In the Field with a Multimedia Specialist

By Troy Bishopp, the Grass Whisperer016

I have said for many years, agriculturalists have some of the prettiest, most iconic landscapes to capture on film. We have cute kids, farmers, animals and vistas.  We also have truthful images and events describing the inter-workings and hardships associated with farming.  Any way you slice it, the media’s portrayal of our farms is of particular interest to the general public.  Why not explore working with a multimedia specialist to tell your story?

What is a multimedia specialist you ask? According to Ken Loge of Dreamsteep.com, “A multimedia specialist is associated with computer based media and has expertise in digital audio and visual media and is able to bring words, sound, photos, animation, video, and graphics all together in a multimedia digital presentation.  These skilled individuals deliver over the Internet, on a CD-ROM, video, DVD disc, or some other mediated form. The content is most often instructional, informational, commercial, entertainment or game based.”

Best-selling author, Seth Godin said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.” IWill Parson readies his video equipment for a photo essay piece have found that effectively showing and telling savvy consumers about farm life requires some help.  This new age of videographers, photojournalists, smartphones, editing software and social media technology is something to beholden to.  Frankly, I’m in awe of the folks who can use it well and more importantly, make me look like I know something.  A tough task indeed!

I’ve had the good fortune of working on the farm with 3 talented multimedia artists: John Suscovich at Farm Marketing Solutions, Will Parson at the Chesapeake Bay Program and Michael Femia from WhatFarmingIs.com.  Each young man brings a certain interest, perspective and skillset to the lens.  Giving them some creative freedom at the farm is beneficial because they see things in a different light and can enhance the diversity of the subject matter.

The conceptual, creative juice phase has given me plenty of chuckles. It was interesting how bad Will wanted to capture the sounds of dung beetles and flies buzzing around a cow pie by hovering over it for 20 minutes with a 3000 dollar camera and special microphone. John seems to enjIMG_4790oy propelling himself into deep grass, making podcasts and time lapsed videos and doing goofy bits so folks will be hooked enough to watch for 2 minutes.  Michael has a knack of cow whispering and will spend an inordinate amount on his belly filming cows munching.

You would be surprised how compact the filming technology is for these gentlemen. A tiny microphone, smartphone, sleek tripod and multi-use cameras are about all the tools that are needed.  This approach allows them to be affordable for us who want to market our products and farms.

I feel sorry for these professionals because the hardest part of their job is working with me. It takes a lot of patience to hone a “talker” into something audience ready and trying to create good soundbite content.  They have taught me about lighting, microphone quality, still photography, creating a script and to just be myself and have a conversation with them on camera.  I heard a lot of “We can edit that.”

My trepidation is having the raw content leave the farm and wondering what will be portrayed. There seems to be an unwritten right by the photojournalist to create without much edit input from the subject.  It seems similar to not telling my dentist how to pull my tooth.  There is (or has to be) a certain amount of trust established in working with a media person which in my mind can’t be broken by either party or the whole thing fails.

It can be a risk but I do my due diligence in asking for a resume and a catalog of work with references just like any contractor would go through. I have been pleasantly surprised by the results I have found on the web and in social media circles.  These guys really know what they are doing with the tools they have and I’m thankful for their service to agriculture.

The next time you’re looking to add some zestful agricultural marketing to your operation consider partnering in the field with a multimedia professional. Your story is too important not to share.

Published in Lee Publications