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There is a disturbing new scheme out there to part photographers from their money. Companies selling so-called “E-Templates” are trying to convince you that “hybrid” photography will make you a fortune, BUT you NEED to use THEIR products to find all this new business.

Sorry but I call bull you know what.

I do believe that the market is hungry for a mixture of stills and video from photographers learning to add video to their packages and video shooters learning to add stills to their packages. This trend will continue to grow in my opinion. But you don’t need to be tied into some proprietary scheme to get that done. In fact, there’s a very good chance you already have all the tools you need to make it happen.

One site sells these templates and you have to go to their “digital lab” to get a copy of the finished product. What’s worse, like in the traditional print world, you have to keep going back to their “digital lab” to get more copies if the client wants additional imagery.

You can see where this is going.

The people selling this fools gold get ahold of your money when you buy the template. Then they get more of your money each time you want to sell YOUR product to YOUR customers. They control the content and the cash flow – not you. It’s completely unnecessary.

Meanwhile, there are about two dozen other (very easy and non-proprietary) ways to accomplish the same thing without giving these people one dime.

If you’re on a Mac you have iMovie. You have access to dozens of other video programs. You have access to iPhoto. Similar free programs like Movie Maker are available for Windows 8 computers as well. Some of these programs are low or no cost. Once you have them, and spend about 20 minutes playing with them – it will become painfully obvious that you can make your own “e-templates” and control 100% of the product, price. profit and distribution without a middle man.

All you need is some royalty free music (search for that on Google or Bing) some video footage of your subject (your camera shoots video unless it is very old) along with a few stills, a nice background (iMovie and other video editing programs come with several themes or backgrounds and you can make or buy additional backgrounds if you want more variety,) and you’re almost done. Simply drag your video, audio and stills assets onto the timeline, arrange them in the order you like, add titles if desired, and hit save. Now you can export the finished video so it plays on any tablet, smart phone or computer with ease. You can also burn DVDs if you prefer.

In addition to the programs I listed above, here are some of my favorite tools for making “hybrid” video/stills slideshows/movies.

For Mac I like iSkysoft Video Editor for Mac. At under $30 it gives you everything you need to make cool products. On Windows or Mac a free program called Smilebox does the trick. Proshow Gold is the engine behind many of the so-called “e-templates.” You can buy your own copy of the program and never have to pay anyone else again for as little as $70. If you want to go high end and you already have a program like Premiere Pro, Final Cut, or even Photoshop you have everything you need to make these products.

It is important to learn how to tell stories with both video and stills cameras. I am convinced that in the future the line between the two will continue to blur. But you don’t need a middle man selling you snake oil to pull this off. You just need to be willing to read a few pages of a manual, a free or low-cost program you can run on your own computer, and a bit of an imagination. The rest is easy.

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