A simple technique to make your videos more cinematic.

Wherever you may be right now, I want you to take a quick glance at your surroundings.

Unless you’re standing in the middle of a desert, I can almost guarantee there are different objects at different distances in your field of view.

And if not, hold your hand out like you’re about to give someone a high-five (go ahead, you’ll only look foolish for a few seconds.) Focus your eyes on your hand. Now focus on what’s behind your hand.

In this little exercise, your hand was an “object” in the “foreground.” (And before people start thinking you’re a weirdo, you can put your hand back down.)

These different “layers" are known as depth, and in everyday life, there are always objects in the foreground of our vision.

It’s no secret that the world we live in is very much 3-dimensional. But the world of photo and video is only 2D. So shouldn’t we try to make things seem as 3D as possible in 2D space?

The answer is yes, we should. But for some reason, when it comes to shooting video or snapping a photo, most people move everything out of the way of their subject so they can get the cleanest view possible.

There’s no right or wrong way to compose a shot, but I will say that a 3D feel makes for a much more interesting frame than when everything in a picture is the same distance from the camera.

And an easy way to create that feel is to use something (literally, anything) in the foreground of your shots.

Here are some examples of depth in a recent video I shot:

A statue in the foreground takes up 2/3 of the frame.

A statue in the foreground takes up 2/3 of the frame.

Kitchen equipment in the lower left-hand corner.

Kitchen equipment in the lower left-hand corner.

Peering over the counter.

Peering over the counter.

Glass bottles on the left side of the frame.

Glass bottles on the left side of the frame.

A wider shot with the statue, once again, in the foreground.

A wider shot with the statue, once again, in the foreground.

By adding objects to the foreground, it instantly makes the shots more interesting.

Everything feels less stuffy and cramped than if it was a "flat" frame. Which, if you're unsure of what I mean, just imagine the photos above without those foreground elements. Not nearly as cool.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a camcorder, DSLR, or iPhone, the principle remains the same: you want your images to have depth.

If you want to draw people into the world you're creating, this is essential to create dynamic imagery. And when used right, it can make a huge difference in taking your videos (or photos) to that next cinematic level.

Next time you're watching your favorite show or movie, see if you notice this technique in action. I bet you will now.

Hopefully you found this helpful. Thanks for reading.