Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams on Fusion Photography: Part II

Vanessa Joy


Wedding photographers Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams join us for their second article in a series about fusion photography.

Find out how to shoot and edit video slideshows like a pro in no time at all.

Vanessa is a renowned wedding photographer from New Jersey with an award winning studio. An avid photography lover, Vanessa has been in the business for a decade. Vanessa works closely with her husband, videographer Rob Adams, and together they have been recognized with The Knot’s “Best of Weddings” 2010 award, WeddingWire’s 2010 Bride’s Choice Award, with their work being included in countless publications. Vanessa and Rob are passionate about breathing new life into the industry with photo / video fusion. Together, they teach photographers about this new approach to photography and video. You can learn more about their ongoing tour and innovative editing products at

Greetings fellow Fusers!

Hopefully you’ve been inspired since reading our last article on fusion and you’ve decided that, hey, maybe you can and should give photo/video fusion a try. Great! Now all you need is a few quick pointers on how to shoot and edit a fusion piece and perhaps a few pieces of video equipment that you can add to your wish list.

As a photographer myself (my husband, Rob, is the video man), I wasn’t too sure about the thought of shooting video for two reasons: 1. I didn’t know how to shoot it and 2. My goodness I never, ever even want to attempt to learn one of those crazy video-editing programs. But no worries! Thanks to my husband’s tutelage, I’m happy to say that not only can I shoot and edit my own video, I actually like doing it!

The good news is that, as photographers, you already know 90% of what you need to know to be a good cinematographer and create fusion. You already know how to use the camera (maybe a quick brush off the dust on the manual will refresh your memory if you’re not sure on the video mode part), and you already understand key components like composition, exposure, use of light, focal length, depth of field and creativity. There are really only 3 other things that I can even teach you to help get you started.

The most important thing to remember about shooting video is shooting it steady. Unless you want your clients to become nauseated by your roller-coaster, shaky video, you’ll want to make sure that you can hold a shot for a good 8-10 seconds so you can get a solid video clip. This isn’t a new concept to us photographers because we know about camera shake at slower shutter speeds and completely understand the use of monopods, tripods and how to balance the camera on a TV, shelf or the priest’s shoulder in the absence of those things. It’s the same for video. A monopod is my personal favorite because it gives a little more mobility than a tripod. If you’d like to get super fancy, you can try a Glidetrack™ (or similar device), which lets you smoothly slide the camera back and forth for some slick motion in your shot, or a Glidecam™, which allows fluid motion even when you’re walking down a flight of stairs.

Whatever you choose, just remember your goal is to have a steady shot for about 8-10 seconds. In the fusion piece that Rob and I put together in this article, both the Glidetrack™ and Glidecam™, are used. See if you can find the shots we used them in!

The second element to consider when shooting video is the focus. Unfortunately, the focusing in any of the VDSLR cameras isn’t great when shooting in video mode so you’re pretty much stuck with manual focusing. I know, I know, what will we do without our auto-focus? Don’t panic! For video, manual focus is actually a good thing. Learning to focus manually is definitely an art in itself, but when shooting moving objects, it really comes in handy. There are two tricks you can easily utilize when focusing manually. The first is follow focusing. It’s the term used when your subject is moving either closer or farther away from you and you are manually following them with your focus so that they stay sharp. Rack focusing is the second term (and one of my favorite tricks), and it’s used when you’re focused on a subject in the background and then, while recording, move the focus to a subject in the foreground, or vise versa. Both of these focusing techniques take a bit of practice, but after doing them a few times, you’ll feel like a master cinematographer!

Vanessa Joy Jumping Wedding

The third technique to master is your exposure over time. As photographers we know how to expose for any given light situation, but when shooting video, your light situation may change while you’re shooting. There are two ways you can handle the changing light. The first would be to simply change your shutter or aperture while shooting in manual mode. The only problem with doing that while recording is that the exposure change is a harsh change, not a gradual one. It almost looks like someone flipping on a light switch in the room. If you know your light situation is going to change, I recommend shooting in any of the priority modes because then your exposure will automatically change for you and this time, it’s a gradual change and not a harsh one. While shooting, you can also dial up or down your compensation to be sure you’re getting the exposure you’re looking for.

So now you’ve got a handful of awesome 8-10 second video clips along with a bunch of photos that you’ve been taking as well (perhaps even while you were shooting video). Now what? Just like photos, it’s time for editing, but thanks to Animoto and PhVusion Effects, it’s no longer a huge learning curve to pump out a sweet fusion piece.

First, do what you know how to do, edit your photos so that they’re gorgeous; fix your exposure, add some black and white, or whatever you like to do to them. Then, it’s time to do the same thing to your video clips (otherwise they’ll look pretty lame next to your edited photos). You can put these types of fixes on your video clips through programs like Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects if you already know those monster software programs. Or, you can do it right in Adobe Photoshop. Bet you didn’t know Photoshop handled video, huh? It does! PhVusion Effects is a program designed specifically for giving you one click adjustments (exposure, black and white, sepia, glow, etc) to your video clips including trimming them (they should be about 6 seconds each) and grabbing a still photo from them, so that they’re ready to go into your fusion piece.

After you’re done editing, you could spend 10 days putting together a fusion piece in Premiere or After Effects. Or, you could spend 10 minutes letting Animoto do it for you! Now that Animoto can put together fusion slideshows with your photos and video together, along with some great royalty free music, you can go have a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake instead and then deliver that fusion slideshow to your clients in record time.

When we chat next, I’ll help you give yourself a niche in your market by talking about how to sell and market yourself through fusion, fit it into your product line (even your albums) and what type of profit you can expect to make from it all. Best of luck and happy shooting!

See how other pro photographers use video slideshows to gain an edge