I’m at the end of Day Three of the Comms retreat at work, and we’re doing a lot of talking about human-centered stories focusing on people working at the very tip of our spear: the men and women who are making change on the ground through initiatives and programs we’ve founded. Traditionally, we’ve sent people into the field to collect stories: a researcher, local handler, photographer or videography team. Back In The Day this would have been me; I was lucky enough to go to a number of foreign countries to capture footage and interview people, then come home and cut it together into a video.

But that’s expensive, and we’re facing shrinking budgets (while our overall financial health improves, go figure) and fickle audiences who expect different things these days. Vertical self-shot TikTok-style videos get the eyeballs while more polished videos don’t resonate with larger audiences. There are exceptions, and this is a generalization, but with YouTube and Instagram offering vertical reels and LinkedIn close behind, I have to accept that my cinematic way of doing things isn’t the best way anymore.

One of my colleagues, an ex-BBC journalist, showed me an inexpensive camera rig he’s been working with lately: a DJI action camera in a GoPro-style form factor with a ton of slick features I wasn’t aware of. He and I brainstormed the idea of setting up shooting packages for our country offices where we’d put together a camera and sound rig with instructions in a box and ship them to some of the places we want to highlight, and have people on the ground shoot content for us.

I was already looking at upgrading my GoPro rigs (now eight years old) for something easier to set up and use, and the DJI camera features a front and back touchscreen, automatic horizontal/vertical axis sensing, stabilization, and a host of other features (plus a swappable battery, something the GoPro Sessions don’t). I pulled the trigger and bought last year’s model from Amazon to do some testing with my YouTube project, and I’ll see if I can get a rig together that I can recommend for my colleagues in the field.

Date posted: May 15, 2024 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

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