The GoPro phenomenon is sweeping the world. From surfing and skiing to everyday adventures, GoPro has redefined the photography landscape and if you don’t already own one by now, you’ve surely heard of them. We were fortunate enough to meet one of the key figures in the success of GoPro, Creative Director Brad Schmidt. Boasting one of the coolest jobs in the world, Brad travels the world to create amazing content and to also source content of every day users to share on GoPro’s YouTube channel, which is now at 3.5 million subscribers. Here the pro himself shares his top photography and editing tips as well as some of the most creative GoPro content he’s ever seen.
I’ve known Nick [founder and CEO of GoPro] since 2001. We met on his original trip through Australia and Indonesia. We travelled together for about two months, testing out prototypes of wrist strap cameras. I kept travelling and he went home to develop it and probably for the next six or seven years I helped him at trade shows or with product development. Then in 2009 he asked me to come work for him full-time in San Francisco and start a YouTube channel. There were probably about 12 of us at the time, now there are about 1500 of us!
I’m the Creative Director for GoPro media. There are several Creative Directors, but I am the one in charge of all of the video assets that you see. There are probably 100-150 content creators and artists at GoPro.
We have a product called GoPro studio, which is for editing 99.9% of GoPro’s out there. The remaining 1% are using a 360 degree camera, which is six cameras set in a ball and they use an editing software called Kolors. We brought it out in the Spring. Basically, it takes six GoPro videos and puts them together in one spherical clip.
I think social media has been an integral part of GoPro’s brand and how it has developed. Instagram, Facebook and other social channels have been huge platform for the community of people who are passionate about GoPro and love creating content they can share. Social media and content have really gone hand-in-hand with GoPro’s growth.
When it comes to video asset, YouTube has been our best performer over a long period of time. With Facebook and Instagram, views happen over 24 hours, whereas with Youtube you could have a video and it will slowly climb from 2 million to 30 million because it keeps getting viewed. But the engagement level and the amount of instantaneous level of engagement is a lot larger on Instagram. They are different social media platforms for a reason.
There is some wild stuff that we’ve seen! I think the coolest part about the camera is that we’ve seen people in the most peculiar places. I’ve seen lions eat them [GoPros], hyenas chew through the camera and I’ve seen Felix Baumgartner jump through space! I don’t know if you remember there was that Chilean mine rescue back in 2010 and we were still an action sports company then. My mum still doesn’t know who Kelly Slater is or Shaun White – she’s not a sports person – but when they were doing the Chilean mine rescue and they were actually putting the GoPro on the rope to see who was there, I remember my mum called me, she was crying and she said, “you’re helping save peoples lives”. This was a really cool moment for me. However, I think recently the coolest thing I’ve seen using a GoPro camera was an astronaut who took the camera and went into a zero gravity chamber. They had this ball of water that was floating and they pushed the camera into the sphere of water. To see the astronaut look just like a giddy child was great! That’s the stuff I really love about my work. I mean you come into work and you see this and you just go “God damn” people are really using us for the coolest things and the creativity is almost unimaginable! It’s something you can only dream of.