The emotion is in the close up.

It’s a phrase that I’ll say time and time again. The emotion lives in the close up. 


Hello guys, as well as Head of Media at Beatfreeks, my skills lie in photography and video production. Often you’ll see me bouncing  around an event, trying to get ‘the shot’ or setting up an interview booth. I’m really fond of capturing the emotion and passion displayed when people talk about what they are passionate about, and whether its photography or video I have a few different techniques that I use that makes sure my images always pack punch. Heres one of the tips.


 This sentence will stay with me till the day I hang up the cameras, as its been ingrained into my practices from the early days, thanks to a fantastic media practioner and lecturer, Phil. He knows who he is! The reason the emotion lies in the close up is  simple. In real life, if someone is that close, you probably know them quite well, or are extremely comfortable around that person. It is a much more intimate style of shooting than using long shots or wides (which, can still pack punch when used correctly).


 Level UP is a spoken word poetry event hosted at The Rep by Beatfreeks and Apples and Snakes. It gives a platform for young poets to share a stage with a nationally recognized artist, and a young emerging artist. I’d say over 90% of the poetry shared, is powerful, passionate and emotive. So nobodies looking for dead, flat, boring photography to represent that, the image must represent the subject. This is why Level UP has been my favourite thing to shoot, ever. Because of the power, passion and emotion that I can show within the pictures.

 Here is an example of a photograph I shot at Season 2 of Level UP.  Its badly framed, not very emotive and really only stands to represent that there was a lady holding a mic at Level UP, it’s the sort of image I’d click past in an album or skim read over in an article.  Personally, I don’t think that this represents the passion and emotion that the performers and I know its not a great image.  


This photo below however, is different. It represents the power, passion and sheer emotion that the poet delivers through his performance. I wanted to capture the reaction that the audience have listening to him and for them to feel it as they looked at the picture. I want them to think “Yep, I remember that poem.” OR “That looks incredible, I want to go.”


So, how can you achieve this? If you’re a photographer or a videographer then invest in a nice long lens. I usually use my 70-200mm, and keep it above 120mm, so I can be a bit of a distance away whilst still getting the shot I need. This is extremely important if you can’t get close to your subject, or you need to stay out of viewpoint of the audience or even if the perfomer isn’t overly confident with cameras being around. If you haven’t got a long lens, get as close as you can!

Also, you’re going to want to set a fairly high shutter speed, as performers that move a lot need to be frozen, however, a little bit of motion blur shows movement and makes it feel a little more real, so don’t be scared of it.

The final tip is framing, use the rule of thirds, and give your subject ‘eye room’ i.e space where they are looking into, or moving into.

Video is a little different, similar principles apply to covering events as above, but, in narrative pieces or interviews, I like to get close ups of my subjects hands, eyes and feet, bits of the person that become more active the more passionate they get. If I’m doing an emotive piece straight to camera, I usually go head and slight bit of shoulders, with room for the to move into the centre and opposite third.

If you’re looking for your photographer/videographer to achieve these results, show examples and explain your mission of the project, so they know what they need to communicate to the  audience. Check out my other blog about looking after your freelancer here.

 Thanks for reading, have fun, and make sure you love what you do. That always comes across in your work.











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