I frequently spend months creating and organizing my creative portrait sessions. I need to work out a team, hair, makeup, models and designers. Then there is scheduling the actual shoot date and time, but also mini sessions (mostly online) to work out details. Finding, sourcing or making costumes.
I love to document some of these, as well as behind-the-scenes setup and of course, behind-the-scenes for the actual shoot. It has become an expected thing now with my creative sessions and even my workshops to capture and share these videos. I find people love watching these as much if not more than looking at the final images.
Using your smartphone
I currently have a Samsung S9 and use it to capture behind-the-scenes footage. Why a smartphone and not my actual camera? Good question. I am frequently shooting my session with my camera, and when I am in the moment I frequently forget to take BTS footage. By having my phone on the set, anyone in my team knows they can grab my phone and take some footage.
Also having ALL the footage on one phone is easier for editing. Of course, my team still capture footage on their phones, too. But having the majority of it on one phone makes it that much easier.
What to capture
I only capture behind-the-scenes on the shoot, and don’t normally give away all my secrets on making or finding props and costumes. Footage includes makeup, hair and getting into costume, all artfully done of course.
I don’t capture anything that would upset my models. My normal hair and makeup artist Emily is a whiz at getting in and grabbing some footage. I don’t even know she caught me in action until I edit it! People love to be able to see that I DON’T have a big fancy studio, I make incredible images in my small home studio, which is a converted garage. They also love to see HOW we stage a scene, whether it is simple or quite elaborate.
People also LOVE to see the fun we have on set. It gives some a human element to something that is often quite dark and dramatic. My images are often dark and moody and even a little creepy, but my set is light and bright and full of music and dancing and singing and fun. We do not take ourselves too seriously, although the work often is.
It’s all in the planning
Because my sessions are well planned, we often move like a well-oiled machine. I frequently work with the same team members, we each know what is required and we work well together. We know what is expected for each and every shoot and can save time by not sitting around trying to figure out what to do. My shoots are normally over and done in one hour, but the hair and makeup, of course, can take longer.
Putting it all together
Once the shoot is done, I usually connect to my PC and transfer all the footage and images. I use a variety of programs to edit my videos — I really like Wondershare Filmora and Animoto, as they are quick, easy and simple to learn. There are not too many special effects, but I don’t really need any. I let the images speak for themselves.
Mute is your friend
We often gossip, chat and giggle as us ladies often do. Capturing snippets of video BTS, it is easy to snag a piece of conversation that is not needed or wanted on video (for example, boyfriend troubles). So unless something needs to be said I mute ALL my videos and add music. I actually think it is a little nicer that way. Of course, if there is audio that is required I will leave it in.
Use a gimbal
One thing can really help when it comes to phone videography is using a gimbal for smooth video. Some of my videos have been a bit choppy in the past, but adding a gimbal is certainly helping … when I remember to use it.
The Corpse Bride
This is the behind-the-scenes video from our Halloween shoot from last year. It showcases the dress, pumpkin carving (which none of us had done), collecting items for the set and more. But we were so happy with the finished product.
So next time you have a big shoot planned, think about grabbing some BTS video. I have found it’s a big hit with my audience.
It is also fun and interesting to review your working style when caught on camera. Even if it’s not a big shoot — perhaps a scouting trip or a BTS setup for a still life image — it is all a valuable resource for other photographers to see how it is done.