How to Shoot Video and Cinematography for a Film as a Photographer

I just shot the cinema for NONFUTURE, and learned a lot. I wanted to share some of my personal lessons:

NONFUTURE: Meditations on Time


1. Watch great cinema

2001 stanley kubrick composition gif
2001 stanley kubrick composition gif

I’ve watched a lot of cinema which inspired me. It taught me camera angles, panning, the ‘blocking’ technique, and composition. For example, 2001 space odyssey.

2. Just shoot it.

My skill:

I don’t have any care or ego attached to video or film-making.

The benefit:

As a photographer, don’t attach your ego to making videos or film!

Start carte blanche. A fresh slate. You can do anything you want in film and video!!!

3. Simplest video settings possible.

1080p, 60fps, Lumix G9. Rough shots for NONFUTURE.

This is what I’ve found:

Use the most basic video functions possible.

For example on Lumix G9, I just shoot in “iA mode” (intelligent auto mode). Autofocus and auto everything!

4. Smaller video sizes are generally better.

1080p, 60fps, Lumix G9. Rough shots for NONFUTURE.

When shooting NONFUTURE, I initially shot 4K at 60fps. Problem — Cindy’s laptop (maxed out 13” MacBook Pro touchbar with i7 processor, 16GB of ram, 1TB hard drive) couldn’t handle the 4K 60fps files in Final Cut Pro. Thus I had to re-export the 4K footage into 1080p. This fixed it.


Next time I shoot a film, just shoot it at 1080p.

Bigger file sizes are seductive, but even today’s best computers can barely keep up.

More megapixels, more problems.

5. Have fun with it!

1080p, 60fps, Lumix G9. Rough shots for NONFUTURE.

It has to be fun. Create film in a spirit of play. Don’t strive to become some sort of renowned cinematographer. No. Have fun!!!

Dancing in our apartment stairwell. Raw footage for NONFUTURE.

6. Minimum viable crew

Minimum viable crew: 1 person (just yourself). Then beyond that, one other person.

Keep it to as few people as possible. The whole production for NONFUTURE was just me and Cindy.

Fun b-roll! Cindy showing off her kicking moves.. Raw footage for NONFUTURE.

7. Flex your compositional skills

With NONFUTURE, I wanted to flex my compositional skills. Some techniques:

  1. Shoot from a super-low angle (superman angle). I put the Lumix G9 on the ground and shot up (with the 24mm lens).
  2. Practice moving TOWARDS your subject and AWAY with the subject.
  3. Dance with your subject when shooting film!

Watch NONFUTURE now >