“Video blog or vlog has been in vogue since more than a decade.
Oman, so far, hasn’t seen many vloggers, except for a few like Salim Al Harthy, the renowned photographer, who now enjoys a huge following, thanks to his attention-grabbing vlogs on events in Oman and his travels abroad.
Day 11, 11.30 in the morning
We are heading to Argostoli Island in Greece…I’m gonna have the time of my life…” For Salim Al Harthy, it’s party time ahead at the Costa Costa beach.
He is on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship with his vlogger instincts at the peaks.
His followers are eagerly waiting to hear from him, from day one of his 12-day European Adventure which started from London. They just need to click and watch, their favourite vlogger presenting the iconic Big Ben in London, a Gondola ride or alleys of Venice, the picturesque landscape of Mykonos Island, the historical Athens or the old city of Kotor in Montenegro, in a captivating way, with a pinch of humour and civic sense.
Photography and video adventure begin once Salim lands in a foreign land, alone or accompanied by his family.
“Being a photographer I travel a lot and thought I could show people what I see. Vlogging was a great option before me and people started liking it,” Salim says. Already blessed with a good following for his main photography website www.salimphoto.com, his travel video blogs got a warm welcome.
Every vlogger will have some interesting topics, according to his/her personal interests. They need to have a camera, an Internet connection and something to talk about. Being a photographer, Salim vlogs mostly about travelling in different countries, giving everything an extra punch with his humour.
The last travel he did was a recent cruise on the Royal Caribbean. He left for London, stayed there for four days before going to Venice, from where he took the cruise. “I had my laptop with me and my camera and I was vlogging everyday. At night, I edited and released the videos. So people knew exactly where I was. They were following me,” he says.
And, during these trips, he doesn’t forget to click some nice pictures, which are incorporated in the videos, making them more interesting for his viewers.
As a photographer, he has already travelled in around 30 countries. “I enjoy travelling and if I don’t do vlogging and photography, I will feel something is missing. This is my passion. Through photography and vlogging I will have a full documentation of my travels and I can recollect all those moments even after many years,” he says.
The most interesting place he has vlogged about so far is Venice. “It was my first visit and I was there for two days. The whole city, red in colour, seems to be floating on water. There are no cars but only water taxis, Gondola, and you feel like you are not in a normal city on Earth. It’s a magical world.”
However, Salim vlogs not just about travel. If he is in Oman and not travelling, it could be about a typical Ramadan day, Eid festivities, Qaranqasho festival (the Omani mid-Ramadan celebration), some events like the opening of the Avenues Mall or Red Bull photography contest or even a family day out at Shangri-La’s Barr Al-Jissah Resort & Spa.
“Sometimes I talk about what kind of cameras I use. My followers are very interested in these topics. I think I have been successful, and a lot of people follow me and eagerly await the release of my next video,” he says.
He has already uploaded around 45 videos, and the vlog on Ramadan and Eid in Oman became very popular. “It was like telling the people around the world the culture and traditions here. If there are some events here or something new that comes up, I try to cover them in my vlogs.”
A photographer, who also gives lessons in photography, Salim started vlogging a couple of months ago. It was a new thing for him, and to become a vlogger somebody needs to know how to edit videos, of course, with the help of some specialised software.
“As I am a bit computer savvy I enjoy doing that. As a photographer I have cameras and most of the videos I do are by using the video capability of the still cameras. These days, you don’t need any huge equipment. You can do it with a small camera and vlog,” Salim points out.
So, one needs to be good at editing — to check the footage, put background music and the story. “Now, I am used to it and I can do the editing in 2 hours. But for a beginner it might take 3-4 days to do one video. It’s a matter of practice,” he says.
But it isn’t exactly like making a movie. As a vlogger, you have to talk, move around and present the subject/situation. “One of my successful vlog was on the new Avenues Mall in Muscat. It was a hit and got around 11,000 views immediately.
To be a vlogger, you cannot be camera shy. You will be talking while others are watching, wondering what this guy is doing. So you have to have some confidence. Initially, when I started, I was seeing the camera in front of me. But I don’t see the camera anymore. You just become confident and you don’t worry about cameras around you.”
A vlogger should make the videos interesting and should produce a minimum of one video per week. If nothing comes in a week, people will start forgetting you. But again, do not give anything stale or uninteresting just for the sake of uploading one.
“So it’s very difficult to be a successful vlogger. You have to keep on uploading good content every time. Ensure attention, quality and interesting topic, and present them in a humorous way,” Salim says.
When not travelling, Salim doesn’t want to vlog everyday or on anything. “I have decided that I will vlog every time I get an opportunity to take photos. If I decide to go to Jebel Akhdar to take professional snaps, I will vlog that. People will see me how I reach there, and how I came up with such photos.”
There are lot of talented Omanis and expats here, he says. “With this technology, Internet, videos, cheap cameras, accessibility and cheap editing softwares, you can show it to the world. Don’t hold it back. Have your own channel and show the world,” Salim signs off.
Tips for vloggers
Vlogging is a very powerful tool to show the world who you are.
YouTube is the most famous hosting site.
You should have a separate channel in YouTube to upload your videos.
In your normal website you can always put embedded videos, so the video plays inside your website.
Metadata and keywords are very important while uploading videos to be spotted by search engines.
Vlogging is a boon for talented people (in art, crafts, music)
Successful vloggers make big money (eg. Reviewers of products and equipment).
YouTube pays for your viewership.
There are number of video editing softwares like final cut pro and iMovie which is free with Apple. You can also use other free softwares like windows movie maker.
It’s all about the story.
If it’s an interesting story, even a very bad editing doesn’t matter.
A good vlog shouldn’t be more than eight minutes. But if you are very good, it can be up to 13-14 minutes. Anything more than that will be fatal.
One can access Salim Al Harthy’s vlogs on the YouTube channel www.youtube.com/abufaiqa, www.salimblog.com/video and also in his website www.salimphoto.com”