How to Become a Videographer – 42 West, the Adorama Learning Center
Like photography, videography can be very difficult to get into. The film industry is a very competitive field, and being a videographer requires a lot more than just ambition. Similar to being a cinematographer, you’ll have to be equipped with technical knowledge and natural creativity when it comes to creating what is essentially moving pictures and using them to tell a story.
After you’ve gained all the necessary knowledge and skill to successfully enter the field, then comes the bigger challenge of getting a job and eventually developing your own style. These may all sound overwhelming to you and every other person who’s hoping to kickstart a career in videography, but don’t worry. We’ll ease you in on the first steps to take and offer a handful of tips on how you can support your interest in this craft.
What Does a Videographer Do?
A videographer’s job is to capture the moment. In order to do that successfully they must plan out the shot, provide their own equipment, know the ins and outs of their equipment, and sometimes edit the footage. This can range from a wedding shoot, a sports event, or even a birthday. It all depends on what you gravitate toward. Eventually, you’ll find your niche and your passion.
10 Tips on How to Become a Videographer
There’s no one way to becoming a videographer. Many successful videographers have unique stories on how they followed similar steps differently before they got their big breaks.
Depending on where you are in your journey to becoming a professional videographer, you can start off with any of these tips and simply turn to your burning passion for videography to guide you to success.
- Attend workshops
- Get a good video camera
- Earn a related college degree
- Look for internships
- Find a mentor
- Create your own films
- Market yourself
- Join a film organization
- Apply for jobs
- Further develop your skills and career
1. Attend workshops
The usual first step to becoming a videographer is knowing how to operate a video camera properly. As a very lucrative career, videography obviously requires a whole lot of skill and technical knowledge that goes way beyond merely pressing the record button.
You can start your education way before college, as many middle schools already offer basic Video 101 classes in film, art, broadcasting, journalism, and other subjects that are related to videography. Your school might even have a news program or audio-visual club that you can join to help you learn and practice your skills.
Once you’re ready for a more intensive class, you can enroll in videography workshops in your community or online. If possible, take follow-up classes that will also teach you about manual camera settings, filmmaking techniques, video editing techniques, lighting setups, and many more.
2. Get a good video camera
As a beginner, you may find the DSLR or mirrorless camera to be easier to use than camcorders for your videography training. After attending several workshops, you will have probably gotten a good idea of the type of cinema camera that you prefer to work with. You can even look into a top camera for student filmmakers.
Once you’ve made your decision on what type of camera you want to work with, you can start choosing from a wide variety of camera brands and models that meet your needs in versatility and ultra high-resolution video recording. Whatever you choose, it’s crucial that you learn how to use—and use it well.
You’ll learn along the way that a camera is only one of the many things you’ll have to learn how to operate. There will be sliders, cranes, camera rigs, and other technical gear that you’ll have to familiarize yourself with, but you should have already mastered the camera to make the most out of any set of video recording equipment.
3. Earn a related college degree
When you start applying for a videographer job, agencies and filmmaking companies will usually want to be assured of your education with a college degree that’s related to film or broadcasting. Fortunately, there are a handful of bachelor degrees that will provide you with valuable experiences and technical skills required in the field, such as the following:
- Video editing
- Film theory
4. Look for internships
Some would say the secret to breaking into the film industry is to find ways to spend time on real film sets understanding film crew positions and getting to know a lot of important people who can help you work your way up. Contact local television companies, film studios, and others that offer internships and look for opportunities to start out as an assistant.
But don’t spend any effort in trying to land a job just yet. The main objective would be to get a glimpse of how film crews and sets operate. You’ll also learn film set safety and how to conduct yourself professionally. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are a lot of lessons from your internships that workshops won’t/can’t teach you.
5. Find a mentor
During your internships, find a mentor (fellow videographer or professional cinematographer) and cultivate friendships. Aside from gaining valuable knowledge from someone who’s currently in the industry, this person can be a source of inspiration. Even if you’ve already found yourself a mentor early on, having more than one can be very beneficial for your career.
If possible, assist your mentor in some of their projects. Observe how they work, how they plan and execute their shots, and how they address problems that arise. Apprenticeship opens up the possibility of working as a second-shooter or getting referrals for job opportunities later on.
6. Create your own films
Spending time on real film sets with all of these creative people will strongly inspire you to create your own short film or movie to practice your hand at executing specific camera movements and filmmaking techniques. By all means, let yourself be driven to experiment and realize your own creative style. Call up your buddies and invite them to start a film project that you can all use for practice and to build your portfolios.
Let the director and/or cinematographer do their jobs of dictating the shot styles—just focus on executing them perfectly.
7. Market yourself
Once you’ve amassed a collection of short films and clips, you’re ready to start cultivating yourself as a brand. Create a website or online portfolio where you can show off your best work and your creative filmmaking style. This is what will help you stand out from the rest and establish your creative filmmaking identity to directors.
Widen your horizons and take advantage of today’s access to mass media by sharing your website or content on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This way, you also increase your following and let others help promote your work through “Likes” and “Shares”. Don’t forget to leave your current contact details on your pages so interested companies and clients will know where to reach you!
8. Join a film organization
Aside from internships, joining professional film organizations and associations is a great way to gain more experience and exposure in the field, build your network, and find job opportunities. Being able to label yourself a member of a known organization in your community adds to your credibility and may even help beef up your resume.
Some groups focus on certain types of videography, so you may want to first do a little research on the available organizations to check if any of them are aligned with your style and what you’re interested in working on.
9. Apply for jobs
With both theoretical and technical knowledge, first-hand experience in films sets and in making your own films, an established identity and creative style, a few backers, and a pretty impressive portfolio, you can finally try to search for job opportunities. Search online for job openings, make a few calls to film companies, and send word out to family, friends, and colleagues.
If you’re lucky, work will find you without you even having to lift a finger. And when clients come knocking, don’t reject those that don’t pay as much as you’d hope. It may be a better idea to focus on learning and gaining more experience from your first few projects.
The film industry is pretty small; you wouldn’t want to be labeled an arrogant newbie long before catching your big break.
10. Further develop your skills and career
Learning doesn’t stop after your advanced filmmaking workshop. As the film industry develops new filmmaking techniques, manufacturing companies continue to come out with high-tech film equipment. These make it crucial to keep up with the latest trends and pursue extended education in filmmaking. Plus, take on more challenging jobs that will help you achieve success and maintain your relevance in the field. Keep on learning and consider going for a cinematographer job when the opportunity presents it.
What skills do you need to be a videographer?
One of the most important skills a videographer should have is interpersonal savvy. As a videographer, clients are entrusting you to capture their once-in-a-lifetime moment. Interpersonal savvy is the ability to build and maintain relationships, show empathy, listen, and be trusting. If you can make your client feel comfortable and confident they are making right decision, then the fun part of shooting video begins. Knowing how to shoot, and what equipment to use can be taught, but being able to know what the client wants and providing it, that takes skill.
How to Be a Videographer: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a videographer and a filmmaker?
The main difference between a videographer and a filmmaker is the subject they are shooting. Typically, a videographer will be hired to shoot an event as it happens. Videographers will be hired for bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, corporate events, and sporting events. A videographer will usually be a one- or two-person team, depending on the event.
A filmmaker, meanwhile, will work with an entire team consisting of a director, a lighting crew, and more. A filmmaker will be responsible for shooting the director’s vision and bringing it to the screen. They’ll be working with a much larger budget, a larger crew, and be on set longer. A filmmaker is capturing moments to weave into a story that has already been written.
Do videographers make money?
Absolutely! Now, like any passion career, it will take time and it won’t happen overnight. As you start building your client base and networking, more people will begin to notice you and you’ll be referred more. As you start to make a name for yourself and purchase higher-end equipment, opportunity will appear. Cities across the country are hubs for videographers, including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but you can find work in any local market as long as you know how to promote yourself.
Is videography hard to learn?
If you have a passion to become a videographer, then you’ll make it happen. You’ll be doing what you love, and learning what you love. There is a degree of learning new equipment as its released, having technical knowledge, and investing in yourself. The hardest part is having the skills to maintain relationships. It’s up to you to find your clients, plan the shoot, and make sure they are getting what they want.
How do I start a videographer career?
The best way to start your career is to find a videographer you love and see if they have classes or recommend any classes. Going to workshops and meeting other videographers is a great place to network and learn new skills. From there, shoot and then shoot some more. You want to be able to have a strong portfolio online so clients know your style.
Start small and ask friends if you can shoot their events and parties, and grow from there. Look for internships, and new ways to advertise yourself. Check out Adorama for the latest events and workshops. There is an entire community of videographers in our discord who can help you learn and get started!