Become a better photographer

By: Mandy Mitchell


If you are an MMJ or a one-man-band or whatever we are calling that position in this business these days, you are going to have to shoot your own video. If you are someone who wants to be a reporter, you likely don’t really want to shoot your own video. I do understand you are  more focused on writing and how you look on camera than how good your shooting is. Problem is, you will want to have good video for your stories and you are the only source for that video. It’s best to know a few basics so you can have the best video possible.

  • Always always always always always use a tripod when shooting B-roll. It’s really easy to get lazy and just leave the tripod in the car. It’s heavy and all. I get it. But your video is going to look like crap if you don’t use the sticks. Take the extra 3 minutes. Don’t give me the “I just didn’t have time” nonsense. You will waste more time during the editing process trying to find shots that aren’t completely shaky than if you just take the time on the front end to get nice steady shots.
  • Edit in your camera to save time. The new digital cameras we shoot on are even better for this than tape. Get your wide shot and hit stop. Get your medium shot and hit stop. Get your tight shot and hit stop. You will then have a sequence of shots that is super easy to edit when you load the clips. You won’t be hunting around for what shot you need.
  • Don’t overshoot. You are not shooting a documentary. Be mindful of how long it takes your video to load into the editing computer. Be thinking about your story and what shots you need and how you will write to them. Going to a crime scene and shooting 20 minutes of video is a waste of your time.
  • Limit your camera movements. You are probably not a good enough shooter for a pan or a zoom or a tilt. Let’s be real here. I am not a good enough shooter for that and I’ve been shooting for 15 years. Focus on sequences. (Wide, medium, tight)
  • Use a tripod. Did I mention that?

One thought on “Become a better photographer

  1. I would add that with some cameras, the resolution is high enough that some movements can be done through your editing software (i.e. you can “zoom” by increasing the size of the video in the frame). You can get a more precise movement anyway and the viewer is none the wiser. However, that still requires you to stick to some of the basic techniques you just mentioned to have a usable shot in the first place.


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