Photography and videos are tremendously important for communicating on the Internet.  Why?  Because people do not want to read online.  People consume information on the Internet primarily through videos and pictures, not written words.  You can argue with me on this point all you want, but you’re better off just accepting the fact that your message will reach more people if it’s framed by pictures and videos.  (If the New York Times needs to supplement its written words with pictures and videos, so do unknown bloggers and websites.)

This means that you would benefit tremendously if you equip yourself to take high quality, professional looking photographs on a regular basis. 

Here’s one of the biggest tips I can give you: often, the biggest difference between professional-looking photos and amateur photos comes down to the time of day.  I was speaking with a veteran advertising producer who told me that he used to hate getting up at three in the morning to prepare for a photo shoot that had nothing at all to do with a sunrise, but the fact is, the quality of light two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset is magical on film.  Those two two-hour chunks of time are when 80% of important outdoor movie scenes and magazine pieces are shot. 

If you want your pictures or videos to look professional, the early bird still gets the worm.  

Recommendations (and no, I don’t make a dime if you click these links and buy these products): I typically recommend that brand new photographers buy a Nikon D40 (shown in the picture above), because it has a fantastic auto-mode, but it will also let you switch to manual to learn much more advanced techniques and grow as a photographer.  And I used to recommend that people buy the Canon HV30, but I don’t shoot videos for fun the way I take pictures for fun, so that recommendation may be out of date.  However, the number one reason I recommended that particular video camera is that it has an external microphone receiver, which let’s you easily replace the cruddy built-in microphone with a much higher quality microphone – it amazes me that most camcorders don’t have the capability of accepting an external microphone.  

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Read more about Will Marlow here, or email him at