So you want to get into video or photography? Three lessons you’d rather avoid learning IRL

Our cinematographer, Jesse, turns mistakes into strengths. In this article, he shares those moments with you.

Starting out in photography/video can be daunting - hell, I had no idea what I was doing, what I needed, or who to ask for advice – and when I did, it was usually in jargon that’s alien to the majority of people.

So from me to you, here are some pointers about shooting that might help you on your journey when you might be the only one on the trail. :)


Get to know the triangle a.k.a Shutter Speed, ISO, F-Stop (Aperture)

The triangle controls how much light is in your image.

Play, play, play until you get the hang of it.

If you’re a visual learner or like YouTube as much as me – click here. Rocky Mountain School of Photography will give you a quick rundown.


Ormiston Gorge, Northern Territory

Autofocus the double-edged sword

During our road trip up to Darwin, we stopped by Karlu Karlu and Mataranka to get some nice cinematic shots on the Ronin M gimbal.

We used autofocus to film the landscapes – but we realised – while looking back over the footage, that every now and again it would be ruined by the camera choosing to focus on different elements in the frame while we tracked a shot.

Our solution? Raise your F-Stop and drop your ISO as low as possible if shooting outside, and change your settings to manual to avoid your camera jumping focus from one object to another.

That’ll give you peace of mind that your right place, right time, shots won’t be affected by technical faults. (Drop a comment if you have another solution!)

Talent and how to handle them

When you’re starting out, especially if you’re a one-person show, dealing with talent can be great! You’ve made a new connection, things are going well… but if you’ve rocked up to a shoot and it’s all go-go-go trying to get set up, then it’s going to be stressful and unpleasant for everyone involved.

So, make sure you rock up early to avoid crumbling under the stress.

Now what?

Get your sh*t together. Brought lights? Set them up. Shooting an interview? Get that tripod up and get your gear ready to go. Bring-a-friend-to-work-day? Use them to set up your shot before your talent arrives.

This is going to make everyone’s life easier: talent walks in, does their part, walks out. You remain cool as a cucumber and get it done.

And remember to breathe – if you’re panicking then that’ll show. Deep down whoever you’re sticking the camera in front of is probably very nervous if they don’t do this on the regular, so be their guiding light and hold a calming space for them.

It’s not rocket science, but respect and reading the room is key to a good talent shoot.

And, last but not least, always check your sound so you’re not pulling your hair out in the editing room.

So there’s a couple of pointers that everyone learns along the way, and we’ll continue to make these mistakes until they’re out of our system. But remember, we’re human. Mistakes happen.

The biggest lesson to take from anything you experience is don’t keep your head in the sand. Brush up, head up and keep moving forward – it’s never as bad as you think.