Paula Williams: Exactly. Really big credibility builder as well for those hugely visual people. To kind of continue the discussion on videos, Scott, this is kind of your wheelhouse as far as one of the main things that people know you for is the great video.
Scott Slocum: Yes, we started doing video about 3 years ago because we were getting so much access to vintage aircraft and rare aircraft and opportunities and we started to get requests for it, so we realized the technology of the video cameras are getting better, in fact it’s starting to compete more with the still camera in the way that you can even pull stills off video now. We have now incorporated that in most of our shooting and offer it as a full service, anywhere from storyboarding all the way through final edit, and it’s worked really well, it’s probably about 50% of our business now, and like Mr. Sanchez said, the videos, even what we’re doing for aircraft sales and chartering companies, we’re highlighting their aircraft inside and out and using beautiful photography and information on those videos to really educate people in a short period of time of what they’re getting.
Paula Williams: Right. I think we’ve encouraged people to take more video, even if they’re doing it themselves, but the video that we’re talking about here, maybe you could just list the types of video that you do. I know you do air-to-air, you do on the ground, and so on, but lots of things that people shouldn’t try at home.
Scott Slocum: I mean, air-to-air is a whole ‘nother conversation, but as long as you understand how to edit it properly and to use the right music or sound and keep it short, that’s the key thing I always tell people, don’t – I just noticed on the Cutter videos they’re usually about 1-1/2 to 3 minutes and that’s perfect. You go any longer than that, people lose interest in it, you know? But Air Media Group, we do anything from what we call high res or high definition all the way up to broadcast quality 8K video which you would see in a mainstream TV commercial or movie, and it’s all a matter of the equipment and to know how to use that equipment, and then using your creativity to get the most out of it, basically.
Paula Williams: So you need to actually think this through in order to tell a story or get across the point that you need to in a minute and a half or 2 minutes.
Scott Slocum: That’s right. In fact, I encourage people that when we’re approached about a video is, let’s work out a script first. So then from a script we can work on a storyboard, and then from the storyboard we have a shot list, and then we can go out and then efficiently and effectively shoot what needs to be done to tell the story properly.
Paula Williams: Exactly. Also, even with the videos, you are looking at this, you can tell with a photographer’s eye. You’re lighting these, and framing these, and you’re not just shooting, recording what’s going on. You’re actually creating what’s going on in order to make it what you need it to be.
Scott Slocum: Right. And we approach it just like the movie industry does in that once you have your shot list, then you can set up your cameras and your angles and go for the lighting you need to make that shot the best it can be. If you look at our page, there’s obviously a lot of shots on there that – we call it clips. People call us all the time and say, Hey, do you have a clip of a P-51 or do you have a clip of a Hawker or something like that that we sell, but also there’s examples like, we were approached by an air show last year to produce a video and they wanted something that was appealing to the general public more than the aviation enthusiasts. So we came up with shots ahead of time that we wanted to get so that we could attract that audience, and as of today it’s got over 2 million views.
Paula Williams: Wow. That is amazing. Another thing, I guess, that people ask us about is, of course, there’s stock photography. Is there, and I guess you just answered that, such a thing as stock video?
Scott Slocum: There is. People can go on, for example, our site and type in, Hey, do you have any footage of this aircraft? And then we’ll answer back whether we do or not, and then if we don’t, we’ll answer back, But we can get some, too, and quote them a price on that. But that library is growing rapidly, actually, and we’re getting more and more requests for video.
Paula Williams: Let me just add, when you use stock photography or stock video or anything else, we very highly suggest that you document where you got it, just so that there are no issues with that in the future when you use stock photography, and Scott, I’m sure you probably have some things to say about that as well.
Scott Slocum: Yeah, it’s really important that you understand the rules of the source that you got it. It happens unfortunately all the time where it’s just grabbed off the Internet and used, but normally when you’re buying from a stock house, they have rules of how you can use that and how much you can use it, and then so you need to follow those guidelines, most of them don’t really talk about having to credit them, but that being said, if you use a photographer’s work, please make sure you have their permission and that it’s the proper credit and the proper outline of how they have agreed with you to use those images or that video.
Paula Williams: Exactly, and then that way that … Especially when you’re using a photographer like Scott, you want to credit the image, because you want his name associated with your company, just as we talked about those partnerships before. You know, partnerships in aviation are everything, so you really want to be a good neighbor and be a good partner as well. Any reason for the use of Vimeo as opposed to YouTube as opposed to anything else for your videos?
Scott Slocum: The video is not as much of a social media tool, although we do link to it sometimes, as it is a showcase tool for us. Vimeo offers some options as well to where I can put a video up, for example, and if you want to use that video, I can then give you a password to download that video in a higher quality than YouTube can do that.
Paula Williams: So that’s the reason for that. We do a social media survey of aviation professionals every year, and our usual advice to people is you want to be using the social media that your competitors and, more importantly, your top 10 most desired customers are using, and if your top 10 most desired customers aren’t on a particular social media, that may not be one that you want to spend the time on, unless, like in this case where you have a specific reason, that that does what you need it to do.
Scott Slocum: Yeah, and actually most of my competitors are now on Vimeo because the Codex that it uses to download the videos are higher quality than YouTube. You don’t have the commercial – how can I put it – the noise that YouTube has, so it just has a much more professional look and feel, and so if somebody is looking for that type of service, I think they like to see it on Vimeo better than YouTube.
John Williams: That was a well said noise, I got that loud and clear. I understand that. I’m glad you told me that.
Paula Williams: Great. That makes perfect sense. Speaking of commercial noise, let’s carry on with Facebook. Tell us about your Facebook page. This has 24,000 Likes. Clearly you’re doing a lot of things right here.
Scott Slocum: We’re pretty proud of that, and the fact that we haven’t purchased any of those. You can go out and obviously use Facebook to purchase Likes, if you will, and this is all homegrown from zero, but, you know, I think part of what is the success is not only the pretty ladies and what we’re doing, but the images that we’re putting up there are high quality, it’s unique to us. So many of the Facebook pages out there are using other images, other people’s images, and so you start to see the same material over and over again, and one of our rules is that we use our own content and we put quality, even though maybe what you see up there is not the very A shots of that photo mission, it’s still a really good one, and so it attracts a lot of attention. Then, of course, the other thing too is on my personal page and the bombshell page, in growing this, we are using this to cross-market with other clients to help them launch and get their Facebook pages with some momentum. So we’ll tag a lot of our posts to theirs so that their clients can see what’s going on, get excited about it, and go back and forth, and so it’s a good cross-promotion for, like, museums for doing that quite a bit for, like I said, the Cavanaugh Flight Museum is one of our biggest ones right now, but it just seems to work because, I call this kind of the eye candy of the industry, the air show industry, the Warbirds, and of course the pin-up, that’s the fun part, and we’re using that to promote all of aviation, because all pilots seem to like this stuff.
Paula Williams: That’s absolutely true. That cross-promotion, I think, a lot of people will say, Well, Facebook does seem to have a lot of junk on it, and I would say, Let’s look at your friends list, or let’s look at the people who are contributing to your page, and if those are not the quality that you want to be associated with, then you want to go for quality rather than quantity. I mean, you can have a Facebook page that has 100 Likes, and if they are the right 100 people, you could be doing a lot of good as far as building community, promoting each other’s businesses amongst each other, creating those trusted connections and showing some really good stuff, but here you’ve got both, the quantity and the quality.
Scott Slocum: Yeah, and then the way we approach it is we’re not – some people use Facebook as a blog. We actually don’t post to try to engage people. We post an informational and an entertainment site. So we want people to come to visit it, we’re okay for them to tag it, put it wherever they want, that’s why we have our logos all over it, obviously, but I’m not trying to get in arguments with people, I’m not trying to get into political discussions, whatever that is, that’s not what this is about. This is an entertainment site where people can count on this page to bring them something new and fresh at least two or three times a week.
Paula Williams: Absolutely. And I know, photography is very different, at least from the photographers that I’ve worked with, photography is very different for aircraft than it is for human beings, you know, when you’re doing a photo shoot of humans, you do a totally different light set-up than if you’re doing a photo shoot of aircraft, and you do both. How do you manage that?
Scott Slocum: That’s a good point. When we first started doing the models with the aircraft, you have something that’s 5 feet tall compared to this huge aircraft, so how do you promote that? Well, the calendar situation is where you have the top pages are full, nice, beautiful, air-to-air of the aircraft, so you see it in its natural element, and then the shot of the girl with the aircraft is a close-up with a part of the airplane. So we try to match with, you know, there would be a vintage outfit with maybe a part of the plane that kind of works together, but we always like that soft, curvy with the hard metal. You know, it’s kind of a neat dynamic, and I think that’s what pin-up was, one of the things that was attractive to pin-up back in the day when it started, but now it can be a challenge to get a good picture of both, but the way chose to do it in our calendars is to actually have the two images so that you get the best of both worlds.
Paula Williams: I see. That makes perfect sense. When you look at a Scott Slocum photograph, there is a certain look that you have, a certain set of lighting and things like that, that makes it look different than every other, so there are some common visual elements, and maybe you could not give away any trade secrets, but maybe help people develop their own branding from the point of view of what do you want to have in every picture, or what are some of the common elements that maybe that they could include?
Scott Slocum: Well, I teach aviation photography and one of the key elements is to have the patience to work towards the right conditions to shoot the aircraft. For example, the one that you’re looking at here, this was actually, if you were standing outside, you’d say, Oh, it’s dark, you need to go in. But there was just enough light in the sky to where the reflective aspect of this aircraft picked that up, and then we had the fire department come over and, the Austin Fire Department, and spray the ramp down to get some reflection. And so, actually a lot of thought went into this, but the patience of shooting at the right time of day which was at this point at 8:45, and it made all the difference between a good shot and what people might say is a great shot here. Another aspect of, obviously I’m an artist, but we work very hard to bring out the emotion of the aircraft we’re shooting. I know that might sound hokey to people, but if you’re shooting a jet versus propeller airplane versus a helicopter, those aircraft had different emotions to different people, and we try to accentuate that in the video and the stills that we do because when it comes down to it, yes, the utility is a big part of it, but it’s also an emotional buy. And we’re trying to appeal to that because our goal is to get you to look twice, three times at it, and say, Wow, that is neat, that’s cool, love it.
Paula Williams: Absolutely. The attention to detail definitely shows in that. When you look for a background and other kinds of things, you’re looking for something that matches the era and the time and the space of that aircraft and reflects that. It’s not something that you’re clearly using the circumstances of where you are and just trying to get the most efficient photo shoot.
Scott Slocum: That’s right. If I was to give advice to people out there, for example, who are selling aircraft, take a little extra time to find a place on the field that allows you to have what we call a timeless background or a uncluttered background that also gives you contrast. If you see on this photo the Mustang is much lighter than the background and so that’s the subject. You ask yourself, What is this a picture of? This is a picture of a P-51 Mustang. It’s not a picture of a P-51 in front of Cutter Aviation, although that could be a deal, obviously.
Genaro Sanchez: We’ll talk about it.
Scott Slocum: That’s the good shot. We were actually going to shoot when you guys were in Bikini where we did this shoot in front of, at that time, the Cutter FBO, and we chose the side of the building, because I think it was a dark glare, if I remember right, with a red logo, and we put that King Air in front of it and we actually made it look like it was raining, because with the props turning and the engines turning, it made a unique display there, but it was in front of the FBO to make it look like you guys were there to kind of soothe the weather situation and take care of them even though the weather was really bad outside and it came across really, really neat, but worked very hard on making sure we shot that in the right place so that the background didn’t compete with the airplane but still gave the impression of what you were trying to do.
Paula Williams: Fantastic. Let me move on to another photograph, and this one, clearly the worst sin in marketing is to be boring, and that is one thing that I think you are not. I think some people really veer away from controversy and some people embrace it, and the ones that embrace it seem to do better. I guess the World War II pin-up tradition is still alive and well, and the shots that you do are always classy to the point where you’re not going to upset a female executive of a company or anything else.
Scott Slocum: That’s funny, because we do events, obviously, and I had one person come up to me and challenge me and said, Well, would you let your daughter dress like that? And I turned to the April page and I said, Well, here’s my daughter right here in the calendar. It was actually my wife’s idea to do this. I’m an aviation photographer by trade. We wanted something that we could do to sell B2C that’s different, because there’s a lot of other photographers out there doing Warbird and aviation calendars, obviously, so when we started this in 2007, it became something we felt like was innovative and we wanted to bring back the nose art, the pin-up from the past, the classiness of that. Obviously we do that, we keep it where the taste is very, very conservative but yet still shows the beauty of it, the aircraft and of the women, and if I’m challenged about it, I’m not afraid to say that I’m perfectly fine with it, my family’s fine with it, and we believe that it’s a very good attention-getter for companies out there. We’ve had companies hire the girls to come out, we’ll bring calendars and posters, and their customers will come and get that signed and take pictures, and it’s a very good attention-getter.
Paula Williams: Right. I think it’s just a method of really embracing the past and being real clear about what you do and being proud of what you do, and not being in any way upsetting or anything like that. The companies that I have seen that do that well do that very well, or at least they sell a lot more than companies who try to be too conservative and boring.
Scott Slocum: Yeah. Actually, the photo of the aircraft, the Bearcat there, is based on a photograph that we had digitally recreated.
Scott Slocum: To your point. When you design for shirts or posters or ads, you got to keep in mind colors and contrasts and where it’s going, your markets, in this case black is kind of in right now as far as the shirts, even though some people say, Well, it’s hot, why would you have a black shirt? It’s thinning also, so people seem to like that, but the colors of the aircraft, this is a Arena Racer, and helped us obviously with the design but we wanted to convey action but yet be simple in the way we printed it. If you were to examine the amount of colors we used on this, instead of just slapping a photograph on there which could be eight colors, to make it look right this is four colors. That helps save in cost and time, and so that’s again a part of the planning process of your design.
Paula Williams: Excellent. If we were to summarize, Scott, the things that you would advise for aviation companies, clearly I think quality and attention to detail come to the top of the discussion that we’ve had in the last few minutes.
Scott Slocum: Another key word I would use is synergy. Most of my clients I’ve worked with a long time, and it’s because of the trust. You know, when you’re working around aircraft and around airports and air-to-air, they want to know that you’re going to give them not only the quality but you’re going to do it in such a way that’s safe, that’s reliable, that they don’t have to worry about all the other issues that deal with airplanes. You’re photographing these multimillion dollar aircraft, you’d better know what you’re doing. When I say synergy, work with somebody that you’re comfortable with that’s going to give you what you want creatively, but doing it in a manner that’s going to make you comfortable.
Paula Williams: Right. With all that equipment and all of that insurance and everything else.
Scott Slocum: Yep. And of course, air-to-air photography is something we specialize in, and if you need that then I definitely recommend you go to an experienced professional on that, because that opens up a whole lot of areas where there could be problems if somebody is not truly experienced with that.
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