Whatever You Shoot, Do It With Purpose

I've realized that when most people start shooting video, they become obsessed with achieving the "optimal camera settings."

But in the midst of balancing aperture, shutter speed and ISO, they seem to forget they're supposed to be telling a story in the process.

And admittedly, getting proper exposure is a challenge when just starting out.

But when it’s all said and done, your audience doesn’t care what settings you used; they care about the story.

That’s why you must have a purpose for everything you shoot.

I repeat: you MUST have a purpose for everything you shoot.

So what is "purpose" anyway?

Well, it’s the difference between “shooting nature” and “shooting fall foliage along the ocean’s edge.”

Do you see the difference there? One has a purpose and one doesn’t.

Always. Shoot. With. Purpose.

Once you pick a purpose for your video, a couple things will happen.

For one, you’ll spend less time wandering around aimlessly thinking of things to shoot.

And two, you’ll have intent for every shot, which will make your video much more focused.

This is a really great idea, especially if you want people to watch it for more than 10 seconds.

I want to be clear that when discussing "focus" and "purpose," I'm not talking about drawing storyboards and writing scripts.

Yeah, those things are essential for more advanced productions, but we’re not there yet. 

But most beginners do NO planning whatsoever, and it really shows in their work.

So what's the right amount of planning? Well, it's somewhere in between no planning and over-planning.

Since we’re on the topic of planning, you’d actually be surprised how many events in life are pre-planned for you.

Of course, wedding and graduation ceremonies follow a pretty strict agenda, but even something as simple as a birthday party runs on some sort of schedule:

  1.         It’s time for the party and the guests arrive with their kids.
  2.         Then the kids play games in the backyard (and the adults enjoy cocktails on the deck.) 
  3.         Then the cake comes out.
  4.         Then everyone sings “happy birthday” and the candles get blown out.
  5.         Then the cake gets cut (and the kids manage to squeeze in one last sugar rush.)
  6.         Then the presents get opened.
  7.         Then it’s time to go home. 

If you plan to capture an event like this, break it down into smaller “chunks" to figure out where you should be and when so you don't miss the action.

Is it better to be in the the kitchen when the candles are being lit, or outside to capture the excitement on the kids' faces as the cake arrives?

I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but at least you have options because you planned ahead.

So when choosing a purpose for your next video, remember that the only “wrong" choice is to have no purpose at all.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • Why is it important to tell this story in the first place?
  • What do I find most interesting about it?
  • What excites me about it?
  • How do I want to tell it? 

If you brainstorm answers to these questions, and a small list of possible shots, where you should be, and when, you’ll have a much stronger purpose for your next video project. Happy shooting.