Fusion Videos: What They Are, How They Work

After United, I realized I had a lot of new, interesting ways to improve my business and differentiate myself from local competition. Fusion Videos, a concept I learned from Isaac and Karen Stott in their class at United,one of the latest trends in the -ography field, is just such a way.

Here’s my experience with it:

First of all, the most important thing for me was ease of implementation. I’m a busy mom, I own two businesses, and my husband is a full-time engineering student–so we’ve got a lot on our plate. What I did may not work for you, and that’s totally okay. Tweak as fits your needs, peeps!

What it is: Fusion Videos combine small video clips with your portraits in a slideshow with music to provide a different way to share images with your bride and groom. It’s emotional, it’s easy to put together, and it involves a little extra time, and basic knowledge of changing your camera to video, knowing how to change your portrait settings to Monochrome (for those inside videos with crazy lighting), and knowing when to get video clips, and when to get pictures.

1. Always Get The Picture First.
ALWAYS. You’re hired as a photographer, not a videographer, and unless you’re used to toggling back and forth, it’s best to get the shots you want first, and then switch to video for the clips you need. They’re a perk, but again, not what you’re hired for.

2. Have A Second Shooter
I’m of the opinion that this is pretty much necessary, if you want to succeed at fusion videos. While I shot artistically, my second shooter (read: indentured husband) took back up pictures, grabbed candid shots, and got videos. If it had just been me, there would have been 3 videos. But with my husband TJ with me, we ended up with close to 70 to chose from.

3. Shoot Black and White Inside, Color Outside.
Remember how I said keep it simple? Shooting in Black and White inside makes it simple. You don’t want to take the video home, upload it, edit it (which takes in INSANE amount of time) and then make a Fusion Video–unless you’re making a high, high end product. In which case, knock yourself out. But for the rest of us that just want something with a bit of an extra spark, shoot B&W indoors, and you’re welcome.

4. Shoot Video In 5 Second Increments
You want to have just enough emotion to tie the story together–not just enough pictures to tide the viewer over until the next clip plays. 5 or 10 second increments work perfectly to get the movement/emotion you want, without overwhelming or downplaying your amazing photography.

6. What Do You Use For The Slideshow?
I use Animoto for my Fusion Videos. If you’re willing to shell out 30 bucks a year, you can upload 10 second video clips, and your choices are incredibly limited. But if you want complete freedom, you can upgrade to their Pro package, which is closer to 260.00 a year. Pricey, but then you can have multiple songs, access to more songs, access to all their slideshow templates, and HD quality slideshow videos. It’s worth it, if you have the moolah to do it, but if you don’t, the 30.00 option works for just starting out.

7. So How Do You Put It Together?
This is actually a mix of advice from the Stott’s, and Katelyn James. On Saturday, I shoot the wedding. On Saturday Night, or Sunday morning, I cull the images, and pick the ones I want to use for the blog post/fusion video. For this wedding, it was close to 200, but to be fair, It was my first wedding fusion video, and I got carried away. You could probably get away with 100, or 50. <.< Once I get those edited, I upload them to Animoto, along with my video clips, arrange them until they're pleasing, add a text box to the beginning with the information about the wedding, tag the vendors, and share it on Monday. On Tuesday, I cull my favorites a little more, Blogstomp them, and share my blog post. By Wednesday, the rest of my images are edited, and by Thursday, I have the PASS Gallery up, I've sent a separate gallery for the vendors from the wedding, the bride has seen the Fusion Video, had blog post, and now has all of her pictures, and I'm done with that wedding.

Transparency is important, and so is keeping true to who you are and what you can handle. If I was being honest, I'd say I need to work on making sure my videos are black and white while inside (as you'll see in the video), making sure I'm not moving all over the place, and making sure I keep my focus on photography first. I'm hoping to improve on those in the next wedding.

I heard a few people asking for more information, but I'm definitely not the authority on the subject, I just wanted to share my experience, and hopefully, help those of you interested in it get more comfortable with the process!

S T Y L I Z E D . S H O O T || OffBeat Brides Concept Shoot

It’s been almost a month since I went to United, and I’ve been holding on to these shoots jealously, because after I publish each one, I get to spend the whole day reminiscing about the amazing, sometimes surreal setting for the United conference I attended. And with only a couple more shoots to share, and wedding season starting this weekend, it’s a bittersweet post I write.


I’ve heard over and over from friends, family, and my brides that I seem softer and more at peace since I came back. My outlook seems brighter, my photography is much more organic and emotional, and my feelings of heart-bursting joy for the people in my life has come to the front–I’m not nearly as reserved with my enthusiasm for the people I adore anymore.

These people are the reason why. They broke me down, reminded me of why I started shooting, and gave me my passion back–but more than that, they showed me, by leading from example, how to give that passion away and multiply it’s return. When you have kindness and a giving nature on a scale of over 400 people, well….that’s a lot of passion and heart to soak in–and I was the best sponge ever.


One such example is our Offbeat Brides Shoot–a really amazing shoot that focused on showcasing brides that went off the beaten path. So often, we focus on the model brides with the million dollar weddings and amazing soirrees, but the truth is, these brides have a completely different aesthetic to what they love about their relationship and wedding–and man oh man, do I love that about them. There were three couple total, and the first pair, rocking the epic sunglasses, was my soulmate couple. Fiesty, funny, and rocking every tattoo they had, I wanted to capture them all day. Then I got sidetracked by a conversation with another photographer, and when I turned around, they had disappeared down the stretch of the beach–and I dunno about you, but walking through the sand is hard enough when you’re just holding a towel, but I had all of my gear with me. So I peace’d out that rad couple. Then there was this other couple that I literally only got one shot of, but wanted a zillion more, because the bride was an absolute SIREN you guys, she was drop-dead gorgeous, and her groom had an epic beard.  But again, I was sidetracked by conversations. In fairness to me, my husband is quiet, my son isn’t talking yet, and I was geeking out about gear, shooting in direct sunlight, and the perils of shooting on a beach. It’s rare for me, okay? Okay.

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Here’s a few more shots to share with you, and credit absolutely has to go to the creator and leader of our shoot, Carrie Swails. She’s an amazing teacher and mentor, and everyone goes away from her knowing something new that can help them. She’s amazing.








In any case, you can bet that I’ll be going back again next year, but this time, with TJ. And we aren’t done yet! I still have MY shoot to share with ya’ll, and the Great Gatsby shoot, which you might die of happiness from looking at. Those will be coming up in the foreseeable future, friends!


Jamie Ivins – jamieivins.com
Julie Wilmes – juliewilmes.com
Mycah and Bobby Burns – redmonddigitalmedia.com
Lauren and Seth Pinson – laurenpinson.com

Julie Wilmes – Corset
Lauren Pinson – Dress and shoes 

Shoot Organizer: Carrie Swails – carrieswailsphotography.com

S T Y L I Z E D . S H O O T || Tori & Brett || Grassini Family Vineyards

I’ve been editing like a mad woman since I came back from Santa Barbara, home of the gorgeous, aesthetically themed Spanish-Villa town on the ocean front, and home of the best photography conference in the world, United. It was such a treat to go down there, and be with a ton of photographers who believe in the same philosophy that I have, in regards to photography, in that we all believe that once we give you the pictures, you should be able to have them both digitally, and physically, as you desire–because they belong to YOU. While it’s a controversial business method, I believe that with the rise of technology, and the rise of sharing more of our lives online, it seems silly to make you pay to have the images you already paid for — and that’s the philosophy shared by this conference.

Further, our goal was to get down to the nuts and bolts of celebrating stories, organically. For me, something I wanted to get more in tune with was telling the love story of my brides and grooms without crazy posing and tons of props. I want to be able to share the way my couples look deep into each others eyes, I want her smile when he tells her he loves her to be captured for him to see. That is the real couple–not making them stand back to back, and hold hands, haha.

This shoot, done at the gorgeous Grassini Family Vineyards, was a gorgeous 50 minute drive away from the hotel. We first stopped at the ridge before the vineyard, to capture the sunrise–and even though large clouds snuffed out those lovely golden rays only seconds after that sun came up over the hills, we still had enough time to capture these gorgeous moments:


Gah, that sun, and this couple. Augh. So gorgeous.



After we lost our rays of sun, we focused on using the couples knowledge of each other to create real, organic moments that resulted in absolutely gorgeous portraits.

2014-03-03_0004Brett and Tori were such an amazing couple to work with. Seriously, they were so comfortable in front of the camera, which, believe it or not, isn’t very easy to be with several dozen photographers staring at you.


2014-03-03_0006When I saw her hair fluttering in the breeze in that shot, I said “Shut. Up. NO.” Apparently, it’s becoming a habit of mine, because I also said it to a couple other models I worked with, haha.


2014-03-03_0008Special shout out to Rincon Floral for the absolutely stunning white bouquet. I love the texture and consistent creamy look, and the floral scents were heavenly!

After we finished shooting on a simple dirt road, (yes, those were all shot on a dirt road, which just goes to show, emotion trumps background any day!) we loaded back up and drove down to the vineyard–a stunning, well-loved vineyard. The trees were gorgeous, and HUGE, a testament to the attention they had received at the hands of the family that had worked and lived on those rolling vineyard hills for 4 generations. Even as we worked with our bride and groom, I could see the people carefully tending to the vines several hills away.

Speaking of their gorgeous, large trees, they immediately captured the attention of my lens, and the pictures that we captured under those weaving, thick branches were jaw-dropping. I actually had a incredibly hard time finding a way to share what I saw, and the emotion that was shared under that tree, because there were SO. MANY. GOOD ONES. But here are a few of my favorites, because there’s still MORE.

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And then we watched them wander through a row of the vineyard, intertwined and focused only on holding one another, and my heart hurt from how sweet the entire shoot had been. This is what I want to capture in my clients! This sort of organic emotion and love! And, thanks to our amazing instructor, Montana Dennis (yes, that’s his name, yes, he can grow a beard, and yes, he is awesome) we were able to learn exactly how to guide our couples into that sort of posing. It was so magical, out there in the vineyards, with huge, desert mountains around us, and large grey clouds hanging low over our heads.

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It was such an awesome, deep experience, and it’s transformed my way of capturing my brides, and I think it’s actually better, wouldn’t you agree? 🙂 I’d love to know what you think!

Stay tuned for next week, when I’ll share the shoot that *I* led, using simple paper cranes, some fishing line, two gorgeous models, and some gorgeous paper bouquets.

Instructor: Montana Dennis

Venue: Grassini Family Vineyards

Production Coordinator: Kristin Renee

Floral bouquet by Rincon Floral


Tori Benham
Brett Benham