Documentary Photography: Listening and Storytelling

Monday, May 21, 2018

I woke up early to take a shower and work on my to-do list, mostly researching and rearranging. I also made some phone calls. It looked cloudy today that I thought it would rain but it did not rain. The sky looked cold and cloudy white, that it seemed dark and gloomy. At 6 pm, I decided to go to a Photography Meetup about Documentary Photography, which is about storytelling. It was a small class, but it ended at 9:30 pm.

Shana Hagan talked about doing a video documentary as she displayed some video clips as examples. Video clips are like scenes from a story in a documentary. She displays a video clip about cinema zoom feature.

Pull-force is all about knowing where the direction is going for the story, and moving the camera from one year to the next, in the storyline.

The Control functions as the main focus to tell the viewer where and what you want them to see in your film.

  1. Before shooting your documentary, you need to prepare by writing out a list of what you want to do, what you need, and where you want to shoot your scenes. Be detailed.
  2. Write an outline of your story, which includes listing the characters and writing out the scenes.
  3. Prepare certain camera and lens that you want to work with to create certain effects and styles.
  4. Who are your audience?
  5. What kind of audio do you want to use and what best fits your story?
  6. Work on the Post Workflow of the documentary, which has to do with editing.
  7. What is the theory behind making this film? Why do you want to do this story? Teach, educate, share or entertain? How do you want to do it? By human experience, personal experience, or point of view?  What is your perspective? What is the emotion response? You should be in the present moment and shoot with intention.
  8. When shooting your documentary, you must first have a story with a beginning, middle and an ending. It is important to have good people skills because you are likely to work with different people, and you need to make sure that everyone will be productive. You should always be constantly listening to everyone around you in order to be able to better accommodate to others’ needs. Pay attention to lighting and dark techniques. They both create different moods for different effects. Shoot B-Roll as you see it, and do it right away, when you think of it or see it because you might not get the chance to do it later.
  9. A mental shoot is when you have ideas in your head, such as staging out a scene or scenes in your head about what you want to do as well as the items you need for these scenes.
  10. Follow the action by moving the camera to follow the story.
  11. Reaction story focuses on the reactions to the story, such as using cutaways, details, and close-ups.
  12. Do abstracts and coverage.
  13. Listen, think, and hold your shots for a couple of seconds or minutes.
  14. Experiment with unique angles and perspectives.
  15. Keep the camera rolling after the scene is over because you will likely get relaxed moments between the cast.
  16. Keep shooting because practice makes perfect.
  17. Shoot with intention, and pay attention to emotional response in order to inform others about your perspective.
  18. Style and aesthetics involve using a handheld camera. Take wide shot photos and scenes, and follow the story and/or characters, moving naturally with the storyline. Long lens involve observing with a tripod, zooms or primes, b-roll style, drones, and/or interview style.
  19. Find your voice and define your style.
  20. Use large visual themes. Watch footage on a daily basis, and do not stress. Use your intuition and have fun.


What do you think?


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