Years ago I used to chuckle at a guy who would come to a party and juggle both birthday photo and video by himself, at the same time! Thought he was insane. Taking it back now—here are my results from a similar stunt.
Having a professional DSLR camera that can shoot video besides photos is tough for staying confined to just photography. With a creative vision and documentary storytelling mindset nurtured for 15 years of portraits and events, it was a question of “when”, not “whether” I’d tinker with video. Similarly, having had drawn for years built a solid artistic basis for my photography back in the day. The composition, posing, lighting, etc. weren’t new to me. And now, setting those moments into a motion felt just like an extension of what I had already mastered.
My very first commercial experience was in 2013 for a British lingerie designer, Jane Woolrich. It was filmed as a quick experiment at the Javits Center. Basic stuff there and a visual effect that looks dated eight years later… It still worked the purpose.
The team’s first commercial video experience was in 2017, I believe, when my wife and I covered a surprise proposal on the Empire State Building rooftop for an Indian couple. It was done at night, adding to the complexity. That year was a turning point. We did a growing number of events since then, as well as a video for a fundraising campaign in 2017.
I was taking it slow and easy, really. An official announcement for videography service never came about. My cinematography webpage isn’t easy to find on the site yet, although you can see the samples on Zorz Studios YouTube channel. A few years ago I started offering the service as an add-on to my event packages, but only to the clients who already found me as a photographer. Depending on the workload, videography would be covered by me, my wife, or a studio associate. The key was that there would be at least two of us, each handling his/her own camera.
Then last fall a friend of ours asked to do a video of her children’s birthday party. I worked many times with her as a photographer, but this time my family was invited as guests (our youngest is pictured below). The pressure was low for this informal coverage, just some action clips here and there whenever I felt like.
Well, I felt like it was a good challenge and experience, so I did both birthday photo and video! Had two-camera setup and switched between them (above). For family portraits and candids, my photography stepped in whereas I was filming most of the time. The birthday party was small (still in the pandemic) but fun and loaded with cute moments. I edited everything in Premier Pro as usual, and boom! Came out great, both photo and video. Can’t show you because of that friend’s privacy preference.
Inspired by the success of that birthday photo and video experimental multitasking, I asked my recently booked returning client Izzy if she had a videographer for her daughter’s first birthday party in March. You may remember Izzy and Tommy from their all-day stylish engagement session with BMW i8 in 2017.
Now they’re celebrating their younger daughter’s first birthday! Turned out, didn’t have a videographer yet. My wife wasn’t around, but the party would also be small and cozy at the N’Joy Family Café. I offered that birthday photo and video approach, advising of the nuances upfront. They worked for her!
I didn’t skimp, however. Came loaded with a Mavic Air 2 drone for a bit of outdoor footage and a Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab gimbal for stabilized video, plus a standard camera and flash rig for photo. How did it all pan out? You be the judge! Here’s the highlights video.
Kindly refrain from re-uploading media to social media during the first week of the exclusive feature. Share instead and give credit to @ZorzStudios. Thank you for your help!
My compliments go to the cordial staff of N’Joy Café not only for the delicious gourmet food but also for the indoor playground with fun activities and even more so, the awesome young ladies who provide children entertainment. Their interactive show kept the kids busy, laughing, and surprised. And look at the restaurant’s Facebook page or Instagram—so many other cool themes for a children’s birthday party show to choose from!
Here are some of my favorite photos. As always, I don’t include the numerous family portraits in my blogs. Plenty of them are taken and shown in the clients’ private galleries.
Forgive me for stating the obvious: this birthday photo and video approach by a single person is not for larger or significant events like weddings or even Mitzvah and Sweet 16. You are better off hiring a team of dedicated professionals for those. But if budget is tight and expectations from a “two-handed” operation are reasonable, your smaller event coverage might just work and save you money with a discounted video service!
And this is how you don’t fly a drone… It didn’t sustain any damage, and I rescued it with a borrowed ladder.