Home Videos in the Digital Age: Camera Recommendations

This year’s #kidvideocountdown to Christas featured lots of embarrassing childhood performances, fashion shows and gymnastics routines, as well as a nose kazoo and a cute hamster. And along the way, the question I got asked most often was ‘Okay, you’ve sold me on home videos. But WHAT CAMERA SHOULD I BUY?!’

So as promised, here’s a look at our Top 5 cameras for home video. Once you look at the pros and cons of each type of camera, then it’s time to look at specific recommendations for camera models. Links to those can be found below 🙂

SPECIFIC CAMERA MODELS

For each type of camera above, I’m including my recommendation below. And to be clear, this recommendation is for the purpose of HOME VIDEOS, so I’m prioritizing cost, durability, and size/weight rather than things like professional quality images.

HANDYCAM

                   

GO PRO

DSLR

                

MIRRORLESS

               

Home Videos in the Digital Age

The #kidvideocountdown to Christmas is my favorite time of the year, mostly because digging through old family videos is officially considered ‘work’. Plus, it allows me to share my funny, embarrassing and sweet moments captured on home video as a way of reminding you guys out there the value of prioritizing home video for the sake of your future selves.

That said, I get really nervous in the digital age we’re living in that home videos will become a thing of the past. That Instastory and it’s wonderful archive function will be the closest we come to saving cute videos of our kids, and when they’re 30 they’ll have no way to look back on them. It seems the work of importing, organizing and backing up is a thing of the past where ‘the cloud’ has become our safety net.

But this time every year I’m back reminding you daily why you should make the time to not only capture, but also store and organize those precious family films.  Last year, to help with this mission, I created my first YouTube series focused on this topic to help with the how-to. I’m putting them in one nice, neat place this year to make it easier to share with our new followers this year.

STEP 1: Capturing

The Big Takeaways

  • Using a cell phone is fine!
  • BUT, when using a cell phone, FILM HORIZONTALLY
  • Film for extended periods of time.

STEP 2: Organizing

The Big Takeaways

  • Create a system
  • Get an external hard drive
  • Know where you’re backing it up!

STEP 3: Importing

The Big Takeaways

  • Do it regularly!
  • BACK. IT. UP.

BDLB Travel: The Prague Blog

I couldn’t resist.  For those of you who haven’t been to Prague, here’s why you should go!

FAVORITE THING I ATE: While I’m vegan 99% of the time stateside, when I travel it’s a different story. I realized early on in my veganism that traveling vegan is hard for two important reasons: 1) When traveling with someone non-vegan, it means I am constantly limiting our choices to only vegan restaurants, or restaurants with vegan options. I don’t mind doing this when meeting a friend for dinner, but when it comes to an extended amount of time traveling, I’d rather not impact their experience in such a big way. 2) It limits my own ability to experience the culture of the place and people, something that is definitely a priority when I’m visiting new places and countries.

All that said… Czech duck with dumplings and cabbage (their national dish) is THE BOMB. Night #1 was my favorite.

Second favorite food of choice? Trdlo, which means ‘chimney cake’ in Czech. Best done with whipped cream, strawberries & chocolate (NOT ice cream). That said, it’s a little challenging to eat…

 

FAVORITE THING I DRANK: PIVO!!! Prague is where I learned to like beer when I was a junior in college, and still one of my favorite things in the Czech Republic. When I lived there I discovered a monastery on top of the hill (near Prague Castle) called the Strahov Monastery, and they make my favorite beer in the whole city. And the best? Blueberry. Everyone in the states makes fun of my love for blueberry beer, but if the beer experts (monks in Prague) are making it, I must be onto something…

FAVORITE THING I SAW: The view from the Strahov Monastery. Not only is their beer amazing, but THIS VIEW. Best view in the whole city.

  

FAVORITE THING I DID: I’ve been a fan of AirBNB for years now, both as a traveler and as a host. But in the past year they’ve added AirBNB experiences, and this trip was my first chance to give them a try. David, a local Czech hockey fan, took a group of us to a hockey game where we got to be Slavia Praha fans for the evening. He brought us team scarves, provided tickets and even took us there via public transport so all we had to think about was how to order beer in Czech and the rules of the game. Hands down my favorite part of the trip, and I would HIGHLY recommend checking out their experiences the next time you travel!

All the other good stuff…

                

Adventure Boudoir

 

 

 

Before Krista (the photographer behind ShutterGoesClick) talked to me about creating a brand film for her new endeavor, she first asked me to model for her as she was working on building out the concept. I love creative adventures with creative friends so my quick answer was yes. Little did I know at the time that it would involve wading neck deep into a swamp in the middle of a summer storm… if you follow us on IG you know what I’m talking about. Turns out it was 100% worth it.

I tell you this to give some additional context when I talk about Vivify, the new adventure boudoir photo session that Krista is launching for both individuals and groups of women, as I’ve now not only witnessed it from the outside but had the chance to experience it myself. Here’s what I found most notable.

It’s about US and not THEM.

Traditionally boudoir photography has often been something for engaged or married women, and something they have had done as a gift for their fiance/partner.

In recent years lots of photographers have been playing around with how to make boudoir more accessible and acceptable for all women; engaged, married and single. Not only is this a smart business move (your target market and potential client base suddenly gets a lotttt bigger), but it’s also a smart move considering the feminist climate in our country right now. The post-third wave feminist movement is all about our ability to recalibrate expectations and navigate our lives (both personal and professional) on our own terms.  Boudoir for all women is just one more way to do this.

And in my mind, perhaps the largest benefit of rethinking boudoir and who it’s for is that it now feels like you’re not producing images just for someone else to appreciate. You’re creating images that are for YOU to appreciate.

It can be done in groups.

Typically boudoir photography is just the subject and the photographer. This makes sense, especially with a more intimate kind of photography like boudoir, but perhaps is a missed opportunity.

When filming the Vivify brand film I watched what it was like for a group of women to engage in boudoir together.  I was immediately struck by how much fun everyone was having, from the beginning of the session where they were drinking wine and getting ready together, to the end of the session where they were celebrating and reflecting on the experience. Boudoir can be intimidating, and definitely a little nerve wracking, but it seemed to suddenly become a lot more approachable when combined with several other women navigating their nerves right alongside you.

I was also inspired by how instinctively supportive the women were of each other. The minute the camera came out it was all compliments and encouragement, and I can’t help but imagine this also helped them all feel both more comfortable and more confident in front of the camera.

“The session became less about taking pictures and more about loving myself and being excited to step into something new which came through in the photos tenfold. I came away wanting to do it again and again with all of the women I cherish.”

I can totally picture this being an incredible birthday gift for a girlfriend, or a unique experience for a bachelorette party that is not only fun, but also leaves you with souvenirs to remember it by.

It’s outside!

I can’t speak for everyone with this one, but for me in particular this was a huge perk. The thought of posing in lingerie in a bedroom is enough to make me crawl into a corner, cover myself in a down comforter and stay there until the camera is long gone. But put me outside in a river in the woods with a flower crown? NOW we’re talking.

There’s something about this setting that feels infinitely more empowering, and less objectifying. It doesn’t feel associated with traditional advertising or the media’s image what it means to be sexy, but instead more natural and goddess-inspired, meant to empower women.

Now, for the beautiful images Krista created from both the sessions I got to be a part of!

                      

Three Ways To Fix The Oscars

By: Tyler Schwartz

The month of September is one of beginnings, with schools, football, and fall TV, all officially starting in month nine. However, September also unofficially marks the beginning of the notorious “Oscar Season”. Prestigious film festivals such as Venice, Toronto, and Telluride (the three most predictive of Hollywood’s taste), all have hosted recent premieres for this year’s lineup of cinematic Academy catnip.

It’s always exciting to read about the new films that we’ll be following up to the big day, but it’s important to remember that currently the Academy Awards are in a dire place. Last year’s broadcast received it’s lowest Nielsen rating ever and the Academy’s recent announcement (and almost immediate retraction) of a “Most Popular Film” category received fierce backlash from both in and outside the industry. Put simply, The Oscars as we know it are dying a slow death, and the present Academy leadership has shown no signs of knowing how to stop the bleeding.

Hence, here are my three humble recommendations for fixing the Academy Awards.

1. Create an Academy Membership for the General Public

The Short of it – The Academy should create a membership for the at-large movie-going public that allows them to access screeners of potential Oscar films and the opportunity to nominate one film each year for Best Picture.

The Long of it – Being the Oscars and all you’d think the Academy would know this simple truth of storytelling: to best capture an audience’s interest, you need them to invest in your narrative. By opening their hallowed doors, The Oscars could access an entire new generation of filmmakers and moviegoers alike, all united under the larger Academy umbrella.

 

Furthermore, this idea is a profitable one for the Academy! The proposition is this: Every year the Academy will open an online submission period for new “At-Large” members. This submission process will require a monthly subscription to the Academy’s Streaming Service (ala Netflix or Hulu) where the members from the general public will have access to that year’s crop of Oscar bait. Over the calendar year they’ll be required to watch a certain percentage of movies in order to submit a vote for the actual awards. Come nomination time, the eligible at-large members will each submit a Best Picture ballot with the final winning film automatically receiving a Best Picture nomination. If this happens, think of the millions of everyday people who would tune into watch the nominations alone, hoping to see the film they voted for announced (side note, if the NBA Lottery deserves a primetime slot so do the Oscar nominations, enough of this crack of dawn crap). This would also solve the Academy’s quest for showcasing “popular films” without appearing trite or condescending. The People’s Nominee for Best Picture each year is just as official as the other nominees and will be viewed as such by the rest of the “Selected Academy”. If the goal is to guarantee phenomenons like Black Panther and The Dark Knight are rewarded with Best Picture nominations, this is the most fun and logical way to do it.

2. Release The Final Vote Counts

The Short of it – When the winners for each category are announced, release the percentage of votes received for each respective nominee.

 

The Long of it This one’s pretty simple, wouldn’t you like to know how many votes Moonlight beat La La Land by in the most infamous Best Picture race ever? You’re telling me we publish the vote counts for every single government election and we won’t do it for what’s basically a glamorous reality television show? We’re talking about the same awards show that once featured host Seth MacFarlane singing a song called “We Saw Your Boobs”? I’m all for honoring the (sometimes) dignified history of the movie industry, but let’s not pretend the Oscars have always been a goddamn cotillion of classiness either.

 

And once again, this idea could financially benefit the Academy! Imagine the money to be made if they created a Academy-sponsored betting service (ala FanDuel or MyBookie) to wager on the Awards. Just like a horse race, you could bet on nominees in each category to Win, Place, or Show. Or like a Super Bowl prop bet, you could wager on how many 2nd place finishes a film will receive. The options are endless. Once again, it allows the general public to truly invest in the outcomes of the awards, and with the advent of releasing vote tallies, not simply on who wins them either. With it’s recent legalization, gambling has started to shed the shady and degenerate stigmas often attached to it. That’s why it’s time for the Academy to follow suit and embrace a principle that’s woven into the very fabric of the Awards, predicting the winners and losers.

3.  Let the Hosts Pick the Hosts

The Short of it – Hire two hosts. After the first year, one host will leave and choose their replacement for the following year. Rinse and Repeat.

 

The Long of it – The idea of two Oscars hosts is nothing new, with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as one recent example and James Franco sleepwalking next to Anne Hathaway for four hours as another. Despite the varying results, having co-hosts offers some real distinct advantages, giving each comedian a partner to riff with and allowing opportunities for fun celebrity pairings of Host and Presenter.

My proposition is thus, starting this year we pick two hosts, one man and one woman (since they have a new movie together, for this exercise, let’s go with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish). Hart and Haddish (Can’t you see the Oscar Poster already?) host the 2018 Oscars. Then the following year, Kevin Hart (losing a coin flip) leaves his Host position and selects the male host for next year (since they have history together and it’s a no-brainer ratings wise, Hart chooses Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Then in 2019, Tiffany and The Rock (the poster – both of them covered in diamond studded suits – c’mon you know you see it!) host the 2019 ceremony and then Tiffany leaves and chooses her replacement (Haddish first asks Beyonce, but she’s too pregnant with her future 4th child. Kate McKinnon, Tiff’s 2nd choice, graciously accepts). The following year the process happens again. Rinse and repeat.

 

This idea promotes both familiarity and freshness. Imagine the Twitter campaigns that will be launched in attempts to sway hosts to pick their rightful heirs. Imagine the first time a new host completely BOMBS (ala Franco or MacFarlane) and we have an entire year of news and articles in anticipation of the sequel performance. Like the previously suggested ideas, this proposed co-hosting system creates buzz around the event, capturing the zeitgeist each year and sparking country-wide conversation.

 

The SUM of it – By the age of thirteen, I had memorized in order every Best Picture winner ever, like a little cinephiliac Rain Man. It feels silly to say, but I feel personally invested in the Oscars. Over the years, some of that obsession has faded as I’ve grown more cynical and jaded, less impressed with the sight of seeing movie stars dressed to the nines while trying not to sweat. However, despite its many flaws I still love every second of it. No night of the year is more likely to have me in a puddle of tears as I watch artists, both famous and unknown, reach the pinnacle of their craft and acknowledge the many other shoulders that help carry them to this moment.

 

Similar to the NFL, the Oscars will never die. There’s too much history, too much established infrastructure, and too many die-hard fans like myself for either enterprise to every truly disappear. Yet, like the NFL, if they keep going in the same direction, the Oscars can and will diminish. They could diminish to the point where a future thirteen year old never thinks to even watch them (“I mean, like, what’s the point if it’s not on Twitch?”) That to me is the real danger.  For most filmmakers, watching the Oscars as children is their first initiation point into a future of moviemaking. I fear if the Oscars diminish to the point where it’s viewership numbers are trounced by reruns of NCIS, the trickle down effect will be felt when the next generation of great filmmakers are raised on Logan Paul instead of Paul Thomas Anderson.

 

The ideas for improvement I’ve suggested are only a few of the many the Academy should consider. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, they just need new tires because the tread on their current ones is running dangerously thin. So please, Academy members, heed this advice: Open Membership, Oscar Streaming Channel, Online Betting, Rotating Co-Hosts. You know what they call that in “the biz”? That’s entertainment.