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Local photographers, videographers share secrets

A local photographer and a local group of videographers have shared how to be successful in their field of work with what is available.

Charles Netzler of Charles Netzler Photography and Tupea Mata'u, Asomua Saili, Sia Muagututi'a, and Ketesemane Mata'u of Vanu studios, explained that,l by starting with simple gear and a passion for the work you do, you can develop your skills and achieve success. 

Charles Netzler has been in the photography business for nearly 10 years and advises anyone looking to take up this career path that communication is key.

"If you were to go into fashion photography then, before using a camera, I think having good communication skills is very important. You can look at the professionals, look at their most popular work, and try and see what's so popular about it," he said.

"Before the photoshoot even starts, there's a lot of planning. Create a photo plan and a mood board, that's just like the style and the aesthetic, how they want it to look. It will take a couple of weeks of planning, selecting talent. Once the photoshoot starts you have to have your equipment checked."

According to him, fancy equipment isn't necessary from the beginning; creative ideas produced with a photographer’s phone can be of good use.


"The stuff you see in the photo is from a group of experts. If you were to start with what you have then definitely use your phone’ phones these days are incredible. If you're lucky to have a friend that's going to help you I think that is very important too. If you have two people to help you then that would be even better because you can use a second phone as a light. What I used to do a long time ago, I would use a phone light. There are lots of little tricks you can use as long as you're looking for it," he said.

"I would always recommend beginners to shoot during sunset or sunrise, the lighting is beautiful. You can Google lighting techniques in terms of angles. You can't move the sun but you can always move your subject."

In terms of marketing yourself in this field, Mr. Netzler strongly recommends social media as a platform for gaining recognition for your work. 

"Social media is always a great place to start to market yourself. I would say depending on what field you are interested in, like if you're looking to market yourself as a fashion photographer then the easiest way to do it is grab a friend and clothing that you like then go to locations that will complement your clothing or your style and take some photos then post it," he said.

"Try and use hashtags to your advantage. Share and send it to people that you want feedback from. I think for most beginners the hardest part is feedback."

Vanu studios are a group of local photographers and videographers that was officially created in 2017 and have spent the last few years filming adventure videos, documentaries, and pageants locally and overseas. The leader of the group, Tupea Mata'u, told the Samoa Observer that their passion for filming and taking photos excelled their skills in this field.

"Vanu studios are made up of brothers and cousins and in 2017 we decided to make a business out of it," he said.

The group is self-taught with most of their skills in the field being acquired from YouTube tutorials. They have recently filmed a documentary for a recording artist from New Zealand, Lani Alo.

"When we started it was because we're very active and adventurous boys. That's sort of where we got the passion from. When 2020 started we decided to do an adventure series which is trying to go to our favorite spots every two weeks," he said.

Mr. Mata'u advises beginners in this field of work to start with what you have such as mobile phones due to the fact mobile phones can now shoot in 4k and 1080p. Before the group acquired professional gear for their work they had started off with their mobile phone cameras.


"You can start with your mobile phone," he said.

"Just film, learn off YouTube, compare your footage to other people and see how far you are but it's a learning and an ongoing process. For YouTube, it's the 21st century and almost anything is available to you. With the amount of technology around all the excuses are canceled, you can pretty much learn anything. So with YouTube, the favorite tip I can give to someone trying to learn off of youtube, look at the subscribers."

Mr. Tupea further advised beginners to not be afraid to make mistakes and not to compare yourself to other people. 

"Go at your own pace, it's not a race," he said.

When asked about ways to market yourself as a photographer or videographer he said, "There is no better age to be creative than now. In 2020 you have all these platforms, we have Instagram, we now have Tik Tok which are the fastest growing social media platforms. Don't be afraid to jump in front of the camera because the best content is the one that's relatable. Generate that interest, share it, post again."

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