9 tips to improve camera presence of your subject
Updated: Jun 22
As a professional videographer you will come across a plethora of subject types. The excited ones, the jittery ones and the ones who have no idea as it would be their 1st time. You cannot let an unprepared subject ruin your craft. The camera presence of the subject is an essential element of any video, especially interview type videos.
In the starting of your career your videos might not even have a director who can cheer up the subjects or say CUT!
These small things will fall upon you and you will have to prepare the subject(s) for better performance. The tips that we are about to share are not only for video makers but vloggers and media reporters as well. You can carry some of these tips to apply as a candid photographers as well.
Make short trial video and show them
It is a professional habit that trials runs are done before the shoot. You capture the various aspects that will help you in deciding the composition of the frame. Most important learning is for the subject.
Whether they stay in the frame, their overall stance and the posture, the kind of audio quality they are producing, you have a timeframe to help them correct all the glitches before starting the video.
Click a few pictures before starting
This will help you even more. You will get a rich lesson about your subject. You can learn the postures that suit them, the body angles that are more camera friendly. This lesson will help getting a strong hold with your subject. You will also win the support of your subject as you are talking positive and making their art better. You teach them the best postures that suit them.
Fill the subject with flow of events
We recommend that you have a pre shoot conversation with your subject to fill them in. You tell them your perspective and how the story will go. The concept behind the camera frame and the various movements will let them build a discipline of limited movement. Most importantly they will like to become the camera’s friend as you would want them to be for a perfect shoot.
Slow, Calm and Concise subject
Composure is an essential ingredient. A person with calm demeanour has a superior camera presence in any case. Your viewers are more interested to learn from a slow speaking subject who says concisely and sticks to the topic. An occasional jump in energy to grab the attention back is equally important. As we say, professionals are good at this but you will need to guide the new comers.
One can go lengths at schooling someone but it ultimately depends on the person you are dealing with just tell them to take a few deep breathes before you start. Show them a few clips on Youtube about how it is done. Let them learn your expectations.
Take time well before shoot to know your subject
Pushing people to do more is a good leadership trait but so is listening. Listen to what your subject has to say. They might be more experienced than you and teach you a few good things on your craft. They may not like your constantly poking them. Listen and learn them, their opinion of the whole story will also provide a room for improvisation on the roll. Build trust so they start listening to you. Go off the track and keep pulling the thread.
It’s about subject and not the equipment
You want to highlight the subject as they are the most important thing right now. You don’t want to be that annoying cameraman that focuses on quality of his equipment and forgets to improve his subject. A viewer has a little thought about camera. They want subject into right action. Improving the subject will improve viewer experience in all.
Tell them the basics of eye movements. Help them avoid any awkward eye-contact. Tell them to feel comfortable and speak to the camera as friend. Make them smile and feel confident as much as you can. Appreciating the subject after every shot is totally worth it.
Roleplay, animate and be full of life
When making a specific story to work behind a camera, make your subjects imagine. They must animate the situation inside their mind, play it like a recording, indulge in the act and forget the camera. Help them forget the camera. Making occasional jokes and appreciating their trials will bring a self-induced full of life subject. Their confidence is the key to good filming.
Make camera their best friend
Let them practice. Have patience. Let them learn the situation and the camera. Their camera presence will be as good as their friendship with the camera. Teach them about the camera. Make them realize that camera is a real person listening to you. Once your subject starts talking to the camera like an old friend and not you, the person behind it, that’s your real success.
Tell them to sleep well before the shooting day. They must keep hydrated throughout the day. Let them take meals timely. Any healthy options like fruits on the set are recommended. You don’t have to become their assistant, just be a good friend. The healthier they feel, the better you shoot and faster you pack it all up.
Training your subject is an art. Bringing them out of forced smiles and rigid poses is your direct or indirect responsibility. You must own your frame. Person behind camera governs a lot of authority as a leader and he must play as one. Be passionate about your subject as much as you love your craft, excellence will follow.
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