5 Rookie Cinematography and Photography Mistakes

As I prepare to give a talk at a Regional Trade show on Digital Marketing, I will be talking in detail about the use of corporate video and the many types of production, from small to large you can do on a variety of budgets, but in the meantime, if you are shooting your own stuff and trying to get better, here are a few pointers of what we call ‘Rookie Mistakes’ in the Professional Video Production industry.

1. Reflections. Make sure that if you take a still shot or video image of an individual wearing prescription eyeglasses that those glasses are professional anti-reflection coated. There is nothing quite distracting as the person you’re filming and talking and you see that production light reflection bounce in and out quite large on the lens. It’s very distracting and amateurish.

2. Background. When choosing the appropriate background, make sure you are at the correct aperture and you’re shooting into a mirror or a reflective window where you see the equipment, camera, back of the person. Another annoying and distracting visual that will take you away from the message.

3. Framing is an art form. It should be done for a specific reason. Rules of Thirds is key but where you crop the image is also as important. Chopping people seated at the thighs is not a pleasing shot. Leaving a ton of space above equally unattractive. Finally, choosing when to cut from wide, to medium and close-up POV’s all need reasons, not just for the sake of doing so.

4. Details – Pay attention to what’s in your shot. A light-stand leg, cord, mis-placed item, ficus, etc. all scream amateur. Take your time. Get it right if you want to be taken seriously.

5. Manual versus Auto – until you full understand, shutter, aperture, ISO, White Balance, Picture Style, etc. Shoot on Auto. When you shoot Manual or AV on a headshot for example, and you shoot on a solid background at F/1.2 or F/1.8, the person your shooting’s ears will be blurry. In Professional Photography, nothing could possible tell your audience that you have no idea what you’re doing until you do this.


Jonathan Weiner

Jonathan is an award-winning director with expertise in producing cinematic commercial ads, corporate video productions, and various digital marketing campaigns for companies in Charlotte and across North America.