It’s Not About What You Shoot; It’s What You Don’t Shoot
Back around 2002, I attended a week-long video workshop at a Sony training facility in San Jose, California. While the class was rather basic, I did learn one concept that has stuck with me since.
The instructor said, “It’s not about what you shoot; it’s what you don’t shoot.” He demonstrated this idea by first capturing a medium shot of a ballpoint pen on a table. You could see in the monitor it was a really plain shot with nothing of interest. In other words, it was a non-descript pen on a non-descript desk.
Then, the instructor took an extreme close-up of the pen. What you saw now was hard to describe. It looked like it might be a military weapon or some type of high-tech surgical tool. The way the metal cylinder of the pen refracted light made it look like a work of art. The point the instructor was able to demonstrate was that by simply changing the shot’s composition, it made a world of difference.
Think how many times you are shooting an interview and you frame the shot the same way over and over (e. g. desk in foreground, person seated at desk, fake plant over person’s right shoulder, etc.). Next time, try not to shoot the desk. Try masking off the bland, corporate office wall somehow. And, throw the plastic plant in the garbage. Instead, look for things that are graphically more interesting–such as the cool watch the subject’s wearing, the unique pattern on his tie, an interesting piece of furniture or art in the room.
A good director or videographer needs to have a discerning eye. If it’s not visually interesting, don’t make it the focal point of your video. Remember, when it comes to making good video, “It’s not about what you shoot; it’s what you don’t shoot.”
David Walker – Stevens Strategic Communications Vice President of Interactive