YouTube Summer Shoot

A picture says a thousand words, no, make that your YouTube video.  Digital cameras and mobile phone cameras have not changed the basics of photography i.e. focus, light and depth.  That is what makes a professional photographer and that could be you.

Ten basic rules for good videos and photos

1.     What do you want to shoot?  Prepare a shot list: exterior shots of house and roses, interior shots of Tamara playing the guitar, interior shots of Tamara making fruit salad etc.

2.     You must lie down on the floor if you want to take a photo of a baby crawling.  Your camera has a zoom option, so pull the baby in and have a nice tight shot.  You’ll get a great video because babies just love the camera.  I don’t know why.

3.     If the baby’s uncle is sitting on the sofa please ask him to move.  If you don’t, the video will have two feet with morning slippers behind the baby.

4.     Cut the family into 2 if you are taking a family video because if you take one shot of 15 people, all of them won’t be clear.  Rather shoot an establishing shot, medium shot and close up.  You’ll fix everything in editing.  Hollywood directors sometimes call for 50 takes because they want flexibility in the editing suite.

5.     Think before you start your YouTube video.  What would my video look like if the sofa is plaid, the curtains have sunflowers, a Mickey Mouse tablecloth, pink floor rug and people in the video are wearing Hawaiin shirts? Choose a plain background, white, black, or blue. 

6.     Never take videos next to pot plants.  I’m sure you have seen photos where it looks like the plant is growing out of someone’s head.  

7.     You can also use make-up on the people in the video.  Don’t worry, professional male models are also dusted with make-up before the shoot.  Put some lip gloss to tame those cracked lips.

8.     Professional photographers used to have a basic kit with three lights.  You don’t.  Improvise.  The light in the room is not enough so bring two bedside lamps to where you are shooting the video.  Place the person you want to shoot on a back-less chair, and the lamps on both sides, but not too close. 

9.     Your subject should sit at an angle or look back at the camera.  Why do you think models stretch their heads this and that way?  Your video should not have people sitting as if they are taking I.D. photos. 

10.  Respect the sun.  It is very powerful so avoid taking photos in direct sunlight.  Next time you are in the cinema, check the scenes.  The light is soft, not harsh because most of them are shot early in the morning before the sun is fully awake and after 6 p.m. when it is tired.  

P.S.  Remember that wedding photos or videos you shot in a blue tent will come out blue.

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel.

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