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Old June 6th, 2011, 08:28 PM   #1
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Age vs Experience

I was in participating in a concurrent thread, and the topic of age/experience came up. There was some interesting discission and in order to not hijack that thread I thought I would follow others suggestions and start a new thread.

In that thread I asked another young wedding videographer (I'm 23 myself, and shot my first wedding when I was 20) whether their age and experience has ever come under question. Mine has, to which my reply has always been that video is a relatively new and fast-changing artform (compared to photography for example), so I don't see youth as a disadvantage. I know we are all constantly learning (isn't that the point of DVinfo?) so I see myself as having the most to gain.

So I had a few questions I wanted to ask to my fellow wedding videographers...

Has your age and experience ever been questioned? If so what is your response?
Do you find that (perhaps even subcionciously with your marketing) you attract couples of a certain age or demographic? ie If you're younger do you find your clients are mostly younger couples too or vice versa?
Do you feel as though you've been on a steady learning curve throughout your career? Or perhaps an exponential learning curve? Or do you perhaps cruise along for periods and then realise you have catching up to do?


As always, I'm looking forward to some interesting answers...
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Old June 6th, 2011, 10:00 PM   #2
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Re: Age vs Experience

In so many ways this is a "life" question of "youth and ambition" vs. "age and wisdom". That question is something I realized quite some time ago. It also is a universal question as it translates to life and all careers/industries.

In my life it translated to getting into the day job and seeing all "the old guys" who had been at it forever. As the years rolled on, I saw plenty of "new kids" come and go, but those "old guys" were still there. Lots of times the "old guys" didn't have to follow whatever management was dictating that week, they just sat back and continued doing what they always did. I always wondered about that, why two sets of rules? As time went on I learned it was because the "old guys" were consistent performers and week in, week out they always came through.

At some point in time very early on it was pointed out to me by someone that "the old guy over there..... he's already FORGOTTEN more than YOU know!" I understood the words that were said to me but it was years later before I "grasped" it.

To try and explain to you the difference, it has nothing to do with editing. It almost has nothing to do with filming either. It's about having been in a situation several times before and because of that experience you instinctively know what to do and how to handle it. The experiences have also taught you what works and what is a waste of time. The biggest thing an "old guy" knows that "youth and ambition" doesn't know yet, is how to handle the people involved during all the various possible situations. That starts with intitial dealings to booking to mother of the bride to bridezilla. They've all "been there, done it" in fact more time than they ever remember.

Where "youth and ambition" can kick an "old guys" butt is being able to relate well to the bride and what is current in the lives of the younger adults today. As far as the quality of your work, if you are good no one knows if it was done by an "old guy" or some kid in high school. They are looking at the filming and edting then, and as someone with "youth and ambition" that is what you should be stressing. Even after all of that, you are still going to lose some deals to the "old guy". As you sit back and wonder why, the answer is he most likely already knew the type of person he was dealing with, what her hot buttons were, and how to close the sale with her.

NOW. the SCARY PART !!!

Someday when you least expect it, something will come up and someone will come to you on what to do. You will instinctive know, YOU pull it off and afterwards figure out OMG...... I'M NOW ONE OF THOSE "OLD GUYS" !!!
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Old June 6th, 2011, 10:21 PM   #3
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Re: Age vs Experience

I'm 64, doing vid for 27 years. Started as a still photog back in 71. Roughly 2100 weddings. I guess I'm experienced. Of course experience is something that happens to you that you wish had happened to someone else. <sigh> BUT age and "experience" has worked both ways for me. Every once in a while I lose out because "I'm too old" not that they say that but you can hear it in their voice. Other times I get the work BECAUSE I have age and experience which to some means "wisdom". I've never figured that one out but I guess it means that you've seen pretty much everything and very few things phase you.
Have I ever thought I didn't need to learn anything more? Nope, but there have been times when I've slowed the learning curve, like now. I keep thinking that retirement is close at hand back off the learning for now, I have a technique and workflow that work for me why get all tied up in a knot right now? BUT I've kinda of been saying that for a while now and I'm still here.
Funny this topic came up because it made me think about when I was 25 or so thinking the very same thing and asking why the old guys were still around and how the heck they kept doing so well in the photo business. It translates to video as well of course.
Today with all the new innovation in gear, shooting styles, business practices (internet, email with very little face to face until the day of unlike years ago) one has to keep up. Someone once said "you're either moving ahead or falling behind but you are never standing still"
I'm kind of rambling now as my brain is in OD mode so let me end by saying this. One day someone will be asking you the very same question. ;-)
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Old June 7th, 2011, 12:18 AM   #4
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Re: Age vs Experience

I'm a year older than Don (well almost) and started weddings in 1990.

Do I attract older brides??? NOPE ..they range from 19 to 90 and my age is never questioned. I think as long as they like your work and you have a professional business approach then age is not an issue.

Go and see a client and go into their home with a walker and yes, you will probably be rejected...again get dropped off at the bride's house by Mummy cos you are too young to have a drivers licence then you may also lose a client.

Then again if you are 23, 43 or 63 and only have 2 weddings under your belt bride's might feel "safer" with someone with a more comprehensive history.

Chris
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Old June 7th, 2011, 01:18 AM   #5
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Re: Age vs Experience

When I was in my late teens my ambition was to be a writer. Such scholastic success as I'd had indicated that I might have the basis for that wish. Then I read Paul Gallico's "Confessions of a Storyteller". It was both inspirational but also utterly depressing. The nub of Gallico's argument is that the key to telling stories is your experience of life. Pretty damning for a boy of 18.

And yet, 50 years on I understand what he means. Chip's response captures part of it; the greater the experience the more likely it is that we've faced and solved the problem before.

But I think it's more. I deal with my youthful competitors by telling potential clients that when I was their age and still learning my craft, part of me was still experimenting, pushing the boundaries. Sometimes the experiments worked, on others they failed. Do they want THEIR once-in-a-lifetime programme to be an experiment or made by someone whose experiments are long behind him? Biased? Certainly. Brutal? Perhaps but this is business. Does it work? Well like Chris Harding (I almost wrote young Chris Harding) I don't seem to have any trouble satisfying 19 year old brides - though I admit I could have phrased that statement more elegantly.

What I can't tell are how many 19 year old brides didn't choose me because I was older than their fathers. That's the imponderable.

I always chat to competitors at wedding fairs, commiserate with the old-timers about the state of the business and try and encourage the youngsters. I have to smile when, quite regularly the youngsters will say something like "we're doing weddings for a few years but our plans are to then move on to real programmes". Some of them may well end up with their name in lights but as I tell those willing to listen, wedding programmes are some of the most demanding I've ever produced. Minimum crews, minimum time, minimum planning and minimum budget, amateur on-screen talent and no control over the environment, the lighting or the sound. Only a madman would try and make a professional programme under those circumstances. It would be unthinkable trying to do it without 30 years of professional programme making and an additional 20+ years of enthusiasm for it as a hobby.

This all begs the question , "Then why do we do it?" It's undeniable that weddings are a great environment in which to work, but that's not it all. Maybe it's the ability to create memories so intense that they evoke the most basic emotions, or maybe when you get to my age the ability to satisfy a 19 year old bride in even the most prosaic way is enough in itself.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 02:56 AM   #6
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Re: Age vs Experience

I've tried talking to young guys. I find them impatient, and they expect instant results. If they come across an obstacle, they google it, find a solution on forums like these, then proclaim to be an "expert" in their field. I tell them that what they think they know and what they actually know are two different things. I tell them that a great majority of their knowledge will come with lots of practice over time. Sadly, they think that owning a Canon 5DII, steadicam, and slider will automatically make them a professional videographer. An analogy I give them is if I gave them a Stradivarius violin, they could watch all the youtube videos on how to play it, and read all the forums about proper technique, but there is a world of difference between playing notes and MAKING MUSIC. Anyone can play notes, but only through practice and experience can you make music.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 04:00 AM   #7
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Re: Age vs Experience

Beautifully put Warren!!

Sadly the photog scene here is much the same..girls leave school, Daddy buys them a couple of 5D's and they attend a quick 6 month course at the local college and VOILA they are wedding pros!!!!

What worries me the most is that in both fields the basics are never attained by younger and very eager enthusiasts.... "What is the rule of thirds?? Never heard of it!!" You just cannot get experience off google, YouTube and forums..it has to be done the hard way. It seems that technical expertise and knowledge is now a substitute for experience.

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Old June 7th, 2011, 05:10 AM   #8
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Re: Age vs Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
I've tried talking to young guys. I find them impatient, and they expect instant results. If they come across an obstacle, they google it, find a solution on forums like these, then proclaim to be an "expert" in their field. I tell them that what they think they know and what they actually know are two different things. I tell them that a great majority of their knowledge will come with lots of practice over time. Sadly, they think that owning a Canon 5DII, steadicam, and slider will automatically make them a professional videographer. An analogy I give them is if I gave them a Stradivarius violin, they could watch all the youtube videos on how to play it, and read all the forums about proper technique, but there is a world of difference between playing notes and MAKING MUSIC. Anyone can play notes, but only through practice and experience can you make music.

Very well said. Although it's not always the rule (I mean the above behaviors), those guys, regardless how much gear they're loaded with, they start shaking when something goes a bit off schedule during a live event (a wedding for example). Patience and ability to listen and learn, that's what is required. Steadicams and DSLRs? Just tools.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 05:22 AM   #9
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Re: Age vs Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
...but there is a world of difference between playing notes and MAKING MUSIC. Anyone can play notes, but only through practice and experience can you make music.
And some manage to play all the right notes, but not in the correct order...

[Aplogies to Eric Morecombe]

:)
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Old June 7th, 2011, 06:06 AM   #10
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Re: Age vs Experience

Instant sucess as Warren put it is IMO a by-product of todays society. Instant everything, coffee, oatmeal, images and sucess. Ever watch a photog take a photo then check their LCD for proof of sucess? That's what I call it. Look at the LCD I see the image I just took so therefore I am sucessful. Hmmm try shooting 220 film.
Anyway, I digress...Philip you ol' rascal you. Still satisifying those 19 year olds ;-)....a lot can be read into that. What I read into that is this. Philip, like Warren, Chris, other "more experienced" folks including myself get hired by a wide variety of people for a variety of reasons including the fact that we all have a solid track record to go on. While we may have differing styles of shooting, editing etc we all have the experience to deal with literally any issuse that arises at a wedding simply because we've either run across it before or our "experience" (read age) gives a bit more of common sense/knowledge than say someone who is in their early 20s. Not to say someone quite young couldn't deal with a particular situation just saying that I know when my children were in their early 20s..well lets just say that there is a pretty big difference between 23 and 33.
Now while this all maynot be true in all cases we are talking generalities. Keep in mind also that it can work the other waay. Just because someone has age doesn't mean they always act or look it. People fall over when they learn my age because I don't look it, mostly don't act it either. I've had people peg me for about 12 to 15 years younger than I am. Flattering. The point is I try not to let my age come into play. Why mention it? Shooting weddings can be and is a physically demanding job so at a time in life it becomes harder to do. Maybe those of us who a a bit more mature need to exercise more (yeah right) or get to bed earlier or eat better or whatever to keep up with the 20 somethings but regardless of the fact that I do none of those thing I have never and I mean never missed any event regardless of how I felt.
What I'm getting to in the long way is that we are all going to reach a point of "age and experience"-can't get around it so use it to ones advantage, embrace it, keep learning, and simply put out the best product you can everytime. Then it won't matter how much grey hair you have (if you still have hair).
A great man once told me, "Age is mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter" How true that is.

O|O
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Old June 7th, 2011, 08:05 AM   #11
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Re: Age vs Experience

, wedding programmes are some of the most demanding I've ever produced. Minimum crews, minimum time, minimum planning and minimum budget, amateur on-screen talent and no control over the environment, the lighting or the sound. Only a madman would try and make a professional programme under those circumstances.

I may copy/paste this to my Facebook! This is great.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 08:09 AM   #12
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Re: Age vs Experience

Thanks for the memories Don

Shooting weddings (when I still a photog) with 220 roll film and a Mamiya RB-67 ...gosh you got 16 exposures out of a roll and the only way you could check shots on site was to have a Polaroid back and shoot on that first before loading the film back (no I didn't have one!!) I had to wait until I got back to my lab (yeah guys we used to process our own negs and prints too!!) to see if I had messed up or not and by then it was too late.

I must admit when I get back from a wedding more things ache than 10 years ago but it keeps you fit and I'll continue until I have to skip weddings because the last one laid me flat on my back for a week!!

I think Philip is keeping a dark secret from us??? He is older than both of us so making chasing 19 year olds is the way to keep fit for your wedding shoot?????

We both know we will keep on going for as long as we can!!

Chris
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Old June 7th, 2011, 08:30 AM   #13
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Re: Age vs Experience

Chris, maybe we're brothers from different mothers...twins. I too had a RB67. What a great camera. EXCEPT when you pressed the button the thing sounded like a canon going off in a church. That damn mirror was so big my wife could have used it for a makeup mirror. I actually never used it a church because of the sound it made. I continued using my GraflexXL (6X7 rangefinder cam-what a wonderful camera it was) in the church and used the RB for the formal portraits after the ceremony. I had the 80mm standard lens, the 55mmWA and the 150 tele. Brings back memories.
Funny I can remember some of my still gear like it was yesterday but blank completely on some of my video gear. Either it's selective memory OR I need to start chaing 19 year olds like Philip! (just kidding Philip-don't want to get either of us in trouble)
O|O
\--/

Michael, that is a great saying. how true it is.

Chris- today EVERYTHING aches when I get home. My best friends these days is a great pair of shoes and the bottle of ibruprophen! ;-)
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Last edited by Don Bloom; June 7th, 2011 at 08:33 AM. Reason: forgot to add
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Old June 7th, 2011, 11:24 AM   #14
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Re: Age vs Experience

Michael, I'm sure that everything here is public domain so use the words as you will. Now you'rve drawn attention to it I wish I'd added "but we do." at the end of it.

Don and Chris re 19 year old brides; I fear you have misread or are indulging in fantasy. On the other hand my wife is 22 years younger than me so maybe your imagination harbours the seeds of a truth.

Re the whole topic, wasn't it Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) who wrote that when he returned to Hannibal after a period of time away, he couldn't believe how wise his father had become?
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Old June 7th, 2011, 12:36 PM   #15
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Re: Age vs Experience

I'm 27 and my wife is 25 and we totally use the "we relate to you and know what you're looking for" line :)
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