Hybrid creator Jason Vong credits friends from school with helping him cultivate the storytelling abilities that are the driving force behind his thriving YouTube channel, as well as his talent for wedding videos. Vong’s insightful reviews of the latest gear and his expertise with Sony cameras have earned him a devoted audience of nearly 250,000 followers to date, leading us to connect with him as our next B&H Creator of the Week.
In our conversation below, Vong reminisces about his beginnings on YouTube, points to his YouTube playlist “Get Inspired By Photography” as a favorite, offers advice about vlogging in collaboration with Sony, and much more. Keep your eyes on B&H’s social media channels in the week ahead, for even more of his engaging content. And to help enliven your next YouTube video, consider his suggestion for injecting humor into ordinary situations to better connect with your audience.
Where are you based? Los Angeles, CA
Please list your most important social feeds/networks: YouTube, Instagram
How long have you been creating content, and what inspired you to start making and posting YouTube videos?
I’ve been creating content for more than half of my life. I’ve been making videos ever since YouTube started, but I’ve been creating for my current channel for about four years now. I’ve learned a lot about photography through YouTube. When I first started, I noticed there wasn’t much content about Sony cameras, so I wanted to give back to the community and share my own experience with Sony Alpha cameras. With the growing popularity of Sony cameras today, my content picked up and skyrocketed from there!
What is your educational background—photo/video/tech and other studies, and how have you applied these studies to your current business?
I studied Media & Cultural studies back in college. It was a relatively new program when I chose it as my major. The potential to have a career in video creation on social media was a pretty new frontier, and the landscape of content creation is vastly different today from when I studied it in school. I would say the connections I made while in school have taken me a long way in my current career. I first learned how to tell stories and film videos through school friends, and it was these connections that helped kickstart my career. I actually got started filming weddings through a close friend I met in college!
Did you have a role model or someone who inspired your vision early on, and what’s the most important thing you learned from them?
I try to bring humor and personality to my videos in order to make them fun, and not dry and jargon heavy. I’ve always been inspired by people with these large personalities, such as TV hosts like Conan O’Brien. I’ve always found him able to inject humor into ordinary situations, and his delivery is incredibly engaging. This is similar to how I try to work with humor in camera education. I believe that by having that personality, you can use it to help inspire photographers and videographers to create content!
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned about creating content for YouTube since you started?
Don’t overthink! This is something I still need to constantly remind myself. This is important for content creation. Think less, do more!
Your girlfriend, Vivienne Lee, is a collaborator in your business. Please describe how you work together and divide up business tasks. What responsibilities does she handle?
Vivienne helps to handle the business side of my YouTube channel. She manages communication with brands and clients that we work with and she occasionally helps me with filming my videos. I sometimes also like to feature her in videos; it makes things fun and shakes it up a bit.
How has working together affected your personal relationship? Do you have any advice or useful tips for work/life balance to offer other couples who work together in photo/video or other types of creative partnerships?
We’re still trying to figure out that balance sometimes (haha)! I would say constant communication, making sure that you also make time for the relationship itself, and making an effort to do things that are not work related. Easier said than done!
Your YouTube channel includes 17 different playlists. Is there one particular playlist that’s most popular with viewers, or do you have one type of video that’s your favorite to create? If so, why?
Haha, I actually just reorganized my playlists just in time for this interview! I would recommend the playlist “Get Inspired by Photography,” where I interview photographers who really inspire me. It’s great to be able to hear from other creatives and get inspiration from their work. I create lots of videos on tech and specs, but sometimes it’s great to just get in tune with your artistic side.
In two recent videos you share your reasons for quitting the social media sites Facebook and Instagram. Has this decision made your workday more productive, or resulted in you cultivating relationships with people you truly care about through other means?
This is a funny question. I’m actually planning on coming back to Instagram, as I’ve found it’s a great way to connect with other creatives. However, during my break, it made me rethink my purpose for using these social media platforms, and it helped me get back on a clearer path and create content with intention. It also allowed me to really focus on the important relationships around me, and work more towards maintaining them, and reaching out through other means.
One aspect of your career is wedding videography. How long have you been shooting wedding videos and how much of your business currently comes from this type of work?
ANOTHER funny question! Obviously with the whole pandemic, weddings have kind of come to a halt for our wedding company. But, before the pandemic, I would say it was about 20% of our business. Even though it doesn’t make up a large part of our business, I still love to do a few meaningful weddings because it helps me to stay creative in different ways. I’ve been filming weddings for a little bit more than four years now. I enjoy filming these events, because I love the natural raw emotions conveyed in front of the lens, which makes the storytelling very compelling.
Are any of your wedding videos available to view online? Do you have a specific reason for not having a personal website for this aspect of your business?
Our wedding videos can be found online, they’re posted through my business partner’s wedding company. Because I always film weddings with my partner, the videos are under the company name.
You are known as a hybrid shooter. What cameras and lenses do you find to be best suited to shooting video and stills?
Personally, I really like the Sony a7R series. The a7R II was my first Sony camera, and what I used to get started on the channel back in 2015. The a7R series has a high megapixel count, which is great for photography, but it also has hybrid auto focus, which is amazing not only for fast focusing in photography but in video autofocus, as well.
For lenses, my personal favorite is the Zeiss Batis 40mm. It’s what I use to film a lot of my YouTube videos because of its versatility, and it’s a nice sharp lens for photos.
What about audio? What’s your go-to gear for capturing clean audio, especially in all important, complex events such as weddings?
Since we do a lot of on-location videos, I’ve been a big fan of the RØDE Wireless Go Lav Kit.
What’s your most trusted stabilization gear for videography, and do you have any tips for beginners, either for keeping shots steady or fluid moves that are easy to achieve?
My favorite is the Zhiyun-Tech Weebill S! I actually have a series on my channel that we filmed in Japan featuring a video on gimbal techniques for beginners. Check it out below!
How often do you use artificial lighting in your videos and what’s your primary go-to gear for supplemental lights?
I’m actually a big fan of natural lighting; however, when we find ourselves in a situation where we need a little extra light, I would go for the Lume Cube Panel Mini.
What’s the most successful vehicle you’ve used for promoting your brand to date?
Honestly, good ol’ fashioned YouTube. Use the proper searchable keywords and be as helpful as possible.
What methods do you use for connecting with and/or cultivating sponsors for your Youtube videos?
I really make sure to work with brands where I actually connect with the products and can make genuine recommendations for them.
Generally speaking, how much time do you spend trying out an item before featuring it in a product review?
While we do get first impressions out, for reviews I really thrive on bringing honest user experience, so at least a month or more!
How tightly scripted are your videos and what goes into your pre-production process? Do you have any advice for aspiring YouTubers in terms of production values and screen presence?
We recently did a collaboration on how to vlog with Sony, and one of the videos really details our workflow in terms of pre-production, scripting, and having an onscreen presence. Look and learn in the video below.
Tell us about your post-production workflow. Generally speaking, how long does it take you to assemble your footage and post a final video?
Oh boy... editing is probably the biggest bottleneck to my whole creation process. It takes me roughly two to three days to get a video edited and posted. My process is all over the place, but my best advice is to get that one project out of the way before moving on to the next one!
Based on your extensive knowledge of photo gear, is there any one technological change or advance to cameras that’s at the top of your wish list?
What a coincidence. I’ve always wanted Sony to come out with a smaller full-frame camera and just a few months ago, they launched the Sony a7c.
Is there any emerging technology for photography or imaging you haven’t tried yet that you’d be particularly excited to play with?
I have not, but if there are any cool technologies out there please feel free to send it my way to try! ;)
Last year you created a free series of educational videos about travel cinematography based on a month-long trip you made to Japan. Do you have any plans for creating more serialized content like this?
Yes! We would love to work with more brands to bring more serialized content to viewers. Working with Zeiss and being able to be in Japan for a month was a dream come true.
Do you have any upcoming projects or future plans on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?
I’d definitely love to continue to bring more entertainment and humor to my videos, especially while being on location, so SUBSCRIBE, STAY TUNED, and check me out on the ’tubes!
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