I often spend months creating and organizing my creative portrait sessions. I have to work out a team, hair, makeup, models and designers. Then there’s scheduling the actual shooting date and time, as well as mini-sessions (usually online) to work out details. Find, source or create costumes.
I love documenting some of these as well as the behind the scenes setup and of course behind the scenes for the actual shooting. It has now become an expected thing with my creative sessions and even my workshops capturing and sharing these videos. I find people enjoy watching these just as much, if not more, than the final footage.
Using your smartphone
I currently have one Samsung S9 and use it to capture behind-the-scenes footage. Why a smartphone and not my actual camera? Good question. I regularly shoot my session with my camera and when I’m in the moment I often forget to shoot BTS. By having my phone on set, everyone on my team knows they can grab my phone and do some footage.
It is also easier to have ALL images on one phone for editing. Of course, my team still shoots images on their phones as well. But having most of it on one phone makes things much easier.
What to record
I only capture behind the scenes during the shoot and normally don’t reveal all my secrets about making or finding props and costumes. Footage includes makeup, hair and costumes, all artfully done, of course.
I don’t capture anything that could upset my models. My regular hair and makeup artist Emily is great at coming in and grabbing some footage. I don’t even know if she caught me until I edit it! People love to see that I do NOT have a big fancy studio, I create incredible images in my small home studio, a converted garage. They also love seeing HOW we stage a scene, whether it’s simple or quite elaborate.
People also LOVE to see the fun we have on set. It gives 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 don’t 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 often work with the same team members, we all know what is needed and we work well together. We know what is expected of each shoot and can save time by not sitting still and figuring out what to do. My shoots are normally done within an hour, but of course the hair and make-up can take longer.
Put everything together
Once the shoot is done I usually connect to my PC and transfer all the footage and images. I use different programs to edit my videos – I really like it Wondershare Filmora And Animoto, because they are quick, easy and simple to learn. There aren’t too many special effects, but I don’t really need them either. I let the images speak for themselves.
Mute is your friend
We often gossip, chat and giggle, as we ladies often do. Capturing snippets of video BTS makes it easy to stick to a topic of conversation that isn’t needed or wanted on video (e.g. boyfriend issues). So unless something needs to be said, I mute ALL my videos and add music. I actually like it a bit better that way. Of course, if audio is needed, I’ll leave it in.
Use a gimbal
One thing that can really help when it comes to phone videography is using a gimbal for smooth video. Some of my videos have been a bit jerky in the past, but adding a gimbal definitely helps… if I remember to use it.
The Corpse Bride
This is the behind the scenes video from our Halloween shoot from last year. It shows the dress, carving the pumpkin (which none of us had done), collecting items for the set, and more. But we were so happy with the final product.
So the next time you have a big shoot planned, consider grabbing some BTS videos. I’ve found it to be a big hit with my audience.
It’s also fun and interesting to see your work style when you capture them on camera. Even if it’s not a big shoot — maybe a scouting trip or a BTS still life setup — it’s all a valuable resource for other photographers to see how it’s done.