tips for cinematographers to make shots great | Raindance Film School

We all know that cinematography is not just about assembling the right gear and gathering technical knowledge. It is the art of skillfully conveying the story visually. Even if the story is conveyed through a song or dialogues, able cinematographers know how to emphasize them visually. A lot of thought goes into every scene in lighting, shots, camera movement, etc.

The subtle differences between a mediocre shot and a perfect shot in terms of lighting, framing, locations, angles, etc, make cinematography tricky. This is why the only way of ensuring that your films look good is experimentation. As a cinematographer, you should always be keen to experiment and try new methods of shooting a particular scene.

We have listed below some of the tips that you should keep in mind while filming, and more importantly while experimenting:

Know The Story

The last thing you’d want to do as a cinematographer would be filming without knowing and understanding the story. Not understanding the story and how the shot would go with it stems the need for pretentious shots which create voids in the visual story. Those pretentious shots might be spectacular but they steal the attention of the audience from the characters and the story.

Study Great Cinematography

Studying the pioneers of a field should be one of the first steps one needs to take to achieve proficiency. Getting inspired from the great cinematographers will help you study the methods they brought into being through experimentation. 

Studying the greats will help you understand the thought process behind the several tracking shots by John Alcott in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, or the still shots pushing in on the characters in Christopher Nolan movies by Wally Pfister.

Use The Natural Lighting

Before using the lighting on sets, analyze the natural lighting to see where it is pouring in. Now, you can use the natural lighting to your advantage and experiment with the on-set lighting to find out what makes the film look better.

Organise Your Schedule

Organising your schedule means making shot lists, determining the gear and specifications, sorting the shots, etc. There are a lot of tools and software out there that can help organize your shots and schedule them.

Making shot lists will save you a lot of time that you can then spend on experimenting with your films. This also lets you do your job without the pressure from the production weighing your creativity down.

Know The Power of Moving Frame

One of the largest elements of visual creativity lies with moving frames. Moving the frame or the items in the frame makes your shot visually engaging and active. Movements have the ability to communicate minute details about your characters, physical or emotional journey, etc. Strategize on inserting camera movements that are visually capable of communicating feelings and journeys.

Much like any field, cinematography is about experimenting and taking creative chances. Exploring your creativity and thinking outside the box can make you a successful cinematographer.



Nitin Gupta is a voracious reader and an even passionate writer. Having worked with numerous field pharma distributor billing software and MNCs across the world, he really has very to the point and enthralling insights about the industry and the people working in them.

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