5 Tips For Journalists Starting To Shoot

The great thing about shooting your own pictures, as a reporter, is that you have total creative freedom. You can spend longer with your subject at a time to suit them. You can get to them quicker and you are less intimidating with a small camera.

Here are 5 crucial tips when starting out:
1) Check the kit
Check it at home or in the office before you get to the story! If there is a part of the kit you don’t understand then ask for help.

  • Put a fresh battery on.
  • Put the media in and format it.
  • Plug in headphones and check you can hear the onboard mic.
  • If using a radio mic replace the batteries, turn on and check.
  • Put the camera on the tripod and check it can be panned and tilted smoothly.
  • Check you have the other kit you need and raincover if outside.
  • Finally turn the camera off and pack everything neatly.

2) Know your Camera
Know what your camera can do and more importantly what it can’t do. This will help you look professional – we all want to look confident in front of our subjects and want to come back with useable rushes. If you are using a different tripod,for example, practice using it several times BEFORE arriving at the shoot.

3) Plan
Always have a plan. You can adapt and evolve it but if you fail to plan you plan to fail.
whats the story? – is it a riot? Am I going in a boat? What’s the weather going to be? Where can I park? etc etc
Get the key shots, interviews first as you will run out of time. Leave the more risky, creative shots until you have the key shots.
What is the footage being used for? A 20s Ulay, an extended interview? etc Make sure you have long enough and pace your time.

4) Shoot for the edit
The story can improve in the edit if you start with a good selection of shots. The editor needs choice. Imagine the package you are creating is a cake. You don’t have a definitive recipe but you want to produce one that is tasty! So you will buy more ingredients and a greater range of ingredients than you will use to have choice and be able to experiment.
The biggest gripe for editors is that the shots have not been held long enough. Once the shot has finished stay in record and hold the camera still for 5 seconds. Don’t just squirt the camera round and hope you can cut it in the edit.

5) Listen
Be listening for sound clips as well. Sound can often tell the story better than the pictures. For example – the tweet of birds when doing a country life story; the sound of a dentists drill when doing a package about children’s fear of the dentist. Let the stories and locations speak for themselves rather than over scripting them.

Keep learning and stay creative

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