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The Importance of Shot Type

Lesson 12 from: The Ultimate Photo Storytelling Workshop

Finn Beales

The Importance of Shot Type

Lesson 12 from: The Ultimate Photo Storytelling Workshop

Finn Beales

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Lesson Info

12. The Importance of Shot Type

Finn discusses his key shot types and the qualities each one can bring to a story.

Lesson Info

The Importance of Shot Type

So we've established a good story can flow from a combination of character and events and location but how do we relay that story using images, as opposed to words? Your choice of shot is absolutely key as important as the words used in a book. In the same way that a book written with three words is gonna be fairly boring, a photo essay composed the same types of photograph is gonna tire quickly too. A variety of angles and compositions is gonna draw your viewer in and connect them into your story in a more engaging way. Let's run through some of the key shot types I like to use and the qualities each one can bring to your story. (slow acoustic music) An extreme long shot is used to show a subject from a distance or an area within which a scene is taking place. (slow acoustic music) It's a study in scale majesty, they're big grand images. You've all seen them on Instagram, right? That lone climber isolated against a massive drift of snow, canoes paddling across a huge lake. They're exc...

ellent for establishing or revealing a scene. Instagram is a one shot platform. So this sort of image engages particularly well on there. You can immediately comprehend the scene. You can immediately understand what's going on. You don't actually need a caption to understand. I tend to use a telephoto lens to shoot these images. They help to compress distance. They bring background elements closer to the foreground. So there's more of a relationship between my subject and the environment that they're operating in. For storytelling purposes, I love to use this image at the end of a set. It's a lovely, satisfying finish. You know, audiences work through the story. They followed your character all the way through and they come to the end scene. It's like the end scene in a movie, you can go away feeling satisfied. My lens choice for this lens is either an 85 millimeter prime or a 7,200 telephoto zoom. Both will compress distance. Both will relay the feeling you are after. (slow acoustic music) In long shot. This shows your subject from top to bottom. (camera clicking) The character is more of a focus than the extreme long shot, but the scenery still dominates. They're set within it, but you're moving in closer. 24 millimeter lens for this shot is my go-to. Depth perception is exaggerated using a wide angle lens such as this. It makes objects in the background feel a little bit further away than they might be in reality. This creates a feeling of space and distance between your subject and the foreground and something in the background. (signal distorted) The distance of your camera from your subject can help create emotional distance between your subject and your audience. This generates a feeling of intrigue. The audience's interest is peaked and they wanna find out a little bit more. What's going on here? That's the ultimate goal for this sort of image when I'm using it in storytelling. (slow acoustic music) A medium shot typically frame someone from the waist up. It focuses on the character or characters in a scene while still including some of the surrounding environment. (slow acoustic music) Try to frame your subjects without cutting through joints, through your waist or your knee or elbow. Since we are now moving in closer to our subjects, we wanna be using something like a 35 mil lens. It's more natural perspective. Don't be tempted to go for a because as you move in closer, you're gonna start to distort faces, distort limbs even though you'll still get that surrounding environment, it's not gonna give you a natural image as you move in closer to your subject. A 35 mil lens is a classic focal length, very close to the human eye. It will bring a realistic vantage point for your viewer and lead to a more natural looking image. (slow acoustic music) Whereas medium and long shots deliver facts and orientate your audience, a medium close up reveals emotions. (camera clicking) This is a key goal when storytelling. So it's a key shot to make. The close up shots reveal emotions or details relating to your subject, and can tune your audience into your story. These images are rarely made with wide angle lenses due to distortion. You're close up to your subject here. So I reach for my desert island lens, a 50 millimeter. This lens has a fantastic depth of field and will deliver you natural looking portraits regardless of what distance you are from your subject. It's actually more difficult to tell a whole story if you focus on medium closeups. There's no supporting information. You need other images to tell a full story. And I think this is one of the reasons why these sorts of images don't work so well on Instagram. It's hard for the audience to gain an understanding of what's going on without supporting imagery or indeed a caption. (slow acoustic music) A close up camera shot tightly frames a subject or element within your scene so they become, that becomes the primary focus. (camera clicking) Use it to keep your audience in tune and connected with your story. Concentrating solely on medium and long shots can quickly become boring. You run the risk of your audience becoming disconnected from the story. They may be enjoying the images themselves but you can lose their interest in the message you're wanting to relay. So using closeups can capture attention and keep your audience in tune with your subjects and in tune with what they're doing, the processes that are going on in the story. We're moving back into the realm of telephoto lenses here, but I would still suggest a 50 millimeter provided you're happy getting up close to your subjects. (slow acoustic music) Cutaways. A cutaway is a shot of something related to but outside the main action of a scene. (slow acoustic music) Even if a cutaway doesn't reveal anything new, it's super important for easing transitions between your main scenes. They're also perfect for introducing a vague sense of danger or uncertainty into your story. It's so easy to forget to shoot this type of image especially in this world of Instagram bangers, but for telling a more rounded story, using a series of images, this type of shot is invaluable. I can often be heard repeating to myself details, details, details, whilst I'm on location. It's very easy to forget to shoot them but I can't stress it enough. If you wanna tell stories with images, you need cutaways. My lens choice for this type of image is a 50 millimeter, very close to the human eye, perfect for picking out details and delivering a natural looking image. So before we move on, your choice of lens should be dictated by the type of shot you're looking to make. Not the other way round.

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Ratings and Reviews

Brent Morris
 

Fantastic My thoughts on the storytelling workshop. The short is; it’s fantastic. The long is I loved all the details covered, from shot types and the ideas behind them to the call sheets and shot lists, and the whole process. I felt like I had a better understanding of how to schedule a professional shoot and I really felt like I had a much better grasp on many ideas and concepts, and I believe I’ve been able to improve my photography with them, so thank you and Finn. It really is fantastic.

Oswaldo Martinez
 

A path to better stories Very happy I got this workshop. Finn and Alex do a great job at teaching highly useful methods and specific advice to help you improve your own work, and more importantly, tell better stories that are meaningful to you.

Tommaso Selleri
 

Simply the best This is simply the best workshop out there on photography and storytelling. Finn is awe inspiring and so real and authentic. A pleasure to watch, a joy to learn from such master. I really hope a volume 2 is coming soon! Thank you for this one!

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