Are you feeling uninspired with your photography? There are ways to work around that simply by trying new techniques in your photography (you can read here Photographer’s Block). I think every photographer would agree that there are times you get stuck and feel like you’re doing the same shit over and over again. But if it’s more than just a photographer’s block; you feel in a rut, unmotivated, the fun and excitement is no longer there, then you might want to consider shooting video. It’ll rattle you, in a good way of course, and change how you see things.
If you haven’t shot video before, it might feel similar to when you first started shooting street. You will be injected with excitement, curiosity and have no expectations other than having fun and learning something new. My experience is just the opposite. By trade I’m a videographer, I stumbled upon street photography when I was interning at a video production company in Chicago. Street photography is great for me because I can just go out and shoot with no agenda and basically just get my creative juices flowing. I was in a rut with video because my interest was not in commercial or mainstream projects like advertisements or weddings. There is rarely any demand with producing documentary or photojournalism pieces. Also, I felt stressed trying to find an interesting subject and had a lot of pre-planning involved.
Looking back, I wish I wasn’t as narrow minded then. I could have filmed nice scenic lifestyle type of videos of everyday life. You don’t need to find a specific person as your subject to video. Just go out and film what catches your eye and have fun in the editing room. That’s where the magic really happens!
Here are my basic filmmaking and video maker tips:
- Hold your shot for 10 seconds either handheld or better yet on a tripod or monopod. Make sure you tuck your elbows in!
- It’s better to slightly overexpose than to under expose
- Shoot wide then move in to a medium shot. From there go closeup, then extreme closeup if you wish. By doing this you have cutaway options. For example, if you are shooting a pizza, shoot the pizza in its entirety. Then move in excluding the crust. Then move in closer for a tight shot where we only see the toppings. You’ll have more flexibility in post-production.
- When you’re starting off and without much knowledge always overshoot from all angles. High angles, low angles, panning shots, tilt, and tracking shots where you follow the subject.
- Video is not only a visual medium, but sound and music play a big role too! Look for potential sound or ambient noise in the area you are shooting in and see if you can incorporate that into your video. Music choice is icing on the cake! I personally can’t start working on my sequence until I find the right music because I tend to edit based off of the beat and rhythm.
There are so many great videographers online that you can watch and learn from. My favorite is Philip Bloom. Or you can simply go to Vimeo and scroll through their short documentary categories. There are many awesome videos available to view and get inspiration from!
Gear, however, is expensive but more accessible than before. You can really create good work with very minimal gear!
Video Gear on a Budget:
- Camera: I personally like the Sony A7 series, specifically the Sony A7Sii because it can shoot in low light and has SLOG for dynamic color correction. It can also record internal 4K. I’ve read the Sony A7iii is just as good as the A7Sii and much cheaper so you can look into that as well.
- Monitor: A small HD monitor has been the best purchases I’ve made. It’s very hard to see on the tiny LCD monitor for these DSLR cameras and there have been many occasions where I thought I was in focus but wasn’t. A 5-inch screen that’ll mount on top of your camera is essential.
- Audio: If you want to record audio for interviews buy a H4N audio device. It has two channels so you can plug in a wireless mic on one and a shotgun boom mic on another. I prefer a Sennheiser as a wireless option. I’ll also mount a rode mic as well. It’s better quality than capturing sound straight from the camera.
- Tripod: Here’s where you should spend the money! Do not go cheap on a tripod. Your tripod will be your best friend on shoots. A sturdy, good quality tripod can last forever. I recommend the Manfrotto carbon fiber or if you can spend a little more try this one here. Although a little pricier, make sure you choose a carbon fiber tripod. Unlike aluminum, carbon fiber won’t rust if you shoot on the beach or near water and it’s lighter, so you can be nimble when shooting.
- Don’t Get Caught Up: Don’t get caught up in the drones and gimbal stabilizers, for now at least. Keep it simple, hone your skills and then maybe look into those accessories. Don’t feel like you can’t tell a story with an aerial shot or a smooth tracking shot. That’s just foolish. Watch Philip Bloom videos, yes he uses drones for some work but overall his shots are on a tripod, static, some are long takes but regardless evokes an emotion from the viewer. Not everything has to look like MTV with lots of movement and fast cuts.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Not happy with your footage. Keep practicing! Every time I shoot something for a client or a personal project I always learn something new. Like with your street photography the more you practice and the more you’re out on the streets the better you become and photographing people, the more fluid you get walking through crowds and anticipating a moment to happen.
The above videography tips are based on my personal experience as a shooter, editor, and producer. I hope these videography tips were helpful!