Brand Identity & Ideal Client

OH. BOY. I know you’ve heard it before, and I also know it’s one of the hardest things we do as business owners, but today we’re going to be talking about your brand identity and ideal clients. I know what you’re probably thinking… ‘But Janice- I thought this channel was about video marketing?’ and you’re right! But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that if you don’t have a clear idea of your brand identity and target market BEFORE you start creating videos, you won’t see the results you want.

Alright, let’s dive into the hard part – WHO you are, and who you serve best. There are a lot of different books and tools to help you through the process of finding the answers to these questions, including one of my favorites- The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs. You can also head to our website for a free downloadable PDF we’ve developed to help our clients work through this part of the process before we start filming.

It’s important to acknowledge first that these two things are GOING to evolve over time. Who you are now, and who you serve best now, and who you will be in 5 years are likely going to be different- they might be a little different, or they might be a LOT different. And that’s totally okay! I started Big Dog Little Bed 8+ years ago as only a wedding videographer, and now we specialize in helping businesses & organizations grow using video. That means not only do we create videos to help them market, but we also help them think through the strategy behind the video creation. SO different than what I was doing back in 2012! And that’s totally okay. Our brand, literally the logo and visuals, along with the work and messaging, has all changed over time to reflect the changes in who we are and who we serve best.

So this is a question you should be asking yourself regularly. It’s not an exercise you can do once and say ‘DONE!’, but one that you should pause to reevaluate on a regular basis. If you’re not using the tool we have on our website, I would start with these general questions, reflecting and brainstorming on each, and eventually moving towards a clear 1-2 sentence answer as to WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU DO, and WHO YOU SERVE BEST.

One more thing to note before I offer some general guiding questions I’d suggest- it’s worth noting when you do this if there is a difference between the CURRENT ANSWERS, and what’s true for your business right now, and FUTURE ANSWERS, or what you’d like to be true in future years. This can be particularly important for newer businesses, who are still figuring out the answers to these questions.

OKAY, here are some general questions I would use to guide this reflection:

  • What do you do as a business (literally)? In the brainstorm process I’d list of any services or products you offer now, as well as any you might imagine offering in the future.

  • WHY you do this work. There are lots of videos and resources out there emphasizing the value of grounding your business in the why, and understanding what your WHY is can be a crucial part of your brand identity, so I’m linking a couple of my favorites below. Grounding your brand identity in WHY vs. WHAT allows more flexibility in shifting your business and offerings over the years.

  • How do you approach your clients and the work? I love this one, because it really gives you a chance to reflect on both process and point of view. We tend to obsess about product, but I think the real marketing advantage comes in when we deeply understand and communicate our process and point of view in addition to that.

  • What makes you different from other people or businesses doing the same thing? What is your unique competitive advantage? Why are your current customers choosing you?

    • Again, for this one I’d think beyond just differences in product and services, but also differences in your process and your point of view. These impact overall client experience, so are worth reflecting on when it comes to brand identity.

  • How do you want people to FEEL when they interact with your brand? While this is certainly part of their actual experience when hiring you, this can also be more generally. How do you want them to feel when reading or viewing content you create? What about when they see posts on social media, or interact with you or your employees in real life?

  • Where are you located, and where are your clients typically located? This could be a factor if you’re a regional company who only serves people in a specific area, or the opposite, if you love to travel or serve clients remotely and want to make it clear that where you’re located doesn’t impact who you serve.

Once you’ve reflected on yourself and your business, the next step is thinking about WHO you serve best, also known as your ‘Ideal Clients’ or your ‘Target Market’. One activity I’ve done in the past that I’ve found extremely helpful is creating a client ‘avatar’ where you literally create an imaginary person who represents all the characteristics of your ideal client. I’ve even seen some people name them, and use that avatar as the barometer for any marketing materials they create. Would this post or video make this person more likely to continue following me? More or less likely to hire me? Rather than asking ourselves how EVERYONE will feel about the content we’re creating, thinking really specifically about how that person would feel about it.

I’ve personally found it helpful to think back over the past year and list the three clients I most enjoyed working with, and then reflect on characteristics they all have in common. These characteristics are likely going to help in identifying who my ideal client is.

If you head over to our Coaching/Strategy tab, you’ll have access to a free downloadable PDF that will guide you through this process, resulting in your 1-2 sentence overview of your brand identity.

Social Media Starter Kit

WE. KNOW. Video sounds like a good idea. You’ve heard all the stats*, you’ve listened to the podcasts and you really do think you should probably start doing it. BUT WHERE DO YOU START?!? 😣🤦🏼‍♀️😩

Don’t worry! That’s what we’re here for.  Not just to shoot and edit, but to help you think through the strategy behind your video plan so when you DO invest you know you’ll get the results you were hoping for.

So all this leads to an exciting announcement with our newest video package… Please meet our Social Media Starter Kit!

BOOK NOW!

The goal of the social media starter kit is to be smart and efficient with your time, shooting a bunch of content in one day that you can then use throughout the year on Instagram, Facebook, your website, in email marketing… you get the idea.

And even better? We do all the hard work for you. Keep reading to find out how it works, step-by-step.

1) KICKOFF STRATEGY SESSION. You sit down with the BDLB team for a two hour kickoff meeting where we use our foolproof materials and process to help you figure out exactly what kind of content will be most helpful for your business, your ideal clients, and your current marketing strategy. We leave you with some homework (and all the materials to support you in doing it) so you’ll be ready to roll on shoot day.

2) SHOOT DAY. Here’s where we really get started. Shoot day can start with hair/makeup if you’d like (we have a preferred hair/makeup wizard who we’ll happily book for your day), and while you’re getting ready we’ll set up all the video equipment we’ll need for the shoot. Then, we start! We can guide you  with our proven interview tactics (you can sort of read about this here), but you can also come prepared with any scripted content* you’d like to capture.

*YOU GUYS… we even have a teleprompter, making this infinitely less painful 👏🏻

3) THE EDIT.  We pack up, take off, and the real magic happens. We edit all the footage into 10 or 20 edited clips (half day/full day) that are all 60-90 seconds in length (perfect for social media), and delivered to you less than two weeks after we wrap shooting.

4) TIME TO SHARE. Once we deliver all the clips to you via Dropbox, they’re ready for you to start using! We’re working on building up a library of resources (blog posts, YouTube videos, PDFs…) to help you more effectively share with your audience, so we’ll also be here long after we’re done to make sure the content is doing what you’d like it to do.

THAT’S IT! Boy, that sounds easy. Almost as easy as shooting us a quick email to get started 😉 Looking forward to it!

BOOK NOW!

 

*75 million people in the US watch online videos everyday. In 2019, internet video traffic accounted for 80% of all consumer internet traffic. YouTube has 1 billion users– almost 1/3 of all internet users.  Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. Just a starter 🤷‍♀️

Understanding Copyright & Raw Footage

Copyright law and raw footage… two very sexy topics we’re gonna tackle  in today’s blog post. Sexy AND important. Important because they’re two things that  clients really need to understand when signing a contract, but often don’t. No fault of their own, as many of them have never signed a video contract before. So our goal today is to help you understand how these work, and WHY they work this way.

 

INDUSTRY STANDARD

So as a starting point, let’s take a look at what’s pretty typical in the video industry (here in the United States). This is not necessarily how all videographers/photographers operate (that’s why it’s important to read the fine print), but most do. 

 

Copyright. The videographer owns the copyright to all videos created in the course of their work together, both raw footage as well as the final edited product. While this is usually explicitly stated in a contract, if it’s not US copyright law falls on the side of the creative. The default is that creators own their creative content because, well, they created it. 

Raw Footage. When hiring a video production company, raw footage is not included.  This is one of the large differences between hiring a production company and hiring a freelance shooter… freelance shooters are hired JUST for the shooting, so of course raw footage is included. But when you hire a production company the assumption is that you’re being hired to create a final product; that final product is what the client is paying for, not the raw footage.

 

WHERE WE STAND

 

Copyright. We also maintain copyright ownership over both the raw footage captured for a project and the final product. Our contract then provides a limited license to our clients for specific use cases. We intentionally leave this pretty vague to allow clients to use videos in any online/digital marketing including (but not limited to) their website, social media, online courses, Kickstarters, paid advertisements, etc. Basically all the reasons our clients typically hire us. We will adjust this section of our contract based on what we know about our client and what they’re hiring us to create (and for what ultimate purpose). 

 

Why do we maintain ownership? We’re creatives. This footage, and the final products, are part of our portfolio and it’s important to us that we ultimately own what we create. This is both to protect our brand (it prevents clients from making any changes to the final product and keeping our name on it), as well as allow us to keep footage in our long term archive, which we can use in future projects should we choose to. This most often refers to scenery/establishing footage that might have been shot for one project, but could be a nice supplement for a future story where we weren’t able to shoot live footage for all portions of it. We can dip into the archive and see if there’s anything useful there.

 

 

Raw Footage. As a video production company (and not freelance shooters) our contracts do not include raw footage. Our clients are hiring us for a final product, and what we create along the way outside of that final product is not included in the package price.  

 

Allow us a brief metaphor to explain our position. Sticking in the realm of all things “raw”, lets pretend our team at BDLB are sushi chefs. As master sushi chefs, our job is to create mouthwateringly beautiful “sushi” that will thrill your senses, touch your heart, and nourish your hunger. We pride ourselves on every bite being perfect, no matter what kind of “sushi roll” we’re making. And yet… have you ever watched actual sushi being made? The chefs strip each fish down to their core, cutting away the bad pieces until they have a perfect block of fish to use in each roll. Would you ever ask a sushi chef for the shavings from your Spicy Tuna roll? Of course not, because the simple truth is, anyone can go out and buy raw fish. But with sushi (just like with video), you’re not paying for the fish. You’re paying for the person who can transform that block of raw fish into deliciously delectable and digestible sushi. 

 

Similar to our metaphorical sushi chef brethren, what makes us great is knowing which parts to strip away. It takes a trained eye to know what footage to include in any given film. Just how sushi chefs pare down their fish, we do the same with our videos. It could simply be a bad piece of fish (out of focus, shaky camera), or there’s a tendon (exposure, audio), or they need to shape the fish to fit a certain type of sushi roll (narrative vision, timing constraints). 

 

To complete the metaphor, another reason we don’t release our raw footage is due to the unintended negative impact it can have on our reputation. Imagine if you took a sushi chef’s leftover fish and used it to serve your own homemade sushi. After your dinner guests are sick from the bad fish, they’ll ask where it came from. We don’t want to take the blame for an untrained chef’s rookie mistakes. After all, just like sushi restaurants, positive word of mouth is critical to our bussiness’s structure and growth. We want you to want to dine with us again. 

 

And lastly, the very practical business aspect of our position is our business model and the loss of future work. We are not freelance shooters, but a video production company. We are not selling just our shooters and their time, we’re selling a process and a final product. Everything we do is partnering with our clients to create a video that will meet their goals, and we don’t feel okay about providing raw footage that you can shop around to see who can edit it for a cheaper price. We view our pricing as an investment in a partnership, a process AND a final product. Handing over raw footage just doesn’t make sense in the context of our business model.

 

 

BUT THERE ARE ALWAY EXCEPTIONS…

All of this aside, we care about our clients and there are some cases where providing raw footage or ownership of the footage is important, and we do occasionally sell* raw footage and/or copyright. There are two major instances (that we can think of) where it might make sense to do this:

 

  • You are a large business/organization with a video team, and while you hire us for a specific project you’d like to be able to use footage collected in future projects. Purchasing raw footage here, as well as the copyright ownership, is well worth the additional investment because of what you’ll save in the future not having to hire another videographer to shoot for a project. You have a team in-house who knows how to use this footage in future projects.

 

  • The topic or content is particularly personal or sensitive, and you want to maintain control over how it’s used in the future. This is an instance where you likely would care most about the copyright ownership, which would also include the raw footage. When the videographer owns the copyright they can use the footage in future projects, but by purchasing the copyright and footage you have ultimate control. One thing to note here is that videographers and video production companies (us included) are humans, and usually care about our clients. I can only speak for BDLB, but I can’t imagine a scenario where we would re-use personal or sensitive footage in another project without talking to that client first. That’s just one of the things that comes along with the way we approach our process and partnerships. 

 

  • You hired a videographer to film your wedding and you can’t imagine missing a single moment. This is an instance where it might be worth it to buy the raw footage**, but you likely wouldn’t care as much about purchasing the copyright. 

 

*For all the reasons mentioned above, plus the cost of hard drives and the actual time it takes to export all the footage, we do not ever provide raw footage for free.

 

**Though it’s worth noting that most videographers (BDLB included) will provide the option of purchasing full doc edits of important moments so you don’t have to miss anything, but also don’t have to wade through a TB of video clips. Friendly reminder that raw footage is unedited, not color corrected, not synced with audio, and just a folder of lots and lots of clips- if you don’t know what to do them, they actually are more annoying than valuable. 

 

Prepping For Your Instabrand!

Instabrand Films are our favorite way to create quick, easy and affordable brand films for new and/or small businesses. You can find out more details about there HERE, but I’m guessing if you’re reading this it’s because you’ve already booked one and are getting ready to prepare for it! Hopefully the details below will get you all set to kill it on shoot day 👍🏻

Shoot Logistics

Every Instabrand shoot includes the following:

  • 2 hours of shooting (in one location)
  • One interview, up to 30 minutes in length
  • 1.5 hours of shooting visuals to accompany the interview.

Instabrand Questionnaire

To make the prep process as efficient as possible, we’ve created an Instabrand Questionnaire form online that will provide us with more details about your business,  your brand, and how you plan to use your Instabrand Film. Please fill that out as soon as you’ve booked to give us as much time as possible to prepare. You can find the Questionnaire HERE.

Interview Prep

This part of the Instabrand shoot requires no prep on your part! Once you’ve filled out the Instabrand Questionnaire we sent you, we’ll have all the info we need to draft interview questions. We won’t be sharing these with you ahead of time, because our priority is always capturing genuine, unscripted audio content about your business. We’ve found in the past when people see the questions ahead of time they tend to over prepare, bring notes, rehearse…  you get the idea. I have never, not even once, seen this work out well. But when we ask questions targeting the core of your business? This is where the real gold comes from. And thanks to the power of editing, there’s no pressure to say the perfect thing in the perfect way- you can answer as many times as you’d like and we’ll then clean it all up and pick out the best parts for your film.

What to Wear

The #1 thing I tell people when it comes to what to wear is wear what makes you feel GOOD. You want to feel confident the day of your shoot, and wearing your favorite outfit can definitely help. That said, there are a couple things we typically recommend avoiding…

  • BRIGHT COLORS (think yellows, oranges, reds, greens). These can actually throw off weird tints and sometimes impact the white balance on the camera. Neutrals or pastels are usually a pretty safe bet 👍🏻
  • TURTLENECKS. We’ll need to clip the lavalier mic on you before we start, and turtlenecks can be pretty tricky.
  • LOW CUT TOPS. Depending on the camera angle you might not end up liking the way this appears on camera.
  • BIG JEWERLY. We’ve found these can sometimes end up hitting the mic or make a jingling sound throughout the interview. It’s usually safer to stick with smaller and/or quiet jewelry.

Visuals and Models

In order to keep the Instabrand as affordable as it is, we don’t do any prep before the shoot when it comes to models and/or visuals, so this will be something you need to plan. Make sure you’ve coordinated with models on timing, and have all locations/props ready when we arrive. This allows us to spend our time shooting rather than planning/organizing, and we can leave with as much usual footage as possible. When planning these, here are a couple things that might help.

BRAINSTORM VISUALS. Think about the important parts of your business you would want potential clients to SEE. Of course you’ll be talking about your business, who you are and what you believe in your interview, but how can you bring this to life with what they see? Create a list of the kinds of client interactions you might like them to see, what your ideal client experience looks/feels like and plan around these.

CHOOSE LOCATION. Next, you want to pick the perfect location to film in. Since we only shoot in one spot you’ll want to think about:

  • Is there a quiet, well-lit room (we also bring lights, so this is a nice-to-have, not must-have) where we can interview you?
  • Are there other spaces where we can set up client interactions?
  • Is there space outside that could also be utilized if needed?

If you don’t currently have access to a space that fits the criteria, stark asking around. We’ve had clients in the past rent AirBNB’s (sometimes if you only need it for an hour rather than a night you can reach out to the host for a revised rate), and have seen lots of other creative solutions to this.

FIND MODELS. Make sure when looking for models to stand in as clients you are thinking about showcasing who you most like to work with, and represent the diversity of clients that you serve. Obviously when asking for favors it isn’t always possible to meet all criteria, but it helps to be thinking about these things ahead of time. If you’re not paying your models, think about a nice thank-you gift you could bring for their time.

MAKE A SCHEDULE. This will help you know what the shoot will look like, the times you’ll need extra models or help (depending on the shoot), how we’ll fit everything in, and where you might want to have several outfits planned. Here’s an example from a past shoot we did for a business consultant:

9:00-9:30- Interview w/ client (Outfit #1)

9:30-9:35- Client changes to Outfit #2

9:35-9:50- ‘Client Meeting’ w/ Model #1 (woman) in back room at a table.

9:50-9:55- Client changes to Outfit #3

9:55-10:10- ‘Client Meeting’ w/ Models #2 & #3 (two men) in spare office. Will also be presenting at white board, in addition to meeting at the table.

10:10-10:15- Client changes to Outfit #4

10:15-10:25- Capture visuals of client meeting with Model #4 via Skype.

10:25-10:45- Capture visuals of client working at computer, going through books/resources, writing and preparing for a presentation.

10:45-11:00- Wrap the shoot with any remaining visuals of things like their office, props that are on brand, books, materials, etc.

11:00- Wrap and pack up equipment

 

That’s it! Hope this helps, and can’t wait to see you on shoot day 😁👍🏻

 

 

Details Matter: Brand Identity & What It Has To Do With Your Video Strategy

So we changed our Instagram bio last week. I’m sure you all noticed immediately and have had many questions about it since…  Okay, I’m kidding. I’m sure approximately .5% of you noticed, and were probably left with no questions. BUT, I hope you understand by the end of this post why it’s worth writing about 🙂

OLD IG BIO: A #femalefilmmaker passionate about craft beer, dogs and telling real stories that connect people. 🎥🐶🍺

NEW IG BIO: A #feministfilmmaker empowering other badass women to grow their world-changing businesses using video 🎥🐶🍺😊

First of all, the new one is likely not a finished product. Nor should it ever be. But here’s why the change is important, and what it can teach you about brand identity and how it relates to your video strategy (or marketing strategy more generally).

When we work with our clients on brand films the first thing we talk about in their kickoff meeting is who they are and who they’re trying to reach. We like our clients to be as detailed as they can be about both of these so that we’re crystal clear on the kind of film they want and need.

First we discuss them; their product/service, its value proposition, and most importantly what their company/business stands for. Next is getting as specific as possible with their AUDIENCE. Who is your target market/ideal client? And we push folks to be really specific. Do you know their age range? Their gender? Where they live? What they like to do in their spare time? Their general income level? It can even be helpful to create an avatar, with a name, that represents who you want to work with/sell to. The more you know them, the easier it is to create marketing for them.

One thing that helped me was looking back at 2019 and naming four past clients we most enjoyed working with. The projects or the people that sparked us creatively, fulfilled us personally, and generally brought us a whole lot of joy. Once I had that list, what do they all have in common? Once I did this I discovered they were all women, they were all creating products/services that would make the world a better place, and they were all building profitable, scalable businesses. And not only did I love working with them, but I also genuinely believe that video (and video made by us more specifically) can help amplify their message, reach more people and help them be more successful.

YET, despite knowing how to do this with our clients, and having spent a lot of time thinking about our ideal clients, when I headed down to Miami a couple weeks ago for a workshop, I was shocked by what a little outside perspective did for my own brand identity. We were asked to introduce ourselves and our businesses, and it was interesting to hear what the facilitator (Diana Castro of ForProductions) reflected back to me after my turn. I gave an overview of our business and she gave me these four words (well, six words really): Rebellious Spirit. Competitive. Feminist.  Empower Others.

Nowhere in our current marketing do we use any of these words, but when she said them I finally felt truly seen. And so grateful to have someone from the outside, someone not entrenched in our daily client work, look at the business from a different perspective.

We then dug in deeper to figure out how we articulate our identity to our clients, and this is where I generated a new one sentence description of our brand identity: A #feminist #femalefilmmaker empowering other badass women entrepreneurs to share their great, world changing ideas using video. 

It felt scary because it’s specific. And while I genuinely believe specific is good for marketing (you have to know who you’re talking to) it is also a scary concept for pretty much every entrepreneur I know because it has the potential to be limiting. Will it make people feel excluded, and like we’re not for them? Will it turn off some potential clients and drive them away? Will we lose business? Will we be able to pay our bills???

But I decided to put it to our ideal client test- if they read our new IG profile, would they feel more connected to us, or less? If an ideal client stumbled upon our IG for the first time, would this make them more apt to follow us, or less? Who would it make less apt to follow us? Is this a good or bad thing?

So while this small 104 character change might not seem like a big deal to you, it means everything to us. It lives as a barometer for all the content we put on our IG, a measuring stick and a reminder of who we’re creating for, and what is most helpful in empowering them to use video to grow their businesses. So let this be our little push to take your IG bio just as seriously 😉

Camera Recommendations

Dear Janice,

I’m thinking about finally investing in a camera for ____________- do you have any camera recommendations?!?

Sincerely,

Friend/Family Member/Past Client

IT’S ABOUT TIME I FINALLY WROTE THIS POST!!! This is one of the most asked questions I get, so it’s time to put it all down in writing (with a couple Amazon affiliate links along the way to make your life easier and send some extra $$$ our way… 😁👍🏻)!

First BIG Question: What do you want the camera for?

There are so many cameras on the market, for all types of users, so the first big question is what you’re hoping to do with the camera. This post is going to focus on answers that look something like this…

I have kids and want to start taking better pictures of them.

I travel a lot, and I’m ready for my photos to go a step beyond cell phone quality.

I’m looking for a new hobby, and photography seems fun.

*If you’re looking for a point and shoot camera, this post is likely not for you (but this one might be). If you’re looking for a camera for home videos, then THIS POST is the best place for you to start. *

Second Question:  DSLR or Mirrorless?!?

So there’s a lot of technical stuff to help explain the difference between the two (DSLR’s use older technology, and involve a mirror in the process of taking photos, while mirrorless cameras use newer technology, no mirror and the image goes straight to the sensor), but I’m gonna focus on simpler, more practical descriptions for those just starting to take photography more seriously.

DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex)

  • Larger body
  • Interchangeable lenses
  • More tried & true technology that is more comparable to film.
  • Lower price point on some of the best options for newer photographers.

MY RECOMENDATION FOR A STARTER DSLR… Canon Rebel (any of them)

The newer rebels probably have fancier features, but I shot 19 weddings with the T3i and loved it so can only imagine the newer versions are even better.

MIRRORLESS

  • Smaller & more compact. This is typically a pro, but I will admit that when I first used one I missed the weight and size of my DSLR which I had grown used to over the years.
  • Interchangeable lens. Since they’ve been around less time, there have been less options for these, but this is rapidly changing.
  • Smaller size makes them better if you’re shooting with a gimbal.
  • Mirrorless cameras use newer technology, which offers lots of advantages but also means there are complaints on things like battery heating issues (Sony), etc. as companies are working out all the kinks.
  • Typically a bit more expensive, but again depends on model.

 

MY RECOMENDATION FOR A STARTER MIRRORLESS… Sony a6300

I shot with this bad boy for two years (until some jerk stole it from me… I hope they’re enjoying it as much as I did 😩) and LOVED it. Takes stills and video, I found it great with kids (the autofocus was amazing and spot on) and the price point isn’t too bad.

Another resource comparing a lot of different Mirrorless cameras. 

Third Question: Are you looking to buy something beyond a kit lens?

Be careful when purchasing your camera (especially online) to notice whether or not it comes with a ‘kit lens’ (the basic lens that’s included with purchase… typically an 18-55mm). Many cameras are sold with the camera body only, so make sure to look for this.

The kit lens is a great place to start, but depending on what you’re hoping to shoot, things like focal distance (how wide or tight of a shot you can get) and aperture (how the lens will do in low light and producing bokeh) will start to matter more.

My two favorite lenses?

  • 50mm 1.4 (I actually love the 1.2 the most because it’s BEAUTIFUL, but the price point is really high and you just don’t need it for every day shooting. The 1.4 is a great lens at a great price point.)
  • 24-70mm 1.4. It’s large, but you can shoot almost anything with it. If I invested in only one lens at the beginning, it would be this one.

Fourth Question: What else do I need???

There’s a LOT of fancy accessories you can buy for cameras, but here are the ones that I think are most important (and why) so you can decide what makes the most sense for you.

  • A camera strap. I hate the ugly black ones that come with the cameras, so the first thing I do is buy a colorful, fun one. Something like THIS.
  • Memory Cards. If you’re shooting video, I’d suggest getting a couple 32gb or 64gb cards that are Class 10 or have a write speed of +90mb/s. It’s always good to have extras, and they’re not too expensive.  Make sure to check if the camera you’re buying takes SD cards or CF cards. CF cards will do better when shooting raw photos, so depending on how you’ll be using the camera keep that in mind.
  • Extra batteries. When I travel I pack a charger, but always like having extra batteries on hand.
  • Tripod. This isn’t totally necessary for casual/travel photography UNLESS you want be in pictures with your family (this is a hard one for me) or you want to give long exposures/night photography a try. For the first one, I’d recommend a smaller, portable tripod that you can set on a table/rock/railing somewhere (this one is my favorite). For the second, I’d recommend something a bit more sturdy but still portable (something like this).
  • Camera bag. Especially for travel, but even just for throwing your camera in the bag and taking it to a sporting event, a good camera bag is super helpful for protecting your camera and lenses. I have a collection of these that I love depending on shoot/purpose, so think about which features matter the most and go from there.

HAPPY SHOOTING!