By Ashley Manley on | No Comments
Several years ago I sat in a conference room and listened to Joy Prouty speak about her photography journey. It was a great talk and I was jotting down notes…then she showed a personal home video and I was mesmerized. There were her children and their sweet little voices and chubby little fingers playing outside, set to this magical music on this huge screen before my eyes. I had to do this…immediately. I almost got up and left just so I could conquer this plan but I just sat and watched and got teary, imagining these were my kids and their sweet voices and chubby fingers in our backyard. Sigh…hot mess express, coming through.
The next day, I left the conference and set on a quest to film my life. First step? I imagined this required a buying a camcorder like the gigantic bus of a machine my mom and dad used to carry around on their shoulders at my softball games, obviously. Where would one even buy something like that?! Little did I know, my DSLR had the power to do all of the things I wanted. I had so much to learn about this magical world of video and was clueless on where to start. But, with a little research, a month long class, and a whole lot of practice, I was on my way.
Today I’m going to share with you 8 tips on getting started with shooting video on your DSLR because I know how intimidating it is. It’s going to take more than this post to get your videos to be the level you want, but this will get you started and on your way to crying over your family films in no time.
I know what you are thinking, “Gee Ashley, thanks for that boast of confidence.” Well, I’m just saying it so you don’t go in with these expectations of pulling off an Indie Film Fest winner your first go at it. It’s hard and there is a learning curve, so show yourself a little bit of grace when you watch the first few videos and nobody is in focus and it looks like an earthquake is happening. Keep shooting, you will get better.
Before you click your DSLR over to the video dial, make sure you have a prime lens on your camera. I made the mistake of using a zoom lens the first time I filmed a family for a client back when I was in business, and let’s just say, it was not pretty. I don’t know what I was thinking, but the zooming in and out and in and out made me feel like barfing when I watched it back. Plus, prime lenses are super fast. Personally, I shoot my films on a Fuji X-T2 (cropped sensor) and use a Fuji 23 f/1.4 lens.
Just like you get your settings set before you take a photo, same goes with filming. You can adjust while you are filming, but it’s distracting and the clip doesn’t look as good. Try shooting with a narrower aperture, like 3-4, at first to give yourself some wiggle room on focusing.
Maybe it’s the amount of coffee I drink, but I do not have a steady hand. That, combined with the fact that while I’m filming I’m also momming means that things are going to be shaky. The remedy? Short clips. At most I’ll record 10-12 seconds, but typically it’s around 5. You can crop these down in editing, but it’s just easier, like in photos, to get it right in camera.
When I learned how to edit video clips in Lightroom, it was a saving grace. If you decide you want to mix still photos and video clips, you can easily make them uniform (phew!) or you can make all of your video clips the same. I personally make my films with all video clips, but the choice is totally yours. Here’s a post to explain exactly how to edit your video clips with your favorite pretty presets.
If you’ve read any of the other posts I’ve shared on the Pretty Presets blog, you’ll know two things. 1. I’m lazy. 2. I’m simple. Both of these are true in my life and in photography. I was taught how to use several different video editing programs in the class I took, but at the end of the day, I chose what was easiest and best for me: iMovie. I’m not doing special effects or anything fancy, I just want to easily be able to create a polished film I like and that does the trick. Again, find what works for you.
In my opinion, music can make the family film even more amazing than the chubby fingers and sweet voices already do, but there are a few things you need to know. First of all, you can’t use just any song, as perfect as it may be. You HAVE to have permission or licensing, which can sometimes get expensive. I’m lucky enough to have permission from a band whose music we ADORE and fits our lifestyle perfectly, but I have also purchased music from songfreedom.com and musicbed.com. If there’s a local band that you admire, reach out to them and ask if you can use their music. If you give them credit, they might let you do it for low or no cost as it will be advertising for them as well. I always give credit to my musicians on the closing slide.
You have to practice to get better, plain and simple. Video is hard at first, but so is photography, and see how much better you’ve gotten? Below you can watch my latest film, all edited with Chai from the Pretty Presets Bohemian Collection and you can see all of my previous family films by visiting my vimeo account here. But remember, I started out bad, really bad. Like, everyone out of focus, inconsistent editing, earthquake happening in the background bad…you got this, friend!
Happy filming! xo
Music Credit: Okee Dokee Brothers at www.okeedokee.org