Most professionals use a few simple techniques to make their photos, videos and audio look and sound professional.

As soon as you start to use these techniques your media will look and sound more professional.

Let’s warm up our eyes with this video from National Geographic on photography. These ideas can be applied to video as well.

Warm Up


Why make a new video when someone else has done an excellent job! Here’s a very good video explaining the key to composition for creating much better video and photos. Remember, even if you disagree with these techniques, using them will make your content look professional if only because professionals use them!

  1. Fill the frame
  2. Simplify and exaggerate
  3. Don’t center your subject
  4. Create depth
  5. Connect the dots
  6. Perspective is EVERYTHING
  7. Lighting is EVERYTHING

SmartPhone Skills


Rule of Thirds

wikipedia gif on rule of thirds

Personally, I think the rule of thirds is the most valuable skill.

Perhaps the most important composition lesson you’ll ever learn! Basically, don’t put stuff in the middle of the frame.

The below thumbnail is the same for several videos, but the link goes to a part of the video.


Three Point Lighting

Repeat after me, “Key,” “Fill,” “Back” “2,” “1,” “2.”

This refers to the three lights that form the foundation the most basic lesson for lighting photos and video. The Key light is the main object or face light. The Fill light fills in the other side of an object or face. It is roughly 50% as bright as the Key light. The backlight shines from above on the hair and shoulders and is the roughly the same strength at the Key light. If the Key is 200 watts, then the Fill is 50 watts and the Back is 200 watts.

This is also a well designed instructional video, with a little humor, a little surprise (not using a young female model as most do), and slow pace with clear audio.


Microphone Proximity

Audio is the secret of good video. Keep mics close to mouths.

  • Activities: Place the camera’s microphone within a body length of your subject’s mouth, or closer. Before you start a video shoot, practice recording both outside and inside so you know where the mic is on your camera, and how good it is at recording different sounds. Listen to the “sound space” of where you are before you record. Listen for noise from traffic, appliances, fans, music, wind, open windows, etc. Close your eyes. Listen to where you are for a solid minute. Find the noises you can turn off, like fans or computers, and turn them off. With a partner, practice talking to a camera recording video as you back away from it to about 20 feet. Watch and listen to the recording so you know how far away your mic is good to. Record “silence” in the room for 5 seconds, then talk, then stop. Listen to how much “hiss” happens during silence.
  • EquipmentBest <$100 tripod<$30 wired lav mic.  Good intro shotgun mic. Good first wireless lav.  Zoom H1 recorder.   2014 mics under $100Budget wireless mic review. The legendary Sure SM 58.

Dampening your recording location


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