentary in Oakland, California 2011

Let’s face it, traditional editorial photographic work as it was previously known a decade or more ago is dead, yet the new form of editorial content creation is alive – and growing.

This new form is the hybrid mix of stills and/or video combined with audio to tell stories in new and more dynamic ways.

The reality is, the pure photojournalistic style of editorial work is sparse – and the pay rates just aren’t there any longer for the most part.

For those wishing otherwise – including myself, it’s time to get over it and move forward or get out of the way.

Hence the term Soft-Sell Documentaries.

I came across this posting from a year ago in my search over the weekend for developing a new paradigm in the work I’ve been wanting to produce.  I’ve been grasping at straws of late and realized I’m trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.

As a visual journalist who uses multimedia techniques to tell stories, I had come from the POV that so called “selling out” for the sake of money over editorial integrity was anathema.  I realized the fallacy in my thinking – and my bank account was the telling report card.

One can find a balance and that’s a crucial component not often discussed.

I’ve begun to rethink my position of editorial integrity and realized that my primary skill is in telling stories – and making an income from it wasn’t wrong.  It was up to me to find those clients I wanted to work with and pitch the ideas for how I could meet their needs in a way that was unique and compelling.  I decided to find clients who hold similar values as I do, and in the process, I am being true to my core values and not “selling out” from my perspective.

Take for example what Benji Wagner produced for the bike clothing company Rapha. The production of this promotional series is described in greater detail in the PDN article that is the basis of this post.

As you can see, it has a story line, yet is still commercially editorial in its concept.  It doesn’t smack you in the face with hard sell marketing, instead it invokes a sense of wanting a way of life through the use of the subjects telling their stories and the additional b-roll footage.  It still sells to the viewer in a more subtle way – a way that doesn’t insult the viewers intelligence.

This has led me to a second shift – one I made earlier this year.

The second shift I made was one of thinking regionally instead of nationally or world wide.  I’m concerned about climate change.  I drive as little as I can get away with, believing that reducing my own carbon footprint – personally as well as from a business perspective – is part of living my personal and business core values.

My philosophy is such:  Strip down the gear to the essentials, let the 20+ years of professional level skills I developed do the work. Market myself to those markets I see as being within my grasp – and of interest.  Instead of flying, I’ve elected to travel by rail throughout the Pacific Northwest region where possible – which I view as a more civilized way of traveling, although not as expedient.

I’ve determined my market regions and method for getting there, the crucial next step is developing a marketing strategy – something I’m having great difficulty with in itself, but one I’m not letting hold me back.

The paradigm shift has occurred once again for yours truly in this brave new world of multimedia storytelling and whether the down economy will cooperate in that new direction is still yet to be seen.

I’m of the belief in an abundance mentality – do all I can with all that I’m capable of doing, let the universe provide the blessings as it sees fit and be grateful for what I receive as a result.

Let’s see what happens.

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