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8 tips for documentary photography and videography

Capture the world as it is!

Who wouldn't want to capture the world as it is, and portray people as they really are? This is the bedrock of documentary photography and videography. Want to get started on this yourself, but not sure where to begin? We have eight tips to help you on your way!

Tip 1: Preparation is key

Before making a documentary photo or video, it is important to prepare well and do your research. Think about the story you want to tell with your documentary, and what you need in order to tell it. If you invest time into the preparation, and have a keen sense of what you want to convey with your images, you will reap the benefits as you shoot and edit. Good preparation is half the battle won.

Tip 2: Stage nothing

However keen you are to capture a particular image, it mustn't be staged in documentary photography and videography. When you document something, the point is that it reflects reality. You capture people as they really are, and leave everything as it is. You are documenting reality, so you must stage nothing.

Tip 3: Tell a story

Conveying a story is more important than what it is you wish to capture with your documentary. What is occurring at the moment you shoot the photo? What exactly is happening in the video? Of course, you can focus on just portraying reality, but documentary photography and videography are also widely used to highlight societal issues. Take time therefore to consider the story you want to capture.
> Do you want to tell a story with your images? If so, read our tips.

Tip 4: Patience pays off

Reality cannot always be captured at the touch of a button. For instance, if you want to capture a wedding in documentary style, it is advisable to first get to know the couple and gain mutual trust. This requires patience. When you head out to capture strangers or a particular situation, it can pay off to stand patiently to one side for a while, to capture real moments.

Tip 5: Pay attention to composition

Documentary photography and videography capture reality, but as the photographer, you determine the angle. By playing around with light & shadow and different perspectives & colours, you can emphasise certain aspects of reality. Stage nothing, of course, but you can always play around with the parts you wish to highlight. And remember: not every photo has to be a success.

Tip 6: Choose your format

You can share documentaries in different ways: as a photo, a series of photos or as a video. The choice is yours, and depends on your subject. With a photo shoot, you can quickly depict several elements of a story, a video with the right music or voice-over harmonises the moving images, whereas a single photo sometimes says more than all the images put together. This is a tricky call to make, so bear in mind: practice makes perfect.

Tip 7: Dot the i's and cross the t's

Paying attention to the finer details can really pay off in documentary photography and videography. It is tempting to take panoramic photos as they tell a great deal in a short space of time. Don't be afraid to take a close-up shot once in a while. Different perspectives are also beneficial when you incorporate your photos or video clips into a series of photos or video.

Tip 8: Experiment with your images

It goes without saying that not every photo or video has to be a success. Documentary photography and videography offer an opportunity to think outside of the box. Nothing is set in stone. A series of photos can include as many photos as you see fit, and a documentary film can be as long as you want. Documentary photography and videography therefore offer the perfect opportunity to push the boundaries and experiment with your work.

Share the outcome

Have you made an impressive documentary photo or video? If so, share your work with us, to feature on our Instagram account. Just use the hashtag #KameraExpress or tag Kamera Express in your message. Don't forget to follow us for extra inspiration!