We met Amanda during our search for a summer intern at the Students+Startups speed interview night last February, and she blew us away with her passion and talent for visual storytelling. In fact, it took all of the restraint we could muster not to hire her right there on the spot -- instead, we offered her the job days later. But just as we were about to file the onboarding paperwork, COVID hit our city. No longer able to anticipate our production schedule for the summer, we had to forgo having her as our intern.
THANKFULLY, a few months later, we found ourselves in need of the additional production support, and she graciously joined our production team. In this Q&A session, Amanda shares her passion for visual storytelling, she offers tips for aspiring content creators and she gives us her opinion on the social media platform we should all keep an eye on.
Where you go to college? Can you tell us a little about your creative background?
I am a junior at Texas A&M Kingsville and study Communications. I currently own my freelance photography/videography business, Purple Panda Productions, which I started in November 2018. I am the athletics videographer for my university’s athletic department. I also manage and produce social media content for the Javelina Marching Band.
In addition to working with White Cloud, where else are you working with this summer?
I am the current Marketing and Admissions intern with Codeup through the 2020 Students and Startups Program run by the 80/20 Foundation. I assist with their social media platforms and produce video advertisements and virtual developer day live stream videos.
Where do you get your creative inspiration from?
Some of my biggest influences for creativity are from famous YouTubers influencers like Peter McKinnon and Matti Haapoja. Some photographers I look up to are Emily Danielle Jones, Marcus Lim, and Katie Martinez.
I am a portrait photographer while also trying to be as diverse as possible. I try to capture the natural beauty in people that I see that may not see in themselves. I try to look at objects and people from a fresh perspective, and I try to capture what makes each individual, landscape or object beautiful in its own way.
Photos by Amanda DeFrees
How would you describe your shooting style?
I describe my shooting style as documentary, warm, and inspiring. I want my audience to witness emotion through my art, whether uplifting, sad, joyful, etc. I feel like every piece of art tells a story and has some feeling tied to it.
In your opinion, what is the next social media platform to really take off?
More and more celebrities and companies are hopping on the train to the TikTok world, not to mention that video is such a vital asset today. Recent research reveals that video is the most engaging and efficient way to reach people and increase engagement. And TikTok uses video in so many different ways: for comedic relief, activism, etc. It is a unique platform that connects the world through video creation by everyday users, and I think TikTok is going to dominate the world soon.
Can you name a few companies that you believe are using Instagram and TikTok platforms really well?
I think the NBA, NFL, ESPN, WWE, Nickelodeon, Washington Post, Chipotle, Nike, Vans, and GoPro are a handful of companies effectively using Instagram and TikTok.
Which programs/software would you recommend for marketers who are not advanced video editors or graphic designers.
Adobe Spark and Canva are handy for designing quick, eye-catching social graphics for platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. If you are looking to get into creating video content, Mac users cannot go wrong with iMovie. Adobe Rush is also a great tool to make quick videos.
What, if anything, have you learned over the past few months working at White Cloud?
I have learned how to maintain a professional business relationship with larger companies. I have also picked up on skills using advanced equipment like sliders and drones. I am so glad to be working with talented people I can call not only co-workers but also mentors. I am happy to be surrounded by kindhearted people who genuinely want to help me grow, not only as a creator but also as a young adult.
Do you have any advice for those interested in becoming content creators?
Some pro-tips that I have for those starting in the content creation world is to go out and create. The key to improving your craft is to find every opportunity to shoot and practice regularly. This industry is run on a trial and error basis. The more mistakes you make, the more you grow and learn from it.
How can people follow your work?
They can subscribe to the Purple Panda Productions YouTube channel. This channel is where I share my passion with others. I want to inspire others to create content in the way I was inspired by my idols and continue to spread the beauty in the art of visual storytelling. Making these videos make me feel I am serving/giving back to the community.
Amanda has been a great addition to our team this summer and we look forward to our continued work with her this fall.
If you or someone you know has video production and photography experience, encourage them to send us their resume at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do not have a formal fall internship or full-time position open at this time, but we are always excited to meet talented creatives whose skills might be a good fit for a future project.
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