Social Media: Amateur versus Professional Photography and Video Production



I have over recent months heard professional video film makers and photographers insist that poor production values on corporate photography and video reflect badly on a company. Is this always true?

I would suggest that there are several valid reasons why many companies choose to create their own video and photographs and why they should continue to do so.

1.       They are strapped for cash

Not surprisingly it is more often than not professional photographers and film makers who try and insist that amateur production will almost inevitably damage company reputation. I’m not blaming them for wanting your business but until they can develop a business model to fit smaller budgets they deserve to be ignored

2.       They are in a hurry

A marketing push is often connected to a specific period of time. No one wants a Christmas campaign ready for mid-January. There’s an argument for planning further ahead but marketing campaigns born of unforeseen events and circumstances require a flexible and timely response that can’t be planned for too far ahead.

3.       They are sceptical of the benefits of slick production

I listened to one photographer insist that photographs with a gazillion megapixel resolution was the only way to go in the advent of new ‘retina’ computer technology. People, he suggested, would stop paying attention to websites with photographs taken on the standard digital camera used at parties, hen nights and holidays the world over. That’s just plain nonsense, but I was too polite to say so at the time.

We are surrounded by beautifully produced moving film, so much so that we are immune to its charms – it washes over us.  Often the slicker film is the less persuasive it can become (Is anyone impressed by adverts for cars and international hotel chains or those tedious CGI things?) Sure, the medium matters, but the narrative matters more and competent use of a simple video camera is sufficient to recording a compelling story. Proof that narrative matters more than production?  YouTube  (my case rests)


I would recommend every company spend more time considering the message rather than the look of the photographs or film they use in social media. No amount of fancy production will help a vacuous, cliché message. If you have something interesting to report I’ll listen and more likely respond, no matter if the film flickers or there’s a shadow where it shouldn’t be.

I don’t pretend my argument covers everything. If you have a comment then I’d be glad to hear it.



About jonhartl

Jon Hartley is a former manager in international online and traditional publishing. He has over 20 years experience in marketing, training, editing, copywriting and translation.Jon Hartley Internet Marketing is a collective of professionals expert in all aspects of internet including design and IT

One Comment

  1. About as important as not doing the signage for your office space in ink marker on the backs of old cardboard boxes from the shops… Or just scribbling your business details in Biro on the backs of fag packets instead of having business cards made…

    Your “compelling message” is likely to disappear in a puff of derision if your presentation is just plain incompetent! No; if you’re talking crap we can’t make it any better just by presenting it professionally – however present yourself badly and it’s very likely you will appear to be talking crap!

    It’s that professionally produced content YOUR tiny business is up against when it steps up onto the world stage that is online video. So you compete or fall quite frankly! And increasingly so.

    Video in particular has a whole collection of visual vernacular and grammars that go with them. The very reason ‘beautifully produced moving film washes over you’ is that is exactly what it is supposed to do! The point of using moving pictures at all is to lead you through the story without intrusion! The whole point and strength of the medium is to convey something beyond just the words that are being spoken…

    The mere fact that your face is on the screen (invariably unflatteringly so with poorly made videos) your lips are moving and there is noise coming out your head does NOT mean you are using the medium effectively!

    Quite recently I had cause to comment ( ) on a series of video lectures someone had decided to put up on YouTube…

    I’ve been watching the series ‘develop’. And it’s apparent it’s going mildly ‘viral’ as individuals within his own industry and (I guess) potential customers gather round it to mock. I know it’s being used by certain college lecturers as a ‘how not to’… And the latest one – thanks to an unfortunate faux-pas with the hand-scrawlled ‘graphics’ he’s using really does look ‘most unfortunate’…

    Poor chap seems oblivious, even to the point where, when a potential customer actually commented how he had been ‘put off’ the guy’s firm, that comment was deleted. – I watched this little drama unfold over breakafast last week! Quite sad…

    He IS actually making his business look desperate and short of cash! Particularly as he has at some point HAD a proper one done, and this stands in stark contrast to his later home movies. There are to be a series of six of these things apparently… We await the next one with much bemusement.

    The ironic thing is it’s not particularly expensive to have material well made. There were a series of six videos like these made too… ( DO try the HD option)

    Very simple, very basic… As part of a package they’d work out at £116.50 + VAT each at current rates!

    Of course we could have given the wannabee-lecturer a completely different look from the very traditional one asked for by that leading public school… And no-one would be laughing at him and his business for the awful fool he looks…

    But then apparently, he didn’t think his customers or his business reputation were worth £116.50!

    THEN of course there is the matter of legal compliance – does your video meet the CAP, are all copyrights and other IP properly cleared etc etc? On that score, as JA Coles found out to the tune of arond £30K when Getty sued them for copyright infringement – hiring an amateur or taking the DIY route can be VERY expensive indeed!

    A good producer or photographer would handle these things as a matter of course…

    Of course ANY video even bad video suits the ends of the SEO brigade who only care about traffic stats… Which is why they’re so keen to promote it.

    The smart money IS elsewhere though!

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