Why I BTS?

I don’t know what it is, but people love BTS. A big part of it is that so many people are interested in photography, but I also think that they love to take a look behind the curtain at see how things are made. There is also an element of vocational envy; when people see these video they think that this is what we get to do every day and it is far more exciting than what happens in their cubicle. This is why I don’t shoot BTS of check passings or banquets; why should I destroy their perceptions of the photo profession? When all is said and done, we get to create for a living, and that is something special. We primarily do BTS videos for self-promotion; the best way to promote yourself as hard-working creative specialist is to show prospective clients how you create.

A few months after the softball video we did a photo shoot where we got to smash piggy banksto bits. It was for a news release on bankruptcy, and I thought it might be fun to show some video of the destruction. I was shocked at the response to the video. Vice Presidents would stop us in the hallway and say how much they loved the slow motion video of the exploding piggy bank or the sound that it made when it crashed to the ground. Pretty soon that recognition turned into new contacts and new jobs. These new clients told us that they saw the video and wanted us to do something fun for a release or their alumni magazine. I know that many of these clients didn’t see our news release on bankruptcy, but found us because of the video.

That spring we went out to the Bonneville Salt Flats for a poster shoot with the BYU Football team. Once again we found a great opportunity to display our work through the video. We actually didn’t have enough people to do the poster shoot and the video at the same time, so we brought some other students who could shoot the video while we did our shoot. The video was released about a month before the season started, just when the fans were getting whipped up into a pre-season frenzy. In that first month the video had over 14,000 views and we had a hard time walking on campus to our shoots because so many administrators, staff and faculty would stop us and want to talk about the Salt Flats. Even a year and a half later, people still stop us and say “Wait, you are the guys who shot that poster”.

Around the time this video came out we got a new Vice President over the Advancement Division, essentially our bosses boss. He came and quickly met with his subordinates to try and get to know the Advancement employees. Our boss showed him the Piggy Bank and the Salt Flats BTS videos in her first meeting with him and he immediately asked if he could show it to the entire division at an Advancement retreat a few days later. That is the great thing about BTS, the first impression he had of us came from what he saw in those videos. Since then he has been one of our biggest supporters.

A few months ago we were asked to do a Christmas card for the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. When we go to the shoot and saw how well the client had staged the Christmas card, we sent a student to grab the video kit so we could do a quick BTS. When they saw the final result they were so excited because not only did they have the finished product, but also they had video to help them promote it to their students and alumni. Check it out below:

It is impossible to measure the good that has come from creating behind the scenes videos, but I can honestly say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. They help our bosses see that we are working hard and our clients that we can shoot pretty much anything that they can come up with. It also separates us from the seemingly thousands of part-time student photographers on campus and brands us as the “Professionals”. It is very important for people to see how much work it takes to be a professional photographer and what goes into a big photo shoot. In the end, I believe that BTS videos engender a greater appreciation for our specialized skills.

If I were to give a few tips on BTS, I would probably put it in a few bullet points:

  • Keep It Short People are impatient and loose interest quicker than Cocker Spaniels, 1-3 minutes is always a good guideline.
  • Quicken Your Pace Edit your video to a quick pace and cut out what doesn’t add to the story, nobody wants to see you adjust your light stand 43 times.
  • Make The EffortBTS is your advertisement, put some effort into making it visually interesting and a showcase of your technical and creative abilities.
  • Be SelectiveSave BTS for the big crazy shoots that people are actually interested in, not the run of the mill everyday stuff. Some of the questions we ask ourselves when we look at the month’s shoots are “Will this make a good BTS?” “Why would somebody choose to watch this?”
  • Fun – Make sure that you have lots of fun and maintain a light atmosphere while on the shoot, then show that in your video. You want clients to see how much fun a photo shoot can be.