To DIY or not to DIY? That is the question.

A Do-it-Yourself craze is sweeping the nation. There is even a DIY television network and loads of instructional videos on the internet.

I think people choose to tackle projects for various reasons:

  • They are confident in their abilities.
  • They want a new challenge.
  • They have no choice because they don’t have the money to pay someone skilled to do it for them. Sometimes you just have to be realistic and face the fact that some tasks are best left to experts.

This is not only true with household, fixer-upper, landscaping, car repair or arts & crafts projects. It’s also true in the corporate world, including marketing. Among the most tempting tasks to attempt to DIY are creative/design/layout and photography/video. That’s because layout software can be easily purchased and every smart phone has a camera that also takes video. There may be an app for color correcting but there are no apps to compensate for talent and experience. Like other DIY projects, these can end very badly.

Regarding DIY creative work in general, I’ll offer this quote from advertising legend Leo Burnett and leave it at that: “I’ve learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.”

Here in our office, the upstairs hallway is lined with award-winning photographs. They were snapped by various photographers but they were all personally planned, envisioned and art directed by someone on our Mikula-Harris team. These photos are not OK. They are not decent. They are not even good. They are amazing. Believe me, we do not have this hallway full of stunning images because of luck. These photographers and our art directors knew exactly what they wanted going into the shoot and they got it.

Like everyone reading this blog, sometimes I have to decide what to tackle myself, what to delegate to a fellow team member and what to outsource. I have to be realistic about what I can do well, what I am somewhat comfortable with, and what I know is beyond my abilities. I’ve heard many stories about photo and video shoots. I’ve been on location for quite a few as an observer. You might think that familiarity makes me a little bit more comfortable about maybe directing a shoot by myself. Nope. Just the opposite. It makes me certain that I could not art direct a shoot with a result that would end up in our hallway. It’s simply not one of the skills I possess. And I don’t want anything less than excellent for our clients. There’s enough photo and video in this world that is “just OK.” I want results that are breathtaking. Fortunately, I have colleagues who make directing a photo/video shoot look easy. The truth is, it’s not that easy.


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

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