Let’s be clear on this – Casey Neistat is YouTube Royalty. He is amongst an elite band of YouTubers that have changed perception of the media platform, and as a result helped to define the current visual style of vlogging. More so he has shown that there are stories to be told in everyday life. One of the first things I learnt as I began exploring filmmaking and videography is that there are stories to be told everywhere, yet making these interesting and entertaining enough to hold an audiences attention is a real skill. Making a video, everyday, about your life is one thing. Making those videos entertaining is another thing entirely. Casey Neistat managed to do that and in doing so inspired others to do the same.
Yet amongst the many messages of dissappointment and thanking Casey for providing us with a few minutes of entertainment (almost) everyday, there was a huge amount of vitriol, particulalry amongst the photographic community.
The comments on the story on Petapixel seem to be from a clique of photographers (and videographers) who refuse to realise that their industry is changing. Many comments read like sour grapes. Here’s an awkward looking guy, making abrupt jumps cuts and using out of focus footage, to a standardised vlog template and getting millions of views, and no doubt millions of dollars. (UPDATE: Casey Neistat is now working with CNN after a $25M deal)
The truth is that not only has the audience changed, the style of our media and method of distribution has changed. (UPDATE: The fact that mainstream media now want to work with Casey to reach his audience is proof of that) There is a demand for documenting rather than spending hours creating things of perfection – and that is liberating and inspiring for an entire generation of photographers and filmmakers. Things don’t have to perfect to tell a story – there are countless iconic, but blurry, photos to prove this.
Criticism that much of Casey’s stuff is set up, is absurd. Of course it is! Casey’s daily vlog was story telling. He tried to make an entertaining story of his day, and, as in life, some days are more interesting than others. Casey knows his audience, his medium and how to attract marketing opportunities to make money with that. The guy is savvy as well as creative.
Saying that his stuff was ‘Clickbait’ – well, yes, many of the titles and thumbnails were designed to make you click. Were they deceptive? Only if you fell for them. The general audience is now wise enough to know what they are, or aren’t, going to get when they click on the average ‘OMG You won’t believe what happened!’ internet post or video. Clickbait is the internet equivalent of a newspaper headline – it’s job is to grab your attention and make you want to read/watch more.
Those who wrote that they don’t know who Casey Neistat is are either a) lying, to look cool/self important/nonchalant in front of their peers (don’t you just love internet comments!) or b) simply showing how out of touch they are. Like him or not he has 5M subscribers on YouTube. One of his last big videos has had over 20M+ views in just a few weeks. That is as many as would watch an episode of a huge budget TV show, or a blockbuster film. Your photographers sensibilities may not align with Casey’s rough and ready style, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.
The photographers and videographers who are complaining are no doubt the same people who moan about the state of stock photography. Times have changed. Nothing stays the same so rather than moaning or hating others, why not evolve and improve what YOU are doing? Just like Casey is.
Good luck with all your future projects Casey Neistat!