25 Tips for Better Shooting

25 Tips for better stories in no particular order. 

 1. Think about what the story is before you arrive at the first shoot. 

Talk to your reporter, photog or producer. Many times what you think the story is and what they  think the story should be are completely different. Remember the story may change while you  are interviewing someone. Be flexible. 

 2. Don’t forget your tripod. If you think you are steadier than a tripod, you are NOT. There are  times when handheld is necessary so you should learn how to do it. But for the most part use  your sticks. Learn to move quickly and efficiently carrying your tripod and camera. 

 3. Make sure you have plenty of batteries and a spare SD card.  

 4. White Balance your camera in the light that you will be shooting in. If you will be shooting in two  different lighting conditions, you can preset the white balance to save time. For example, when  shooting in sun and then shade. Put the sun white balance on preset A and the shade white  balance in the B preset. You can then switch back and forth between them. Knowing color  temperatures and how to interpret them is very important. Use Neutral Density filters when  appropriate. 

 5. Check your audio on both channels. Always have the shotgun mic on. Use an IFB, ear buds or a  headset to monitor your stick or lav mic not your shotgun mic.  

 6. Compose your shots correctly. Remember to check for proper headroom and lead room when  shooting interviews. Stand off to the side of camera so that the interviewee is not looking straight  at the lens. No poles or tree branches sticking out of someone’s head. 

 7. Try to shoot action shots not static shots. Pay attention to what is happening in the frame and  follow it. Good opportunity for sequences (wide, medium, tight, tight, tight) 

8. Remember to breathe. Don’t hold your breath while shooting. You could pass out. That would  be embarrassing. 

 9. Shoot and move. Make it look like you had 10 cameras there when you really had just one.  Shoot from different angles and heights (High and wide and low angle.) 

 10. Avoid jump cuts. If you shoot wide, medium, tight, tight, tight for every scene than you will always  have a shot to go to get you out of a jam. Don’t shoot yourself into a corner that you can’t edit out  of.  

 11. Be careful when shooting into the sun or other high contrast backgrounds.   No windows behind interviewees or reporter. EVER!!!!! There is a time and place for silhouette  interviews but not when talking to the mayor about the new bus routes. 

 12. Don’t talk while shooting b-roll. Make sure to record the natural sound. If you are shooting trafficwe should hear traffic. Not you talking about this great video of a car you just shot. 

 13. Hold your shots for 10 full seconds of steady video. Don’t touch the tripod while shooting. Hands  off equals steady. 

 14. Don’t get pan and zoom happy. If you do pan and zoom, make sure you have a steady 10  seconds before and after your shot. Make sure any camera movements are for a reason. Don’t  shoot zooms to nowhere (most often seen in standups where the reporter walks two or three  steps but doesn’t show anything different in the background.)  


 15. Don’t miss the moment. Keep one eye in the viewfinder and one eye watching your  surroundings. Often the real story takes place behind you so keep your eyes and ears open. 

 16. Be at the same eye level as the interviewee and the camera lens. If they are sitting, then you  should sit also. Don’t stand behind the camera and have them sitting it just looks bad and if the  interview runs a long time could give them a stiff neck.  


 17. Don’t break the 180-degree rule. Also called crossing the line or crossing the axis. 

 18. Ask a throw away question first so you can check audio levels. Testing one, two, three is not  going to get you the correct level they will be speaking at. Check the viewfinder from time to time  to make sure you are rolling and that the subject hasn’t moved. 

 19. Listen to what your guest is saying and avoid uh huh’s and nodding your head. 

 20. Remember to get several cutaways and reversal shots. Make sure you are not  speaking during reversal shots. For two shots make sure to have both of you  


 21. Use a lav mic for sit down interviews. Nothing looks worse than a sit down interview with the  reporter holding a stick mic. If you have a second lav give it to the reporter. 

 22. Don’t roll on the zooms that get you from shot to shot and when you focus on the next shot. You  will never use these. It is only something to have to scroll through later in editing. 

 23. Try to find the story behind the story. Most times the real story is not in the press release. It can  be found listening to the people you are interviewing. They are far more interesting than a press  release. PR people can be helpful but remember they are pushing for their agenda so be careful  not to do a commercial for them. 

 24. Always have a book and a snack packed away in your “bag of STUFF.” Also a change of clothes. 

 25. Use the bathroom whenever you see one. Nothing worse than being on an all-day stake out and not a bathroom in sight. Ouch…..

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