Don’t Just Point and Shoot: Give Purpose to Your Videos

Are you satisfied with the quality of video you shoot of your family just because your family is in it? Most people take on the task of shooting video of their kids’ activities just because they should. But do you ever think about why you shoot video? Beyond the obvious answers of family obligation and wanting to save special moments for posterity, the real reason is to enjoy watching those videos some time in the future. I doubt anyone would classify his or her videos as pointless as long as they contain shots of their family, but much of what you shoot may not be as good as it could be. What can you do about it?

You can shoot with purpose. You’re probably saying, “My purpose is just to get some shots of my kids.” That’s true, but imagine what you want to see when you actually watch these shots. If you’re shooting you child’s birthday party, do you want to see wide shot after wide shot of guests standing in the dining room? Have you thought about the details? If you imagine what you’ll find interesting and fun when you finally watch the video, you’ll open your mind to thinking about more options and better shots.

Vary Your Shots
Let’s take the birthday party example. Most people point the camera in one direction and let it roll. What are your other options? First, you can shoot from different directions or camera angles. If you stand with the crowd while your kid blows out the candles, you won’t see the crowd in your shot. Seeing the people at the party might be the best part of your video. Try shooting from the side and get the candle shot along with the crowd, or at least remember to turn around and get some shots of everyone else as they clap.

Remember the Details
Second, there’s more going on at your party than just blowing out candles. Remember the details. There are lots of small interactions among people; there are fun decorations; there are stacks of presents. Shoot these things. Zoom in and get close-ups. Move your camera around and among all the action and decorations. Look for happy faces. Talk to people as you shoot, and get them to talk. Put the camera right in their faces and see how they react. Go into another room and shoot back toward the action, getting “candid” shots while people are unaware you’re shooting. Any of these tips can add fun to your videos so you’ll enjoy watching them later.

Tell a Story
So, you’re varying your camera angles and you’re remembering the details. What else? Third, and maybe most important, you should tell a story. Telling a story really is your purpose. I can’t think of any situation in which you don’t have an opportunity to tell a story. If you always think of ways to tell a story in every shooting situation, you’ll use different camera angles and interesting details as a way of telling your story.

“Not everything is a story,” you say. Okay, here’s an example: You tour your new home before you move in. You bring your camera. It’s exciting to you, and you tell your friends and family what it was like. Maybe it needs some work. You don’t just tell people, “Hey, we walked through the house today. It needs some work. Talk to you later.” Unless you’re not that interested in your new house, you’re more likely to tell people, “I just can’t wait to get started fixing up the new house. We’re going to tear out the kitchen cabinets and . . .” Isn’t that a story? Tell it on video. Talk while you’re shooting your video, and give your impressions as you go through the rooms and yard. Years from now, this will be fun to watch. You can hear yourselves talk about your plans and compare that to what you actually did. Remember to shoot the details.

Here’s another example: Your kid is participating in a school performance. Everyone remembers to shoot the performance itself. Few go beyond that. But some of the most interesting things don’t happen during the performance. What about getting ready at home? Does your kid get nervous? Was there a problem with clothes or costumes? Right before the performance, there are expectant moments when everyone’s anticipating going out on stage. How does your kid interact with the other kids at this time? Who is there to watch? Friends? Family? What do they think? How does your kid react after the performance? Is there excitement? Disappointment? Are you proud? Record everything. Talk to each other while the camera is recording (just not during the performance). That’s your story. Don’t just point and shoot toward the activities on stage.

I hope this gets you thinking of better ways to shoot video. My intention is to get you to be more active in using video to document you life. Remember to shoot with purpose, the purpose of telling the little stories that make up the epic of your life. You’ll be glad you did when you finally watch your videos.

One of the next steps after you’ve recorded your stories is to edit your video so you can tell your story even better. That’s a subject of another blog.

About the Author:
Steve Patchin is Founder and General Manager of Patchin Pictures®. Patchin Pictures® specializes in Making the Movies of Your Life®. We will produce your videos for you or help you make them yourself. Call us today for a free consultation on Making the Movies of Your Life®. That’s why we’re here.

Posted on May 27, 2011 in Shoot Better Video


About the Author

Steve is the founder of Patchin Pictures and has been a photographer, videographer and producer for more than 25 years. He started Patchin Pictures in 1997. Aside from the work he does for business clients and individuals, Steve creates photographs for sale as art prints on metal and canvas. Visit his gallery at Patchin Pictures Studios. Steve also enjoys cycling.
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