How to plan a video shoot when you’re just getting started

Planning a video shoot

Sometimes, there is nothing more intimidating than a blank page. You open Word, or Illustrator, or your old-fashioned sketchbook and there it is waiting for you. A blank page holds infinite possibility. There are so many directions you could go. Where to start?

I’ve been asked a lot by friends who are wanting to start incorporating video into their blogs or take more video on their travels, “where do I even begin?” Like any new skill, filmmaking can be overwhelming and intimidating but where I ALWAYS start is with a story. What story are you trying to tell through your video?

Does it capture your love story, though a travel video of your honeymoon?

Is it a success story from your business that you’re sharing to motivate people to buy a new offering?

Is it about the beautiful relationship between your parents and your children, played out on a family vacation?

Or maybe, it’s the story of your brand – letting your dream customers in on the why behind what you’re doing what you’re doing.

Start With What You Want to Say

The first thing I figure out when I sit down to plan a video is what I’m trying to say. All other decisions work towards this goal. If I want conversions, social media followers, or simply tears of joy from grandma, the story must lead here.

When you know the story you’re trying to tell, and the goal you’re trying to meet, the video you need to capture becomes easier to visualize. I start writing down ideas for how I can SHOW this story through video. How do I reveal the mood? How do I relate and connect with my intended audience? What would resonate with them? Grandma probably wants to see her grandson running up to her with a big smile on his face, so I look for those moments on my vacation. Your client probably wants to see and feel the results of what working with you will be like, so I plan a video shoot that feels light and joyful (insert your brand words/mood) are.

Think About Your Location

Next, I do some recon on the places I’ll be shooting video. What angles capture the place? What light will I need? I prefer to shoot in natural light, so the time of day impacts when I will get the best video. I’ll also keep in mind my 5 Secrets to Compelling Video Content so that I make sure to collect all the necessary shots.

A little bit of planning before I get started means everything goes more smoothly on shoot day.

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3 Romantic Date Ideas in Raleigh, North Carolina

Romantic Dates Ideas in Raleigh NCChristian and I recently spent a week in Raleigh, North Carolina as part of our Swept Together road trip. We’re both working full time, which means we don’t tour destinations in a typical way, but we do make time for as many dates as possible in between conference calls and deadlines. Raleigh is a fun city with many options for stirring up a little romance – that seems particularly natural in the nostalgic Southern US. Here are three different date night ideas that we enjoyed in Raleigh, North Carolina!

Traditional with a twist

Who could turn down a plate of chicken and waffles? Head to Beasley’s in downtown Raleigh for some of the best fried chicken we’ve had (SO juicy!) paired with – of course – a delicious Belgian waffle. Are you on team sweet + savory, or do you eat one at a time? Christian and I can’t agree (I eat the chicken + waffle together like a civilized human, he eats the chicken first, then the waffle), but opposites attract, as they say! There are also a variety of classic Southern sides like green bean casserole and cheesy grits, plus a great selection of local beers and fun cocktails. Try the honey lavender saison! This place has excellent energy for enjoying each other’s company + people watching.

Brewery Bhavana for Date Night in Raleigh North Carolina

Trendy and tasty

Did you know that Raleigh is home to one of Bon Appetit’s top ten new restaurants in the country in 2017? It’s called Brewery Bhavana, and it’s what happens when a flower shop, bookstore, brewery + dim sum restaurant have a baby. This sounds like a strange concept, but it’s wonderfully executed. Grab reservations in advance, but arrive early to grab a beer and peruse the book selections together. Once you sit down, remember dim sum plates are meant to be shared (insert cheesy pun about relationships?). Two small plates and one big plate were the perfect amount for my husband and I. And what could be more romantic that picking up some spur-of-the-moment flowers for your love on the way out the door? This place is MADE for date night.

Date night on the move

If walking and talking is more your style for date night, consider bringing a picnic to the North Carolina Museum of Art. There are outdoor tables near the east building where you can eat then you and your love can wander through the extensive sculpture gardens as the sun sets. On Friday evening, the museum buildings are open late, until 10 PM. Once it gets dark, you can move inside to check out the permanent collection. Best of all? Museum admission is free, apart from any special exhibitions, so this adventure is also easy on the wallet.

Have you been to Raleigh before? I will admit, North Carolina wasn’t really on my radar, but we have a friend doing amazing things in Raleigh (in the form of a stunning ethical fashion boutique called The Flourish Market), so we had to stop by on our road trip, and now I’m SO glad we did!

So which romantic evening sounds most your style – traditional, trendy or on the go? Hop over to Instagram and let me know!


And remember, the Juniper package is perfect for capturing all of your adventures with an heirloom honeymoon film. Open to both newlyweds + honeymooners-for-life 😉

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Where should my video live on the internet? Comparing YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia

Comparing Youtube Vimeo Wistia

When you’re getting started in video, it can feel like there is an overwhelming amount of things to learn. Once you’ve finally got that video put together, what happens next? There are three popular platforms online for uploading and sharing videos. I’ll run through them here with some pros and cons of each platform. I’ve used all three before for different reasons.

Comparing the 3 Most Popular Video Platforms

YouTube – This guy is the big guns when it comes to online video. YouTube is one of the most massive search engines on the Internet, so having an optimized presence there means you’re likely to be found. People can also subscribe there directly, and it has monetization options when your channel grows to a certain size. One of the significant downsides of this platform is that it’s a bit of a black hole (people on YouTube STAY on YouTube) so it’s hard to drive traffic from the platform to your website. It also has limited customization options and video analytics.

Vimeo – This is the “creative’s” platform, because of the tremendously high quality you can get, and there is an active community of professionals using Vimeo. There are no ads like on YouTube, and it’s easy to password-protect content which means that this is the platform I choose to share videos with clients during our editing process. They’ll see the highest quality video on a password-protected page, and once my clients have edited or approved their film, the video file is also easily replaceable without damaging Vimeo’s analytics or links.

Wistia – This is the platform I recommend for online courses, launch videos, or other videos on your website. There is no community on Wistia, versus what you’d find on YouTube or Vimeo, so it’s not going to generate traffic on its own. However, since it’s designed to be embedded, Wistia’s video player is highly customizable to your site’s design and has the best analytics out of the three platforms. Main downside? Wistia is a paid platform.

The Best Platform Depends on Your Objective

There’s no wrong answer here, as much as I know you’d like there to be. However, it comes down to your primary goals for your video. For SEO or monetization, go YouTube. If you’re looking for the highest quality, head to Vimeo. If your brand needs customization and analytics, check out Wistia.


P.S. When you book your Spruce video editing package, we’ll discuss what platform is best for you + I’ll optimize the settings on all your videos, especially for the platform you choose!

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Record your first live video on social media with these (free) tools

Live Video, Video Tips

Have you noticed that social media has been shifting lately? Welcome to the world of live-stream video. The filters of Snapchat, the floating hearts of Periscope, the world of Instagram Stories and Facebook Live: suddenly, everyone wants to see your face in real time. But as a video editor who likes hiding behind the camera just as much as the next introvert, I know it can feel overwhelming + like the tech hurdle is just too high to jump over, along with everything else you have on your plate.

But here’s the good news: a lot of the storytelling and social media principles you’re already implementing also apply to live video, and you don’t need to rush out and buy a bunch of fancy new gear. True story: the majority of my clients film their videos with iPhones. So let me break down the essentials of what you really need for great video:

The Essentials for Great Live Video:

  • A Stable Surface: a tripod would be ideal, but let’s be honest, a stack of books works! A stable surface eliminates shaky footage, one of the major distractions in a video. This piece of “gear” is less important for short snippets of Snapchat and IG stories, but still, something to keep in mind. Our hands tend to shake more when we hold our breath, so if you’re taking videos for Snap or Insta, remember to breathe! 😉
  • Natural light: I’m all for minimizing equipment, so filming in soft natural light whenever possible cuts out the need for lighting rigs and other fancy stuff. Those things have their place (when creating course videos for example), but for the quick clips, stay natural and put that sunshine to work for you.
  • A good story: So what exactly makes a good story? Try to share from one of these categories: things that educate, things that inspire, or behind-the-scenes. Do you have a daily social media tip to share? Want to take us behind the scenes on a buying trip for your boutique? These are the elements that add value to your live video + are a natural continuation of your other social media content.
  • A lot of grace: There are very few of us mere mortals who are naturally gifted at being on camera. Give yourself grace and approach live video as a training ground where you can experiment and learn. Bonus: Snaps + IG Stories disappear after 24 hours, so that makes it even easier to approach in a light-hearted way.

Don’t make video content harder for yourself than it has to be.

If you discover that it’s your jam, then invest in the better camera or the lighting equipment or the professional editing (hey, girl, hey!) but being the resourceful boss that you are, I know you can create amazing things using what you’ve already got in your hand.

PS. One more day to book your 2018 Video strategy session at a discounted rate! Choose a time here.

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Honeymoon in Antarctica: romance at the bottom of the world

honeymoon, Antarctica, adventure travel

Most people think tropical beach destination when they think honeymoon, but I know if you’re hanging around here, you’re not most people. In 2017, I accomplished a huge life goal of traveling to my seventh continent, Antarctica, before my 30th birthday. While my now-husband and I were only engaged when we made the voyage, I think it’d make an ideal honeymoon. Here’s why:

Antarctica is a Perfect Honeymoon Destination

Antarctica is truly the destination of a lifetime. There are few locations more unique, and it’s a trip you’ll be talking about for the rest of your lives. If the objective of your honeymoon is to have memories you can relive for the rest of your marriage, this definitely fits the bill. Check out the video C + I took on our adventure:

It’s a relaxing getaway where you can truly escape after the decision fatigue of planning your own wedding. Not only can the internet not reach you while you’re visiting the frozen planet, like most cruises, all decisions about excursions, dining + even wardrobe are made for you. We traveled with One Ocean (and highly recommend them!) and everything but alcohol and gratuity was included in the bill, which meant we didn’t touch our wallets for the whole 11 days. They also included cold weather jackets, pants, and boots for our boat trips and landings. We had nothing to worry about but spending time with each other and enjoying the scenery.

Speaking of scenery, Antarctica is an untouched beauty and such a surreal landscape, you almost feel like you’re on another planet. Every sunset was better than the last, and we had close encounters with wildlife (ranging from penguins to seals to whales) every single day. My husband and I traveled in March, which was the prime whale-watching season – we literally saw HUNDREDS – and if you’re after baby penguins, December to January is the ideal time to travel.

Antarctica Travel Tips:

If you’re considering visiting Antarctica, whether on your honeymoon or just for the bucket list, here are some of my top tips:

  1. No matter how you swing it, traveling to Antarctica is a major financial commitment. We spent about 3 years intentionally saving for this trip. It’s part of the reason we chose to have a smaller destination wedding where our money could go farther. C + I are budgeting maniacs who intentionally put money towards our priorities.
  2. Start planning about a year in advance for a trip to Antarctica, especially if you want to go during late December or early January as those spots fill up first. The other option is to wing it and show up in Ushuaia, Argentina and book a last minute cabin. This can get you good deals, but you need to have some flexibility in your schedule. We put our deposit for the March 2017 trip in June of 2016.
  3. Get a motion sickness prescription. Even if you’re not prone to motion sickness, this is essential. My husband is generally fine on boats but the Drake Passage (between the tip of Argentina and the Antarctic peninsula) is the roughest water in the world and he was sicker than I was. This was mostly due to his overestimating his tolerance of the motion + eating way too big of a breakfast when the seas were at their highest. We were both sick one day of each journey even with the patch but it was SO worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

Have you ever considered traveling to the seventh continent?

This was one of my favorite trips ever so I’d love to answer questions if you have any. Reach out on Instagram.

If you’re curious how we captured the travel video above + my secrets for making sure I have an amazing video keepsake when I come home, sign up for my free email course, 5 Secrets to An Amazing Travel Video. I can’t wait to see what you create!

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